Destination Dentistry: Two Worlds Collide

Destination Dentistry: Two Worlds Collide

| Shaun Keating CDT + Dr. Stella Bondar DMD |

Dr. Stella Bondar DMD was a born native to the country of Moldova. Gaining her dental certification in Moldova, Dr. Bondar shares her experience practicing dentistry in a country struck with poverty. Pursuing her passion for dentistry, Dr. Bondar moved to the United States and earned her dental degree from Tufts University. Currently practicing in Quincy, Massachusetts, Stella empathizes with the anxiety that many patients feel when visiting the dentist as she was a very nervous patient herself.


Full Transcription:

Shaun: Hey, everybody. Shaun Keating here. I want to welcome you to this week’s episode of the Dental Up Podcast, brought to you by Keating Dental Art. We’re a full service dental laboratory, and we’re located in beautiful Irvine, California.

This week, we’ll be featuring a dentist, who was born and raised in the country of Moldova. That’s located in Southeast Europe, in between the Ukraine and Romania. She got her dental degree and practicing in Moldova before moving to the United States in pursuit of her passion for dentistry. Currently practicing in Quincy, Massachusetts, please welcome Dr. Stella Bondar, DMD. How’s it going Dr. Bondar?

Dr. Stella Bondar: That’s going great.

Shaun: Oh so cool that you’re on. Thank you so much. I’ve just seen you at one of our seminars we had here not too long back. You fly all the way from Boston out to sunny California, whenever we’re doing seminars. You’re just a bundle of joy. Man, I always love having you here. You’re just always so positive. You kick butt as a dentist, that’s for darn sure.

I always like to start off a little bit with sports. You’re in the hub of the best football and baseball in Boston, man. Do you follow any of those sports at all, Dr. Bondar?

Dr. Stella Bondar: A lot. Would I spill out the secret that you are a Patriots fan, even when you live in California?

Shaun: Well you know, my dad was born and raised in Dorchester, Massachusetts, so I’ve always kind of been fond of the Patriots. They seemed to have won a lot lately. I just love the fans, even with the Boston Celtics. I’m a big Laker guy, but the fans in Boston are just second to none. They are just so passionate. I just love the way they stick with their teams, and just really, really good with the camaraderie amongst themselves. It’s pretty neat.

We have our Rams back now after 20 somewhat years, so I’m kind of rooting for the Rams nowadays. It’s great to have them back. I just know how awesome it is in Boston. Even all the food out there, dude. I just freaking love going there at the Yankee Dental meeting. It’s pretty cool out there for sure, man.

Dr. Stella Bondar: That’s for sure. Go, Patriots!

Shaun: That’s so cool. Well heck, man, let’s Dental Up. Again, thank you so much for coming onboard, and thank you for all the work. We’re doing some big work too lately. I think we’re doing a big upper and lower. I think we did the upper on the patient, and then she decided, well, I want to do the lowers now too. We’re just adjusting those incisors, I think. We’re shortening them a little bit to take on the lowers, but you just step into these cases, and you’ve been doing big stuff for a long time, man. How do you handle those bigger cases? Tell me a little bit more about that.

Dr. Stella Bondar: I love to work with you guys. I’ve been working with you, I will start with that, I’ve been working with you for, I counted it, more than 15 years.

Shaun: Yup.

Dr. Stella Bondar: It’s working great. We do nice cases. I talk to the patient. I usually tell them what I can do. We build the trust.

Shaun: Yup.

Dr. Stella Bondar: Whatever they decide, we’ll start. We’ll show them what we can do. They love it so much, they say, “Okay. Can I do lowers now? I want them white.” We always discuss it with them. When I emphasize that it’s so important to talk to you guys. You are fabulous. You’re always there for me. It’s very good.

Shaun: That’s so cool. I remember way back. You were an associate, I think. I think it was Dr. Vander, right? [inaudible 00:03:47]. That was just so neat, you with Dr. Becker and Dr. [inaudible 00:03:51]. I just remember you back then. Then you opened up your own practice.

Before we get there, let me ask you a question about when did you … You’re from Moldova. Tell me a little bit about that. Tell me when you were younger, when did you kind of think, I’m going to be a dentist. What made you think, I’m going to get into dentistry. Tell me a little bit about that if you could.

Dr. Stella Bondar: It was very interesting. I decided I wanted to be a doctor when I was five, because my mom was a nurse. I thought, okay, if that’s something with a lot of respect that I will get. I never thought I would become a dentist, even if I have a lot of work done. I had awful dental phobia. I was the worst patient ever.

Shaun: No kidding.

Dr. Stella Bondar: I don’t know. Maybe that changed my mind, but I always talk … I have a lot of high anxiety patients, who have a lot of dental phobia and dental anxiety. I sit with them and I tell them my story. I’m saying, I’m the one who understands what you’re feeling.

Shaun: No kidding.

