Although none of my family members are involved in dentistry, I became interested in the profession at the early age of 13. My own family dentist gave me a good impression of the career as he was always pleasant, happy, and seemed to enjoy his work. Being interested in the life sciences and biology as a child, and one who liked to ‘build things’ and was always using my father’s tools, dentistry became very appealing. I entered college with the agenda of continuing onto dental school. In 1980, after 3 yrs. of undergraduate studies in a pre-dental curriculum at Anderson University, Anderson, Indiana, I was accepted at Indiana University School of Dentistry as an out-of-state student.
During four years of dental school, consideration was given to specializing in different aspects of dentistry, oral surgery or orthodontics being the most frequently contemplated. By the end of dental school, I realized there were too many facets of dentistry I found enjoyable and rewarding to eliminate by focusing in just one field of dentistry. Considerable time, effort, and expense has been invested into continuing education efforts since graduating with honors that has provided a fulfilling and multidimensional career for myself and a convenient ‘one stop shopping’ for my patients. Being limited to just straightening teeth, just restoring teeth with crowns and bridges, or just doing implants (although rewarding and enjoyable in itself) would be frustrating as a clinician and practitioner when dentistry has so many aspects to offer those wanting to restore and/or beautify their smile.
My first experience in “private practice” took place at a small school/orphanage in an impoverished village on the island of Haiti. While waiting for the required state board exam results I accompanied a church group to Haiti and provided much needed dental care to an otherwise neglected community. I was able to return to the village the following year with three additional dental school classmates and provided more care for these people. I’ve since been a part of several similar medical-dental outreaches to El Salvador, Central America, Haiti, and Africa. This has always been a rewarding and eye opening experience. Their intent is to help improve the quality of life for the poor and suffering there, but more importantly they are a witness to the love of Christ and to assist in evangelical outreaches of the established churches and missionaries. My most recent trip to El Salvador in Jan. 2015 provided the opportunity for 5 of our staff to go along and assist in providing dental care for these gracious people. I was also invited to spend a day at the dental School in San Salvador to teach the students and alumni techniques in minimally invasive implant procedures and look forward to returning in the coming year as they have requested.