A no-excuses philosophy
By Denise Baran-Unland Correspondent December 18, 2012 12:08PM
Dr. Caesar Ciaglia of New Lenox Dental Group is pictured Monday, Dec. 3, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 17, 2013 1:42AM
Dr. Caesar Ciaglia of New Lenox Dental often works with his right hand wrapped in a compression glove to manage swelling, but that’s as far as Ciaglia allows his lymphedema, present since birth, to interfere with his life.
Because once Ciaglia steps into his office, he’s all about serving the patients.
“People feel better about themselves once their teeth are in good shape,” Ciaglia said. “They’re more confident; they have greater self-esteem. It’s not just about the cosmetic result. You should see how people react when I get them out of pain. I like restoring their smiles.”
Not only does Ciaglia offer a wide variety of oral hygiene and surgical care, he recently received a mastership in implant dentistry from the International College of Oral Implantologists for the diversity of complicated procedures in which Ciaglia excels.
“I’m very proud of it because not everyone who places implants receives a mastership,” Ciaglia said. “I had to take continuing education classes to learn the different methods. I like to keep up with the latest advances.”
Off duty, Ciaglia, a licensed pilot, flies twice a week. He also cooks multi-course meals and is known to share an occasional lasagna or cheesecake with his office staff.
“I’ve accepted the lymphedema,” Ciaglia said. “I don’t use it as an excuse for anything.”
According to Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.com), lymphedema occurs when lymph vessels don’t properly drain. This allows fluid to build up in tissues. Primary lymphedema is result of inadequately formed lymph vessels.
Secondary lymphedema may occur after surgery, such as for breast cancer, when lymph nodes are removed. Other causes are radiation treatment, which may cause scarring, and infection, both which can block the flow of lymph fluid.
Treatments may include massage, exercise, compression therapy or, in severe cases, surgery.
Ironically, Ciaglia’s parents were initially concerned with their infant son’s left hand because, by comparison to the right one, it lacked the characteristic infant chubbiness. Ciaglia’s doctor ran some tests and made the diagnosis.
“I have no memory of it and I wasn’t reminded of it on a daily basis,” Ciaglia said. “It was just a part of me.”
At first, Ciaglia’s lymphedema required no special care. He participated in sports and began cooking multi-course meals at age 7. He learned the art of cooking from working side by side with his mother, Astrid Ciaglia of Mokena, who had come from Switzerland.
By age 15, Ciaglia was working in the laboratory at the former Chicago Institute of Technology, which his father owned and his grandfather had founded. The following year, Ciaglia was teaching classes in dental assistance. At 17, Ciaglia obtained his pilot’s license.
While working as dental assistant, Ciaglia found a mentor in a high-skilled oral surgeon, an experience that irrevocably shaped Ciaglia’s career. Ciaglia left high school during his junior year, attended DePaul University in Chicago for his prerequisites and entered Northwestern Dental School in Chicago when he was 19.
“After realizing I had an aptitude for dental assisting, I decided to continue on,” Ciaglia said. “It’s been a very satisfying career.”
Two years into dental school, Ciaglia burned his right hand while removing lasagna from the oven. The burn permanently increased the swelling but it didn’t stop Ciaglia from pursuing his goal. It just meant decompression therapy became part of his nightly routine.
“I graduated as one of Northwestern’s youngest dentists,” Ciaglia said. “I was 23.”
Because Ciaglia rarely draws attention to himself, his patients rarely notice the bandage. When they do, many assume it’s a transient injury. If questioned, Ciaglia answers frankly and matter-of-factly and then moves onto addressing the needs of the patient in the chair.
“I don’t mind being asked because I want people to have confidence in my skills,” Ciaglia said, “but it’s not a hindrance and I don’t feel sorry for myself. I look around and see other people in the world with much worse conditions than me. I can use both my arms and my hands to provide a service that I’ve enjoyed for the last 20 years.”
For more information on New Lenox Dental, call 815-485-2345 or visit www.newlenoxdental.com.