The Artistry of Dentistry on The Healers Café with Dr. Manon Bolliger, ND & guest Dr Ivano Ongaro
Dr Ivano Ongaro (06:41): ….. Like my father had only grade five education. My mother not at all, so they weren’t able to help me. So I’ve always been interested and curious, curious in the sciences. I loved science. I think I had I mean since I was about 12 or 13 years old, I’ve always had a microscope, right. So I love looking at things under the microscope and I loved science, but it wasn’t till grade eight where there was an academic shift and I think it was a probably confidence building. I know my handwriting was notorious and it was it was Mrs. Kennedy who, who insisted that I improve my handwriting. But I was originally left handed and I was forced to be right handed. So cursive writing never, worked for me. And so she had me go back to printing and that made a big difference because now I can actually read what I wrote.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (32:40): I know there were classmates of mine that would be out fishing every weekend while I was studying, but that’s, you know, they were obviously brighter than I was cause I had to, I had to do the work to get through. And, art. I’ve always been, I’ve always had that little spark of passion for art and, and slow, keep chipping away at it, keep, keep at it. You know, and someday you’ll be surprised. I was surprised with my first bust, how lifelike it was.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (35:55):But you know, I’ve always believed that your award in life is proportional to the people you serve. ……. I’ve written a book that’s entitled cavities no more. I think I mentioned it on the, on the cruise. And I want to set up a foundation, a nonprofit foundation to, to educate parents of children who are who are underprivileged and, and make this information available to them. So that’s, that’s sort of, my last sort of big goal.
About Dr. Manon Bolliger, ND:
Dr. Manon is a Naturopathic Doctor, the Founder of Bowen College, an International Speaker with an upcoming TEDx talk in May 2020, and the author of the Amazon best-selling book “What Patient’s Don’t Say if Doctors Don’t Ask.” Watch for her next book, due out in 2020.
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About Ivano Ongaro, B.Sc., D.D.S., M.SC.
My journey as a healer began in the fall of 1962. On my walk to school one fall morning, I had picked some ripe raspberries that were growing along the fence of one of several houses along the way. It happened that one of the larger seeds of one of the raspberries got stuck in the cavity that was developing in my upper left molar. I knew the hole was there because when I chewed gum I could get an imprint of the hole, and occasionally the tooth would ache if I ate candies and therefore avoided them. Although it was not painful the seed was very annoying and my tongue it played with it incessantly. I resolved to remove the stuck seed with a paperclip I found in my desk. I straightened one end of the paperclip and proceeded to pry out the offending seed. Things did not go as I planned. Instead the seed popping out I succeeded in driving it into the cavity with surprisingly unpleasant results. The pain was intense and throbbing, not as bad as when I’d been stung by a wasp under the fingernail, maybe it was the proximity to the brain made it more worrisome. It was my first serious tooth ache, and a sleepless night for me and my mother. Fortunately the next morning we got an appointment, my first, to see the dentist Dr. Wally Meyer. It was a magical experience. Within minutes of what ever it was he did in my mouth caused the pain to vanish. I remember every detail of that visit, smells, the weird machine with belts and pulleys, the grinding noises, the dust flying out of my mouth, the sensation of my face seeming to slide off my skull and the squeaking noises packing and carving of the filling. I remember thinking “I could do this.” Most of my academic life was struggling with learning challenges and did not believe I had the intellectual resources necessary to become a Dentist. It was not until my high school biology teacher, Mr. Risuto, convinced me that had the capacity to achieve if I continued to be disciplined in my studies. The rest was doing the work to the best of my abilities.
Web Site URL : http://ongarosculpture.com
Speaker 1 (00:02):
Welcome to the healers cafe conversations.
