Educating the Industry
With a shared focus on continuing education, Dr. John Cranham and Heartland Dental work together to advance dentistry
In today’s ever-evolving industry, patient expectations have never been higher and dental technology has never been more advanced. With this ongoing evolution, staying educated and skilled is no longer an option for modern dentists, it is a necessity.
To meet these challenges, many continuing education institutions have been established over the years and many dentists have actively pursued teaching others and sharing the principles of ideal dental care. John Cranham, DDS is a prime example of a dentist who has committed himself to the education of others.
“If you look at many other institutions and groups who are teaching advanced dental techniques for complex procedures, most of them are following many of the principles Dr. Dawson developed back in the 70s. While this base curriculum has evolved through the years from an esthetic standpoint, his principles of treatment planning are time-tested and still effective today.”
John Cranham, DDS
Clincial Director at the Dawson Academy and practicing dentist at Chesapeake Center for Complete Dentistry
In the dental industry, Dr. Cranham is internationally renown and respected for his groundbreaking work in estethic dentistry and modern concepts on occlusion. He is both a successful clinician and educator, first establishing Cranham Dental Seminars then becoming the Clinical Director of the world-famous Dawson Academy. Founded in 1979 by Dr. Peter Dawson, the academy has become highly regarded throughout the years for its instruction on complete, quality and predictable dentistry.
With his commitment, Dr. Cranham has impacted the careers and lives of many dentists for the better – much like Heartland Dental’s ongoing goal of providing world-class educational opportunities. It makes sense that their paths would cross.
Becoming a Dentist and an Educator
After graduating from the Medical College of Virginia in 1988, Dr. Cranham first began pursuing continuing education in areas such as occlusion, treatment planning and TMJ at The Dawson Academy. A few years later, around 1995, he began taking courses with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. The knowledge he learned from both the occlusion and cosmetic dentistry courses lead to the beginning of Dr. Cranham’s own educational initiative.
“In the mid-nineties, there were two distinct camps in regards to what was happening with cosmetic dentistry and the more traditional, occlusion-based care. I saw an opportunity to combine both these principles in a seminar called the Cosmetic Occlusal Connection. In this seminar, I integrated the occlusal principles I learned from Dr. Dawson with the emerging cosmetic advances. That one class really got my educational career off the ground and established Cranham Dental Seminars,” explained Dr. Cranham.
In merging the benefits of these traditional and cutting edge methods, Dr. Cranham created valuable new technqiues that helped dentists from all experience levels advance their level of care. Fast forward to 2004, he received the opportunity to take his passion for education even further.
“After attending one of my lectures, Dr. Dawson was intrigued with what I was doing and asked if I would join the team at The Dawson Academy. For several years, I particpated with the faculty as an outside consultant. Then around 2007, I officially joined The Dawson Academy and became the Clinical Director,” said Dr. Cranham. “In this role, I serve as the keeper of our curriculum, which is comprised of seven, three day classes, both lecture and hands-on. As Clinical Director, it’s my responsibility to ensure the standardization of all messages delivered in these courses.”
Now with a faculty comprised of over 20 practicing dentists from around the world, The Dawson Academy is still recognized in today’s industry as one of the leading institutions for advanced continuing education. There, students learn essential principles and skills to provide effective overall care, with primary concentrations in dental occlusion, TMJ and comprehensive esthetic restorative dentistry.
“Since I’ve started as Clinical Director, we have made some advancements. We have transitioned from holding courses in one location to adding more instructors to our faculty and holding courses in multiple locations across the U.S. and abroad. With multiple classes in multiple areas, it is challenging to deliver the same educational content, whether lecture or hands-on, across the board. But with the opportunity it gives us to help more dentists in more locations advance their clinical skills, it’s definitely worth it,” explained Dr. Cranham. “If you look at many other institutions and groups who are teaching advanced dental techniques for complex procedures, most of them are following many of the principles Dr. Dawson developed back in the 70s. While this base curriculum has evolved through the years from an esthetic standpoint, his principles of treatment planning are time-tested and still effective today. I think one area that makes The Dawson Academy stand out among other institutions and groups is our ability to help dentists ideally plan for predictability. We provide a clear protocol to help them create as much success with their larger, complex cases as they achieve with their common, everyday cases.”