Dr. Stella Bondar: That was very interesting. I amazed the whole high school, because everybody knew that I’m an awful patient, then I became a dentist.

Shaun: Now what’s it like in Moldova, man? Where the heck is that? Tell me a little bit about Moldova.

Dr. Stella Bondar: Something interesting, it’s the poorest country in Europe right now, but it was very nice to live there, to start dentistry there. I can combine dentistry from two different worlds. I can think from the country where we didn’t have much to do. We didn’t have any special instruments. We had to think how can I do the post if I don’t have anything for the post? That’s very interesting. When I worked there as a dentist, we didn’t numb the patient to have crown down, and even for the root canal.

Shaun: You’re kidding. What do you mean you didn’t numb? You just worked on them with no anesthesia at all?

Dr. Stella Bondar: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Shaun: Oh that’s so not right.

Dr. Stella Bondar: That’s absolutely not right, but then I became a dentist, I had a feeling for the patients, so I would try to get Novocaine for the patient, numb the patient, make patient comfortable. I had a lot of followers there. I was very fortunate to come here. I went to Tufts Dental School here.

Shaun: Tufts. It was kind of hard to understand, but Tufts is like awesome. I have a bunch of different dentists that I’ve worked with through the years from Tufts. Man, that’s like one of the top dental places in the nation, man.

Dr. Stella Bondar: I’m twice dentist. They charge patients twice. Not really.

Shaun: Tell me about Tufts. How was that? Pretty tough there?

Dr. Stella Bondar: It was very tough. I can tell you that in the beginning, for me, as a foreigner, I remember the first lecture. I didn’t understand the words. I was thinking how am I going to graduate. Then it came, and one of my colleagues is an oral surgeon nearby, he said that I was a great student. I don’t remember that, but probably I was.

Shaun: No kidding. How many years did you have to do in the US to get your certification here, from Moldova having that. What did it take for you? Three, four years, two years? What did it take for you to get-

Dr. Stella Bondar: It took two years, but we had to go and do all the requirements that students had in four years in the graduate school. We had squeezed material, but we passed all the boards. We had to do all the stuff, just on a more efficient pace.

Shaun: No kidding. When did you come to the United States from Moldova?

Dr. Stella Bondar: I came in 1995, which seems like a long time ago. I was busy. Graduated and worked, you’re right. Absolutely. I worked also, tried to get different experience. I worked in private practice, at the same time, I worked for a big company, like Gentle Dental. I got a lot of experience from there. Then at one point, I said, I want to do my own.

Shaun: You started your own practice, what was it like 2004, ’05? What year was it?

Dr. Stella Bondar: It was 2004. 2004, you’re absolutely right.

Shaun: Yeah.

Dr. Stella Bondar: It was 2004.

Shaun: Unbelievable. Now, for you, because I know you worked at some other places, and then you started your own. That was a big thing. Tell us a little bit about that. Did you buy an existing practice? Tell me about that.

Dr. Stella Bondar: I bought an existing practice. It’s always good to buy an existing practice. I stepped in big shoes. Everybody loved the dentist. I still have patients, who’ve been here, I talked to one of them today, who’ve been here for 45 years.

Shaun: Oh jeez. That’s awesome.

Dr. Stella Bondar: I kept some of these patients, or most of these patients. I tried my best to help. The dentist of the practice whom I bought passed away very shortly, so I had to do everything by myself. It was good. It was good experience. Patients trust me. They gave me their heart. I gave them my heart.

Shaun: No kidding. That’s what you need, a good bedside manner. You know? Just do a good deed, and it will come back to you. That’s the way you are. I know how passionate you are about dentistry. What are some of the things you’re most passionate about in terms of dentistry? What do you like doing more than other things in dentistry?

Dr. Stella Bondar: I do love cosmetic dentistry. I do everything. I do root canals, extractions. I do crown, breach. I take care of kids in my practice. I do love cosmetic dentistry. That’s a big enjoyment to change somebody’s smile and somebody’s life. I have patients who would tell me, Dr. Bondar, I have earplugs and glasses, but nobody sees it anymore. They only see my smile.

Shaun: No kidding. It really does change … I mean I just love doing what I do. I make teeth for a living. All my buddies that I grew up with, whenever I see them with their smiles jacked up, it’s like, “Come on over here.” I got so many friends I redid their mouths. It just makes me feel good when I see them, because teeth, you know, it just really messes with a person’s psyche, with their confidence and everything else. You see a lot of people that put their hand over their mouth.

The first thing I do when I see anybody, I’m always looking at their teeth. It’s just where I go to. I’m always looking at people’s teeth, man. My wife hates it, because I’ll be saying to people, “Hey, you know,” and I don’t even know this person. I’m critiquing their teeth. “You know what, man? Heres’ my card. Give me a call. We’ll hook you up, man.” “Man, I don’t have money for dental-” “Go see this dentist and we’ll work things out.”

