Howard Charles Call
Interviewed by Rebecca Ory Hernandez
7 November 2011
Oral History Program
Weber State University
Howard Charles Call
Rebecca Ory Hernandez
7 November 2011
Copyright © 2012 by Weber State University, Stewart Library
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Howard Charles Call, an oral history by
Rebecca Ory Hernandez, 7 November 2011,
WSU Stewart Library Oral History Program,
University Archives, Stewart Library, Weber
State University, Ogden, UT.
Howard Charles Call
Abstract: The following is an oral history interview with Howard Charles Call, DDS
(b. 1932.) The interview was conducted on November 7, 2011 by Rebecca Ory
Hernandez at the Call residence in St. George, Utah. This interview covers
Howard’s life and his experiences with Weber State University. Dr. Call worked
as a dentist in Ogden, Utah for many years and served on several dentistry
boards in the State of Utah before retiring. He was also instrumental in getting
the Dental Hygiene Program started at Weber State University. Dr. Call and his
wife, Diane, live in St. George, Utah.
ROH: Today is Monday, November 7, 2011. I’m in the home of Dr. Howard Call in St.
George, Utah. I am Rebecca Ory-Hernandez conducting an oral history. We’re
going to talk about your involvement with Weber State and your private practice
as a dentist in Ogden. Will you start by telling us your full name and the date you
HC: My name is Howard Charles Call. I was born March 5, 1932 in Logan, Utah.
ROH: When did you come to live in Ogden?
HC: In 1945.
ROH: When did you start your dental practice?
HC: In 1961. I had an office on 24th street just below Adams Avenue and later built
an office on Capitol Ave. I retired in 1999.
ROH: How did you get started with Weber State?
HC: They asked me if I would like to be adjunct faculty and have students train in my
office. The students would come in and we would train them in all phases of what
they would do as a hygienist. We’d let them take x-rays and clean teeth under
ROH: Do you remember any of the other faculty members?
HC: I remember Kathleen Lukken, who was head of the program. When I started, the
program was in Building 3.
ROH: Had you worked with students prior to that experience?
HC: I worked with another program that was administered by Weber County.
ROH: What was it like working with students?
HC: I loved working with the students. In fact, two of them worked for me for a long
time after that.
ROH: Tell me a little about getting on the board.
HC: I was appointed to the Dental and Dental Hygienists Board by Governor
Matheson. In that capacity, the board administered all the examinations through
the Western Regional Examining Board for the dentists and dental hygienists.
We would go to the schools in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and
Oregon and administer the boards. I think between the years of 1981 and 1991,
when I was on the board, I participated on 35 dental boards and every Hygienist
board at Weber State. I was also a proctor for the national board. We also did the
anesthesia exams. At that time, anonymity was required so there wouldn’t be any
favoritism in grading. Weber State had a high pass rate—it was in the high
ROH: Was that unusual?
HC: It was one of the highest pass rates of all the states I examined. They had a good
ROH: Was the dental hygiene program known for being a strong program?
HC: Yes, however at that time there weren’t very many other schools in the state with
dental hygiene programs.
ROH: How did you get into dentistry?
HC: My father was a dentist. I liked the profession. I graduated from Ogden High
School in 1951 and went to the University of Utah for two years. After my second
year at the University of Utah, I got married. I then went one more year at Weber
State at the old campus, and joined the army so I could get the GI bill to pay for
my education. In the army I was fortunate enough to be admitted to a dental
laboratory technician school. I got to go to school in San Antonio Texas for four
months. I was trained in prosthetics dentistry. After that, I worked as an assistant
to a prosthodontist at Fort Bliss until I was discharged. Then I did two more
quarters at Weber State University and then I went to Loyola University Dental
School in Chicago, Illinois. We lived in a housing project where many students
from Utah lived. We developed friendships that are still strong.
RCH: How long were you in Chicago?
HC: Four years.
ROH: Did you do your residency there?
HC: We didn’t have to do a residency.
ROH: So what did you do after dental school?
HC: I joined my father’s practice in Ogden.
ROH: Do you recall how your dad got into dentistry?
HC: No. He went to the University of Denver. He was also in the service and went
through dental school on something similar to the G.I. Bill.
ROH: Throughout the course of your career in dentistry, what kind of changes did you
see in the profession?
HC: One of the biggest changes I saw was an introduction of the high-speed hand
piece. When I went to school they were using the motor-driven drills. Later that
year, the high speed drill came out and it revolutionized dentistry. Before
adhesive dentistry, all of the preparations that we used to make had to have
some kind of mechanical retentions—pins, posts or undercuts—and now with
adhesive dentistry, the preparations are a lot more conservative. What they can
do now with aesthetics is amazing. The cavitron came out just before the high
speed drill to cut cavities. It used a slurry of aluminum oxide and water that would
erode tooth structure. It was very messy but it is now used to scale teeth. I went
to the dental convention this past October in Las Vegas to kind of keep myself
abreast of what is going on in the industry. They had lasers that would cut
cavities; adhesive dentistry and implants and lasers, optical glasses. When I
started as a dentist nobody wore loops, but now they have magnifying glasses.
