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1725 South New Hope Road
Gastonia, North Carolina 28054

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Giving Thanks for my Dad's Career

This year has been a special time of transition in our dental practice and for that matter in the life of the Kelly family. This month we officially celebrated the retirement of my dad, Dr. Bill Kelly, from a 38-year career of practicing dentistry.

My dad started his practice with humble beginnings on Second Avenue in Gastonia the year I was born. As a young man in his early thirties along with his friend and downtown neighbor, Jim Macomson, he built a professional building on Garrison Boulevard beside the First Presbyterian Church. The bulk of his career was spent here building a vibrant practice with a forward focus serving families. Dad practiced in a time coined the “Golden Age of Dentistry”. New materials, techniques, and attitudes toward dental health were emerging quickly and my father was excited to stay ahead of the curve offering these services to his patients. Throughout my Dad’s career he took a great pride in providing an honest service to his patients and being a good steward of his talents. Dad was a servant and leader in dentistry in the state, in our community, and in mission work at home and abroad.

Dr. Biil and Dr Will Kelly hunting

Shortly after I graduated from college, trained to work in design, I took an interest in his profession. It wasn’t necessarily a fascination with teeth that turned my eye to dentistry, but rather the challenge of creating and maintaining a business, mastering technical skills, and forming relationships with clients. These were all characteristics I began to see that I could learn from my father as an apprentice of someone who had mastered these skills. My younger brother, Jim, had planned to be a dentist since grade school. In 2004 and 2007 we both joined my dad in practice. Suddenly the space on Garrison Boulevard became tight and we made plans to build a new facility on New Hope Road.

The past five years on New Hope Road have been exciting. Jim and I made the decision to divide the practice into two separate businesses and I “branched off” across the hall on my own. One of the great benefits of practicing solo for the past five years has been to grow into a style of my own. Like the start of my dad’s career, we are in another age of technological boom, I am starting my family, and running a small business. One of the great advantages of having my dad there with me has been the tremendous amount of guidance, support, and mentorship in negotiating the challenges he has already past through in life. Dad was generous with advice about fundamental dental principles but pushed me to invest in technology, development, and education to better skills, care, and judgment as a practitioner. These years are those that I will cherish the most in the life of my dental practice and our relationship. It has been a great personal achievement to build a practice of my own, but I owe so much to my Dad for the behind scenes practical advice and the foundation he set out before me. My hope is that every son would have the opportunity to have this time-honored tradition of learning and apprenticeship from his father.

 

Dr. Bill Will Grandsons

For some time, my Dad made the statement that he had no intention of retiring from dental practice barring any health issues that would ever limit his ability to practice. As time moved on in practice, my brother’s wife, Alice Ann, joined Jim in practice. It became clear to my Dad that the practice he had created was sailing in the right direction. About the time his seventh grandchild was born, he stopped “slowing down” his schedule and decided to retire. Being the child of dentist and repeating his life as the parent of three young children in this role, I can say that sometimes in our careers it takes a tremendous energy to find balance in life. I personally never had the chance to meet either of my grandfathers. Every weekend I get to live this relationship vicariously through my dad as he spends time with my children. Our family is so blessed that my dad has maintained his spiritual and physical health to thrive in this part of our lives. The greatest gift of dad’s career was his discipline to retire healthy and able to enjoy everything on the other side of his work life fully. There is an odd coincidence that we celebrated my dad’s retirement in such close proximity to a family retreat for the Thanksgiving holiday. I could have nothing more fitting to be thankful for.

I will have the honor to return to work on Monday and have appointments with many of the career-long patients that have entrusted their care to my dad. In each of them I see an expectation that requires me to fill his shoes. I am glad that he was able to provide nurture and training. With my own little twist here and there I am humbly honored to continue his legacy of good dentistry and honest living.

Haiti!

Dr. Will and Luisa

When my father was my age and I was a little fellow, he took me on an adventure that shaped the way I view the world forever. Once his practice was underway, Dad started making trips to provide dental care in a small missionary clinic in Les Cayes, Haiti. It had a a strong impact on his faith and we forged relationships there that have lasted through the years. One of my fondest memories of my earliest trip to Haiti, was spending time in the home and hospitality of a missionary couple from Germany, Johannes and Luisa Sheurer. Their friendship has endured through the years with my parents both on their repeated visits and here at home when the Scheurer's come to the states.

This summer I have had the pleasure of having Luisa visiting our dental office between R&R trips across America. This week we were able to complete one of the most enjoyable dental cases I have ever taken on. Luisa was very happy for the "fancy dentistry" we were able to do. . . I was far more thankful for what she did for me.

She asked me simply, "Will, is it okay if I pray for you? We need you in Haiti."

Immediately, I thought of all the things that hold me down at home. A fourth child on the way, a busy practice to run, meetings, commitments, and selfishly, trips you could take to other tropical places where people serve you rather than you serving them. My creative juices have been flowing at night in those hours when you can't sleep. I think that I am having the same call that my father did when he was my age to take the gifts we are given here in America and delivering them to Haiti.

