I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me over the years why I wanted to be a dentist. Sometimes the question is asked by someone who quite clearly is creeped-out by the whole notion of dealing so closely with people’s mouths. But many genuinely want to know what motivates me in my profession.
In truth the answer to the question has evolved over the years. During my early dental years my response would have included comments about my fascination with life in general and the science behind our existence. I might have talked about my father’s advice, to find a job where I was my own boss. And then there was my childhood dentist who was a really good guy who just always seemed to love what he did.
Nearly 29 years into this dental experiment my answer would reflect more on just how fortunate I am to have stumbled into a profession that is much deeper than it seems on the surface. Today my “Why?” response is much less head oriented and instead is rooted deeper and deeper within my heart. I understand more fully and appreciate the multi-faceted nature of the mouth. Think for a moment about the elements of your life that are connected directly with your mouth. From the mouth we take in and enjoy nourishment. Both with and without verbalization we communicate using the mouth. The mouth conveys emotion and demonstrates beauty. With our mouths we have the potential to share ourselves on very intimate levels.
At my office my team and I encounter people every day whose needs are fully met through their existing dental status. But we also routinely come together with people who are in either physical or emotional pain that is rooted in some facet of dental disease or disrepair. Some are unable to eat many of the foods that bring them delight. Others have fallen victim to some sort of accidental injury. Some have seen a slow decline over time. They awake one day with an awareness that they are no longer able to smile freely and laugh loudly without a subtle but genuine inner haunt. Some gave up long ago a comfort they once had in sharing themselves closely and intimately with those they love.
Why am I a dentist? I’m a dentist because I know of no other role through which I might have better potential to connect with people on a meaningful level in search of wholeness and health. In dental school I was trained to be a rather skilled tooth technician. I could examine a tooth, identify disease when it was present and provide a complete list of options available for the restoration of that tooth to health. In the school of life I’ve learned that there are people behind those mouths, people that often have joys and concerns that go much deeper than the diagnosis of dental caries and periodontal disease.
Life is too short to accommodate factors that get in the way of comfort, health and joy. I’m a dentist because I have the potential with help to erase some of those factors. That is a gift both to me and my community.
Dr. Davis is especially good with kids. And his staff? Helpful, compassionate, and caring. They take care of business for you. Thumbs up. 10 on a scale of 5.