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Longtime Dental Associates Partner Bids Farewell



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Longtime Dental Associates Partner Bids Farewell

By Nancy K. Crevier

Dr William Snyder did not grow up planning to become a partner in one of the most successful and revolutionary dental practices in the area. “When I graduated from City College in New York in 1965, where I did my undergraduate work, dentistry was very archaic still. There was a lot of fear associated with dentistry,” recalled Dr Snyder, who after 37 years in practice will retire on December 31 from Dental Associates.

What Dr Snyder did know when he graduated from City College was that he wanted to go into a profession. “In those days, that meant my choices were law — and I couldn’t write — accounting, engineering, medicine, or dentistry. When I get into something, I do it 110 percent,” said Dr Snyder. “As a physician, I knew I would work 180 hours a week and not have a life. That left dentistry. I have always liked people, and I wanted to work for myself. I saw that with my skills in art and science, I could help people.”

He graduated from NYU College of Dentistry in 1970, and when he met Newtown dentist Dr Lawrence Daum through friends, joined Dr Daum in his Newtown practice. “It was Dr Daum who drew me here to Newtown,” said Dr Snyder. “He was extraordinarily sophisticated for the times in his dentistry. I recognized that I could learn a lot from him.”

The two dentists were determined to learn the most comprehensive aspects of the practice of dentistry, and as partners, completed the curriculum at the Pankey Institute of Advanced Dental Learning in Florida, as well as continuing courses throughout the country.

“We never envisioned [that Dental Associates] would grow to this size, that this would happen,” Dr Snyder said of the practice that today includes offices in Danbury and New Milford, as well as in Newtown, and 23 doctors managing a staff of 150.

What the dentists learned at Pankey was a form of dentistry that was not commonly practiced in the early 70s, he said. “Dentistry was still sort of a patch it and fix it practice. It wasn’t expected that people would keep their teeth or the fixes for their whole lifetime,” Dr Snyder said. At Pankey, they fostered the idea that treatment should be designed in such a way that the patient keeps what they have the rest of their lives, more of a whole person approach. They also adopted the philosophy that dental care can be given in such a way that pain is minimized for the patient. “In dental school, they taught us how to administer shots for pain, but not how to give them in such a way as to not cause the patient great pain. That is a skill that we have worked to perfect, relieving pain without causing more,” Dr Snyder said.

 They then worked to broaden the scope of services that Dental Associates could offer. “Dr Daum and I determined that we needed specialists in areas we were not skilled in,” said Dr Snyder, whose skills have evolved to specialize in restorative dentistry. “It turned out there was a large demand for [treatment that respected the patient and that offered a convenient way of getting various treatments].”

The two doctors continued to add and mentor new doctors in their practice who would work under the same philosophy that they had adopted, that of caring for the whole individual. “Our new doctors are paired with another doctor when they join us at Dental Associates,” explained Dr Snyder. “They are mentored by this person from then on.” What the senior partners teach incoming doctors are the arts of dental and people skills.

“If you are caring, you’re not going to hurt somebody, or keep them waiting, and you will deal with them as an individual. It is about having patients feel comfortable,” he said. In addition, said Dr Snyder, all new doctors work to become partners, and each partner in the Dental Associates practice has equal say. He has acted as a “managing” partner for many years, due not to his voting clout on the board or because he was an original partner, but because he has gained the respect of his colleagues and has the experience.

The dentists also realized that in order to provide their patients with all of the care and the best care that they required, that it would be beneficial to have access to doctors in other areas of dental specialties.

The novel approach of housing dental specialists under one roof offered a level of comfort and convenience to patients, and increased the quality of care for dental patients, Dr Snyder said. “With the specialists on site, people are more comfortable, there is better communication between doctors and patients, and it is easier to implement a dental plan for someone,” he said. The combination of caring for patients, doctor training, and creating a holistic dental environment is a formula that has fostered the growth of the practice, Dr Snyder said.

By the end of the 1970s, the new style of dentistry had made Newtown Dental Associates so popular that the group expanded into Danbury in 1980 and into New Milford in 1983. Between 1980 and 1983, Dr Snyder continued to work in both the Newtown and Danbury offices, but decided to move his practice to Danbury in 1983. Many of his Newtown patients followed him to the Dental Associates office in Danbury, though, he said.

With three offices, a large staff, and nearly two dozen doctors, one might think that it would be difficult to develop a one-on-one relationship at Dental Associates, but the group was structured in a way to avoid just that, Dr Snyder said. “What we have done, because of our size, is to set it up so that every doctor has his own ‘mini-practice.’ We each have our own receptionists, our own hygienists. We work in teams and have our own, personal patients. We are not a clinic. It is never hit or miss whom a patient sees. The process of quality and caring go along with developing patient relationships,” explained Dr Snyder. “It is like being small with all of the advantages of being big.”

Training and maintaining the excellence of doctors and staff have been a challenge in the nearly 40 years he has been with Dental Associates, but people, whether colleagues or clients, have brought him a great deal of pleasure and happiness.

“What has surprised me the most since announcing my retirement is realizing the number of patients I have treated, and how long so many of them have been with me. The response to my announcement has been like a ‘lovefest,’ it’s overwhelming,” he said.

December 27 may mark the end of his days at Dental Associates, but he will always be available for consultation, Dr Snyder said, and he looks forward to the additional freedom retirement offers. His dedication to excellence has flowed over into his recreational time, and during the years that he helped build up Dental Associates and that he and his wife, Phyllis, raised his daughter, Dani, and son, David, in Brookfield, he squeezed in time to master English riding, learned to pilot a plane, honed his snow skiing and waterskiing skills, took up scuba diving, and learned how to do underwater photography. “I also have traveled all over the world to windsurf,” said Dr Snyder, and retirement will only offer more opportunity to delve into areas not yet explored. “I like to learn as much as I can and get to a higher level of expertise. I haven’t figured out what is next, though, although I’m sure I’ll be playing a lot of golf and tennis in Florida, where Phyllis and I will spend the winters.”

There have been trials and tribulations along the way to creating the model dental business practice, said Dr Snyder, and added, “It hasn’t been just me building this business. I didn’t do it alone.” It is with great confidence, he said, that he will leave at the end of the year, knowing that the those Dental Associate colleagues dedicated to excellence in service, quality of care, and caring for patients as individuals will carry on, prospering under the philosophy that has made Dental Associates a group with which he has been proud to serve.

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