Dentures patients quickly find a lot to smile about as they show off their new teeth, but for the man who makes some of the city’s finest dentures, there’s nothing like motorbike racing to bring out a grin.
Ryan Carlton is the owner of Dentures Plus, and while the clinic in St Albans is bright and clean, Ryan’s spare time is decidedly grubbier, with black leathers, the smell of fuel and the roar of the racetrack filling his weekends.
This month, Ryan’s two passions come together with the Sound of Thunder motorbike racing event at Ruapuna, for which Dentures Plus is the major sponsor.
Ryan will be competing in two classes at the February 23-24 race meeting, and the picture of him tearing around the track, inches from the asphalt, helps explains how Dentures Plus has become one of the city’s most welcoming and down-to-earth practices.
It is also one of Christchurch’s best-equipped clinics, providing new dentures, repairs and refits for patients and dentists from across New Zealand.
Ryan took over the business in 2014, following a period in New Brighton and before that 10 years with the country’s largest denture lab. It was there he met his wife-to-be, Marion, a German-trained denture technician who today helps make up the highly skilled team at Dentures Plus.
With multiple rooms for full denture services, they use the latest techniques and technology to create dentures with a fit and style unique to each person.
The work is precise and has little margin for error. The racetrack holds similar challenges for Ryan, but it’s also a chance to blow off steam so he’s fresh and attuned when seeing patients, he says.
Raised in Fairlie and Dunedin, he didn’t start motorbike racing until 2016, nearly 20 years after he started making dentures.
“I played a lot of ice hockey in Dunedin but I didn’t start racing until a friend loaned me his bike for a race at Ruapuna, and that was all it took – I was hooked,” he says.
“I mainly focus on BEARS racing but I also love street racing, especially the Greymouth Street Race held over Labour weekend.
“Dentures Plus sponsored the Sound of Thunder in 2017 and 2018 and this year I’m the major sponsor. Riders and bikes travel from all over New Zealand, as well as some from Australia and sometimes even further abroad. We also sponsor some other riders to help them do what they love.”
Ryan will be riding his 2010 Buell in two classes at this month’s Sound of Thunder: Milwaukee Iron, for American-built bikes, and Formula One.
With any luck, he’ll be smiling as freely as his patients by the close of weekend.