Providing Healthy Smiles
Prosthodontist Jennifer Pan on opening her own dental practice
While many of us regard dentists with tolerance, if not fondness, there is a category of dental professionals whose patients see them as a godsend. JENNIFER PAN is one such professional. Pan is a prosthodontist, a dentist who takes on only the more complex dental cases.
“People call us the quarterback of dental care, because we see the entire picture,” Pan says. “We focus on proper diagnosis and treatment for complicated dental problems that often require replacing missing teeth.”
Some of the treatments prosthodontists offer include dental implants, crowns, bridges, dentures, temporomandibular disorders (TMJ/TMD), cosmetic dentistry, and more. They also coordinate care with other medical specialists when necessary.
“Each case is individualized and requires a lot of planning and foresight,” Pan says. “Each patient receives a personalized treatment plan, so they get comprehensive care that improves their quality of life and gives them optimum comfort, function, and esthetics.”
Pan’s interest in dentistry grew from her own experience with extensive dental work while in college. She earned her doctorate in dental medicine at East Carolina University’s School of Dental Medicine, and while there decided it was the most complex dental cases that appealed to her. Three additional years of advanced, specialized dental education at the University of California San Francisco plus clinical training at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Health Care System followed.
Pan moved to Wilmington this past July to marry her fiancé, and she opened her practice in November. Pan is one of three, and the only female, prosthodontist in the Port City.
Pan has found that being female and younger has advantages. Though she didn’t expect it, many of her patients are female. Pan attributes that to the fact that highly anxious women often find comfort in a female doctor. The perception that women are gentler and pay more attention to detail, which leads a deeper esthetic, also plays a role, she says.
Finally, Pan’s patients appreciate that she is up to date on all the latest technology.
Pan’s practice is composed primarily of the elderly because they have the most challenging dental problems–they are missing more teeth, and have complex medical issues overall, she says.
Pan, like other medical professionals, has had to deal with COVID’s impact on her practice. To ensure her patients’ safety, she follows protocols such as requiring masks and taking patients’ temperatures. In addition, Pan usually has only one patient in the office at a time.
“Because I take time with each patient, I don’t see multiple patients at a time,” she says. “A patient usually has the office to him- or herself.”
For many of Pan’s patients, she is the last resource after multiple disappointments: their teeth are severely broken down, and they’ve been to several dentists and spent a fortune on care that hasn’t worked out, she says. It’s that very challenge, and the results she gets for her patients, that drives Pan’s passion.
“When you have a patient at the end of the road who thinks all hope is lost, and you’re able to build a relationship and rehabilitate them to the point where they can smile again, it’s the most rewarding thing ever,” Pan says.
To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to michaelclinephoto.com.
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