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The Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

May 13, 2009 at 1:17 PM

800 Olive Way, making people nice smiles

dentallabdoctor050609m.jpgMay 6, 11:28 a.m. [View larger]
Doctor Alecia Nowak came to the dental lab on her day off just to meet me. “That’s why I’m not wearing white today,” she said. She has run her practice at 800 Olive Way since 1985. Another dentist, doctor Howard Libbey, was the previous tenant but she doesn’t remember how long he might have occupied the tiny 630 square-foot commercial property built in 1954. The view from her office doesn’t face parking lots anymore but she’s not concerned about another tower of condos going up on the triangle-shape island where her lab is.
Nowak inherited her passion for this profession from her dad, who was an oral surgeon. She attended Queen Anne high school and graduated from dental school in Oregon in 1982. She speaks passionately about her work helping people get dentures. “We give them a new smile and their whole life changes,” she said.
dentallabtech050609m.jpgMay 6, 12:09 p.m. [View larger]
Around the corner from the little room where I sat down to sketch Dr. Nowak is a narrow hallway that leads into two rooms with dental chairs and another room where lab technician Lam Le works. His window also faces to the south. I can see people at the bus stop and the lower floors of Olive 8 and the Olivian condo towers. I let Lam continue working while I draw. Lam has been working in the field for 25 years, he tells me later. First in Vietnam, where he grew up, and at this lab since 1999. He really likes it here, he says. “I make people nice smiles.”
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