This year, the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine is proud to honor an outstanding dental graduate with our CU Dental Distinguished Alumni Award. Eric Van Zytveld, DDS Class of 1979, is a great example of what a talented and compassionate dental professional can do with his passion and skills.
According to Dr. Larry Coffee, the Founder of Dental Lifeline Network, “There are very, very vulnerable people whose quality of life and, indeed, longevity is placed at risk because of severe dental problems. Eric is a clinician whose doors are open. He believes our inherent dignity deserves attention.”
Graduating in the third DDS class, Dr. Van Zytveld completed his studies at the University of Colorado School of Dentistry on the Health Science Campus. Dr. Van Zytveld has enjoyed a nearly four decade dental career with a successful practice located in downtown Denver.
“The secret to having a successful career is caring about your patients and connecting with them. I feel like my patients are my family. They are devoted to me and I am dedicated to them. My first bridge patient in dental school is still with me. Her gold foil is 40 years old. Also, I am fortunate to have a staff that truly cares about our patients,” Van Zytveld said.
During his time at the University of Colorado there were many instructors who had a profound influence on VanZytveld. “Dr. Robert Greer taught me a true appreciation of oral pathology. Dr. Chaffey in perio told us ‘we can’t have a cookie cutter approach to treating patients.' Dr. Wayne Harvey told us to ‘pave your way with words.' We need to tell patients what we are doing and why.” These powerful lessons have remained with Dr. Van Zytveld throughout his career and life.
The impassioned lessons he learned from early mentors influenced his future work and inspired him to give back in any way he could. “Whether through your professional skills or your time, it’s important to volunteer,” Van Zytveld said. For 39 years he has volunteered his time and talent with organizations and causes that make a positive difference to help individuals whether in nursing homes, in domestic violence programs, mental health facilities, programs like Smile Again and Senior Answers, or the Boy Scouts of America.
"I knew that I could help people, help patients, so that's how I got started."
In the late 1980s, Van Zytveld worked as a member of the faculty at the CU Dental School. His favorite part of his work was taking students out to nursing homes where he had the opportunity to provide in-depth instruction and mentorship about treating geriatric patients.
“Eric is the personification of authentic compassion and exemplary professionalism. Many can cite the ‘golden rule.' He lives it, and perhaps there is no higher compliment any of us can strive to earn,” Larry Coffee said.
CU School of Dental Medicine professor, mentor and friend to Dr. Van Zytveld, Dr. Robert Greer said, “It’s easy to say good things about good people. What a deserving honor for Eric. As a student, he was always the consummate low key gentleman, which he is to this day. He was a delight to teach, a gifted student and above all he remains a good friend.”
The CU School of Dental Medicine is proud to honor Dr. Eric Van Zytveld as our 2018 CU Dental Distinguished Alumni. He represents the best of CU, excellence in dentistry and a commitment to community involvement.