Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. Nederland’s new dentist Dr. Jonathan Smith says he will not pass the buck, will not refer patients to other specialty dentists if he doesn’t have to, and will have the expertise and equipment to deal with just about any dental need in his office.
Dr. Tom Simpson retired last month to go have fun outdoors, and Smith now owns the Boulder office, as well as the satellite office in Nederland, which has been serving area residents for over three decades.
Smith is now open for business and is eager to meet former Simpson patients and new patients. He has been welcomed into the community and knows he will be doing walkabouts in the surrounding mountains and meadows.
He grew up in Corrales, New Mexico, a small town bordering the Rio Grande River near Albuquerque, New Mexico. His passion for the outdoors was formed while he was a boy scout working his way toward becoming an Eagle scout. Backpacking and swimming, hiking, climbing and skiing became ingrained in his nature.
As he prepared for college, he wanted to design sports equipment and enrolled in a materials engineering program. At that time, he snowboarded Wolf Creek, Purgatory and other resorts in the area.
“I dabbled in Freestyle competition, but I started too late to be all that good. Now kids start snowboarding on foam pits and trampolines learning how to catch big air. It is all so beyond me, but fun as a hobby.”
After studying at New Mexico Tech in Sorroco, Smith was hired to work in explosive research and spent a summer internship working on private industry and classified government contracts.
Continuing his research in sports equipment, he studied the K2 Smartski, learning how the materials react to extreme conditions and create an electrical current when put under stress. Human bone heals in a similar manner. Smith found this correlation fascinating and wanted to learn more. When you extract a tooth, jawbone growth is assisted by natural electronic stimulation. This knowledge shifted me into dentistry and researching artificial bone that could enhance the natural healing process,” he says.
He began his research on the subject when he read in Popular Mechanics magazine that someone had come out with a device that creates this effect. By this time, however, Smith had already interviewed dentists about the process and decided he wanted to know more. He talked to dentist Dwayne Beers of Socorro, New Mexico, who became Smith’s mentor.
At this time, Smith began to realize that the engineering field was leading him into a life of cubicle jobs.
“I saw that dentistry was a way to relate to people, to educate and explain to them what I was doing and why.” He says that he understands how drilling affects a material and how it can be stressed, the substances used and why they fracture. “It is a huge advantage to know this information.”
In 2006, Smith decided to pursue dentistry after graduation from New Mexico Tech. There were a few “ology” classes he had to take first and as he fulfilled these requirements, he worked for his mentor, Dr.Beers. In 2009 he entered dental school in Kansas City where he met his wife, Amy. He then worked as an associate dentist for the next four years.
Amy and Jonathan were married in Santa Fe on October 8, 2016 and spent their honeymoon in Southern Colorado. Amy had always wanted to move west and Jonathan always wanted to live in the mountains near streams and lakes. When he saw that Dr. Simpson was selling his Boulder business and had a mountain satellite business, he knew it was meant to be.
The sale was closed on November 4, 2016 and Smith went to work, doing a Boulder office remodel and expansion. One of his goals is a 3-D X-ray unit, which he says will soon be standard.
“The radiation is minimal and will decrease as the mathematical algorithm gets upgraded year after year. The 3D x-ray allows better diagnoses not only for immediate dental concerns but also to aid in diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea. We can do the whole thing in the office, looking into the esophagus and related breathing problems. The patients can do the testing at home. Dentists have recognized that sleep apnea could be related to jaw problems but there are few dentists who have been trained for that problem. Apnea affects longevity of life and could have started in early childhood, with an obstruction that is corrected early on may prevent apnea as an adult.”
Explaining that dentists rarely address apnea, that it is a unique form of dentistry, Smith says he is advancing his education in the next year and would like to become an expert on this subject. The result is the jaw moving, the tongue slipping back and the teeth not lasting as long as one’s life. The 3-D X-ray can show a dentist exactly what is going on in the whole mouth. Smith says his dental philosophy and education revolve around sharing the knowledge.
Smith says the transition should be smooth, that the bones, the structure of the business, are all there and the staff has shown incredible support, welcoming him into their work and lives.
“Tom did great work over the years and I plan to take the practice to the next level. Someday, I might even move up here. I certainly wouldn’t be against that decision.
Now he has an office with a spectacular view of Nederland. He and Amy hike in the mountains every weekend, and before Dr. Simpson left, he and Smith hiked Tom’s favorite lunch route.
When Jonathan was in high school he took four years of sculpture, which translates to working in people’s mouths, all those valleys and peaks, and zoning into the memory of recreating something.
He has finished his fellowship in implantology and he’s going to use his technical background to become a one- stop shop with no middle men.
“I am learning it all. I don’t like to refer. The buck stops here. Things advance so quickly, I have to advance with technology and adapt to be able to offer the best treatment.”