Early in his career, Dr. William Dickerson became frustrated with the traditional approach to dentistry. He searched for a better way to run his office and eventually focused on creating a “Patient Centered Practice.” He became passionate about delivering this level of care and wanted to share that passion with other dentists. This propelled him to his role as a key opinion leader and served as a catalyst for creating the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI Global).
For more than two decades, Dr. Dickerson has used LVI Global as an educational forum to advance cosmetic dentistry and develop aesthetic and occlusal techniques. The center’s early focus on neuromuscular dentistry has evolved over the years to what is now known as Physiologic Based Dentistry, which is an all-encompassing approach to finding the stable physiologic neutral zone.
The center’s teachings are based on the “physiologic principles of a healthy, stable human where the principles of the top block effect and influence the rest of the body and how the rest of the body can influence the bite,” Dr. Dickerson said. LVI dentists treat the entire body because they understand treating just the bite is not enough.
This discipline is rapidly changing, Dr. Dickerson said. What neuromuscular dentists did 20 years ago is nothing like what’s being done today. For instance, new products are allowing dentists to better diagnose and treat patients, including the BioPAK software from BioResearch that LVI has helped to develop and improve.
“The curriculum taught at LVI was and is constantly evolving as we learn more and more about physiologically based dentistry,” Dr. Dickerson said. “We are light years beyond what LVI was teaching in the late 1990s and even the last decade. One of the things I’m most proud of about LVI is that it’s constantly learning, evolving, advancing and changing for the betterment of the patients.”
The People Who Have Inspired Him
While many dentists have helped LVI flourish over the years, Dr. Dickerson gives Dr. Omer Reed credit for encouraging him to start the center in the first place.
“I was at a low point, hating dentistry, and he inspired me so much. I came back and changed my attitude, how I dealt with insurance and how I treated my patients,” Dr. Dickerson said. “Nothing clinical really, just philosophy. LVI’s philosophy on what I called Patient Centered Practice (he called it “front desklessness”) came from Omer’s influence.”
Others who have influenced LVI’s curriculum and success include Dr. Ron Jackson, the late Dr. Jim Garry, and a host of faculty members who are committed to developing better ways to treat and help patients. One such faculty member is Dr. Heidi Dickerson, who plays a vital role at the center that includes teaching courses and facilitating campus operations.
“LVI would not be here today if it were not for Heidi,” Dr. Dickerson said. “There is no way I could have done this all these years without her help, influence and hard work. She’s so smart and such a good dentist but it’s her ability to effectively communicate our teachings with our team and the doctors that has helped make LVI successful. It’s comforting to know I can always trust her to do what is best for LVI and, therefore, the doctor and patient lives that we touch.”
Then of course there are key opinion leaders like Dr. Larry Rosenthal and Dr. Gordon Christensen. Dr. Dickerson is friend and competitor with both clinicians, who lead successful programs of their own. That friendly competition motivates him to work hard to provide what he describes as the best post graduate dental center in the world.
What it Takes to be a Successful LVI Student
Over the years, more than 10,000 American dentists have completed at least one course at LVI, but Dr. Dickerson is quick to point out this is not a one course educational center. The best LVI dentists have taken several courses and, because the curriculum changes so often, continue to update their learnings.
“We just had our Advanced TMD course and someone who took it 3 years ago was auditing it. He made the comment that it was a completely different course, and that he was blown away by what he learned,” Dr. Dickerson said. “That is not an unusual comment as Physiologic Dentistry is still in its infancy and every major advancement in neuromuscular and now Physiologic Dentistry has come out of LVI. There is no debate about this.”
This constant evolution is what makes LVI and its dentists so successful, Dr. Dickerson said. In fact, there is now a demand for LVI dentists, and interested patients can use the center’s website to find someone who is current on the latest Physiologic Dentistry practices.
Moving Away from Fee for Service
When Dr. Dickerson founded LVI Global, he challenged dentists to work less with insurance companies and to do more fee for service instead. While this is still an important focus for him, not enough progress has been made. The control insurance companies have has created what Dr. Dickerson describes as a “corporatization” of the profession.
“The entrepreneur spirit of dentists graduating seems to have vanished,” he said. “The good news is that for those willing to take the less traveled path of a fee for service, quality-oriented practice, there is a better and more satisfying way. That is also why LVI has been the most prolific post graduate center in dentistry for the past 25 years.”
Find Your Passion-Driven Purpose
Dr. Dickerson recently published his first non-dental book titled, “Successful Happiness. How to Find and Fulfill Your Passion-Driven Purpose.” Throughout the book, Dr. Dickerson uses personal stories to show how he overcame difficulties on his path to happiness.
The book, which has been called an “owners’ manual for life,” is helping people find success and happiness, Dr. Dickerson said. “I’m very, very proud of this book and hope it can help change the lives of many people,” Dr. Dickerson added. “Personally, I went from hating dentistry to it becoming my passion. I believe many dentists can do that but even, if they can’t, the book will help them find their passion and to become successful pursuing it.” The book is available on Amazon.