Q&A: On the Journey to Cosmetic Excellence
On the Journey to Cosmetic Excellence WITH COURTNEY LAVIGNE, DMD, AAACD
Dr. Courtney Lavigne has always been passionate about elevating her patients’ confidence by fixing their smiles. A graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, she built her own fee-for-service boutique cosmetic practice from scratch in 2014 and is about to embark on a brand-new adventure in orthodontics. Here, she shares her journey becoming Accredited with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and how it has expanded her support network, created a bridge to other areas of dentistry, and made her a better clinician.
Q: Why did you decide to become Accredited with the AACD?
A: Early on in my career, I worked with a doctor who told me, “Don’t even bother—only the best, most elite dentists become Accredited with the AACD.” That made me want to explore the Accreditation process even more and become one of those elite dentists. After taking the Accreditation Written Examination and submitting a case to my mentor, I quickly realized that my clinical skillset had a long way to go to reach the level of excellence that the AACD stands for. But as my journey went on, it became less about the credential and more about how much I was learning and growing through the process—to the point where it was the icing on the cake when I finally became Accredited.
Q: How has becoming Accredited impacted your practice?
A: It is amazing how many patients find me through the AACD website and schedule cosmetic consults. I practice in New England where there aren’t too many Accredited dentists, so patients have traveled quite a way from neighboring states for treatment. One patient told me she received a bit of advice from her dentist father: "Whoever you choose to do your dental work, make sure he or she is Accredited—this way, you know you’ll be in good hands."
Q: What have you gained by joining the organization?
A: Becoming Accredited has provided me with a network of dentists who all seek excellence, so it encourages me to hold myself accountable for a higher level of skill and knowledge. I’m part of such a great community of mentors and now friends who have stayed in my life and helped me through countless situations in dentistry. My restorative training has also sharpened my perception when it comes to alignment, so I decided to sell my practice and go into a residency program for orthodontic training.
Q: What advice would you give colleagues unsure of committing?
A: I’ve noticed that a lot of dentists start thinking about becoming Accredited much later in their careers—sometimes 5, 10, or 15 years down the road—in part because they may be afraid of failure. But the crazy thing is that once you start the process, it’s not about the end goal anymore. When you submit that first case to your mentor, you end up learning so much through the process that by the next case you try, you’re already a better dentist. I believe that through hard work and taking the right courses, anyone can achieve it. But even if you do not become Accredited, the process itself is so valuable in enhancing your clinical skillset and your eye for good cosmetic dentistry.