As part of our interview series, we have the pleasure of introducing different Penn dentists from a variety of areas. A general dentist is like the equivalent of a family doctor, overseeing and coordinating your standard dental treatment. We have some fantastic general dentists in Philadelphia here at Penn Dental Family Practice, including the one and only Dr. Candace Zorn!
This summer, we sat down with Dr. Zorn to hear her story and get her perspective on the little-known aspects of general dentistry.
Dr. Zorn: Sure, I was born and raised with my two siblings in Baltimore County in Maryland. My mother is a teacher and my father a dentist (I spent a lot of time in his office!) I’m the middle child.
Growing up, I played many sports including soccer, lacrosse, and horseback riding. I was also very interested in science, which led me to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
I came back to Maryland after graduating college and worked in research until eventually deciding to pursue dentistry at the University of Maryland Dental School. After completing my residency in Washington, D.C., I followed my husband to Illinois for his post-doctoral studies. My husband now works as a professor at Drexel University, which brought us to the Philadelphia area.
I really enjoy the city, and that’s where I am today, trying to raise a family in the suburbs.
Dr. Zorn: After college, I worked in a biomechanics research lab testing orthopaedic spinal devices for companies seeking FDA approval. Although I loved the research element, I really missed interacting with people from different backgrounds in a clinical setting.
Because I had grown up working at my father’s dental practice and loved the artistry involved in working with your hands, I decided to pursue general dentistry. I really enjoy working with patients from all walks of life, and general dentistry was a way of pursuing all my interests. Though I considered specializing, I realized I like all aspects of dentistry and couldn’t see myself choosing just one area to work in for the rest of my life. General dentistry gives you the chance to integrate many areas of the dental field.
I joke that I enjoy being a jack of all trades–it keeps things interesting when you can switch to different disciplines in the field all the time. I like the fact that my day is always different, and nobody is ever the same in general dentistry. Since each case is different, you always look to what you did the day before and try to apply the knowledge you gained to future cases–I like that aspect of it.
Dr. Zorn: Everything! It just depends on who walks through the door! We have a very comprehensive approach to dentistry, so treatment may involve restorations, crowns, or tooth replacement. As a general dentist, I’ve treated people of all ages, the procedures ranging from one restoration (filling) to full mouth rehabilitation.
Everyone has different goals when it comes to dentistry, so a big part of my job is to provide patients with many different options. One of the best treatment options for patients is implants, which are used to replace one or more teeth without affecting adjacent teeth.
Day-to-day procedures often include restorations, crowns, bridges, and tooth replacement (with either dentures or implants.)
I really enjoy trying to give someone the smile they want. Whether it’s for cosmetic or functional reasons, I look forward to reaching that end result, where they’re happy and feel comfortable smiling again, or they can finally eat that steak they’ve always wanted to try. General dentistry in Philadelphia really is patient-specific.
Dr. Zorn: I’ve been in the field for 6 years now.
That’s a big question, though, because I grew up with dentistry. Everything has changed! I have a unique perspective in terms of merging the old with the new. So much has changed since I started as a dental assistant 20 years ago. And, with continuing technological advancement, who knows where it will go! Dental technology today helps us diagnose and design a more tailored approach to each patient. X-rays are digital–we don’t have to go develop them. The old dental impression technique has been changed to intraoral scanners. We’re talking about 3D printing, too.
I think it’s important to realize that not everything is a textbook case. General and cosmetic dentistry often involve applying what was previously learned to each patient individually. You have to build on basic principles and evolve your practice to better serve patients. I really enjoy that challenge.
So many procedures are now validated scientifically, which leads to more of what we call “evidence-based dentistry.” We’re in the digital age, with access to radiography, “impressions” that use cameras, and CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing) technology. I’m excited to see where the field will go in the future. We keep improving techniques to better serve the patients through a more personalized approach.
Dr. Zorn: The people! I’m a very social person–I love it when patients come in and tell me about their weekend or a new restaurant!
Also, I love working with my hands. I never considered myself an artist, but I guess that’s what I am in a way. You integrate everything you see to try to change someone’s life with their smile or the way they feel through dentistry. I really enjoy making that difference in people’s lives.
Like I said before, there’s a certain challenge involved in adapting to each patient’s specific needs. I find that it’s very rewarding to be able to do that for different types of people. With dentistry and medicine in general, keeping up with technological advances means there’s always something new to learn. I love learning new things and constantly working to improve my skills.
Dr. Zorn: I would tell them to start small and go from there. I think most people get overwhelmed and anxious when faced with the idea of dental treatment, especially if it has been a while since they have been to the dentist or if they had a less-than-pleasant experience in the past. It all begins with a step-by-step approach to reach your desired goal. If going to the dentist has been on your mind for a while, then you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by learning what your options are.
It can be overwhelming for patients to see their goal but not know how to get there. If we take it one small step at a time, it can be less overwhelming. But that only happens once you have a conversation with your dentist about how we can reach your treatment goals.
Dr. Zorn: What’s great at Penn is that you have all your general dentists and specialists in one place. In other private practices, it can be difficult to really give the patient that treatment plan because you have to work with other specialties, which may or may not be on the same page in terms of the treatment approach. At Penn, we all work together to give patients what they need and coordinate across specialties to meet treatment goals.
We are unique because of this ability to collaborate and customize the care of each patient. Also, being associated with a top-notch university provides a wealth of knowledge and resources for dental work. I know that, besides our access to the most cutting-edge research and technology, we have some of the top dentists Philadelphia has to offer.
Dr. Zorn: It’s a larger facility that offers the same excellent care as was formerly given at the Bryn Mawr office.
With expanded office hours, we’ll be able to offer more hours with specialists and we’ll have more full-time general dentists on staff. Our new office on the Main Line is an opportunity to better serve the community.
Dr. Zorn: I got engaged and later married in Key West, Florida. One of my favorite places is sitting on the pier, amidst all the excitement of the Sunset Festival at Mallory Square, as the sun sets. I have always loved the beach because I spent my summers as a kid in Ocean City, Maryland. I still enjoy traveling to coastal towns.
There is just something so calming about the water and the salty air. I’m thrilled my kids share my same passion for the beach. As an amateur photographer, I’m always trying to capture the beauty of those amazing sunsets on the water, but there’s nothing that compares to being there in person.
Everyone’s lives tend to be very scheduled and hectic. Sometimes, I love to just go sit on a beach and enjoy the sunset.
Dr. Zorn: You live and you learn. As we get wiser, we realize it’s better to be proactive. Treating something early is usually the easier way out of a problem than waiting. Be sure you focus on you– oral health and overall health are worth taking the time to care for. Hopefully, readers can come in and we can help ease any dental fears you have. I think that we as dental practitioners hope to erase the fear that so many people feel. Because of advances in technology, procedures require less invasive techniques and a simpler overall experience for the patient.
I work hard to give my patients a pleasant experience and try to bring a little humor to the situation!
Have you been considering going to a dentist for some time but have yet to pick up the phone to make an appointment? Especially if you have dental fears, we encourage you to schedule with one of our caring general dentists in Philadelphia, such as Dr. Zorn. We want to give you the best experience you’ve ever had in dentistry–in terms of both comfort and quality care!
With some of the best dentists in Philadelphia, Penn Dental Family Practice gives you results that will last. You can get in touch with us by calling 215-898-7337.
Please note: As of June 30, 2019, Dr. Zorn will be practicing at the University City location.