For him, dentistry was an art form, and smiles were his reward

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When Dental hygienist Donna Staley received a call from Orlando dentist Paul Aschacher at 8 one Friday night, it was business as usual.

"Somebody dived off the side of a pool and broke their two front teeth," Staley said. "We went to the office and worked on that patient until 10 that night, putting that little kid's teeth back together."

For some dentists, this may have been unwanted overtime — a disruption to the start of a weekend. But not for Aschacher. He was doing what he loved, and many of his patients adored him for it.

"He loved dealing with patients and he loved turning someone's smile into art work," Staley said. "It was like art work for him. He called it a passion and he loved providing care for his patients."

With that type of dedication and drive, it's no surprise that Orlando Magazine named him a dentist of distinction in 2007.

Paul Conrad Aschacher, doctor of dental surgery, died May 18 after a short battle with kidney cancer. He was 56.

Born in Chicago, Aschacher knew he wanted to be a dentist since he was a child.

Unlike most children, Aschacher was thrilled to go to the dentist and was inspired to become one after his first visit, said Staley, who knew and worked with Aschacher for 23 years.

He attended Loyola University in Chicago where he earned his DDS in 1984. That same year, he joined the Navy.

Of course, he helped the armed forces the best way he could. He fixed their teeth.

"He got extra training in endodontics and also did a lot of oral surgery," Staley said. "He loved it and spoke highly of it."

After three years, Aschacher left the Navy as a lieutenant in 1987 and relocated to Central Florida, where he opened his first private dental practice in Orlando in 1989.

"He liked the small practices because it was family oriented," Staley said. "He would only want to see eight patients a day because he felt that if you see too many patients, you're not giving quality care because you're rushing in and rushing out."

He was also generous, Staley said.

"If somebody that was less fortunate needed a root canal, instead of taking the tooth out, he would make sure the patient got the right treatment even if it meant he had to reduce his fee or not make as much money. His patients came first."

Staley said that Aschacher would often say, "I just need enough money to get by and the rest will fall in place."

He opened his second office in Orlando in 2003 and continued his generous giving, often providing free service to those who needed it.

Staley said his offices will remain open.

"I'm trying to have his legacy go on with his practices because I know how much they meant to him," Staley said. "The staff is still staying and the practices are still there and we're trying to keep it going until we find the right fit."

Many of his patients were grateful for how comfortable Aschacher made them feel.

"This man made me laugh through root canals!" said Angela Oddo, who wrote one of the 50-plus testimonials on his digital guestbook.

Paul Conrad Aschacher is survived by his parents Ludwig and Elsie Aschacher of Orlando; and his brothers Larry Aschacher of Orlando and Karl Aschacher of Algonquin, Ill.