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As a young boy growing up in Wichita, Kansas—where his next door neighbor inspired him to become a dentist—Dr. Howard Farran remembers how the farmers headed out to the barn after dinner with their ham radios to talk to somebody in another town, state or even country. He was blown away, and learned from an early age the difference between one-way media like television and the interactive media the radios provided.
Memories of those experiences helped him form what is now the Dentaltown message boards. He also remembers going to espn.com back in 1998 and seeing the message boards there, filled with people talking back and forth about sports. He wanted the same setup in dentistry, but at the time, there was nothing like it. Dr. Farran already had a magazine, which he had started a few years before, so he went to work on developing a website and a community around it.
The Dentaltown message boards made their debut in 1999, and 20 years later, the community continues to grow every month. A quarter million members from all over the world have posted about dental topics about 5 million times. The 25,000 members Dr. Farran describes as “hardcore, intense dentists” stay active on the boards, as they want to learn as much as possible so they can advance their practices. About 80 percent of users are from English speaking areas such as the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Australia.
“Dentaltown is a collection of the dentists and dental consultants who live there,” Dr. Farran said. “The magic of Dentaltown is its members. They’ve built such a special community with dentists wanting to share and help each other out.”