If there was ever a professional that gets a bum rap, it would be a dentist.
Horror stories abound, and nicknames; "Dr. Ouch," the "Jerker" and the "Drill Sergeant" have been not so fondly attached to the trade. Apprehension accompanies the patient when he or she slides into that chair, and no music or wall mural remedies the anxiety.
Recently, I had occasion for such an unwelcome event.
An aged filling decided to take a powder and, along with it, part of the tooth tagged along. I knew the drill (really, Scott, really?).
Dr. Justin Dutton, DMD, owner of Copper Mine Dental, to the rescue. It was not an unpleasant experience. After two visits, the coast was clear to resume a normal life.
Not so fast. Another filling ceded its territory. Now, we are talkin' round two.
"You probably know what I am recommending," Dutton said. I pleaded for a multiple discount. Although he enjoyed the ingenuity, the motion was denied. He did the best he could, but he is a businessman with plenty of overhead. The decision was easy. Dollars be damned, I like to eat.
During the duration of treatments, Dutton and I got to know each other. He is a bit different than most. Some time later we sat down and chewed (not again!) the fat.
Justin is a Philly boy, born therein 1971. He was influenced in his youth by his orthodontist. After Drexel University and Temple, his first assignment was a medical compound in Lancaster, Pa. After five years, he headed West, following his brother who lived in LA. Justin did not make the coast, instead he joined a health center in Rio Rico in 2001.
The pull of his business mentality saw opportunity in the planning mode of Sahuarita. He made the move to his own practice in 2008, becoming the town's first dentist.
The business has expanded. Recently he purchased the practice of Dr. Gilbert Sokal in La Posada.
His passion for his trade is clearly evident. His business skills are also quite keen. Justin navigates his eight work stations with speed and efficiency, whistling as he goes.
When asked about the energized bunny routine, he was revealing. "I have this need to be hyper active, it is my nature, it keeps me focused. There is always another situation waiting."
Dr. Magic Hands
Dutton fully recognizes the apprehension of patients. He broke it down into four categories. Fear, pain, time, and cost, the last being the most prevalent.
He explained how he handles the problem.
"I do the best I can to explain and address the concerns. The cost of services can compel people to postpone dental care until the problem reaches critical mass."
He outlined the results of neglect that avoids proper maintenance (cleaning, fillings, crowns and root canals). The final stop is a budget killer. Implants can cost $4,000 a tooth.
You may fondly remember the Tooth Fairy leaving you dimes and quarters; these days you would need a cashier's check under the pillow.
While practicing in Rio Rico, he acquired the nickname "Dr. Magic Hands" among the homeless he treated. He pointed out that many had bad experiences as children. "Back then, gloves were not used and often no pain remedies provided. Some dentists even would be smoking in the treatment area," Dutton explained.
His approach to children is different from the rest of his clients. "Their attention span is limited,” he said, "You have to move rapidly with their treatments." Right down his alley.
Dr. Dutton paused. "Hey, I don't take myself too seriously. The motivation is to provide the best service, by doing my absolute best."
Justin Dutton has a plan. He foresees expanding his businesses. His son Craig, a major in economics, provides a support system for the business end. Justin also enjoys the teaching aspect. He had a taste for it when he dealt with general practicing dentists in the past.
Leisure hours, as you might guess, are limited. He enjoys coaching soccer and has taken to mixed martial arts. His recent purchase of a mint condition Porsche is a personal highlight. The car fits his persona.
I figured my crowns contributed to a couple of door handles.
Scott Dyke is a Wyatt Earp historian, Western researcher and lecturer. He is a member of the Western Writers of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org