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Speaker overcomes adversity as he treads new career path

Skokie, Ill.—Dr. Steven C. Steinberg, a full-time professional speaker who lectures on caries management, seeks to change the way dentists treat dental caries.

Image: Dr. Steinberg: The author and speaker lectures full time after Parkinson’s diagnosis
Dr. Steinberg: The author and speaker lectures full time after Parkinson’s diagnosis

“Restoring a tooth does nothing to change caries risk,” said Dr. Steinberg, a general dentist who has lectured for more than 30 years. “Restorations do not treat the disease. It’s only a matter of time before plaque returns. You have to change the ecology where the plaque exists.”

When it comes to paradigm shifting, Dr. Steinberg is something of an expert. In 2001, his world was turned upside down when his bicycle struck the side of a van that failed to yield the right-of-way. Five broken ribs, two broken clavicles and a broken scapula left him unable to practice only six months after he built a new dental office.

“I had leveraged myself to the hilt to start a new practice. As all dentists know, it takes awhile to get things going, and we were just starting to turn around when the accident happened. I crashed financially, emotionally and spiritually.” 

His career as a dental, inspirational and Judaic speaker had reached a crossroads. Recognizing that “to be a depressed motivational speaker is not a good plan,” he sought help through psychotherapy through which he gained the ability to see a better path to the future.

He came through the experience in a better position to deal with adversity, but then faced a new challenge. “After the accident, I started shaking in my hand. It was diagnosed as a benign essential tremor. It’s a condition that generally does not pose a problem, unless you are a dentist,” he said. “I could control it for a number of years but eventually had to sell my practice.”

A key source of strength for Dr. Steinberg during this time were the patients who continued to see him in spite of the tremor. “They kept coming for their appointments in spite of it, knowing what kind of person I was. I realized how deeply they trusted me.”

Months later, a new diagnosis came: Parkinson’s disease. “I said to the doctor, ‘Great,’ and he said, ‘What? This is a degenerative disease.’

“In life, you have a choice,” said Dr. Steinberg. “There’s always a problem. You can choose to say, ‘Why me?’ and be a victim, and lose the ability to have gratitude and happiness. I chose to be a victor. In some ways, I’d rather live with the certainty of Parkinson’s disease.”

He is the author of “Light, Love, Life, Shalom: Your Path to Happiness at Work and at Home” (Blooming Twig Books, 2010) that calls on readers to ask themselves: “In the presence of life’s challenges, how can I achieve happiness, joy and inner peace?” The book is available at lightlovelifeshalom.com for free, but only a chapter at time. It’s also sold on Amazon.com.

Through his speaking engagements, Dr. Steinberg believes that he can give hope to others. “My story is important to dentists. This can happen to anyone; your life can change in a second. I happen to be fortunate. I always wanted to be a speaker, and now I do it full time, I travel around the country as part of the National Speakers Association and I wrote a book.

“My writing and my speaking programs are intertwined,” he said. “Whether it’s caries management or living with Parkinson’s disease, you have to learn to overcome challenges.”

Dr. Steinberg is one of 80 speakers who participate in the ADA Seminar Series (ADA.org/seminarseries). His program is called Cariology and Caries Management. More information can be found on his website, valuesdoctor.com, and he can be reached at doc@valuesdoctor.com.