Just today, while shopping at First Monday in Canton with my wife, I had one of the guys I was talking to ask me why I chose a career in dentistry. He phrased the question more in the sense of “why dentistry instead of some other medical field”, but I’ve also heard it asked in the sense of “what kind of strange little kid decides they want to be a dentist when they grow up?”. To answer that, I direct you to Herbie the Elf from “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”:
While Herbie knew from a young age that dentistry was the path for him, my decision to pursue all things dentite came around my second year of college at ACU. Some of my then “pre-med” friends and I took a Medical/Dental mission trip to Guatemala along with several doctors and dentists from Abilene or some affiliation with ACU in the past. While my experience in dental care on that trip was limited to holding lights, sterilizing instruments, and haranguing the good dentists with thousands of questions, I still had my eyes opened to a new career path I hadn’t previously considered.
Science, Art, and Relationships
Here was a field that dealt with treating patients and administering care based on their needs, but there was so much diversity to what and who could be treated. While it seems obvious to make the statement now, I realized then that just about every human being has teeth, had teeth, or will have teeth. Shocking, I know. What this meant to me was that I could not only help and work with children and kids, but also adults and elderly people as well. I saw that dentistry would allow me to have a hand in each step of patient care. They assessed, treatment planned and advised, and delivered care and final treatment as well!
Another large part of what immediately appealed to me about the field of dentistry was how relatively straight-forward it was to administer care in a mission/outreach setting. Compared to various fields of medicine, the amount of equipment and environment to extract teeth or do fillings and other minor dental procedures is minimalistic. I saw that I would be able to use my God-given skills and talents missionally which made dentistry a great fit.
Everybody loves a good transformation; a before/after photo; an uplifiting story of overcoming adversity and emerging renewed and improved. Examples of this are abundant in popular television, whether of a home renovation (Chip and Joanna of Fixer Upper infamy are the best!), a wardrobe makeover (What Not to Wear), or dramatic body transformations (My 600lb life). Although I think there might be a bit of morbid fascination with just how far people can overindulge and what the outcome is with that last one. Dentistry has great potential to enact enormous change in the realm of transforming someone’s smile!
A healthy, aesthetic smile can boost self-confidence, implies health and vitality in the individual, and best of all is contagious! Being able to help someone eat and speak pain-free or smile or talk without feeling self-conscious are just a few of the awesome opportunities being a dentist provides!
I couldn’t imagine doing anything besides dentistry! The experiences, opportunities, and procedures aside, it is the people that I have the pleasure and privilege of calling my patients that I truly enjoy the most. I genuinely can say that I have never met a stranger, and I challenge you to give me the chance to get to know you and I’ll guarantee you’ll agree with my friends and family: “That guy could talk the ears off a field of corn!”
God bless, and thanks for reading!