It does. It changes people’s lives in the chair. I just love it when doctors call me and say, “Hey, Mrs. Smith was crying in the chair, Shaun. She loved the smile.” That’s so cool. It really goes far.

Dr. Stella Bondar: You do absolutely beautiful job. My patients love it. A lot of times, they are shocked. They couldn’t believe that they can have such a beautiful smile.

Shaun: Yeah. That’s so neat. I can’t believe you too. Not many doctors like to do that much endo. Where’d you get your experience? Just trial and error over there in Moldova? How does that work?

Dr. Stella Bondar: Over there in Moldova, there’s no Novocain.

Shaun: That’s so crazy, dude. I need Novocain just to put the crown, the temp off, you know, and go for the final. I’m just a sissy boy.

Dr. Stella Bondar: Right. It takes a lot to do endo, but I’m very happy to do it, because I do a lot of dentistry, where teeth are not in the best shape.

Shaun: Yeah.

Dr. Stella Bondar: Then I do my cosmetic cases, it helps a lot. I start and I can continue. I don’t have to be interrupted. I don’t have to send patient to the endodontist. They don’t have to wait. They don’t have to change environment. I can just go and do it.

Shaun: Yeah. That’s really neat. There’s a couple of guys we have like that too, doctors that are just McGyvers. They’re in these little rural towns or whatever, and there’s not a lot of places for them to go to with a specialist. You kind of got to learn it all. I think you’re even doing a lot of ortho too, aren’t you?

Dr. Stella Bondar: We do everything. We do everything in the office. Easy ortho cases. If it’s something more complicated, I would send it out. Some Invisalign Clear Correct and you can change the smile a little bit before you can go for cosmetic case, for example.

Shaun: Exactly. You know that the right way to do it. A lot of times, you know, if you do a little bit of ortho, get things in the proper areas, it just helps so much. A lot of times, doctors don’t have the abilities or the patients don’t have the resources of funds to do that. A lot of those cases should be done that way. We don’t, because we can’t sometimes.

Same thing too, when we’re doing bigger cases, and we have four and five teeth that we have to splint here and there to do some cantilevers, you know, I’ve got an abutment, one of the teeth that are just out of whack a little too much. The doctor’s like, “No, I can’t take any more off of that. I’m seeing red already.” It’s like let me send this person out for the $1,200 or whatever for this $5,000 case that I’m getting in the lab. Let me do the endo or pay for it at least. You got to do it to where, okay, let’s do endo, so we can upright this to where it needs to be, but two or three teeth might be out of whack. If we can’t do endo at certain times, it’s like, it’s just tough when you have to compromise cases because of funds sometimes.

That’s neat if you can do it in your chair, you know? It’s a little half an hour, hour here. You kind of throw it in for the patient, or whatever, work it out. It’s neat when a dentist can do that endo when it’s needed. Sometimes it’s needed more than they think. Let’s do this the right way. It’d be neat if they could do some of the extra things in house.

Dr. Stella Bondar: We work with different budgets. I don’t have patients who can … I’m working in an area where some people can afford this much. Some people can afford this much. We really try our best for the patient to work with their budget.

Shaun: Absolutely. We had Howard [Fran 00:14:43] in here a couple of weeks ago. He’s talked about his $5,000 upper, his $5,000 lower, you know? We’re going 4 to 13 for the 49.95. The lab bill is, what is it, a couple hundred bucks. I think it worked out like $1,200 for those 12 teeth, or whatever, something around 14 teeth. He’s not making a killing, but his seat is filled all the time. I don’t know. Some guys are $2,000 a tooth. You know? Oh I got to get $1,500 or $1,300 a tooth. You know? I don’t know.

To each area, like here, we’ve got Irvine right here. A couple of blocks over, we’re in Newport Beach. A couple of blocks over, Santa Ana. A couple of blocks over is Tustin. We’ve got four cities that are kind of in the triangle here. You go to those four cities, and one’s 30% higher. This one’s 30% lower. It’s just weird how different areas and different charges and stuff, where the lab still gets those same $119 or $100 crowns from the ’80s and ’90s. It’s getting a little easier for us with some of the CAD/CAM systems.

It’s still a tough thing for us even as a lab, with the fees. I know it’s tough for a lot of my dentists with the fees, with the patients out there, because 99% of all the people have no insurance. If they do have insurance, it’s good for some X-rays and some cleanings, maybe, but when it comes to crowns and bridges and implants and root canals, they don’t like to cover that too much. If they do cover it, they’ll cover 30 or 40% of it. Patients, I know, they probably expect, just take that as full, right, doctor? Most of them say, “No, we’re not going to do that.” Some of them do. You know? Just to each their own. A lot of different dentistry being practiced all over.

Tell me a little bit about your first … How did you evaluate your first patient, say, in the US, when they came in, how was it for you, transitioning from Moldova to here in the US, when you started practicing? Tell me a little bit about do you remember that first patient of yours?

