Director of Education Shares 41 Years of Experience with New Dental Technicians
Featuring Paul Del Crognale
Paul Del Crognale describes himself as a “busy body” — a personality trait inherited from his mother, whom he remembers as always having a sewing or knitting project in the works. During his late teens, Paul began making jewelry and pottery, which led him to realize that he liked working with his hands. Shortly after entering college, he followed the results of an aptitude test and enrolled in a two-year dental technology program at Orange Coast College.
“I loved learning how to become a dental technician. I put all of my effort into it. Whenever I’d finish my work, I’d go work on other people’s work because I wanted to practice more,” Paul laughs, reminiscing on his eagerness as a young student.
Fresh out of college, Paul landed a job at a two-man dental lab with one of his instructor’s sons. After gaining a few years of experience, he decided to take a job at Glidewell Laboratories as a waxer.
Paul rose up within the company quickly. Within three weeks, he began training as a ceramist while also becoming a Certified Dental Technician. He flourished in the fast-paced environment of the lab and soon became a lab manager.
After a few years in the industry, Paul branched out on his own. A decade and a half later, he decided to sell his lab, but he knew he didn’t want to quit working in dental technology. Shortly, thereafter, he found his way back to Glidewell and began working as a floor manager.
“I hadn’t seen the lab in over ten years. Coming back the second time around, I was completely blown away. Everything was computerized, which eliminated many of the unnecessary manual tasks from the process of making dental restorations. I was fascinated by everything achieved during the time I was gone,” Paul says.
He explains that Glidewell’s constant pursuit of innovation called for the early adoption of CAD/CAM technology, which was paramount in reducing inefficiencies within the lab. As the lab experienced technological modifications, it became increasing important to provide dental technicians with education and training on current technologies, techniques, and materials.
While Paul served in lab managing roles for the past 18 years, he recently refocused his career on education and training as Glidewell’s director of education. As the research and development department continues creating, refining, and perfecting the strength and esthetics of new restorative materials, he seemed like the perfect choice for guiding corresponding educational efforts.
“Over the course of many years, I’ve become highly skilled in not only posterior units, but also anterior work, which is something I want to share with our trainees as we continue to produce more materials like the latest development in the BruxZir® Solid Zirconia line, BruxZir® Esthetic,” he elaborates.
Bruxzir Esthetic represents Glidewell’s commitment to providing a more lifelike monolithic zirconia for anterior regions of the mouth. With an average flexural strength of 870 MPa and true-to-nature translucency shade-matching capabilities, this material is breaking the boundaries of dental technology.
Paul’s guidance as the educational director has been instrumental in training others on tough anterior cases with Glidewell’s remarkable new restorative solutions. He loves helping dental technicians develop the skills needed to succeed in the lab, and truly wants people to receive the same joy and fulfillment that he has felt over the past four decades.
“If a person can tie their interests into a career, they are on their way to success. I find younger generations are quite good at using our design interfaces, since they grew up around gaming and computers. With the right education, shifting those interests into a career isn’t an enormous transition,” Paul says.
Recently, Glidewell’s education department graduated 36 dental technicians from its training program. Depending on their experience level and what department they want to be in, they were trained with a rigorous curriculum for three to six weeks.
“I’m proud to say I’ve trained some very talented dental technicians. I spend a lot of one-on-one time with each one of them, which helps me gauge their strengths and weaknesses. At all stages, we are constantly monitoring their progression, helping them gain new skills, and setting them up for success,” Paul describes, outlining the educational training process.
Even though he has been in the dental industry for 41 years, he seems more enthusiastic than ever about his new job. Paul loves sharing his passion for dental technology with all of the technicians that come to Glidewell.
When asked what he likes to do when he finds time to unwind from the hustle and bustle of the lab, he is quick to answer.
“Fly fishing — my neighbor introduced me to it about 20 years ago. I was sold once he showed me all these slick flies and little bugs used to lure the fish into biting,” he replies, while showing off a few pictures of his greatest catches.
Although Paul sees fly fishing as a way to relax, he also says he loves the sport because a great fly fisherman never remains still. Even his interests outside of work seem to reflect on why he has been successful in the dental industry for so long: he needs to stay busy and loves the reward of conquering challenges.