HOLLIDAYSBURG - Becoming an endodontist - root canal specialist - came naturally for Dr. Andrew M. Michanowicz.
"My father had a lot to do with it. He had been an endodontist for over 40 years. That played a big role in my life. He was able to help a lot of people. He had a knack for putting people at ease in a difficult procedure and was very successful. He made it look so easy I thought, "I can do that, too," said Michanowicz, 56, of Michanowicz Endodontics, 920 Penn St.
After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, Michanowicz practiced for two years with his father, Dr. Andrew E. Michanowicz - who served as chairman of the Graduate Endodontics Department at the University of Pittsburgh for 32 years - and his uncle Dr. John Michanowicz in Pittsburgh before moving to Blair County in 1988.
(Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec)
Dr. Andrew Michanowicz updates a patient’s chart at his practice at 920 Penn St., Hollidaysburg, on Wednesday.
"I wanted to come to a place with a simpler life and less traffic. There was a need here. There was not a specialist in the area; I felt I could fill that gap," said Michanowicz.
He was the first endodontist in Blair County. Today there are three. "That [becoming an endodontist] was all that I considered doing. It was in my blood."
Michanowicz spent 15 years on Orchard Avenue before moving to his present location in 2003.
THE MICHANOWICZ FILE
Name: Dr. Andrew M. Michanowicz
Position: Endodontist at Michanowicz Endodontics
Education: 1974 graduate of Churchill High School. Bachelor's degree in science from California University, 1978; doctorate from University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, 1985. Master's degree in endodontics from University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, 1988.
Family: Wife, Angel; son Drew, 30, pursuing a doctorate at Pitt in public health and environmental health; daughter, Kelli, 24, pursuing a master's in counseling at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Quote: "I've been able to save a lot of teeth."
A root canal saves a tooth by removing the pulp - the soft inner tissue containing nerves and blood vessels - that has been damaged, usually by deep decay. The endodontist cleans, fills and seals the canal, and the tooth is then restored with a permanent filling or other restoration.
"We remove the necrotic tissue, and it is still able to function as a tooth," Michanowicz said.
Modern innovations have made the process simpler.
"We use a microscope, nickel titanium files and rotary files in different sizes. They are very flexible and able to follow the anatomy of the tooth to clean out necrotic pulp tissue. We also use digital radiography as well," Michanowicz said. "The new technology has made it easier. It has made it more efficient for the patient, most procedures can do be done in one appointment. They have developed new anesthesias that are very effective. Today it is no more than a large filling procedure."
Today a root canal is not as painful as it was years ago.
"I could almost say it was a pleasure, and I mean that. Every step of the process was carried out with precision. Every step was pain free, with absolutely no discomfort. There was nothing to it," said Phillip Faudi, 69, Altoona, who had a root canal performed by Michanowicz on Tuesday. "This doctor is excellent in every regard, he is congenial and highly professional. Dr. Michanowicz called me that evening to see how I was doing. How many doctors would do that?"
Michanowicz said he performs about 25 root canals per week and has probably done more than 25,000 over his career. He gets his patients from referrals from dentists and other patients and through his web site www.drrootcanal.com. Many patients are local, but he also has patients from the Cumberland, Johnstown, Somerset and Clearfield areas.
Local dentists speak highly of Michanowicz.
"When I came to Altoona I did a lot of root canals but then I saw his work and said I am wasting my time. He does a very nice job, his work is excellent," said Dr. Dennis DeLeo.
"I've referred my patients to him and trusted him with my patients for all of my career in Altoona. His work is meticulous, precise and caring. For the dental and medical community he has been an anchor," said Dr. Charles Dombrowski.
Michanowicz said he enjoys helping people feel better.
"It makes me feel fantastic, knowing I can help someone, remove their pain and save their teeth. It gives me a good feeling that I have the knowledge and skill to do that. I was trained by the best - my father and my uncle," Michanowicz said.
Michanowicz is also active in the community providing support to organizations such as the Griffith Family Foundation, serving as a volunteer at the St. Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen. He also is active at his church, St. Patrick's in Newry.
"Community service is important, you need to do what you can do for the community when you see the need," Michanowicz said.
Michanowicz said in the near future he hopes to find a partner.
"I am getting up there. The eventual goal is to get a partner and retire. Bring in a partner and slow down a little bit," Michanowicz said.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.