“The mouth is the gateway to the body.” This is the philosophy that Whitten Dentistry uses for its approach to total body health care with every patient they see. Owner Karry Whitten and her staff have differentiated their practice for the past 19 years by providing individualized treatment combined with research-backed solutions to offer the best possible options for all of their patients. They also educate patients so they can make better informed decisions that will lead to improved overall health.
Karry received undergraduate degrees in biology and art, and prior to dental school at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Karry traveled to Nicaragua for medical missionary work. There she was able to work with a local dentist in villages to provide basic care. She found dentistry to be the perfect marriage of art and science and opened her first practice in Elkhorn in 1998, then purchased the practice at her current location by Westroads Mall in 2012.
The customized treatment at Whitten Dentistry extends all the way to its approach with aesthetics. Karry asked her brother, Thad Hegwood, to join her practice as the in-house ceramist. Working side-by-side, they are able provide a level of care that is both reliable and adaptable. “One of the difficulties dentists can have is communicating with their lab,” Karry explained. With Thad working in-house, he is available to collaborate with Karry on cases, talk directly to the patient, such as helping them choose tooth shade, and make immediate adjustments so patients don’t have to make recurring appointments.
Thad and Karry have also developed a solution called My Smile Imagined, which is a way for patients to “test drive” what their veneers or restoration would look like. It allows patients to experience what their smile would look like, feel like, and how it would function following treatment. The process is complimentary and can be used for a single tooth or an entire mouth. The teeth are mechanically retained on original teeth for up to three days. “The process provides something tangible for patients so they are educated and can make an informed decision before moving forward with treatment,” Thad said.
Facial aesthetics are also an important part of Whitten’s practice. In addition to smile design, they offer teeth whitening, Invisalign braces, and Botox and fillers to augment lips, around the mouth, and other areas of the face. Karry teaches facial aesthetics to other dentists and is a clinical professor at Creighton’s School of Dentistry. She said she has a huge passion for using both research and art in what they to do to “create long-term, predictable treatments for patients.” She attends annual post graduate courses at the Kois Center in Seattle to learn best practices in aesthetic, occlusal, and restorative dentistry.
Hygiene is another area in which Whitten prides itself. Hygienist Kim Yates has been with many of the patients since 2007, which gives her a deep understanding on a professional and personal level. She said not only can she provide a unique treatment plan for every individual, but the recommendation comes from someone the patient can trust and whom they know has their best interest. She also performs comprehensive screenings at each visit that includes medical history, oral cancer, checking bite, gum disease, and sleep apnea. “It’s all part of the connection between mouth and the rest of the body that researchers have found,” Kim said.
Technology also plays an important role in treatment, and Whitten has incorporated digital x-rays and laser gum therapy into its practice. “Patients expect a certain level of technology, and it helps with education,” Kim said. Dentistry is done on such a small scale, so technology enables patients to be part of it. “It makes our job easier as practitioners when we can offer state-of-the-art care,” Kim added. And that care extends to every member of Whitten’s staff, which includes office manager Mandy Schantz; dental assistant and treatment coordinator Tiffany Brower; and dental assistant Holly Slobotski. The staff, technology, research, education, and in-house specialties all combine to result in quality, customized care that keeps Whitten’s patients healthy.