Dr Manon (00:13):
Welcome to the healers cafe. And today I have with you doctor Ivano on Gorrow and he is a dentist for the last 40 years who has discovered or has known all along that he has a strong artist inside him. And so I was really excited to have this interview because you know, in medicine there is lots of art and in everything we do there’s art. So I really wanted to hear from you. So first of all, go ahead and give everyone a little bit more your training, who you are, what you’ve done. Feel free to share and thank you for being here.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (00:57):
My training is to start at the beginning of my dental career was at the university of Alberta and I graduated in 1978. I went to a small town in Whitecourt, Alberta and that’s where I spent the next 35 years practice somewhere in the middle there. I did a master’s degree in craniofacial development And that led to teaching opportunities at the university of Alberta. I think starting in 2000 and there I taught part time at the university for a number of years. And then in 2012, I joined the faculty of medicine and dentistry as a full time clinical instructor. So my title was assistant clinical professor. So I spent the last seven years teaching there and then I decided that in 2018 to retire. So, my interest in art goes back, I guess quite a long ways. I was born in Italy as a child and our family was very poor there and we were immigrants to Canada. But before we came to Canada, we had to go to Rome for all the tests.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (02:26):
And we are we went to, to the Basilica. And that was the first time I saw the Pitta. So that, must have struck a chord with me because from that time on, I remember being interested in marriage.
Dr Manon (02:47):
Interesting. So before we go into the art what, what actually led you to dentistry? Like why dentistry and dentistry?
Dr Ivano Ongaro (02:57):
Okay. So I have a story for that.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (03:02):
And sometimes i get emotional with telling you. When I was about 10 years old, I had a little mowler a cavity a small hole or a cavity in my upper left, first mowler and I could feel it with my tongue. And in those days, almost every house on almost a kilometer long walk to school, were houses with raspberry bushes growing. And , you would eat raspberries on your way to school. And one day one of these raspberry seeds got stuck in my tooth. And it was, and it was very annoying. It wasn’t hurting, but it very, very annoying. So, in the middle of the day, I finally decided I was going to do something about this hole in my tooth with a seed stuck in it. And I rummaged around inside my desk.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (04:01):
And I found a paper clip. So with the paper clip im trying to pry this. And of course, all of a sudden they jammed in my tooth and Holy smokes. Was that ever painful? Right. So the pain pain did go away. So the next day my parents took me to the dentist and the dentist name was Dr Wally Meyer. I’ll never forget him because then later on, and so, you know, in this amazing pain, I couldn’t sleep all night. And of course when I got there, there was all this stuff with the police and all of these things in those old days. And and of course he numbed me up and the pain went away. It was like instantaneous. Like, wow, that was amazing. And of course he fixed my tooth and I remember it at that time thinking, wow, this is something that I could do.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (05:09):
Now, the sort of the backstory on that is that I wasn’t a very good student at the time. And it really didn,t click for me to things didn’t change for me academically because I was an academically weak student till I reached about grade eight and I was sent to another school. And when that happened I had a teacher there who,s name was Mrs. Kennedy and she was an amazing teacher and she changed the way I thought about things. And I went from being a barely passing student to not quite honors. And that was really exciting. So that philosophical change health. So I got into high school, I was able to go into the academic stream. And of course then my high school teacher convinced me too that I should consider dentistry because dentistry was never….although I had that idea when I was 10 years old, I’d never thought I could accomplish. So my high school teacher was the one who convinced me that I had the the intellect to be able to potentially succeed right. And so of course that led to the struggle in university to to get the grades that I needed to get into dentistry.
Dr Manon (06:36):
So what was the philosophical change?
Dr Ivano Ongaro (06:41):
It’s, hard to say. I think they’re just sort of rediscovering that idea. It’s I perhaps I didn’t know how to apply myself. I know that I did not know Neither of my parents had had any….. Like my father had only grade five education. My mother not at all, so they weren’t able to help me. So I’ve always been interested and curious, curious in the sciences. I loved science. I think I had I mean since I was about 12 or 13 years old, I’ve always had a microscope, right. So I love looking at things under the microscope and I loved science, but it wasn’t till grade eight where there was an academic shift and I think it was a probably confidence building. I know my handwriting was notorious and it was it was Mrs. Kennedy who, who insisted that I improve my handwriting. But I was originally lefthanded and I was forced to be right handed. So cursive writing never, worked for me. And so she had me go back to printing and that made a big difference because now I can actually read what I wrote.