Dr. Stella Bondar: I do. I do. It’s actually very different. Dentistry in Moldova was free. You don’t think about money. You just think to help the patient. You also don’t think about the whole treatment, because they come only with the problem. Patients here come and we can be able to give them the full treatment plan. We can sit. We can talk. We can educate them. We can make a treatment plan. They come for regular cleanings, so they trust you. They expect you to take care of them.

Shaun: Absolutely. On your staff, how do you manage your staff? Tell me what kind of staff you’ve got working and stuff like that, hygienist wise, front desk girl. How do you delegate some of your stuff to them?

Dr. Stella Bondar: That’s very good. I’m not good on delegating tasks. I want to do everything myself. If the phone rings, I’m ready to pick it up. I have great people who’ve been with me for many years. I have two great hygienists. I have my manager. I have my assistants. I have another lady on the front desk. They are very good, very helpful. Don’t forget. We have women in the office. They have good days and bad days.

Shaun: As everyone.

Dr. Stella Bondar: As everyone, but we love our patients. All my people are in the office, all my staff members. They know we care. That’s my number one requirement for the person if I’m hiring the new person. We care. Persons know we care. If the patient calls, if the patient is in pain, I should see the patient today. No matter how busy the schedule is, I will see the patient today. If this patient needs root canal today, we’ll squeeze it in, and we’ll try to help the patient to be out of pain.

Shaun: No kidding. Do you do any IV sedation at all or no?

Dr. Stella Bondar: We don’t, unfortunately, but we have a lot of patients with anxiety and this dental phobia. We try to make them feel comfortable. We’ll start with talking to them first. We’ll do baby steps. Then they become our good patients.

Shaun: Okay. No nitrous at all? Not that I like that-

Dr. Stella Bondar: No nitrous. It would be great to bring a team, but we don’t.

Shaun: Yeah, hey, you can get … That can get you in trouble there a little bit. Man, I used to … My doctor-

Dr. Stella Bondar: That’s true.

Shaun: Yeah, it’s like Shaun, you’re going to get a cleaning. Well let’s do some nitrous, dude. All of a sudden, my head starts going bang, bang, bang. He’s like, “Oh, let’s turn it down. We’re losing Shaun here.” That’s kind of crazy stuff, man.

Dr. Stella Bondar: You really need to know what you’re doing. I did go to sedation seminars. I graduated from sedation docs that come and all their courses, but I decided not to pursue that.

Shaun: No kidding. It’s probably a good thing. I think you got to be real on top of that for sure, especially with people. You don’t know what their tickers like and everything else. You got to be careful. I think if a little more psychological, like you do, and just talk with them and calm them, and doing little things like that. I think that goes really far, for sure. Tell me a little bit, doctor, how do you drive patients to your practice. I mean is it word of mouth? Do you do internal marketing? You’re staff calling lots? Online marketing? Website? Any social media?

Dr. Stella Bondar: We’re a dinosaur, so we don’t have any good … I’m all for social media. We have to do that, but we never have time to do that. Our patients, mostly, word of the mouth.

Shaun: That’s really good.

Dr. Stella Bondar: They are the best patients. Their friends recommended them to see Dr. Bondar. They know that they come to be taken care of.

Shaun: Yup, it really is. It’s always going to be the best form of getting new patients. Same with us. When the doctor refers someone to another doctor and gives us a, “Hey, try Keating out.” That just goes so far. It’s the neatest thing too, and it’s free. You know? We actually send out a little card to our doctors. They don’t realize it, but it’s a little Keating card. We have our own little visa cards for like $100. “Thanks for the referral. We appreciate it.” They’re like, “Whoa. That’s pretty cool.” Man, that’s awesome.

A lot of doctors too, social media’s just kind of starting. We’re trying it too. It’s a bag full … It’s tough. You don’t want to just bug the crap out of people. We probably … I don’t know. Some guy’s helping us do it. You just try to be out there a little bit. For our situation, it’s usually dentists are good with their lab. When they’re not, that’s when they look for someone. We’re hoping, down the line, when that lab screws up, “Hey, let’s give Keating a try. See what they’re all about.” It’s tough. It’s tough.

Same thing with new patients, you know? Quincy. How many dentists are in Quincy, in your area? Quincy’s pretty neat town. Isn’t that John Quincy Adams, our second president? I think they named that after him? That city.

Dr. Stella Bondar: That’s true. That’s true. Interesting thing, but I have a lot of patients from all around Massachusetts, even from different states. Like I said, patients with phobia, they think they have to drive. I have patients from Connecticut. She thinks it’s good to drive to see me, because she’s afraid of anybody else. I’m sure in Connecticut and Rhode Island and Massachusetts, she can find somebody good, but she trusts us, and she drives. I have patients from Martha’s Vineyard, I had them yesterday, and they were thinking the rain can disturb their driving, so they stayed the night before in a hotel, paid for the hotel, to come and see us. We’re honored to have patients like that.

