Meet the Doctor
Robert L. Byrum, D.D.S.
I grew up in Bettendorf, Iowa and was influenced toward health care from two main sources. My father was a Pediatrician in the Quad Cities and practiced for 40 years. My childhood dentist was Bettendorf's first dentist - Dr. Hand. Both helped me decide toward a dental career. I decided at a young age to go into dentistry since I wanted to be in the healthcare area and that I was good with my hands in small detail work. I told Dr. Hand when I was 10 years old that someday I was going to take over his practice of dentistry. This in fact came to be true. When I got into the University of Iowa Dental College, I called Dr. Hand and told him I got in and he said that he would wait another 4 years to retire so that I could take over his practice. He was used to working alone and he did not wish to stay around for any period of time after I took over his practice, so I would come in on weekends during dental school and he would teach me things he thought I should know about running the office and maintaining equipment etcetera. His last day in practice was July 19, 1984 and my first day in practice was July 20, 1984. He did not tell his patients he was retiring since he did not want them to do anything special for him, so the transition was interesting to say the least! I did later, with Dr. Hand's blessing, put an announcement in the paper that I had taken over Dr. Hand's practice.
In my youth I was always doing things with my hands and taking things apart and putting them back together. In sixth grade I began cutting stones for jewelry-making and did that many years for fun, until after graduating from Wartburg College. I then learned the art of working with gold and silver to create jewelry combining that with my precious stone cutting abilities and started selling jewelry which I lived off of exclusively for some time. Early on in my jewelry business years, I met Dr. Carey in Iowa City via my jewelry business and he told me that he was looking for dental lab technician to work out of his office to do his crown and bridge work for his patients. I told him that I did not know how to do that to which he replied: "If you can do the quality jewelry you do, then you can do the dental lab work too". So he handed me a book on how to carve teeth and do crowns and bridge work and told me to learn it and hired me. I worked for Dr. Carey for 8 years doing his crown and bridge work as well as doing his denture relines and repairs. I did this work four years prior to dental school and four years during dental school. This work experience ended up helping me immensely in dental school! Doing the jewelry and dental lab work for five years time between college and dental school ended up helping me be able to take over Dr. Hand's dental practice since IF had I gone to dental school right out of college, Dr. Hand would not have been ready to retire upon my graduation, so my "prophesy" of taking over his dental practice came true partly due to "timing".
I enjoy learning new things in dentistry and love to keep up with the "cutting-edge" so-to-speak. I attend many continuing education seminars and have done so every year since I started practice. Of course all dentists are required to have 30 hours of continuing education within every two years of practice however, I usually end up with hundreds of hours in that same time period.
What makes dentistry special and exciting is not only learning new techniques and being on the "leading edge" but also the diversity of patients we are privileged to help. We see people of all ages from age 3 on up to the oldest I have treated of 101 years of age!
It is a joy to be able to not only do the basic dental work to help people get free of pain or prevent pain from dental decay, but also to actually transform the lives of some people who get work done that enables them to love their smile, look great and feel great! This has the power to transform their lives in that it increases their self confidence and thereby enables them to either get a job or do more sales in their jobs or be promoted to a new job, because of their newfound self confidence and appearance! That my friends is powerful and what a great feeling I get from helping them get there!
Dentistry has come a long way from its early days to modern dentistry today. I strive to make dental procedures painless and succeed. I like for my patients to know what we do and take any mystery out of it. I am always glad to answer any questions they may have. I like to save teeth whenever it is possible. I always give people straight forward information, and I subscribe to the philosophy of: "If it aint broke, don't fix it." I have been able to help people keep teeth and make them smile for about 30 years now, and I look forward to seeing more people to help.