Dr Manon (08:23):
Yeah, it does help.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (08:32):
It’s quite a story to how I got into dentistry. And of course, the whole story of the competitiveness of getting into dentistry is, quite like there was rougthly 500 people or even more than 500, that were applying to get into dentistry at any one time. And I wasn’t successful in my first application. I was on the alternate list I applied the second year, so the second time, which is now my third year of university. And again, I was on the alternate list and I got a phone call from, from the administrator, I think about two days before classes were starting. It was the Friday or the Thursday, and then on the phone, it’s long weekends. And they said, look, you’ve just been accepted into dentistry, you’ve got til six o’clock tonight to get us your deposit, go to the next person. So so yeah, I got into dentistry as 50th at a 50th.
Dr Manon (09:51):
Dr Ivano Ongaro (09:57):
Yeah. So and then of course, there’s the whole other story about the dental career part.
Dr Manon (10:03):
It’s, I mean, it’s interesting though, how, you know, confidence, right? Is, such a big thing, you know, and if you don’t,have…..if you’re not supported and not having it affects your future.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (10:18):
My parents were always, you know, do your best, do your best, but….
Dr Manon (10:21):
Right. How do you know what your best is when you don’t know?
Dr Ivano Ongaro (10:26):
And, and I think it’s where these key teachers in my life that that made the difference.
Dr Manon (10:33):
anyway, I’m sure you’re not the only one who has had that impact from, you know, a great teacher, I mean there are a lot of bad ones out there, but these good ones. Yeah. so really you want to become a dentist because you had a personal experience. It took you out of pain and, and you relate to it. And then so then what happens? because what happens is you go through university you become a dentist.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (11:19):
To become a dentist. Well I have to say that, this, the story that I told you was the same story that I told when on the interview process I was asked why I wanted to become a dentist. And I know when my daughter went to chiropractic college you know, with, for the interviews my sister had been trained in interviews and there’s this whole preparation process for interviewing when you need these entrances Right. I had no idea. So I went in cold to do the interview and just spoke what I felt. So after graduation I there’s a little backstory here. I met my my wife and a year before I finished school.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (12:26):
So my wife and I met in university we were compete competitors in getting into the dental program. And we became engaged a year before I graduated. And and when I graduated, we then got married and we moved to white court. And that’s where we started our practice along with a classmate of mine who, who also was instrumental in helping me succeed because he had gone to a private school and he had learned certain systematic methods of studying, which I had no idea of. And with his help, I was able to succeed to a far greater degree than I would’ve on my own, simply because he taught me the systematic way of, learning. I’ve always been somewhat dyslexic and I didn’t discover that until I was in university where I just could not keep up.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (13:45):
So during the course of university, I developed a system where I could stay focused long enough in studying which I didn’t realize I had an issue. I was undiagnosed in that regard. So my system was, to arrange my, space in sort of a circle basically, and I would have all of my subjects, because in dentistry, I think there’s something like eight or nine subjects that we’re studying at any one time. And when you can’t focus, on anything for more than maybe 10 or 15 minutes. And there’s these readings and reading material. It’s impossible to get anywhere. But I discovered that if I arranged my studies in a circle basically, and then I would just simply keep all of my studies books arranged as they were, it looks like a disaster zone.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (14:55):
And there is another story about that. the way my mind works, if I study on a particular subject, then there’s a question that pops up about some other subject. Well, the question won’t be done until you deal with it. So I would go to that particular subject and I would study that solution to that question. And then at some later time, a few minutes later, there’d be another question about another subject. So I’d be bobbing between all of these study centers, and then eventually, the material would get covered, but learning the …..but it gets integrated. And that’s something that I found very useful. So within my university years, I was never that the highest Mark, sort of on any subject, but it turned out that i was almost the highest overall so I ended up graduating a second or third in the class out of 50. And again, I attribute this to my, to my colleague who taught me to study. But part of it was that I’d managed to figure out how to deal with all those subjects and, be able to maintain focus over long periods of time while being distracted. So my wife and I moved to white court and we rented for awhile, then bought a home and pretty soon a year later there was children and our first daughter. And then a year and a half later, we had a son. And a year and a half after that, we had another son. so we have three children and all of this while after I got to university I mean after we graduated, I started getting involved in the local arts society. There was a Potter’s, Guild and they they they had weekly sessions. So from time to time I would do little things.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (17:37):
