Each individual person has a unique dental puzzle, and solving that puzzle with each visit is something I find very intriguing. It is a challenge that provides numerous rewards, both professionally and personally. In many cases, the solution to the puzzle comes with choices, and we empower our patients to take control of the care they receive.
Working with Dr. Wappett has been an extraordinary experience, and one I didn’t expect to have in private practice. Dr. Wappett and his staff are exceptionally caring, kind, and truly have the best interests of their patients in mind. It’s a rarity in this world.
Education and Experience
I grew up in Norman, Oklahoma, so it was quite natural that I would attend the University of Oklahoma. I completed a Bachelor’s degree in Science at the Norman Campus and Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at the Health Science Center in Oklahoma City. Subsequently, I completed a fellowship in Oral Surgery at the University of Kentucky.
As first-year dental students, my class was asked, “What do you want to do when you finish school?” There were many who wanted to start a private practice in their hometowns, several who wanted to specialize, and only one who wanted to provide public healthcare. That one was me! My original plan was to work with the Peace Corps, but an opportunity came along to work with the Indian Health Service here in Alaska. I have spent many a night sleeping on the gym floor of a remote village school in the dead of winter to provide care to the people of those villages. I wanted to use my education to help those who have little access to that kind of care. As I speak Spanish, it was gratifying to be able to communicate with the people of Peru in their native tongue as part of my Public Health Service from 2003-2011.
Ten years later, when I began having children, being out in the bush for many weeks every year was no longer a good fit for me. I had worked with Dr. Wappett in the Indian Health Service Clinic and he invited me to come work with him. I have the utmost respect for his respect for patients and thought it could be a good fit. I was a little sad that I was changing the nature of my practice, but knew it would be best for my children.
I have been delightfully surprised by the fact that in private practice, people need to have access to care that gives them control over their treatment plans and access to affordable surgical care. I feel that I have the opportunity to empower people to make decisions that are truly best for them. That alone has made me feel as if I make a difference in my patients’ lives.
In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Continuing education is vital to allowing me to grow within the field of dentistry. I attend the annual Federal Dental Services meeting, a CE course presented by the major branches of the military. With its unique population, the military requires a unique method of care delivery. This allows for novel approaches to care which can be quite effective with success rates, efficiency, and cost that are not taught in traditional coursework.
Outside the Office
I have been married to Justin, a mechanical and industrial engineer, since 2003. We met in 1996 as undergrads and never would have imagined we would have moved to Alaska, let alone love it so much! We welcomed Katherine to the world in 2010, Elise in 2013 and Benjamin in 2016. They have proven to be quite a beautiful life change. Currently, we do not have any traditional pets, but we do have laying hens that have been the source of quite a bit of amusement!
I really enjoy being outdoors, whether I’m in the garden, walking with the kids, or my very favorite: fly fishing. When it is too cold to have a good time outside with the kids, I enjoy knitting and taking the kids to the pool.
With a town as small as Fairbanks, I have the opportunity to be involved in some great activities and patronize businesses run by people who care about what they are doing. You get to know who is interested in making the children's scene a good one, you get to know the people raising and making your food, making your gear, and recruiting musicians and artists to come to town. That interconnectedness is not found in many places, and I like being a part of it.