ROH: You’ve seen a lot of innovation. Are there any stories you’d like to add from your
education or the beginning of your career?
HC: I got to go to a lot of different dental schools and meet a lot of dentists from other
states. Everything was done the same in all the states at that time.
ROH: Did you practice dentistry during the war?
HC: No. I was not a dentist at that time. I was an assistant to a prosthedentist. While I
was a member of the dental board I also participated in all the disciplinary actions
that would come before the board. I was president of the Weber District Dental
Society in 1979. I was a member of the Western Regional Examining Board,
which is the board that examines the states that I mentioned. I think I probably
did at least three dental exams a year while I was on the board. Those boards
consisted of many subjects—prosthodontics, setting teeth, different types of
cavity preparations. One thing I saw was that the boards used to require what
they called a ‘gold foil.’ If gold foil is drawn out very thin, it will actually weld in a
cold state. You’d actually have to do a class three or a class two preparation for a
cavity and you would condense the gold pellets. They have electro-mallets that
are instruments that will hammer that gold down. It was a very long, drawn-out
process. It took a lot of skill. Those were dropped from the boards. You would
buy a whole file of gold foil pellets. They were about the size of a bb pellet. When
you condensed it and welded it, it would condense almost into nothing and you
would hammer it and build up that restoration.
ROH: Is that the same as a gold filling?
HC: Yes, it is a gold filling, there are also cast gold fillings. The advantage of them
was that they sealed the margins very well and they could be put in from the
lingual so they didn’t show very much. I remember in dental school, we had to do
board examinations that would be what would be expected of us on a state
board. In those examinations we had to do a gold foil and a cast gold restoration
all in one day. Patients were kind of hard to come by and so I needed a patient
and my wife needed a gold foil.
ROH: How many children do you have?
HC: We have four children. Laurie is a counselor at a junior high school. She received
her BS degree from Weber State University and her Master's degree from Utah
State University. Marcy is a laboratory technician at IHC Laboratory in Salt Lake.
She graduated in that program from Weber State. Our son is a pharmacist. He
completed a Bachelor of Science program from Weber State. He works for a
nursing home group in Salt Lake City. My daughter Leslie is a hygienist. She
graduated from Weber State and she works for Dr. Jones, who bought my
ROH: So all except Laurie connected to the medical field.
HC: Yes. I was also a member of the American Dental Association, the Utah Dental
Association, the Weber District Dental Society, the Western Regional Examining
Board. I was a member of the American Association of Dental Examiners.
ROH: Did that involve a lot of meetings outside your practice?
HC: It involved a lot of travel. We went to a lot of meetings outside of the state for
training. Before we did, a board would have at least one day of training. We had
to have a lot of training when we first came on the boards. It would be about what
we could do and what we couldn’t do and what to look for when we were giving
an examination. Before every board, there would be at least one day of
preparation for the board. I spent a lot of time doing those.
ROH: What kind of advice would you give people going into dentistry or dental hygiene
HC: You need to continue to learn throughout your career. I would like to volunteer in
dentistry now, but with medical malpractice being how it is, I wouldn’t dare do it. I
know a lot of professional people who feel that way. I have seen that that has
changed over the years.
ROH: When you were teaching as an adjunct, what classes were you teaching?
HC: I was teaching clinical hygiene dentistry. It was not possible to continue teaching
when I became a member of the Board of Examiners.
ROH: Weber is at the point now where I think the waiting list is really long. A lot of other
schools have popped up with hundreds and hundreds of students. That’s been
another change that’s happened in the last few years.
HC: In fact, they just opened a dental school in Nevada. They’ve opened up a
pharmacy school and a nursing school. Private enterprise seems to be taking
over some of the responsibilities. I don’t know how I feel about that. In some
ways, I kind of feel that maybe the schools should have taken more students.
ROH: Did you have any other dental colleagues that you would partner with in Ogden?
HC: We had the Ogden Dental Seminar. We’d meet every month and have some kind
of dental education of some kind.
ROH: Did you practice alone or did you have partners in your practice?
HC: I was a solo practitioner.
ROH: You don’t see many of those any more.
HC: You see offices that have many operators and many assistants and they turn out
a tremendous amount of dentistry. But I’ve had friends who have done it and by
the time you pay all the help and everything, you’re not much better off than if
you’d been in private practice. I think maybe if I was starting now, I might have a
ROH: That’s another shift that has happened in the last few years. Would you mention
any awards you’ve received?
HC: I received the Distinguished Service Award from the Utah Dental Association in
1993. That was for my work on the board.
ROH: Well, thank you, Dr. Call.
HC: Thank you.
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