Calapooia Dental - March 2019

Different Paths HOW I FOUND MY WAY TO DENTISTRY In high school, my best friend, David White, and I were both considering a career in dentistry. David was sure that’s what he wanted, but as I learned more, I fell in love with biology and research. I went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology and eventually obtained a doctorate in developmental biology as a researcher at Stanford University. Meanwhile, David stuck with his ambitions and graduated from dental school. Then, I hit a crossroad. The professor life wasn’t appealing for me, and the track I was on ended there. Dr. White suggested I consider dentistry again, and trusting the advice of a friend I had known since middle school, I began observing under Dr. James Cox, a dentist in Palo Alto, California. Dr. Cox became a great mentor for me, and I decided to take a dive into dental school. It had been a long road to dentistry, but after graduating with a dental degree from Oregon Health & Science University, I wanted to learn more. I made the 437-mile trek from Eugene, Oregon — the place I called home for most of my life — to a residency program in Meridian, Idaho. During this program, I learned more about extracting wisdom teeth, IV sedation, complex treatment plans, and dental implants. By the time I left that program, I knew I wanted to take the vast knowledge I had gleaned and return home to western Oregon. I sent out about 100 letters to various dentists in the area, hoping one would give me a chance. But only one dentist responded to that letter. Dr. Patrick Hagerty, who many of Calapooia Family Dental’s patients will remember, let me know that even though he didn’t have a job for me, he was still interested. We kept in touch, and I eventually came to work for Dr. Hagerty, who quickly became another knowledgeable source for me. Eventually, Dr. Hagerty sold his practice to me, and I ran with the same focus he had built over his tenure in Albany.

Patients who have been dedicated members of this practice know that Dr. Hagerty is known for his quality care as well as his passion for helping those who struggle in a traditional dental setting because of their physical or mental needs. I tried to fill his big shoes by continuing his special needs dental work in the hospital, and it’s since become a passion of mine. Once a week, I continue Dr. Hagerty’s legacy and see patients with special needs, such as autism or Down Syndrome, at Albany General Hospital. Since it can be difficult for these patients to sit through a whole dental appointment, they undergo general anesthesia. I cannot communicate directly with the patient during the appointment, so once I enter that operating room, I have to rely on my training, quick thinking, and background knowledge of the patient to make decisions that will help them lead healthy, pain-free lives.

Brian R. Summers DMD, PHD

Calapooia Courier March 2019

Proper dental care is important to overall health for everyone, but for those with special needs, dental hygiene can be challenging and complex. These patients’ teeth may cause behavioral outbursts because they don’t have a way to communicate the pain they may be experiencing. As the son of a woodworker, I love that dentistry — both general and special needs — allows me to work with my hands. It’s rewarding to find a problem, solve it quickly, and send someone home with a now-healthy and painless smile on their face. I’m humbled by all the patients at Calapooia Family Dental who have trusted us to help them find solutions to their dental problems over the years, and I can’t wait to continue to grow in this community. In fact, we have an exciting announcement about that growth coming in next month’s newsletter! Until then, know that we couldn’t have done this without all of you. -Dr. Brian Summers

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