Alumnus Kim Kutsch Continues to Innovate
by Nancy Michalko
Kim Kutsch’s dental office in Albany, Oregon, is a beautiful lodge-like setting. But his inner office resembles an undergraduate research lab at Westminster College: It has a microscope, sinks, computers, and a countertop full of experiments underway. One would almost expect to see Kutsch’s Westminster mentor, Dr. Barry Quinn, in a lab coat coming around the corner at any moment. And the truth is, Quinn is right there—in spirit.
Kutsch credits his Westminster experience as the basis for his insatiable curiosity. When he observed Quinn’s teaching, he knew his favorite professor was experiencing the joy of discovery right along with his students. Watching a lifelong learner uncover new things with the students, Kutsch decided, at age 20, to live his life with the same enthusiasm for discovery. That is why his aspirations extend beyond simply practicing dentistry to creating a complex and active life around innovation.
A 1976 biology graduate, Kutsch received his DMD degree from the University of Oregon in 1979. Since then, his drive for discovery has led to 11 dental patents with many more pending. He also started three dental manufacturing companies; he is a consultant for dozens more. He travels the globe lecturing and teaching about new materials, technologies, and techniques that he has discovered in his drive to solve problems.
When some aspect of dentistry presents an obstacle to Kutsch, he invents a solution. Frustrated with the flexible compound used to adhere partial dentures, he developed a new compound and created a company to manufacture and distribute it. This compound, Duracetal, a thermoplastic resin, is now used in general dentistry worldwide. When dental instruments or products prove inadequate, he invents new and better ones—air abrasion lasers, powders, nozzles—and new methods in cosmetic dentistry.
While the thrill of discovery has been a driving force for Kutsch, people keep him refreshed. He realized that being an inventor and a world-renowned product consultant wasn’t enough: his patients were his community. He wanted to know how they were doing and what had happened to them. At a time when he could have retired, Kutsch built a new facility and returned to his dental practice.