In addition to his involvement with the academy’s courses, Dr. Cranham is primarily involved with outreach. He attends major events and speaks with groups in order to reach dentists who have not been exposed to the benefits The Dawson Academy can provide. Dr. Cranham’s interest in continuing education started back when he was attending dental school.
“The concept of documenting my work and presenting it to other dentists first intrigued me to pursue dental education. While I was in dental school, one of my instructors discussed how documenting your work would help you advance. I began taking photos to learn from, and from that, I was invited to speak at a dental study club. As I gained more and more of these opportunities, it evolved into a big part of my life,” added Dr. Cranham.
The Necessary Support
In addition to being a prominent educator, Dr. Cranham uses his extensive knowledge and experience to provide the highest quality of care at his state-of-the-art office, Chesapeake Center for Complete Dentistry. Like with many dentists, however, the rigors of balancing both the clinical and business responsibilities of running a practice, as well as his educational responsibilities with The Dawson Academy, began to take its toll.
“With a growing practice and a growing educational role, not to mention keeping up with a growing industry, I knew I couldn’t manage the next 10 years the way I managed the previous 10 years. At age 53, I knew it would be difficult to maintain the type of dentistry I wanted to do at the level I wanted to do it, as well as enjoy my life outside of dentistry,” said Dr. Cranham. “In searching for a solution, I first spoke with Heartland Dental. I was skeptical at first, but I was impressed by how they took the time to assess whether or not they could effectively support my practice and the type of dentistry I do. I learned that my practice wouldn’t be forced into a “cookie cutter” template. I learned my team and I would receive the customized support that best fit our situation.”
Now with Heartand Dental’s support, Dr. Cranham can truly practice on his terms, including focusing on high-quality patient care, enjoying a work/life balance and adding time for his educational initiatives.
“Compared to other dental support organizations, Heartland Dental doesn’t focus on creating one standard system, they focus on creating a structure of support that will help individual dentists practice the way they want to practice. Heartland Dental listens to what dentists want. For myself, they spent a great deal of time with me to understand not only my role as a clincian, but as an educator. They worked with me to create a plan that will help me accomplish my goals in both areas.”
“With all the responsibilities of successfully running a dental practice, it is becoming exceedingly hard to do all the things that need to be done on your own. With Heartland Dental’s support, dentists and teams can be freed up to focus on the care they want to provide. With the managerial responsiblities of my office, the people at Heartland Dental who support those administrative areas have been amazing,” said Dr. Cranham. “Dr. Dawson taught me that that life balance is needed for happiness. Keeping that balance wheel in tact is difficult year after year, but now I have a way to simplify my work life and maintain an ideal balance.”
Rick Workman, DMD
Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Heartland Dental
Since Heartland Dental was founded, offer- ing contemporary educational opportunities has always been a point of focus. With this being such an important emphasis for Dr. Cranham as well, the collaboration between the two makes perfect sense.
“After reviewing many different DSOs, there were two things that stuck out regarding Heartland Dental – their commitment to education and the possibility of being able to utilize my skills as an educator to benefit other supported dentists. I was also impressed by the fact that Heartland Dental didn’t want to change what I was doing. They spent the time to understand what was working and what areas their support could help my office advance. That mindset alone separated Heartland Dental from some other DSOs I spoke with,” said Dr. Cranham. “In today’s industry, the solo practioner environment can be somewhat lonely and isolating. Having a network of colleague dentists to communicate with and learn from is invaluable. In addition, the opportunities Heartland Dental offers to advance yourself and your office, whether through Invisalign certification, endo training or leadership courses, are very exciting.”
“We are thrilled to support Dr. Cranham as he and The Dawson Academy continue to advance the art and science of dentistry,” said Rick Workman, DMD, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Heartland Dental. “Specifically with today’s students entering the dental world, Heartland Dental offers another choice. I think private practices will continue in our industry, but it is becoming a harder road to take. For those just entering the industry who want to take advantage of educational opportunities and the support of other dentists, without dealing with the managerial responsibilities of a practice, Heartland Dental is a great option,” added Dr. Cranham.
Chesapeake Center for Complete Dentistry in Chesapeake, VA