Shaun: Oh that is so cool. That’s neat, especially coming from Martha’s Vineyard. I have a good friend of mine who’s a dentist in Nantucket. He was in a podcast with us, but he’s actually, words not out yet, but I think he’s retiring and selling out after all these years, 30 plus years there. He has people coming from Jersey and New York over there, because people know him. They like really good doctors that take care of them. They’ll come from all over. That’s really what helps a practice stand out from the rest is just that real good care, and taking care of people. They’ll go wherever you’re at. That’s neat for staying in a hotel and everything, staying overnight. That’s neat. What kind of units we’re doing on that patient? What have we got going?

Dr. Stella Bondar: That’s a compliment. That’s a compliment. By the way, you and I did on them, they’re a husband and wife, we did upper teeth for her at one point. We did upper teeth for him.

Shaun: No kidding.

Dr. Stella Bondar: They needed something small. They needed cleaning and only one crown. Every time when they come, I’m trying to do my best to accommodate them. If they need a few fillings, I will do them right away, so they don’t have to drive back and forth.

Shaun: Oh that’s awesome. No, that’s really cool. Tell me a little bit about Quincy. What’s that like? It’s a few … What? 15 minutes? I think you’re pretty close to Durgin-Park there, aren’t you a little bit? I’m not sure.

Dr. Stella Bondar: Right. Right. We are very … We are close to Boston Downtown. I think eventually, it will be part of the big Boston area. It’s a new community. We have a lot of professionals. Also, it’s a changing community. It’s very nice. We are very close to the highway, so people can come. It’s easy. All this traffic in Boston.

Shaun: Yeah. Oh absolutely. How do you handle that weather out there, man? Is it kind of crazy come winter time there? It’s like, man, I remember, because we go out to the Yankee. I think it’s in the January or something. It’s always snowing. I don’t know how people get around town, man. It’s like everyone’s in pubs. You know? You’re either in a restaurant, or in a pub, or you’re at home in a fireplace. Tell me a little bit about the weather. What do you think about that? You’re probably used to it, being from Europe like that, where you’re at, the coldness, huh?

Dr. Stella Bondar: We still love your weather of course. I remember Yankee then it was three hours from the exit to the parking lot. It was three hours because of the snow. I remember that one. If it’s a snow storm, of course, we would be closed for the sake of our patients and my employees. The weather is not disturbing. We have very nice people, very good community. We can always go to study and learn something new in California.

Shaun: Yeah, absolutely. That’s why you guys are always coming out here, because of the weather. Heck, we’re about 107 degrees right now in Irvine. It’s hotter than heck. We’ve got these Santa Ana winds that come through. We’re hoping and praying no more fires, because we had fires right up the street in Anaheim Hills. It’s just crazy hot. It’s just weird. It’s just setting records like hundreds of years that maybe there is something to that global warming thing. It’s been hotter than hell here for … It still feels like the dead of August summer right now. It’s November, basically. It’s hotter than heck. It’s just crazy. We’re just so used to the heat and sunny 360 days of the year pretty much, but I kind of miss … I like the cold. I’m running a little hot. Keatings run hot, so I love the coldness. I love the seasons.

We have a place called Big Bear. It’s a couple of hours away. When it gets really cold up there, they have snow and stuff. We go up there and it’s kind of neat to get that snow feeling, and get out there and ski and stuff.

I remember last time we were in the Yankee, not the last time, but the one time where … Remember they moved the Yankee convention to a farther away place, like the new place they built?

Dr. Stella Bondar: They did. They did. They just don’t like it.

Shaun: Oh I hated it, because you got to go far away. I loved walking out of the old one, and just walking to the restaurants and bars. Everything’s right there. When we went to that one, that was when Robin Williams, God rest his soul, he passed away. Robin Williams was the keynote speaker, or he was just like the comedian that did the big thing at the end of the show. We all went there. Everyone went with their wives. We watched his comedy show. He was just great. It was just so awesome, but it was colder than hell out. It was probably 10 degrees out or something.

Dr. Stella Bondar: It’s always cold at Yankee Convention.

Shaun: And it was windy. We came out, and we had to get a taxi like everyone else. We were in a line, literally, 100 deep. My poor wife, man. She’s like 100 pounds. You’ve met Shannon. She was shivering. I’m pretty tough, and I got a good little fat roll there that kind of keep you warm, like a bear in the winter. I was chattering my teeth after about 20 minutes. Well 45 minutes later, we’re still 20 to go. I didn’t think I was … There was nothing you can do, because the taxis were coming in like one at a time from the in the city. It was the most unorganized thing. We didn’t go for several years after that. It was just such a nightmare.

