Name: Lance Isaac
Profession: Dentistry specializing in Endodontics
You've grown up hearing that you should brush and floss daily to keep your teeth happy and healthy. But when problems like root canals do occur, you'll need a specialized dentist called an endodontist to help you out... and that's just what Lance Isaac is trained to do.
What is an Endodontist?
An Endodontist is a dental specialist dedicated to the science of treating problems involving the tissue within the tooth. Another simpler way of stating this is that I do mostly root canals for a living.
What are root canals and how do you fix them?
Root canals involve the removal of the diseased tissues from within the tooth. Every tooth in your mouth has one or more nerves, each of which must be thoroughly disinfected chemically and mechanically. I have a wide variety of files that I use to achieve this goal, plus a few antibacterial solutions. I of course freeze the patients first. It all works out in the end!
If you had to be a vegetable, what would you be and why?
A carrot. Lots of fibre, and good for vision!
What is a typical day like for you?
I try to keep it as 9 to 5 as I can. I get to the office and make sure my receptionist and assistant both have everything prepared for the day. My first patient is either at 9 or 9:30, and I generally work pretty steadily from there. I do my best not to work through lunch, but my schedule does have to be somewhat flexible. I write prescriptions for those patients who need them, and do the required paperwork. Overall, it's about 75% dentistry, 25% running a small business.
What is your work environment like?
I currently have one assistant and one receptionist. Things are continually improving, but everyone pretty much knows what is expected of them. I use computers for a lot of things, including x-rays,practice management, and patient records. However, the nuts and bolts of the whole operation are in the quality of work I do for my patients.Unlike many jobs, there isn't any 'watercooler' discussion or anything!
Did you always want to be an endodontist?
I always had other interests in my teens. However, after becoming a dentist, I decided to specialize in the field of endodontics — it is an extra 2-3 years of root canal training.
What is the last movie you saw? Thumbs up or thumbs down?
I recently saw the new Superman movie. He's a little too perfect. I'm more of a Batman guy myself! Still, thumbs up.
What courses in high school prepared you for this field?
I gravitated towards the sciences and math during high school. Even more important than this, I have always been pretty skilled using my hands.
Where did you go to university/college and how did you decide where to go?
Being born and raised in Toronto, I made the decision to stay at home. I chose the University of Toronto, based largely on the fact that it is home to training programs in many health science related fields.
Was there extra training required for this career after you finished college/university? If so, what?
After a 4-year Bachelors degree as a Specialist in Biochemistry, I went to dental school for another 4 years. The root canal specialty program was an additional 2 years.
Everyone makes mistakes so what was the dumbest thing you've ever done at work?
My nightmare would be to one day work accidentally on the wrong tooth.
What is the coolest part of your job?
Having someone arrive at my office in tremendous pain, and being able to save their tooth and be pain-free when my work is done. That and all the gadgets I use.
What do you do in your spare time?
Given that I sit hunched over people all day, physical fitness is extremely important. So going to the gym is part of my routine, in addition to fun stuff like movies, sports and eating out. I am also a big music lover — I listen to pretty much anything but country!
What music do you have in your CD player right now?
The 5 CD's in my car right now are Creed - Greatest Hits, Sade - Lover's Rock, Seal - Human Beings, Coldplay — X&Y and Kanye West — Late Registration. I won't go a week without listening to some Sade!
Any advice that you would give others seeking a similar career?
Study hard in high school and university, and make the necessary sacrifices. My career is equal parts work ethic, discipline, knowledge and manual dexterity. If you have these qualities, you may be well-suited to becoming a dentist.
Do you have any great web links or references for someone interesting in reading up more about this career?
You can check out to learn more about dentistry, and endodontics in particular. Happy surfing!