Why I Became A Dentist
I grew up around dentistry. Literally.
Until I was four years old, the current Tuttle Dental Care office was also our family home. When my grandparents would bring my brothers and me home each day, we would pop into Dad’s office and yell, “We’re home!”
After we moved, Dad renovated the entire building, expanding from two chairs to five chairs and adding office space on the second floor. Even though we weren’t living in the building where Dad worked, I got to see him all the time.
From the time I was in eighth grade, when one of Dad’s assistants was out sick or on maternity leave, I would fill in and help. At that point, I had no intention of being a dentist when I grew up. And Dad never pushed me in that direction, although he seemed to know dentistry was a good fit for me.
I just loved being with Dad. We’ve always had a great relationship. We have similar personalities, and he was my first soccer coach when I was 8 years old. We spent a lot more time talking about soccer than dentistry when I was a kid, even when I was helping out at the office.
I would break down rooms and set up trays for the next patient. “Clean this room like your mother is the next patient,” Dad would say. He definitely taught me how to do things the right way.
When I went to college, I wanted to find my own way. I also wanted to play soccer. Actually, one of the main reasons why I went to Lafayette College, besides the fact that it’s a great school, was so Dad could see me play Division I soccer.
I majored in psychology, minored in economics, and took a ton of science courses, but I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I graduated. So I went out into the real world to figure it out. I got a job in brand marketing with a financial institution in Buffalo and entered the company’s management program.
This is when I first started thinking about dental school. I didn’t feel like I was helping people, and I knew this wasn’t my purpose in life. I realized my purpose was to be a dentist. I started taking prerequisite courses to finish my science credits so I could apply to dental school.
I didn’t tell Dad because I didn’t want to get his hopes up, even though he never told me that I should go to dental school. He just wanted me to be happy.
I aced my classes but needed to take a few more before I could apply for dental school. I decided to quit my job and go for it. I called Dad and told him I was moving back home.
“What are you talking about?” Dad said. “I finally got you and your brothers out of the house!”
“I want to be a dentist,” I told him.
“What time will you be home?” Dad said, changing his tune as he realized I would following in his footsteps.
I finished up my prerequisites at Lafayette and got into dental school on my first try. After graduating, I wanted to get more surgical experience and learn how to treat trauma patients before starting my career.
Even though New Jersey doesn’t require a one-year residency like some states, it was important for me to have that experience and education, so I completed my residency at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.
Then I felt confident enough to work with Dad.
Fast forward to today. I love helping people feel better, physically and emotionally. I love the relationships I’ve built with our patients. I love continuing education and learning about new techniques and procedures that can help our patients.
Of course, it’s such an awesome feeling to be able to share my passion with Dad. I grew up watching him, and now I have a lot of the same mannerisms with patients. I talk to patients the same way he does, and we always keep it loose and fun.
We can talk about soccer, or we can nerd out and talk about dentistry. It’s a family atmosphere in more ways than one, and our patients appreciate that.
Funny thing is, I didn’t grow up with a burning desire to be a dentist. I was tight with Dad because of everything else. I’m just so glad that I discovered my passion for dentistry when I did so I could do what I love and spend most of my days with Dad.
Today, Dad and I couldn’t be happier. Which was always the goal in the first place. What more could we ask for?
Our West Windsor Dental Location
330 Princeton Hightstown Road
West Windsor, NJ 08550