Editor's Intro: At her Affordable Dentures & Implants practice, Dr. Lisa Rae Gaither strives to provide extractions with the least trauma, to motivate others and to help other dentists who are developing their careers.
Always looking for growth, while maintaining patient care
Fixing things came naturally to Dr. Lisa Rae Gaither from an early age. “Even before dental school, I liked putting things together. I was the person in my grand-parents’ house — if they bought something that needed to be assembled, that was my job,” she recalls.
Dr. Gaither graduated from the University of Kentucky’s School of Dentistry, which is centered in a highly edentulous state, providing her many opportunities to extend her surgical experience. It was this type of dentistry that she was drawn to — trauma cases that allowed her to “fix something that has been broken.”
Even so, she tried her hand at corporate dentistry and general dentistry, working in the Arizona State Prison System and the University of Texas Health Science Center. Surgical cases, requiring extractions and denture expertise, continued to make their way onto her path, however, and Dr. Gaither happily took them on.
Recognizing her talents
After years of exploration, Dr. Gaither realized two things: First, she enjoyed surgery. Second, she wanted complete clinical autonomy. This led her to contact Affordable Dentures & Implants (AD&I) and open her own affiliated practice only 6 months later in Winston Salem, North Carolina. At AD&I, Dr. Gaither says, “It’s hands off as to what you do with your patients. They allow you to do what you do best.” She continues, “I think my greatest skills lie with being able to extract teeth while causing the least amount of trauma to the bone, in preparation for immediate implant placement.”
Dr. Gaither credits her expertise in extractions to the formal training she received during her Oral and Maxillofacial Fellowship at the University of Connecticut. However, she enjoys her implant cases the most, especially the opportunity to use the new BioHorizons® Tapered Short Implants.
“With these I’m able to place implants in the posterior and get a better anterior-posterior spread, which equates to less rocking of the denture and less potential for any nerve damage.”
Patients who are unfamiliar with the clinical phrases will find that Dr. Gaither makes an effort to establish trust and has great patience while making the patient’s clinical diagnosis clear. “I believe in educating the patient prior to doing anything. I like to paint the full picture from start to finish — what the experience is going to be like as a denture wearer — I give them a realistic expectation.”
Discussing preventative measures is also a key component to her patient conversations. And prevention, she believes, will play a big role in the future of the dental industry.
“Looking at where we’re heading — stem cell research will continue to be discussed, and there is more research being done on preventive care, more chairside education, patient care, and teledentistry as well, which allows people to get access to care who wouldn’t be able to otherwise.”
Making an impact
Growing up on Medicaid herself, Dr. Gaither knows firsthand the value of access to care. And having provided dental services to many low socioeconomic status patients throughout her career, she takes great pride in the work she does. She understands the need and the associated impact she has. “People have to eat. They have to be able to go out with confidence in whatever they do on a daily basis,” she says.
Dr. Gaither feels blessed that she’s able to use her talents to impact lives. But she won’t stop there. She wants to continue to grow and give, both in the dental field and outside of it. She has always pushed herself to be more. “I don’t accept mediocrity or just getting by,” she says. “I want more education. I also hope to become an educator, taking on the role of motivating others, and helping other dentists who are developing their careers.”
Dr. Gaither is an affiliated Affordable Dentures & Implants dentist and practice owner in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
In addition to providing extractions with the least trauma, implant dentists have many more treatment decisions to make. See what Drs. George Pelekos and Nikos Mardas think, in their article, “Natural teeth or implants? Informing the decision-making process.”