Dental community helps burned out dentist

Dentists have rallied to help Dr. Michael Bencak, whose practice was heavily damaged during a massive fire Monday.
Robert Voth, left, and Mario Diponio, right, have rallied to help Michael Bencak, whose dental practice was damaged in a fire. (CBC News)

Michael Bencak wasn't the only dentist getting emotional as he watched his practice go up in smoke in Monday night.

Dentist Mario Diponio shared in Bencak's stress and panic Monday as he stood beside the young dentist and watched firefighters battle a multi-million-dollar fire at Eastpark Plaza. Diponio's practice burned 15 years ago.

"I had pretty vivid memories, actually. I had a little bit of trouble falling asleep [Monday] night," Diponio said.

Diponio rushed to the scene as soon as he heard Bencak's practice was threatened by the flames.

"I knew what I was going through at the time. I didn’t want him to feel the same way," Diponio said.

He found him in the parking lot.

"As I was watching my practice go up in flames and wondering what I was going to do, it felt good to have Dr. Diponio come find me," Bencak said.

Diponio immediately offered Bencak space in his office, where Bencak could perform emergency procedures for his patients. It's what orthodontist Robert Voth did for Diponio 15 years ago.

And then Voth called Bencak, too.

"I immediately - knowing what Mike was going through - called his office and left a message. I told him if I could help him out in any way possible, I would," Voth said.

Voth recently had a dentist leave his practice. That left a vacancy for Bencak, who will move into the new location in about two weeks, after some new equipment is installed.

"There has been a big outpouring ...  from dentists in the city allowing me to move into their facilities as well.  I just want to thank them all for that," Bencak said.

None of the three dentists thought about the fact they're actually in competition with each other.

"You realize there are patients for everyone," Diponio said. "When the shoe was on the other foot, it was important to reach out to him."