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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.


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.



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.


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!


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.

Written by Dr. JJ

Meet the leader of the Hometown Dental team — Dr. JJ!

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