Id travel to museums and I would learn from that books. As I mentioned earlier before the interview, Robert Bateman,I was inspired by Roberts story. He was a teacher originally and then he became an artist. And I was inspired by that. So I, followed somewhat in that regard. But it wasn’t until the year 2000 that I finally took an actual course in sculpture through night classes through Grant MacEwan. And I did my first portrait bust and I was hooked. So, so I was yeah, I was about 50 when, I did that.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (18:35):
The research I had done a master’s as I mentioned earlier I think between, it was a part time degree, craniofacial development, how the face forms. And that was then that took me six years to finish it part time. But that really deepened my understanding of, of human anatomy. And certainly the practice because I did some orthopedics, which is a form of growth modification in children as part of my practice. And that gave me a real profound understanding of how the internal elements of the skull affect the outer elements. So a little bit on that. Well I’ve actually designed from this concept how what we see on the outside is because of our, our skeletal elements. For example typically most of the Negro features are somewhat round faced.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (19:42):
When we look at the Oriental people, their face is somewhat flatter. And you take some particularly, I think this, there’s a Spanish group where they have these particularly large jaws, right? So, the way the elements of the bone where , the maxilla and the mid part of the face and the length of the jaw and where, where the face sits underneath the skull, whether it’s more forward or further back, all of these, basically these three elements, the skull, the maxilla or the upper part of the jaw and the bottom part of the jaw, the mandible, the relative size of these. And they’re every other different profiles. So i actually developed a lecture, for artists that illustrates that using actually actual pictures of skeletons and stuff.
Dr Manon (20:39):
Because that’s an area that interests me a lot as well, but not from the artistic point of view that I haven’t discovered yet, but noticing, you know after dental treatment more so orthodontics that it will impact the way the face is, you know, because as they try and straighten the teeth, there’s was no understanding of the jaw. And part of the work I do with soft tissue is realign the jaw and it, it changes everything. And so, yeah. What, what do you know of this or what can you share?
Dr Ivano Ongaro (21:20):
I spent a lot of time doing orthodontics and orthopedics, particularly for children. So the important thing in my mind is that you can modify the growth. Some people refer to it as the functional matrix. Before I got into, into into dentistry, I actually spent one of those extra years in university studying comparative vertebrate zoology and also embryology. So going into dentistry, I had a pretty good understanding of, of how biology works and I think that’s important. It’s because the idea of just moving teeth around and sometimes you have to in adults because the bite is so bad. But quite often with adults, if it’s, particularly if they’re overly crowded, you don’t have much choice other than extracting teeth.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (22:28):
And I’m sure you’re aware of that to fit the teeth, the way they align when it comes to the discrepancies between the upper and the lower jaw. Some people have that weak chin where, the front teeth stick out. Well that is a, it’s usually, it can be a jaw size discrepancy, but it can also be a job position discrepancy. So as an adult that’s very difficult to change either the size or the position unless you do it surgically. So that type of problem has to be managed surgically. But with children I’ve had this occurrence on a number of occasions where an eight year old that was already planned to have jaw surgery at some future, time. And there are orthopedic appliances that originated in Europe long before we clued in to it here in North America that you can actually modify the child’s growth by putting these appliance, in the mouth and the bones will accommodate to this, to this what they call functional matrix. So typically it may widen the upper arch somewhat to help accommodate the teeth as a first step. And then the second step would be to bring the lower jaw forward with these functional appliances while the child is growing. And quite often you don’t have to do anything more. You can still accept misalignment of the teeth, but then you actually get a correction of the skeletal relationship and that has to be done in the growing child. So that’s where a big part of my practice was involved.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (24:13):
Are you are you familiar with that Dr Stock from Washington?
