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Dentistry as an art and a science

March 23, 2018 GMT

MICHIGAN CITY — The Centre for Contemporary Dentistry. It’s a different name for a dental practice that strives to be different.

“We want it to be overwhelmingly obvious for our patients from the time that they call our office for the first time that we are different,” explained Dr. Michael Orrico, DDS, who partners with Dr. Bruce Smith, DDS as owners of the practice.

A 1973 graduate of Elston High School, Smith graduated from the Indiana School of Dentistry in 1981 and immediately opened up Superior Dental on Superior Street. Three years later, after his own graduation from dental school, Dr. Michael Grams, DDS joined the practice.

“Immediately, they built a great reputation and outgrew that spot,” Orrico continued. So, the two purchased the location from Horizon Bank at 5477 N. Johnson Road (on the corner of U.S. 20 and Johnson Road) and simultaneously changed the name to Centre for Contemporary Dentistry after their move.


Orrico, who graduated from Northwestern University Dental School in 1995, practiced dentistry from Chicago’s West side to South Bend. He moved to Valparaiso in 2004 and was looking for a practice he could partner in as an owner.

“I’d been an associate. I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do and could only do that as an owner,” he said.

Out of the 180 letters he wrote to area dentists, Orrico received nine responses. One was from Grams, who had always wanted to move out west.

“It was perfect timing for both of us,” Orrico said.

Orrico also remembered the first time he and Smith first met: “I had a very good sense that he would make a great partner. Since then we’ve become good friends. He’s known to my two daughters as ‘Uncle Bruce.’”

Furthermore, “It was in a beautiful location. They were taking care of people. They were doing good things for people – great dentistry.” He felt that his surgical expertise and the marketing experience through his wife, Mara, would also be beneficial to the practice.

“We both completely agreed on the business. We are a vision-based practice,” Orrico said as to why he made the final decision to join the Centre for Contemporary Dentistry in 2007.

“Simply put, we want our dental patients to have the best dental care and the best experience,” he went on. “Everything is looked at through that lens.”

Orrico also shared the philosophy behind the staff of 13 that supports the dentists at the Centre for Contemporary Dentistry.

“They are team members – not employees. We don’t want to be the stars of the show. We empower our team to really have careers, not just jobs. We support them with training, resources and confidence to be rock stars.”


Patients will find a wide range of services at the Centre for Contemporary Dentistry beginning with thorough exams, gentle cleanings and oral cancer screenings at regular dental check-ups. The practice offers laser fillings, same-day crowns, root canal therapy, full and partial dentures, sedation dentistry, grafting, laser therapy for gum disease, and more. One of their mottos is “the art of beautiful smiles” and the Centre for Contemporary Dentistry backs up that claim with a full line-up of cosmetic services including cosmetic bonding, veneers, laser whitening and clear aligner therapy. The practice even provides painless laser cold sore and canker sore treatments, TMJ therapy and, and treatments for sleep apnea and snoring.

More recently, they have become the exclusive Northwest Indiana provider of Teeth Tomorrow dental implant bridges.

“Through advances in technology and materials, we now offer solutions for people that need to move on past their natural teeth to implant-supported teeth. It’s often done the next day. That’s life-changing for people,” Orrico said.

Orrico said the practice lives up to its name of the Centre for Contemporary Dentistry through “our commitment to education, staying on top of the latest techniques, materials and technology.”

But, Orrico recognizes that success isn’t solely based on the tangible products offered at the practice.

“We can’t be the product,” he pointed out. “It’s not crowns, veneers and implants. It’s about great service. We transform people’s lives. We make them whole again. We give something back they have lost. That’s the best reward.”

He acknowledged that “everyone that walks in that door is afraid on some level. You have to win that trust and instill confidence in your ability. Then, you get to deliver.”

“You have to listen to people and hear what’s important to them and what motivates them. That’s where we shine and excel – connecting to people and listening to them.”

Orrico explained that his decision to become a dentist was based on his strong calling to help people, his experience as a caregiver in early parts of his life, his talent as an artist and the fact that he excelled in science.

“A perfect marriage of those qualities is a dentist,” he noted. “They call us doctors because of the science. You have to have an artist’s eye and that fine touch. It’s a real honor when someone trusts you. I absolutely love what I get to do for a living.”

Orrico said that he and Smith look at their positions as dentists as “What do we get to do today? Not, what do I have to do today?”

Smith echoed his thoughts in a promotional video for the practice: “It’s fun. I don’t come to work. I come to hobby. I’ve been coming to hobby for as long as I can remember.”

“We have to live what we believe and be the champion of it. Your personal philosophy colors all you do. How you do anything is how you do everything,” Orrico shared.

The Centre for Contemporary Dentistry gives back to its community in a number of ways including through a holiday coat drive, donation of their dentistry services and support to Friendship Botanic Gardens and the Lubeznik Center for the Arts.

“Bruce (Smith) really sets the bar high with community service,” Orrico said of his business partner.

Smith, an Eagle Scout, has been an active member since 1982 and a past president of the Rotary Club of Michigan City, where he was born and raised.

Hours at The Centre for Contemporary Dentistry are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday. At other times, an answering service is available.

“We help people when they need to be helped – not when it’s convenient. That’s the commitment that we have to our patients,” emphasized Orrico.

For more information about the Centre for Contemporary Dentistry, go to, look up “The Centre for Contemporary Dentistry” on Facebook, call (219) 879-8563 or email The practice will be launching a new mobile-friendly website soon.