For the past three years, I’ve been an associate dentist at a FANASTIC practice, with a GENEROUS boss, with a ROCKSTAR team, serving AMAZING patients. Why would I want to leave this and do something risky like a start-up dental practice? Why would it be worth taking the risk? Let’s dive into some of my “whys.”

Why did I want to become a dentist?

When I was in grade school, I wanted to become a doctor. My mom (who was previously a nurse) said, “Erica, I’ll support you in whatever you do, but one day you’ll be a mom. You’re going to want to be around them.” Now, to those of my friends and family (and those medical professionals I don’t know!) who did go that route, I’m not saying you can’t have it all. I just know it can be hard.

In junior high school, I had a softball coach who was a dentist, Dr. Gary Painter in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He said, “Hey Erica, you should come shadow me in my office one day.” In my head I said, “Ick! There’s saliva, a moving tongue, and nobody likes a dentist!” But, I agreed and it changed my view of dentistry. He’s an exceptional clinician who values his patients and puts them first. He also had an ultra cool office and made dentistry look fun! From then on, I knew I wanted to be a dentist.

Side note: Now, my own mom and dad drive over three hours regularly for their dental appointments, but they also get to see their granddaughters too. For those in Fort Wayne who can’t make it all the way to Wheaton, Dr. Painter’s website is www.toothacresdentistry.com. You will be in great hands!

Why did this born-and-raised Indiana girl end up in Chicagoland?

After high school, I attended Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. It’s pretty much country farmland. There was one flashing stoplight when I was there. I met my husband during my senior year when we both worked in the admissions office as interns.

I went on to graduate from Indiana University School of Dentistry in Indianapolis. After graduation, we knew we wanted to be close to family. Our options were Indianapolis or Chicago. We pieced together my job offers and his job offers. We packed up a U-Haul truck heading for Chicago. After I became pregnant with our first daughter, we moved to the western suburbs to be even closer to family. It was especially closer to “Grammy” who now watches our little ones.

Why did I want to do a startup?

I saw two big issues with doing a start-up practice. First, I LOVE my current office. Why leave that? Second, a lot of dentists buy an existing practice. They already have patients and already have cash flow. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to do that? Probably.

I graduated dental school almost six years ago. I used that time to focus on my clinical skills. Beyond dental school, I have taken extensive coursework in:

  • Restorative and Cosmetic dentistry – I’ve done many hands-on courses to provide beautiful smiles changes. This can be single teeth up to full-mouth reconstructive cases.
  • Invisalign (clear custom trays that move teeth as opposed to the traditional braces/brackets)
  • Extractions and implants – I’m currently going through intensive lecture and hands-on training locally and in the Dominican Republic.
  • Oral sedation for patients who have anxiety when going to the dentist.
  • TMD (pain in the jaw joint that opens and closes your mouth)
  • Sleep apnea – fabricating oral appliances as an alternative to wearing a CPAP.

Because I didn’t have to worry about running a business, I could focus on the clinical side of dentistry.

A little over a year ago, I heard a lecture on the business side of dentistry. That was the inspiration that lit a fire within me. It made me want to not only have something of my own but also start it from scratch. Since then, I have listened to every podcast, lecture, and course that I could get my hands on.

At this point in my career, I’m ready to create something that I can call my own. I wanted my practice to reflect me, my personality, and my style of doing dentistry.

Why in Wheaton?

I remember the first time I came to Wheaton as a high school student. My youth group from church came to a gospel-sharing convention. It was hosted by Wheaton College. I remember falling in love immediately with Wheaton’s distinctive charm.

I know Wheaton to be a great community with warm and friendly families. It’s a community I want to enjoy but also to give back.

It’s where my brother-in-law got married and had his reception. It’s where I love taking my two little daughters to Cosley Zoo and walking the Cantigny Gardens. It’s where so many of our friends from our church and small group live.

It’s where I fell in love with our incredible location and space for The Dental Studio… and I think you will too!

Showing 15 comments
  • Mark R
    Reply

    Contemplating making that drive (3.5 hrs) to have a dentist I can trust, and if the boy chooses Wheaton College, you can count on at least two new patients.

    • Dr. Erica Kight
      Dr. Erica Kight
      Reply

      Come on out! You know I definitely owe you… pretty sure you introduced me to the man that made sure I got into dental school!

  • Lynette
    Reply

    Love this blog! Brought back so many memories of you! Congratulations! You’ll be awesome!

    • Dr. Erica Kight
      Dr. Erica Kight
      Reply

      Thanks for the kind words Lynette!

  • Reggie
    Reply

    This is so exciting! Neat to see you follow your dreams and in a very short time they will be a reality!!

    • Dr. Erica Kight
      Dr. Erica Kight
      Reply

      Thanks Reggie! I appreciate all of your support in this journey. The Champagnes have been awesome!

  • Joanie King
    Reply

    This blog is awesome Erica. We go to Dr Painter but when you open I would still like your option on my ugly implant that I currently have. Would that be okay ??

    • Dr. Erica Kight
      Dr. Erica Kight
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Joanie, and of course! I’d be happy to give you my thoughts and get everything looking beautiful again!

  • Anica
    Reply

    Love love love!!!

    • Dr. Erica Kight
      Dr. Erica Kight
      Reply

      Thanks sis! 🙂

  • Jordyn
    Reply

    So excited for you! We can’t wait to see the place! Row is excited for his first dental visit too ☺️

    • Dr. Erica Kight
      Dr. Erica Kight
      Reply

      Thanks J! I can’t wait to see that big man in the big chair! 🙂

  • Melissa jentz-cote
    Reply

    Super excited for you! You are going to do fabulous in Wheaton!

    • Dr. Erica Kight
      Dr. Erica Kight
      Reply

      Thanks Melissa! You have been the best supporter ever and an amazing role model and boss! Thank you a million times over and over!

  • John Sellers
    Reply

    Erica, you are such a Rock Star… It’s people like you and Trevor who make what I do so much fun. Kandra and I are so excited to watch you guys progress through this journey. You are going to do great things and help a lot of people.

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