As a pre-law student and tennis player, Irene Iancu never initially planned to go into dentistry. Getting hurt on the tennis court, combined with other life changes, led her to the field of dental hygiene and she became a hygienist in 2007. Her work ethic transferred into her profession as she ground it out, even working for free to make an impression in the industry. She started out in the pediatric field and then made her way to a more cosmetically focused office, working with high-profile patients. This was the job that lit her fire. “I was always business oriented as a kid,” recalled Irene. “I definitely got that from my mom.”
Combining her entrepreneurial spirit with her passion for teeth, Irene started teaching at a hygiene school, speaking at conferences, and writing articles for trade publications. A self-proclaimed “tooth saver,” she launched a tooth-inspired online jewelry store and co-hosts a podcast cleverly titled “Tooth or Dare.” She was quickly positioning herself as a trusted thought leader in the dental community, but something was still missing. She longed to work in a more diverse environment and make changes that she could only enact by being her own boss.
“I decided to build my own studio and take everything I do and put it under one roof,” said Irene. “The benefit of having a hygienist-run practice is hygienists understand all aspects of the office. We understand that it’s about how you make someone feel – staff and patients.”
Irene’s studio will be the first of its kind in Canada. It will be a destination to treat patients and will also provide education/continuing education courses, event space for companies to use, and four fully stocked operatories to be used for product and editorial shoots. Stemming from her days in the pediatric and orthodontic world, “myofunctional” therapy will be offered to children and adults as a treatment option for strengthening facial muscles among many other benefits.
To make this dream happen, Irene knew she needed a partner who understood her vision. That’s when she met Graham Caise, a territory rep from Patterson Dental. “The moment I met Graham, he knew exactly what I was trying to do,” explained Irene. “I took a list to him of what I needed, from equipment to supplies, and he made it happen. The level of hand-holding that Graham has done, from always being on site, answering emails last minute and just checking in to ask, “How are you?” has been phenomenal.” Graham remembers the first time he met Irene and how everything just clicked. “Bottom line is we all hit it off right away,” said Graham. “She trusted us and we all want to see her do well. She is such a great person who is plugged into the world of hygiene and cares about her patients and offering a high level of care.”
The other man who understood her vision was Patterson Equipment Specialist Rui Ferreira. He has been responsible for outfitting the studio with the latest technologies to support a bright and beautiful space. Some of those pieces include a Hydrim instrument washer from SciCan, an A-dec Assistina system for handpiece maintenance, and Forest Dental chairs with customized upholstery. Irene explained how Rui, like Graham, has gone above and beyond. “Early on we decided on a location and were working to close the lease. The lawyers wanted a full layout of the office before it was even built. They wanted it in a week and I was totally panicked. I had to map out the next 15 years of my life by only seeing a location one time. On top of that, I was supposed to leave for Thailand with my husband in a few days. Overnight, Rui was able to draft the design of the office (flow of the office, equipment, chair positions, etc.) and created exactly the space I had envisioned. It was remarkable.”
Irene’s studio, appropriately named “Toothlife Studio,” is set to open this fall. Equal parts dynamic and contemporary, Irene has designed this studio by bridging all her experiences together. She still has work ahead of her but is confident she can overcome any hurdles with the help of the Patterson Dental team. “It’s like watching a ballet the way Graham and Rui have worked together on my studio,” said Irene. “The feeling of being valued by those two was the biggest decider for me of actually being able to pull this off. I’m just a girl with a dream and a team working diligently to make it happen.”