From a very young age, I remember my mother telling me I’d be a great dentist. Maybe it was that I liked building and playing with my hands, something in my personality, or maybe she just wanted me to aim high in life. Whatever it was, I’m glad she kept encouraging me.
One thing that helped was my pediatric dentist, Dr. Stone. He was so relaxed and friendly, always had a great attitude, and really enjoyed his work. I would dream of what it would be like to be a dentist.
Are you from Corvallis originally?
I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. I received a BA in Geology from Colorado College. My wife, Susan, grew up in Salem and when we met in Portland in 1985, we both knew that Oregon would be our home.
How did studying geology turn into a career in dentistry?
I always kept dentistry in the back of my mind and took all the prerequisites for dental school. When I graduated with my geology degree, the economy was changing. All the good geology jobs were drying up and the ones that were left were moving to Texas. I just loved the mountains, loved skiing and spending time in the outdoors. At the time, I wasn’t interested in moving to Texas.
So how did you end up as a dentist in Corvallis?
After working a couple of other odd jobs, I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a dentist and attended University of Michigan School of Dentistry (my father-in-law’s alma mater). After graduating, my family and I returned to Portland so that I could complete a one year hospital dental residency program at OHSU. My wife, four kids and I have called Corvallis home now for almost 20 years.
Did you enjoy dental school?
I was one of the older students in my class at Michigan and was nervous about how I’d do. But it turns out that dentistry agreed with me and things just clicked.
What was the biggest surprise about being a dentist you didn’t learn in dental school?
My residency was a big eye-opener. I was working with patients everyday, and learning new and complicated procedures. Everything happened so fast and I was the one responsible for making the right decisions.
Fewer than 5% of dentists complete a residency program and I’m so glad that I did. The experience made me a better dentist.
What did you do after dental school and residency?
My wife and I were ready to see the world! I joined the military (Army Dental Corps) and I spent 4 years practicing as a dentist in Germany. After completing my service, our family returned to the Pacific Northwest and settled in Corvallis. I ended up buying a dental practice, and in 2001 Timberhill Dental moved into our current location.
Did you know what type of practice you wanted Timberhill Dental to be? Or has your vision evolved over time?
I’m so proud of how our space looks and feels. Often someone will say, “I wish my house looked like this!” Our designer did a great job, helping us make use of natural light and allowing our space to flow. New patients can see through our glass doors and look straight out into the garden. Warm, scented towels and blankets, essential oils, paraffin hand wax dips, and cookies and cappuccinos for our patients are why we are known as the spa dental office.
One of my favorite projects is our one-of-a-kind patient restroom. It’s like something out of a cosmopolitan spa and I think it’s the nicest of its kind in Oregon. I’m always looking for interesting hand and face products from around the globe to offer our patients. It’s just a little something extra to make our patients feel special.
What do you think is the coolest thing about your practice?
This one’s easy for me: the Timberhill Dental team. I’m so proud of both our long-time team members and our new ones, too. They all have an amazing work ethic and I hope everyone sticks around for a long, long time. Our patients comment all the time about how wonderful the staff is. I’m very lucky to work with all of them.
Besides your awesome team, what keeps you interested in dentistry?
Even after all these years, every day still feels different. It’s energizing.
I also love that our CEREC technology is helping us place crowns in just a single visit. It’s great for the patients and me, too. I have more control over the finished restorations and our patients get better results.
What do you think is going to be the next big change in dentistry?
I would like to see dentistry become a study of the whole body, not just the mouth. As a field, we’re discovering the connectedness between whole body health, your airway, and your mouth, teeth and gums. It’s going to become even more clear over time.
Where did the idea for “Dollar$ Not Decay” come from?
My wife read about a non-candy buy-back program in Detroit, Michigan many years ago. We thought, why not try it with candy? Now it’s a very popular event nationwide but I think we were one of the first offices to offer it. More than 15 years later, it has become a fun thing that I’m known for in town. I enjoy seeing the same people every year and parents and kids just love it. Over the years, we’ve collected over 13,000 pounds of candy!
Another one of my favorite memories is a picture of my son when he was 8. He was leaning way into one of the garbage cans full of candy, like he’d fallen in head first. He looks like he was in candy heaven.
What’s 1000 Smiles and how did you get involved with them?
Every year, we attend the Oregon Dental Conference and they have booths advertising different products and events. One year we saw a booth for 1000 Smiles. They were talking about dental teams going around the world and giving back.
We just thought it would be a great thing to do. I ended up taking the entire Timberhill Dental staff to work in Jamaica and the entire experience was amazing. Even just getting all of us to the airport was an adventure.
When we landed in Jamaica, we ended up taking a scary car ride up a one-lane road. Finally on the top of a hill there was a church set up like a makeshift dental office. We worked for one week to provide dental care to locals. Many people walked many miles to see us and it was an amazing feeling to see them get the care they needed.
Over the years we’ve also worked in the Dominican Republic and Guatemala. We’re also planning a trip back to Jamaica Fall of 2018.
Let’s talk dental health tips. What do you want your patients to know.
If we went out on the street (like Jay Leno would do) and asked 100 people, “What causes tooth decay?” we’d probably get 100 wrong answers. Here’s the truth:
Tooth decay is caused when your mouth experiences a higher than normal level of acidity for a long period of time.
Here’s what you need to avoid: high-frequency ingestion of acidic, starchy, and sugary foods:
Acid – Lemon, lime, tomatoes, coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks
Starch – Anything that’s white. Bread, crackers, potatoes. Starch breaks down into sugar as it’s digested.
Sugar – Sugar is the food bacteria eat and they produce acid as a byproduct.
If you eat these foods only at mealtime, your saliva can do its job:
Buffers out the acid
Helps remineralize the teeth
Contains immune components that kill bacteria
Helps get food out of your mouth and into your stomach for digestion
But when you snack throughout the day, your saliva can’t keep up and the result is tooth decay.
Why should someone make an appointment at Timberhill Dental?
We’ve got great soothing energy at our practice. We’re taking advantage of technologies like CEREC and Cone Beam 3D Imaging in ways other practices aren’t.
For example, the Cone Beam system, isn’t just more comfortable than old-fashioned x-rays. We use it to diagnose decay, identify chronic inflammation, visualize your airway, and screen for head and neck cancers in a way that just wasn’t possible in the past.
The level of precision and detail is AMAZING. You really need to see it for yourself. Give our office a call at (541) 754-0144.
Last question, when you’re not at the office what are you doing?
I love to travel, all kinds of exercise, running and biking with my family. I do the best I can to keep up with my four kids!