I’ve been asked the question many times, “Why did you decide to become a dentist?” I can’t say it was initially a childhood dream but part of the reason does stem back to my first experiences at the dentist as a child. I grew up in Mazeppa, just east of High River with my three younger brothers. My parents started taking us to the dentist at a young age and that dentist was Dr. Rehak in High River. I can still remember the layout of the office, the smells and the play area. I also remember getting my cleanings with the hygienist, spitting in the cuspidor (which no one really has anymore because that’s kinda gross! – think of a spittoon) and having my checkups with Dr. Bob. My experiences were always good – even the one time he had to pull a baby tooth. Mom said I only had a little tear and then it was all done and we got to go for a snack across the street at the Southfork restaurant! Plus I think I got to miss school that day.
I USED TO WANT TO BE A FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST…
Fast forward to my early twenties, I was taking my Biochemistry degree at the University of Lethbridge with the initial plan of becoming a forensic pathologist. Well, let’s just say I had a change of heart one day when I was looking at med school applications and came across the dental school page for the U of A. I sat and thought about my dental experiences and thought that I would probably like that career! So I started planning, taking the DAT exam, and sending out applications. Low and behold, in 2005, I was accepted to the Doctor of Dental Medicine degree after I graduated from the U of L.
2005-2009 went by extremely fast as I was concentrating on dental school at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. During my time there, I was accepted into the Canadian Forces Dental Officer Training Plan as a Second Lieutenant. When I wasn’t in school, I was either doing basic training in Quebec or working at the recruiting centre in Vancouver. Life was busy but those were also some of the best years of my life! I was posted to Edmonton after graduation in 2009 where I worked full time on the army base, at the rank of Captain, and evenings in private practice until I moved back home in 2014.
HOMETOWN DENTAL – THE BEST FAMILY DENTAL CLINIC IN OKOTOKS
In 2016, after I had finished my time in school, with the military, and as an associate dentist in different clinics, I took the plunge to open my own dental office here in Okotoks. The name “Hometown Dental” popped in my head and I could not get rid of it so I took that as a sign that I had to name it that. I have put a lot of personal touches on the clinic from the interior design to naming the operatories after local towns.
HOMETOWN DENTAL’S CAVITY FREE CLUB
One personal touch that I took from my childhood was the cavity-free club. This was something I knew I had to have for my young patients because it was something I remember from Dr. Bob’s office. Basically, it consists of entering children’s names who have a cavity-free dental visit into a draw. Whoever wins the draw gets a $25 gift certificate to Monkey Mountain Toys and Games. Back when I was a kid, I actually won the cavity-free draw twice, and crazy enough, I still have the two Gund stuffed animals that were the prizes!
Winning those prizes as a kid was positive reinforcement for taking care of my teeth. Getting kids excited about the dentist is so important for a lifetime of good oral health and showing them the importance of prevention. It’s also pretty great to see the excitement on a child’s face when they win and come to pick up their prize!
HOMETOWN DENTAL AND C-19
We have recently had to change some things in the clinic to be safe during the COVID-19 pandemic but I wanted to keep the cavity-free club going so the kids have something to strive for. We have now decided to make up a fancy certificate for the winner and mail it out in a decorated envelope addressed to them personally – because what kid doesn’t love getting mail?! Once they get the certificate, one of their parents calls to schedule a time for them to come and pick up their prize and get their photo taken. We have a photo album in the clinic of all of the winners since we opened and they also get to be a star on our Instagram and Facebook pages!
Now, take us on a trip down your memory lane… Do you have a positive memory from your childhood dentist that has stuck with you? We’d love to hear your story in the comments below or on social media.