Several times a year, local dentist Troy Keyes heads for Charlotte, N.C., where he focuses on helping other dentists acquire skills which are an integral part of his Madison practice. As a faculty member at the Engel Institute, he teaches colleagues implant dentistry.
However, he also continues to learn himself.
"It's just something in me," he said recently in a phone interview. "It feels like I have to do it."
Most recently, he completed the most advanced course offered at the Engel Institute -- full arch conversion, colloquially known as "teeth in a day." Keyes explained that patients go from "bombed out to Hollywood smiles" with an aggressive surgical procedure that can take between five and seven hours.
"They function like the teeth that God gave them," Keyes said. By comparison, people with dentures only have one-third of the biting force that natural teeth have.
He became affiliated with the Institute seven years ago after becoming interested in dental implants. A business rep recommended the Engel Institute, so he signed up for a course and stayed on to teach.
According to the faculty biography posted on the Engle Institute's website, Keyes received his Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry before serving as the dental officer aboard the USS Tortuga from 2003-05.
After returning to South Dakota, where he was raised, he not only worked in private practice but also taught dental anesthesia at the Center for Family Medicine in Sioux Falls. In 2010, he purchased his practice in Madison but continued teaching through South Dakota Partners for Prevention.
At Madison Family Dental, he offers not only general dentistry and children's dentistry services but also restorative and cosmetic dentistry services. He has been a member of the Engel Institute's dental implant training faculty since 2013.
Training at the Engel Institute involves not only lectures but also hands-on surgical experience for participants. The most recent procedure that Keyes learned involves extracting all of a patient's teeth, flattening and leveling the jawbone, screwing a device into the jaw, putting guides in place and then screwing in the implants.
The procedure requires two or three dentists, lab technicians and lots of stitches, according to Keyes. However, the intense procedure makes a significant difference to the patients.
"Most of the people cry afterward when they see the difference," he said. The tears are tears of joy not distress or disappointment, he said.
Surprisingly, when the patients are seen on the day following surgery, most report their level of pain is just three out of a possible ten.
"The post-operative pain level is minimal," Keyes indicated.
The same cannot be said of the cost. At a dental office, Keyes estimates, the full procedure would cost approximately $50,000. At the Institute, patients are required to pay enough to cover the cost of the hardware used during the procedure -- around $14,000.
"It's the cost of a new car," Keyes acknowledged. However, payments can be arranged through a financing company.
For those who choose to go through the lengthy procedure, the outcome is worth the investment. They go from embarrassed to smiling, according to Keyes.
"They don't have to worry about anything falling out," he said.
Dentists themselves are also gratified to see their patients' reaction to the "teeth in a day" procedure.
"When you get to see men and women sobbing and they come back to thank you, it's satisfying," Keyes said.
Dental assistants Rachel Hass and Kim Paradeis accompanied Keyes to the Institute when he received training for the full arch conversion. They have now been hired by the Institute as well and will return with him in November.