Paul Belvedere was born in 1930 on the recovery bed of his uncle’s small town dental office in Hobart, Ind. He was destined to join the profession, and scores of hockey players, other patients and dental students are glad that he did.
A prolific inventor, lecturer, author and innovator in the field of cosmetic dentistry, he was known to his dental peers as the father of posterior composites. North Stars hockey fans knew him as the guy who led cheers with his bugle. Players from around the league knew he helped with more than his enthusiasm.
Paul Belvedere died on Nov. 1 at 87, surrounded by family.
Belvedere was an early advocate for using composite fillings in rear teeth rather than the silver-colored amalgam. Dentists today say they still use the products and techniques Belvedere pioneered.
Credited with as many as 22 patents, most covering cosmetic dentistry or the development of performance enhancing mouthguards, he also traveled extensively to teach dentists around the world his methods and techniques.
He studied dentistry at Loyola Dental School in Chicago, graduating third in his class in 1955. After three years with the U.S. Air Force, when he was part of the Mobile Dental Units of the 31st Air Division in Minneapolis, he retired as captain and opened a private practice in Edina.
A childhood casual hockey player and Edina Park Board hockey coach, Belvedere became a North Stars fan, even meeting his wife, Gail Ellen Heinemann, at a game. He and Gail were married for 44 years and had four children.
Belvedere became a fill-in dentist for the North Stars team when Lou Nanne, former player and general manager, became his patient. By the mid 1970s, he was an official team dentist, a post he served until the team moved to Dallas in 1993.
That was back in the day when many skaters still played without helmets, let alone mouthguards. Belvedere even stitched up an occasional fan and rinkside broadcaster in the days when less protective netting meant more pucks came flying off the ice.
“He was really a wonderful person to be around,” Nanne said. “He was a great person, a great hockey fan and a great dentist.”
Belvedere was an investor and contributor to an early mouthguard company that Nanne and Bob May, a dentist and former hockey player, had called Pro-Form.
Belvedere mentored many young dentists, including eventual business partner Doug Lambert. Lambert, who met Belvedere when he was 12 years old and his family moved to Edina, joined the practice in 1984 after graduating from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. They worked together until Belvedere stopped active practice in 2010.
Lambert said while Belvedere enjoyed stitching up the hockey players, he developed mouthguards to prevent the injuries and was passionate about using them at all levels of sports. Many of the features Belvedere developed are still evident in mouthguards sold today.
“In dentistry your heart is always in prevention,” Lambert said.
Competitive airplane building as a youth contributed to Belvedere’s lifelong love of flying, including a private license and shared ownership of a plane.
He was an associate and adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota for many years and has received many industry honors, most recently in late October when the American Society for Dental Aesthetics presented him with a lifetime achievement award.
Besides his wife, he is survived by sons Paul and William, daughters Grayce and Josephine and eight grandchildren. Services have been held.