Dr Manon (24:19):
The name doesn’t ing a bell?.
Speaker 2 (24:21):
Because he’s one of the few in America that actually has worked with putting in appliances ,it’s more popular, definitely like you say in Europe, twin blocks, all kinds of things. Yeah. That allows the mouth to expand or to the roof of the mouth, you know, to hold teeth and take into consideration the jaw Right.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (24:48):
Yeah. It’s interesting. It’s interesting to note that when, when I was doing my masters in Finafacial development in the orthodontic department at the university of Alberta, there were some orthodontic graduate students that were actually doing research on the same research that I was doing clinically independently. And they actually beat me to publishing the paper on the the results of the twin block appliances, what they call twinblock appliance. And it’s basically confirm what I had been doing for a number of years. So, whereas I actually had received quite a few nasty letters from orthodontists when I was doing it back in the early eighties. You know, what am I doing messing around with children’s growth and that sort of thing. Well, I was vindicated, you know, a few years later by this by this research. So, and now it’s, it’s common practice to use these appliances to modify child’s growth. It’s has become the standard of care. So before the, the only way they were treating upper jaw, lower jaw discrepancies is by removing two teeth. On the upper and sometimes even two teeth on the lower to do a dental correction rather than, than do a skeletal correction.
Dr Manon (26:11):
Right. I saw a 60 minute interview in England with a dentists to get two twin boys and one of them had the …… at the time common, you know, and the other one used a combination of a physical like manipulative therapy that allows, it was actually Bowen therapy that allows the the jaw to align and blocks that reinforced it. And they at the end you can see as the boys developed, one of them has a chin that goes all the way back. Like they’ve lost the face. the other one has all the structure and they were identical before this. The different types of dental brace, somebody actually did that study.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (27:14):
I’ve seen similar similar scenarios. yeah. It’s incredible I’ve had a number of cases where it was determined that they would have to have jaw surgery and we completely avoided it for yeah. A fraction of the cost and, and a fraction of the, you know, potential, you know, problems that get resolved.
Dr Manon (27:42):
Wow, that’s facinating. It’s an exciting career. So, yeah, definitely. So, so now, now you’re, you’re enjoying learning and developing and creating art.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (27:57):
Yes. marketing art is a challenge. I’ve, I’ve being at the marketers cruise has been a real like wake up call. It’s a whole new world I didn’t know existed And we’re now , both my wife and I are involved in a number of courses to understand the, you know marketing funnels and social media marketing and that sort of thing. So yeah, it’s, the challenge is going to produce art. because I haven’t been able to do much lately because we were studying, doing all of this, studying here
Dr Manon (28:39):
It can be a bit of a rabbit hole as well.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (28:44):
But we’re not, we’re not going to go too deep into that. We’re going, but you need to know enough to be able to select the people to do the work for you. So I’m not, I’m not going to hire, I’ve made the mistake of hiring people to do my website stuff in the past and it ended up costing me nothing but money and I got nothing in return. So it’s important to Know enough to know how to, how to choose the right people.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (29:18):
Otherwise you’re going blind and open to serious abuse. I’m excited. Now my latest thing is is I’ve developed a technique for monumental sculptures that are relatively light. It’s, it’s called Pharaoh cement. I didn’t invent it. It was invented many years ago, but they use it actually for shipping, for building ships and, and other structures. And involves using a a metal mesh armature, you apply the cement. They built the houses and buildings in that way. And I’m looking at building monumental structures with feral cement. I’ve built outdoor furniture like chairs and tables out of that which is light enough to be able to move. We think of concrete, it’s their permanent, but I can make some really funky interesting shapes ,shape is no option with these because you’re using, you’re not using a form, you’re actually using the metal mesh as your final surface. And then you simply put the Semite over top of that. And I’m offering, I’ve offered the a course in this already three times and we’re setting up another one for Victoria here in the next couple of months. Anyway.