My wife, I was telling her about doing this podcast with you. She’s from Boston. I’m telling her, “Oh yeah, Dr. Bondar. First thing she says, “Remember when I almost died out there and froze to death, trying to wait for the taxi?” It was like, dude, that was so crazy. It’s when you can do nothing. It’s not like Uber was even around then or nothing. You were waiting for those taxis. Everyone was like … You couldn’t even go give a guy $100 to get in front of the line. It was like they’re all people with means and everything else. They would’ve done the same thing. It was so bad that it was kind of like no food, and there’s one piece of meat left, and there’s a lot of people. It was tough. I just remembered that. Yeah, I’m not real good when it gets real cold like that.

I wonder too about it. I heard people complaining about not being at the original. I forgot the name. Was it McCormick Center, is it?

Dr. Stella Bondar: It was copy place, right? It was the Hynes Convention Center. People loved it there. It’s a shopping center. It’s a center of Boston.

Shaun: Yeah, you could go in the mall in the middle of it.

Dr. Stella Bondar: It was wonderful.

Shaun: I loved that. It had a big thing that said Keating Dental Lab in the entry of the mall, a big triangle. I remember I paid like $5,000 for that. I’d just go walk out the mall all the time, just to look at it and take pictures. That was way back. I used to do that. Yeah, I missed that there. I was thinking about doing that this year, to go out, because I haven’t been out there and had those lobsters.

Dr. Stella Bondar: You absolutely should. We would love to have you here.

Shaun: I’m doing it. I want to go to the Harvard Club, old Dr. Gardner brought me over there. Some of the best chowder I ever had was at the Harvard Club and this and that. That’s when I had dreams for my boys to play Harvard football. Then I found out there’s no scholarships. Then I found out he better be a 4.0 or above. The deed the diploma didn’t work there. That dream of my boys going to Harvard, that kind of faded by the time they were juniors in high school. We’re looking at a [GWC 00:31:03] for you guys, Golden West College around the corner. No. That’s so cool.

Tell me a little bit about what can you recommend, because you started your own practice. What kind of hiccups did you have? What kind of advice do you have, say if someone’s going to start a practice, what do you suggest? Is it lean and mean? Buy certain things? What do you think for a little bit of advice there for people that want to start their own practice?

Dr. Stella Bondar: I would recommend for dental equipment and old dental technologies, they are for us, which is great. You just need to do your homework before you buy something, and think of that like I love CEREC machine, but I think the best technician that you have would do better job than CEREC machine. You have to really think what you like, what fits your practice. If you do single crown, CEREC would be great. If you have big cases, like we do with you, a trained technician would see much better the translucency of teeth would do better job than you can do with CEREC.

Shaun: Yup.

Dr. Stella Bondar: A lot of technologies. I love lasers. I love intra oral cameras. Intra oral camera can help you to explain to the patient what you see. That’s the best tool to educate the patient. You just show them, and they know why they need the crown.

Shaun: Exactly.

Dr. Stella Bondar: A lot of good technologies right now. I’m looking forward to buying digital camera to take digital impressions. I’m sure it would help to communicate with the lab. You can see right away. You can correct me right away.

Shaun: Absolutely.

Dr. Stella Bondar: You need better impression, you need a better margin-

Shaun: Anyone in particular that you like out there in the impressions, on scanners?

Dr. Stella Bondar: I was thinking about iTero, so maybe that one, but also, as I always do, I would call Bob, and ask what Bob thinks about that.

Shaun: He’d probably tell you do a true def or a Trio. Trios, I’m trying to get a hold of a … Trying to talk to Tais Clausen. He’s the founder of 3Shape. We’re trying to work something out. We can’t really say nothing on that. I was just so used to my 3Shape scanners here since the start, and several years now. They got a great system. It’s a little more expensive, but it’s the real deal.

When I hear it, it’s like, “It’s more expensive.” It’s $3,500. I’ve got $100,000 3D printers. I’ve got CAD/CAM machines that I paid $80,000 for. For a dentist to say $3,000, $3,500 for the Ferrari of all these products out there, it’s a small price to pay, man, I think. A lot of dentists are pretty frugal and I understand that. You almost can’t afford not to nowadays. It’s just getting so neat with the shipping, and just with the accuracy. 3M’s been really good to us too. They’re crushing it too even in their stock market right now. They’re just a strong, strong company. We love 3M. 3Shape’s right there. iTero we like too.

It’s like a car. You’ve got your Toyotas, Hondas. You’ve got your Subarus. I mean they’re all good. They all work. They all get you from point A to point B. It’s just what works nicer. You just got to try each one of them, and see how they work in your practice. A lot of them are kind of piecemealed out too, like we can get you in at $1,500, but to get all the bells and whistles, it’s going to be 10 or 15 more down the line. Then they’re going to do dongle charges, this and that. You just kind of got to look at it all. I think down the line, it’s just going to be in most dental offices. They’ll be able to scan and send it off to the lab. You still do your temp, just like always.

