The tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth, so help you … well, actually, more than just the tooth.
That is the scope of Dental Associates of Bartow, which has opened a practice at 1054 N. Broadway, in the back section of the Bartow Center Shopping Plaza, which is on the north side of Van Fleet Drive between U.S. Highway 98 and Wilson Avenue.
It is the sixth office — or operatory, as Dr. Trey Walding prefers — of the practice.
“We have offices in Lakeland, Winter Haven, Plant City, Sun City and Tampa,” said Walding, who added that the first operatory was established in 2007 in Lakeland, by he and his partners, Drs. Trey Mueller and John Carter. They are all dental graduates of the University of Florida. Walding said he, along with Carter, will be the primary doctors in Bartow, in addition to several dentists who work in association with the practice.
Dental Associates has taken over the space a previous dental practice — which moved to another location — occupied.
“It’s a nice area, small town” said Walding as why Dental Associates chose to expand into Bartow. Although a previous practice had existed, Dental Associates brought in all new equipment: the same modern, state-of-the-art equipment furnished in the other locations, he said.
However, unlike the other operatories, it has been a slow go attracting new clients, Walding admitted. The major reason appears to be the major road construction taking place on both U.S. 98 and Van Fleet Drive. It has blocked entrance into the shopping plaza, as well as obscured signage of the practice.
“This is our slowest start. Usually things are up and running within six to nine months,” he said. “But it’s still a good location.”
Despite the challenges, Walding has every confidence the newest location will be successful. It revolves around a single principle.
“You treat people well. Do a good job. Treat them like family,” he said. As a result, word of mouth will build traffic for the practice, he added.
Dental Associates is a full-service practice, which means it incorporates not just general dentistry, but surgery, implants, root canals and further procedures, such as conscious sedation, which puts many people who are fearful of the dentist at ease when having work done.
Since he began his career, Walding has seen a number of advances. One of them is the use of lasers, not just in cleaning and scaling teeth and gums and whitening of teeth, but in surgery. Another advance has been in digital X-rays, CT scans and 3-D imagery. Those aren’t the only recent changes.
“More and more people are becoming aware of implants,” said Walding. As a result, it is replacing many root canal procedures. He said implants are definitely in the forefront. “Implants allow us (and the client) to plan long-term. The benefits are a better quality of life.”
Naturally, costs vary, and Walding said there is no “right or wrong way,” only what a person can afford. “Let’s give you the best we can for what you can afford,” he said. As for himself, he has had several hundred hours of training, which also is always ongoing.
Selecting a dentist
Whether it is Dental Associates or another practice, Walding recommends potential clients take a pro-active role. A good approach is to first call and ask whether a dentist is willing to just meet. If a dentist is not willing to do that, then perhaps it might be best to remove that person from consideration. Walding enjoys it when prospective clients contact him and his partners.
“We’re all happy to do that,” he said. “It’s almost like they’re interviewing me. In fact, I’d prefer people do that.”
Regardless who one selects, good dental and oral health is important, but it is not something that takes place overnight. Walding likened it to building constructing.
“You have to build the foundation,” he said. “It’s like a house. You don’t build on sand.”
In dentistry, there are four main objectives. Most important is getting gums healthy. Also, there is preventing and/or treating decay. Relieving pain also is a role.
Finally, there are the aesthetics, the “wants” or “wish list.” However, not all of that is vanity. Replacing missing teeth and repairing damaged teeth have a number of positive health factors, such as the ability to enjoy food, but more importantly the overall effect on other parts of the body. Bad gums and teeth, it has been proven, are contributing factors to heart disease, diabetes and other ailments.
There is, though, one other factor. The smile.
“A smile is really important,” said Walding, who found himself getting emotional as he spoke. “I’ve had patients hug me and cry.
“You take a person who couldn’t afford it and you give them back their smile, that is priceless,” he said. “They often tell me that afterward, they don’t realize how much they’re smiling.”
Walding said there are those occasions he and his partners help those who can’t afford to pay. This is in addition to the volunteer work they do at free clinics.
“You need to give back,” he said.
About Dental Associates of Bartow
Dental Associates of Bartow, 1054 N. Broadway, is currently open 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday. It accepts many insurance programs and providers. Although it does not offer its own financing options, they available through other sources. Call 863-533-4444, or toll-free, 855-858 3384 (TEETH). The website is www.dentalassociatesfl.com.