For over 22 years, Dr. Michele Simpson has been practicing the art of dentistry – but did you know that her original passion was not for teeth, but for music? That’s right- Dr. Simpson initially majored in music in college and intended to be a musician or music teacher. She even dreamed of touring Europe, playing her bassoon with the symphony. In fact, she still plays the bassoon today!
So how does one go from gifted musician to gifted dentist? It all started with a part-time, after school job. A college student at the time, Dr. Simpson answered an ad for a dental assistant- no experience necessary, and was hired on the spot. She remained on the job for several years, and as graduation neared, she realized that she not only loved the practice, she loved the work, too. It was then that she decided she no longer wanted to pursue a career in the music industry- and broke the news to her family that she wanted to go to dental hygienist school. Thankfully, her mother had loftier goals for Dr. Simpson. "My mother said ‘are you kidding me you’re almost finished with four years of college, please just go to dental school and be the dentist.’" And the rest, as they say, is history.
Following dental school, Dr. Simpson had a 2-year, hospital-based residency, where she worked as an emergency dentist under the guidance of a retired oral surgeon named Dr. Zelesnock. A star pupil, Dr. Simpson soon earned the nickname of "Little Z" for her ability to perform surgical procedures with the same skill and acumen as her instructor. It was during this time that Dr. Simpson took to the oral surgery aspect of the dentistry field, so much so that she remained at the hospital for an additional two years after completing her residency- and before eventually leaving to form her own private practice.
Dr. Simpson’s first practice was very similar to her previous role at the hospital, as it served many lower income and emergency patients- many of whom did not have regular access to dental care. She enjoyed the spontaneity of emergency-based dentistry, over time, her practice began to evolve. As Dr. Simpson’s patient base expanded, so too did her patients’ requests for a wider variety of dental services. This motivated Dr. Simpson to continue her dental education, encouraging her to learn a wider variety of cosmetic procedures and eventually leading her to open the family and cosmetic practice she runs today.
At her current practice in Wilmington, NC, Dr. Simpson still utilizes the skills she’s learned over the years at the many practices she’s served since those early days as a part-time dental assistant. Best of all, her current practice has that same personable feel that drew her to the field of dentistry in the first place. Of her first dentistry job, Dr. Simpson says, "I really liked working with all the patients, having a one on one, hands-on experience with everyone, getting to know all the people coming in there and the variety every day – every day was different... I really enjoyed that." It’s no accident that her current practice has a very similar feel to that first job- and a very different feel from her emergency dentistry past. Says Dr. Simpson "The Wilmington practice is very slow paced compared to my previous practice, which is great. I like the fact that our schedule isn’t overly booked. I can really schedule each patient with enough time that I can sit down and spend quality time with them, to talk with them and get to know them, as well as take care of their needs... I feel like it’s more personalized for each individual patient."
Dr. Simpson says the focus of her current practice is not just on treating the mouth, but providing her patients with "optimal, full-body wellness." This starts with helping them feel at ease, by getting to know them, and making sure they leave their appointment with a smile on their face. "They feel like they’ve just come to visit a good friend. They’re comfortable, and they’re just overall extremely pleased with their service and just happy with their smile."
The right people make all the difference, too, says Dr. Simpson. For that, she credits her office staff for helping to make sure patients get the ultimate dental experience. She explains, "The atmosphere is just calm, relaxing, very pleasant -and we do have a lot of fun, too."