Man, I was just telling my people on a couple of podcasts ago that I had a 300 bridge done with it, man. We did it on no model, and we did it the next day. The freaking thing is no adjustments. We just went in there and we dialed in my bite. I got it [inaudible 00:35:22], you know three point [inaudible 00:35:25]. Then we went and took it out. Three tapes out of occlusion from there. It literally was the most perfect restoration I’ve ever had. It was with no model. It’s like I got really jacked up after going to the dentist and having it done. The dentist too, for the first time ever used that one anesthesia, whatever, where I have a whole block or anything. Literally, I didn’t feel anything. My lips weren’t all numb. I couldn’t feel a thing, what they’re doing, cutting off the old ridge. For that anesthesia. That’s pretty neat stuff, especially when you want to go out to eat afterwards. That’s like kind of crazy. That’s awesome.

What about with CE. I know you do a lot of CE. What kind of CE do you recommend? What’s kind of stuck out with you on helping you and your career to forward yourself, you know, move yourself forward in the career?

Dr. Stella Bondar: I would recommend to take all courses possible, as many as you can fit in your schedule and your budget. Every business course that I took, even if you learn a few things from dental course or business course, and it would help you to work efficiently or not to make mistake is absolutely worth it. I did go to [spears 00:36:45] cases. I took down some academic cases, some seminars. I enjoyed Dr. [Hornbrook 00:36:54] at your lab.

Shaun: Yup.

Dr. Stella Bondar: If you tell me tomorrow you have a good course, I would change my schedule and fly to see it, because it’s very important. It’s very important. It’s very important.

Shaun: Have you done any stuff on dental town at all too or no?

Dr. Stella Bondar: I did not. I know you have a lot of fun, guys. I always read the magazine, but I think the next dental town meeting, I will go.

Shaun: It will be a lot easier for you, because it’s down in Florida now. I’m kind of excited, because I’m sick of Vegas, man. Vegas is my backyard here. I go there just for a comedy show and come back the next day. It’s quick and easy, but it’ll be neat being out in Florida, man. I want to do the little Disneyland thing too. I’m going to go a couple of days early, stay a couple of days late. I’ve been to Disneyland all my life here. I grew up here right next to Anaheim. I’ve been to Disneyland probably 100 plus times. I know every place in that. I love it. Now they have California Adventure there for the last 10 years or so. I usually go there more than Disneyland now, because California Adventure’s more … It’s just different rides, pretty cool.

I think it will be a neat thing that they’re doing it out in Florida. It will switch it up. The poor guys from the East Coast and the Midwest, I mean, having to come down all the way to Vegas. Now it’s in their backyard. It’s going to be a longer trip. It will be a seven hour trip for us now.

That’s what I always hated about going to Boston, man. It’s like, dude, you’ve got to go all the way across the whole United States. I usually do Jet Blue out of Long Beach. They have these little TVs in front of your seats. It shows the plane, the travel route. It’s like dude, man, it’s two more hours over Texas. It’s like oh, I’m not a good flyer. I’m not a real big across the US. I’ve never been to Europe. It’s because I can’t even fathom going 15, 16 hours. Man, I’ll just go off the rails there. We’ll figure it out.

I’m waiting for the super sonic jet. You’re going to pay a bunch of money, but you’ll get there in an hour, two hours or something. I wish that jet was still … I forgot the name of that one from France or whatever, that thing. It kind of crashed and they had to stop it, but that was a pretty neat one. I forgot the name of that one, but pretty cool.

Alright, well hey, tell me what kind of hobbies you got doing on your time off. I know you have twins. You have four kids now.

Dr. Stella Bondar: I have four kids. My hobbies, I spend the whole weekend, I mean we do a lot of activities with kids. We do a lot of sports. I still have time for myself. I’m thankful for dentistry to be able to provide a nice life for my kids. I love dancing. I love going to listen to the music. I love all types of music. It’s wonderful. It’s just wonderful. Before it was like people say, “Oh Monday.” Being with four kids the whole weekend, I’m saying, “Oh Monday!”

Shaun: Yeah, get me away from these little kids and get me to work. No. I know. I know you’re single too now. We’ve got to find yourself … What do you want? What kind of guy do you want? A dentist or someone out of the dental field or what? We’ve got to find you a West Coast guy, bring your practice out here. Your kids will love it. Your kids are all grown now, aren’t they? How old are they now?

Dr. Stella Bondar: One is graduating from college this year. One is looking at colleges. I will tell him to look for California, but he’s … I have twins. They started middle school. I have more time to do dentistry now.

Shaun: Yes, you do. Still got a couple in junior high. Man, you still got some nights ahead of you through those high school years. Those are always fun.

Dr. Stella Bondar: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Shaun: Oh man.

Dr. Stella Bondar: Maybe some would join Bondar Dental.