Dr Manon (30:46):
Yes. Interesting. That’s great. Well, if I can give you any suggestions for for marketing, it’s not my specialty, but I’ve gone through like I said, I could always write the book about what not to do. But one thing that I think people underestimate is to take pictures and do videos as you’re living the experience.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (31:09):
Absolutely.I was at at a master class on portraiture in Sante Italy in 2018 and I met artist from New York and she has, she does design and art. she says, Oh, Instagram, you have to learn Instagram. So she got me introduced me to Instagram and I got that going and it’s been running for almost two years now. I don’t have, I only have about 390 followers on that, but I’ve been posting on a regular basis and I’m looking at learning more as to how to increase that.
Dr Manon (31:55):
Yeah, I think if you’re passionate about what you’re doing ,it will come together as well. You know, as long as we’re out there, that’s great.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (32:09):
Yeah. I post videos on, on how I do things and it’s kind of fun. I do Farrell cement you have to check out my Instagram.
Dr Manon (32:19):
So do you have any like closing final thoughts to share with, with everyone about, you know, your journey and recommendations to your life as a, you know, a health care based person?
Dr Ivano Ongaro (32:40):
So well when it came to to dentistry, I followed my passion. It was something that at some, at some point it was in high school that I decided, okay, I will do this and basically have to give it your all. That’s at least certainly I did. I know there were classmates of mine that would be out fishing every weekend while I was studying, but that’s, you know, they were obviously brighter than I was cause I had to, I had to do the work to get through. And, art. I’ve always been, I’ve always had that little spark of passion for art and, and slow, keep chipping away at it, keep, keep at it. You know, and someday you’ll be surprised. I was surprised with my first bust, how lifelike it was.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (33:37):
I knew I had the hand eye coordination because I had learned that as part of my dental training. But like any skill can be mastered. So whether it’s, you know, the, skill of, of, of your profession which, you know, that’s something I always did. I made sure I dedicated a day, a month for continuing education throughout my dental career. And then eventually I decided, because dentistry is a fairly physically demanding because of the, of the repeated motion and the lack of movement that it is hard on your body. So I had to, I didn’t have to give it up, but it was getting to the point where I felt for my own health to give up that aspect of it. But I still had enough knowledge and enthusiasm that I, you know, I felt I could give back, get back to society in that regard.
Dr Ivano Ongaro (34:38):
I taught for the, you know, Senate full time for seven years. And in that, in that capacity, I was able to, to help to contribute to improving the dental curriculum. I was course core course coordinator for a number of years for diagnosis and treatment planning and dental dentistry. And that led to a teaching award that I got for that, grass root type of it’s called the WW wood award for excellence in dental education. So I got that in 2017. So that, sort of feels, feels that I’ve, that I’ve, you know, my contribution was worth something. So that was, that was good. So I, and then, you know, after that, I figured there’s, there’s more that I want to do. And part of that is, is is I want to influence more people how to, to get, I guess more out of life. I feel like I’ve extracted pretty much as much as I could out of life. I couldn’t be happier beyond my wildest imagination
Dr Manon (35:51):
Who made your passion projects ?
Dr Ivano Ongaro (35:55):
. But you know, I’ve always believed that your award in life is proportional to the people you serve. And in dentistry, I, you know, I was able to serve more people in terms of society, by actually helping to train dentists and students do acquire a bit of your philosophy if you have the right philosophy. And, and although I’m no longer teaching , I’ve written a book that’s entitled cavities no more. I think I mentioned it on the, on the cruise. And I want to set up a foundation, a nonprofit foundation to, to educate parents of children who are who are underprivileged and, and make this information available to them. So that’s, that’s sort of, my last sort of big goal.
Dr Manon (37:00):
Thank you. And also when I’ll get all these these links to your page and also you know, your this foundation, all that, we’ll put that on, on the website as well so that people know
Dr Ivano Ongaro (37:14):
that’s in the incubator right now The book is almost finished,
Speaker 1 (37:30):
Thank you very much. Pleasure.