They’re not on the 32 Most Influential list—yet. But they’re some of the most talented players in the industry, in areas as varied as higher education, technology, mentoring, boosting access to care, artificial intelligence and, er, hip-hop. Marvel at the things they’ve already achieved—and look for them on the primary list in the years ahead.
CEO, Henry Schein One
The Schein spinoff newly headed by Baird—he joined its board of directors in July 2020 and was promoted to the top job this February—combines dental software and services with business coaching for what it calls “a unified technology experience.” It’s an ideal mix for a restless entrepreneur. “Few things satisfy like starting from scratch and building something with broad impact,” he has said. “I firmly believe that technology can be harnessed to improve people’s lives.”
SIMONE ELLIS &
MIKENAH JOY VEGA
Cofounders, Smile Design Society
These Houston-area dentists are the creators of Smile Design Society, a mentoring platform for women in dentistry who are also business owners. “I hope through my influence and mentorship I inspire other dentists to build the life of their dreams,” says Dr. Joy (her preferred name). Adds Dr. Ellis: “I’m inspired by all practice owners at this point who are working hard to establish their footing again after the pandemic.” Professional organizations like theirs are part of the solution.
COO, Swish Dental
The 35-year-old doctor, who lives in Austin, Texas, founded Swish both to “change the way people feel about the dentist and to empower women in dentistry.” It has since grown to
10 studios. It’s women-founded and women-run. “We focus
on flexible work hours, maternity needs and an overall friendly, collaborative environment,” Dr. Desai says.
Dean, Harvard School of Dental Medicine
Formerly at the University of Michigan, Giannobile, 56, was named Harvard Dental’s new dean at an inauspicious time:
April 2020, a month into the pandemic—an appointment that, he wryly notes, came “with its own unique challenges.” He
has overseen a careful reopening and aims to have the school back close to normal by this summer. Research is a top priority: “We’ll look to strengthen our efforts in regenerative medicine, head and neck oncology, and computational medicine and the microbiome,” he says.
Founder and CEO, VideaHealth
Having grown up in Berlin in a family of physicians, Dr. Hillen, just 28 years old and now based in Boston, founded VideaHealth to bring artificial intelligence into the dental operatory, seeking its algorithmic help to ensure “earlier and more accurate diagnosis of oral disease for every dental patient,” he says. He has spotted silver linings in the pandemic: “It reinforced my belief that we can bring together talent from anywhere. Our extended team is all over the world.”
Founder, Diversity in Dentistry
Hishaw, 48, who lives in Tucson, Arizona, seeks to be a “spark for change” by broadening dentistry’s appeal to frequently overlooked communities nationwide. “I’m one of the 3.8 percent of black dentists in the United States, and my hope is that this number will grow drastically,” she says. Accordingly, she founded Diversity in Dentistry “to educate, empower and mentor black youth and underrepresented minorities. I want them to know that dentistry is a rewarding career and an attainable goal.”
Overjet seeks to help dentists run their practices better, DSOs to help their affiliated practices improve their performance and insurers make better claim decisions.”
—Wardah Inam, CEO, Overjet
Still just 33 years old, Inam—who ranked No. 22 on our 2020
list of the 32 Most Influential—is one of the top talents working in the of-the-moment discipline at the intersection of dentistry and artificial intelligence. Overjet’s “best-in-class technology,” she says, has wide application: “Helping dentists run their practices better, DSOs to help their affiliated practices improve their performance and helping insurers make better and faster decisions on claims.”
MicroDental, out of Livermore, California, produces high-quality dental restorations and appliances. Kelly, past president of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, oversees around 600 people and great number of dental technicians, a job she lauds as “unique and meaningful.” She also remains involved with the AACD’s Give Back a Smile program, which donates services to help restore the smiles of survivors of domestic violence.
CHERIE LE PENSKE
Founder and CEO, Armor Dental
A seasoned entrepreneur for a quarter-century, Le Penske, 51, founded Armor Dental, a product developer and manufacturer near Boston, in 2016. She followed that by founding Armor Respiration in 2020, a technology and data company focusing on respiratory health. Her uplifting personal credo: “If you can help, help. If you can give, give. If you can do, do. Be the person who returns the grocery cart in the parking lot.”
Formerly A-dec’s chief financial officer, Nelson was named its president in April and has since expanded its product offerings. It was in the early days of the pandemic, though, in which A-dec truly shined, retooling its factory and retraining employees to begin producing face shields in April 2020.
It donated the PPE to Legacy Health, a network of hospitals
and clinics near A-dec’s Portland, Oregon, headquarters.
Unquestionably a unique double threat, Dr. Maria, a practicing dentist in Washington, D.C., has also released 15 singles and featured on eight albums by others since launching her music career in 2017. She hopes to inspire young women, she notes, by showing them that it’s possible to pursue higher education and still be a creative force. Her Spotify profile tells the tale: “She lets the vibe of a beat and her feelings guide her pen.”
The 40-year-old founder of the International Extraction Academy (a member of Incisal Edge’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2020) is also the man behind the Global Summits Institute, a peer-to-peer organization that works to harness the power of top doctors worldwide. His secret: persistence. “What were no, no, nos coming from all directions 10 years ago have turned into yes, yes, yes from all directions.”
Chief Technology Officer, Dentsply Sirona
The 51-year-old Stähler joined Dentsply Sirona in 2019, having previously been a senior executive at Merck. Broadening Dentsply’s field of view has been a key component of his tenure as CTO. “We changed the direction of our enterprise from a focus on integrated, stand-alone products to building open platforms and connections to better serve our customers and their patients,” he says. “This will help bring the entire dental category a big step forward to a unique level of support.”
CHRIS STEVEN VILLANUEVA
Founder and CEO, MB2 Dental
Frustrated as a practicing dentist, Dr. Villanueva founded MB2 Dental in 2007. The first Dental Partner Organization (DPO) in the United States, the Carrollton, Texas–based company helps dentists pool the benefits of linking up with a larger organization, such as shared services and access to capital, while retaining the independence and autonomy of a private practice. It now encompasses more than 285 practices across 27 states. “We’ve banded together and redefined what group practice should look like,” Dr. Villanueva writes on MB2’s website. “Together, we will show that dentists are disciplined, determined and united.”
Founder and CEO, Divergent Dental Group
Terrell, 57, based in Valdosta, Georgia, sits at the helm of up-and-coming DSO Divergent Dental and is a powerful executive of color in a mostly white profession. Divergent, he observes, has “racially diverse dentistry and executive teams, which I think only enhances our ability to succeed by demonstrating that we’re all serious about serving all people, whether operationally or clinically.”
The 56-year-old heads HuFriedyGroup, which was formed from the merger of Crosstex and Hu-Friedy. “Covid-19 had a major impact [on dentistry], and it’s clear that many changes in the industry are permanent,” he says. “One thing we’re focused on is delivering top-notch digital and virtual interactions with our customers. These types of interactions are here to stay, so we need to find ways to engage on our customers’ preferred terms.”