Right now, of course, I don't know exactly how I will help. . . Do you rebuilt the dilapidated clinic? Do you start a network of dentists who can serve? Do you take dental students down on trips? I am a person who needs a plan, but I feel blessed be surrounded by a community of people who can support this cause with prayer and talent. I will continue to plan and ask for your prayers.

 

Welcome Lauren!

Lauren At kelly DentistryAs my practice evolved and moved to our new location on New Hope Road, I spent time with my team creating a vision for some of the core values we rely on to drive our practice. Among those were a commitment to continually update clinical technology and talent, a service model that allowed patients to have a pleasant experience, relationship based comprehensive dentistry, and a calm work environment. Someone that has proven very beneficial to achieving these goals and to our patient family has been Bobbie, our patent care coordinator.  Her position involves being a facilitator and advocace for our clients. Hiring Bobbie was a a unique move. When I started my practice apart from our larger family practice, we needed a new face to control "the front of the office". I was sure that I wanted to hire a very friendly and capable person-- but made the criteria that they would view their position from a patient's perspective. Bobbie had a background in customer service and had been a patient in our practice for a long time. Her view "from the outside-in" has proven paramount to the development of our practice.

We have always put systems in place to create a rewarding patient experience. Our team has an ongoing relationship with a consulting group, Act Dental Coaching, and we enjoy feedback from our patient family. This spring we saw another unique opportunity to access and develop our practice. Nothing it seems, is as valuable than getting someone "in your business". My family has been fortunate to have Lauren aid in nurturing our young children while she was a college student. This spring she graduated from the Belk School of Business at UNCC. She has a sharp eye for detail and an amazing work ethic. Coincidentally, Lauren is a life-long patient of our practice. A spark flew again and I thought to myself, "while Lauren is searching to begin her career we should utilize her talents for a while in the practice." Again we have the opportunity to have a team member that can grow our service model from the "outside-in". So we welcomed Lauren into our practice's team. Lauren has been busy this spring accessing our processes from a patents perspective and creating systems to help enrich the experience of our office for our clients. We have joked about what her title should be and have found that Interim Hospitality Director suits her pretty well. If you have the opportunity to visit us this summer, you will enjoy meeting Lauren.

An Ounce of Prevention . . .

 

We have all heard the saying about “an ounce of prevention”. Prevention in all of medicine has been a hot topic as medicine continues to become more complicated to deliver. Fortunately, for patient’s oral health care, dentistry as a profession has been on the forefront of understand it’s diseases and their prevention for several decades, if not a full generation. Nearly all dental practices employ strategies to prevent cavities, most are adept at providing prevention of periodontal disease, and the body of knowledge exists to diagnose and provide solutions for problems created by occlusion and bite disease. For the most part, dentistry stands in a place where nearly all dental problems are absolutely preventable when dentists and patients are engaged in a proactive process of beating dental problems. Very interestingly, being proactive means more than an ounce of prevention for those who want to entirely avoid dental disease--- it is a process of being very deliberate and intentional with decisions and actions when a person identifies that they value their teeth and want to maintain ideal oral health throughout life.Dr Bill Kelly With His Grandsons

 

Studies show that only less than 25% of the population follows practices that lead to positive dental health and that it is actually a rarity among Americans to visit a dentist regularly. That being said, I tip my hat to every person that walks through the door of any dental office seeking care before it is an emergency--- you have put yourself in a special category. The other side of the story is that dentists can only provide a margin of their best services in the presence of uncontrolled disease. Despite popular belief, dentists hate dental problems! My days are far smoother when discussions are turned toward health and I feel most rewarded when my clients choose the restoration of health and the promise of proactively maintaining it with me. A discouraging trend in our current economic times is to devalue prevention when we need it the most. Nothing is as defeating to a patient and a dentist than getting involved in a major procedure that could have been minor if discovered a year ago or possibly avoided all together.

 

So what is the solution to having a life of dental health? 1. Simply identify whether you value health (in this case a pretty, healthy teeth to smile, talk, and chew with). 2. Ask yourself whether you are willing to make the effort to protect your oral health at home with your habits. 3. Ask yourself whether you are willing to make the time and a financial investment to “right the ship” and steer toward a course of health.

 

All people come to the dentist with different attitudes toward health, different levels of health, and different understanding their own condition and solutions to it. Ideally, a trip to a dental practice should result in clarity in each of these areas. This heightened awareness leads to values based decision making and a patient’s willingness to partnering with a dental practice that will walk with them through a lifelong journey of excellent dental health. This walk is always the most straight when patients and their dentists are intentional and honest about their objectives. This intentional “walk” takes effort when proactive prevention is a goal, but making a step toward “an ounce of prevention” is a great place to start and can open many desirable possibilities.

 

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American Dental Association           American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry            Pankey Institute Alumni