Why did dentistry become the career choice for the son of an electrical engineer and a registered nurse? Well, it wasn’t because I was born with an ideal, healthy smile! Far from it—in fact, our family dentist found 7 cavities at an examination during the summer before I started the 3rd grade! Not a very happy memory, I can tell you.
But, aside from the embarrassment of disappointing my Mom and Dad, I don’t remember any unhappy experiences getting the 7 cavities treated. And that’s at least partly why I considered a career in dentistry—I’d had dental problems as a kid, I’d gotten them treated, and it turned out to be ‘no big deal’ for me. I was glad those problems could be taken care of without a lot of fuss or trouble.
My parents valued prevention, so I saw the dentist at least twice each year for checkups, cleanings, and a few other needs during my years growing up. Our family dentist was a personable guy. My dad, who’d had a lifetime of dental troubles, said more than once that he thought our dentist was the most likable one he’d ever been to because he always made us feel we were more important to him than our teeth.
To have the chance to succeed in a competitive career, I worked to keep my grades up. My own experiences as a patient told me that helping people enjoy healthy, attractive smiles was work that was worth doing. I looked up to our dentist and other dentists I knew in our area. They enjoyed active lifestyles with their families and had time, means, and the inclination to give service in our community. I admired and respected them because of that.
Before I’d finished high school, I thought I wanted to be a dentist, and that never changed through four years at Brigham Young University or two years of missionary service in Japan. I observed in dental offices during college and worked in a dental lab to become more familiar with the field before entering Northwestern University Dental School in 1981. As a dental student, I earned spending money doing lab work for a private dentist in Chicago. It was a challenging, busy, and very enjoyable period of my life.
As a newly graduated dentist, eager to build my skills and experience, I entered a general practice residency in the US Air Force near Omaha, NE in 1985. At subsequent bases of assignment, I found I really enjoyed providing surgical, sedation, and prosthodontic services, but I elected not to specialize. Eventually I earned board certification in general dentistry after a two-year advanced dental residency in 1998.
My training in dental implants began in 1997 at Wilford Hall Medical Center. I thought the predictable safety and success of dental implants would be revolutionary in improving the lives of people who missed their lost teeth. They’ve changed the way I practiced since being trained to place them.
My own son and father-in-law have suffered the loss of visible and useful teeth, and it’s been my pleasure to restore their appearance and chewing ability with dental implants as I have for hundreds of others. I wish every person who regrets the loss of their teeth could enjoy the ability to eat, speak, smile, and laugh with the confidence that dental implants make possible today. It’s my goal to extend that possibility to as many people as I can.