Article By: Samantha Cronk
Photos By: Josh Triggs
While most children’s first memories of sitting in a dentist’s chair are recalled as frightening experiences, Kimberly Smith, D.D.S., never had that fear when the dentist, her grandfather, and dental hygienist, her grandmother, looked at her teeth. These memories of frequent exams were the start of her journey to become a dentist, a journey that would lead her to Martinsburg and her own dental practice: Smith’s Family Dentistry.
“I remember sitting in the dental chair and even though he was my grandfather, he was that mean old grumpy dentist that everybody talks about hating,” she laughed. “I was constantly in the dental chair, and they always had their hands in my mouth.”
With a family history in the sciences, Smith said it wasn’t a question of what job industry she would pursue, but what career in the sciences she would choose. These early experiences would eventually help Smith decide to become a dentist, a decision she has never regretted.
“After I got my microbiology degree, I was at a crossroads on where I wanted to go. I thought of maybe becoming a vet or going into medicine, but I just kept going back to dentistry. I’ve loved it, and I’m glad I made that decision,” Smith said.
Smith is a 2006 graduate of the West Virginia University’s School of Dentistry, as well as completing her undergraduate work at the same university. After graduating, Smith practiced dentistry at the corporate level in New Hampshire for several years before moving back to West Virginia to be closer to family.
She put her skills to work for Healthy Smiles in 2009 when the office first opened in Martinsburg, an experience she described as rewarding but challenging.
“Healthy Smiles is the kind of place where patients come in saying ‘get me out of pain, pull the tooth out.’ Often, you’ll see a patient once and then they won’t come back for about fi ve years, which makes it hard to do dentistry. I love to do cosmetics and that side of dentistry, but that’s not what Healthy Smiles is,” she said.
It was this difference in dentistry styles that prompted Smith to leave Healthy Smiles and join a friend in Charles Town who had recently opened her own practice. However, after more than two years, Smith made one of the scariest and most rewarding choices of her life – she became her own boss and opened her own practice.
“After so many years working at different places I finally said ‘You know what? I don’t mind working for people, but I’m so tired of working for people. I want to do my own thing and do what I like,'” she said.
“I hate people telling me what I have to do or can’t do, so I just said ‘I’m doing it.’ So, I jumped and decided to do it. It was a huge leap. But, I love it, and I’m so excited I did it.”
Upon deciding to open her own practice, Smith knew she wanted to stay in the Eastern Panhandle because of her love of the community she finds tight-knit and supportive, as well as her husband’s love of his job as the principal of Orchard View Intermediate. Firm in her decision to utilize an existing structure and not build a new building for her office, Smith found the perfect building.
Working with her brother-in-law and his father, who are in real estate, they found a building along Foxcroft Avenue in Martinsburg that had been vacant for more than four years that Smith felt offered the right location and the right size for her practice.
“The location is amazing. It’s close to restaurants, and it’s close to shops. I had looked everywhere, and there wasn’t a lot of good real estate in my target areas,” she said. “It was really disgusting in here though. We took before and after photos, and the difference is phenomenal.”
After a year of struggles and work, with her office found, clean, outfitted and staffed, there was only one thing left for Smith to do – open. Smith Family Dentistry opened April 3, and the dentist said community support and reception has been wonderful, from local representatives like the Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce and Martinsburg City Council members supporting the business through a ribbon cutting and promotional support to her new patients.
Starting with a patient base of zero, Smith said it’s a thrilling feeling to now be booked through July. “It’s been growing pretty quickly, which is wonderful. I’m ready to continue this adventure,” she said. “I love making people smile again.”
In describing her office atmosphere and personal style, the first word Smith uses is “gentle.” From the decor to the treatments, Smith wants patients to be at ease and comfortable.
“We want a relaxing, friendly environment. We do have noise cancelling headphones for the patients that hate hearing the drills. We also have TVs so if they want to relax and watch something, they can.”
Smith Family Dentistry offers a multitude of services, including adult and children cleanings, partials, dentures, restoring implants, tooth colored fillings, simple extractions, all-porcelain crowns, veneers and take home teeth whitening kits. Smith also does scaling by evaluation only.
If a patient comes in for a service that the dentistry does not provide, Smith will make recommendations to either another office or specialist.
While only open for a few months, Smith already has a vision of where she’s like her practice to be in 5-to-10 years. Her plans include expanding the dentistry to encompass either the whole building, rather than one of the two suites, or building an extension to the existing suite.
Additionally, she’d like to increase her staff and employ multiple types of specialists to offer a more comprehensive and specialized services for patients. Part of the staff she’d like to include is her younger sister, who is a dentist and is currently studying to become a periodontist, which specializes in periodontal disease and dental implants.
Smith Family Dentistry is located at 500 Foxcroft Avenue, Suite A, in Martinsburg. The office can be contacted at 304-350-1703 or martinsburgfamilydentist.com.