Shaun: That’s what you got to do, having dentists, man. Make a little empire there, you know? You do got a solid dental practice. You’re on your way big time. I mean you’re ahead of it for sure. I’ve got a lot of dentists, like my brother, he got his son into it. He’s just a chip off his … Just like his dad, real smart. I think he was a dentist at 24 years old or something, 25 he had his own practice. He’s kind of got to go for it. If you have some mentors to help you along, then you’d be great. Yeah, I’d get your daughters, your sons, the whole family there. Maybe one of them doesn’t want to do dentistry, if they want to get in the lab business, have them come out with Uncle Shaun out here. Just say, “Hey, you’re going to kind of intern this summer at Keating Dental Lab.” We’ll have them practice ceramics, whatever you want. Do the whole thing. Yeah, that would be cool.

Dr. Stella Bondar: That’s true. I strongly believe every dentist has to go through the lab and do crowns to understand how tough your job guys is.

Shaun: Yeah, it really does open their eyes up. I think a lot of them respect us, but I think their respect is more if they see really what it entails to go through. I think they feel good about themselves when they see some of the stuff we get sometimes. It’s kind of crazy when you’re looking at 400, 500 impressions a day. You look at them and some of them are what was he thinking on this one? It’s tough, you know? Sometimes the doctors aren’t doing those impressions. They’re letting their assistants do it.

That’s the whole thing. If you don’t want to fit, man, you’re just … It’s no good. You fit, function, and aesthetics. We can get function and aesthetics, but if it doesn’t fit, you’re screwed. It’s the foundation. It’s just like building a bridge. You better have a foundation done right, otherwise, nothing else works on top of it. The same thing with teeth. If we don’t have a crisp impression, where I can read what that margin is that I have to cover and capture, it’s just like it’s going to be a failure. If we can get that fit, then I’m going to get you function. I’m going to get you aesthetics. That’s the easy part. It’s just getting that fit first.

That’s where the digital impressions come in so neat, because you’re not allowed to go the next step unless it has a clarity of that margin. I had a guy tell me a couple of months back, “The first month’s kind of tough, you know, to get it down.” I was thinking this was the last couple of weeks ago. It was a guy and a Trio. “Yeah, I bought this. It’s more expensive, but I love it. It’s a little tough the first month or so, but after that, you get it.” It’s just like anything.

You know? Change is always tough, but it’s like three weeks of a habit. Stop at three weeks, they say, and same thing on a technique. It’s three weeks or until a month or so. If you do it day in and day out, you’ll get it down. It just changes the way you look at dentistry a little bit. It changes totally the outcome being 100% positive every time, because it’s accurate as heck, man. It’s not this rubber base, your polyvinyl base, or polyether base material that likes to shrink and expand. God only knows what it does at 35,000 feet in the air, and 20 degrees below zero on those planes or whatever. It can do weird things, but it’s been good to us for years with impression material. The way it’s going with these digital impressions, man, it’s just crazy, but pretty neat.

Well hey, I want to thank you so much for coming on. Is there anything else you want to say out there to the dental world on what to do and how you do things, or are you pretty good?

Dr. Stella Bondar: I’m pretty good. I want to thank you again for your great job, and being there for my patients, and for us to do a good job for our patients. That’s wonderful to work with you. I’m looking forward to have another 15 years.

Shaun: Oh that’s so cool.

Dr. Stella Bondar: You cannot retire.

Shaun: No, I’m not. I’ve got at least 10. I’ve got 10 to go until 65. My wife tells me, “You ain’t coming home, honey.” I see enough. It’s kind of cool. I love what I do actually. I come in. My sons are here. I love making teeth. We make teeth and it’s a neat thing. We have the same people have been here forever. You’ve been here. It’s just like a big family. They’re all excited.

We have a big party on Tuesday for Halloween. Everyone gets these pumpkins and costumes. We give out prizes. It’s Christmas time coming up and holidays. It’s just a good time of the year. We’re having a great year, our best year ever. It’s just another great year. It’s just thank you, Lord. We’re very blessed, and very thankful.

We do these podcasts with existing accounts. You know? These doctors, if they can give a little bit of information that might help somebody out there. It’s kind of giving back to our doctors here, and let them tell us a little bit about their story. It’s just great. Everyone’s different. You have a great story coming, where you came from, and one of the poorest countries in all of Europe, and coming over here. You’re just crushing it. You’re just a great person and have a great staff that works with you. We thank you for all the years you’ve been with us, and all the work. If there’s anything we could do, please let us know.

Dr. Stella Bondar: Thank you. Thank you, Shaun. If I can do it, everybody can.

Shaun: That’s so cool, man. Yeah, same with me. If I could do, anyone could do it too. I tell you. We’re like the same thing, you know? My mother has five kids, single mom, this and that. What you’re doing with your kids, it’s just a great thing. You’re a great provider. You just do it. It reminds me a lot about my story and how I was brought up with my mom. You’re writing that same book. My hats off to you and all that you do. Than you, Dr. Bondar. If you need anything, please give us a call here. We’ll talk to you real soon.

Dr. Stella Bondar: Thank you, Shaun.

Shaun: Alright, bye-bye.

Dr. Stella Bondar: Bye-bye.

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