At Anchorage Healthy Smile Center, Dr. Terry J. Preece knows what it's like to be relied on. He once served as the sole dentist on the island of Wrangell, and was responsible for the smiles of the island's more than 1,800 residents. In 32 years of dental experience, the doctor has mastered all aspects of general, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry. Today, even though his office is equipped for a comprehensive range of dental care, Dr. Preece demonstrates his commitment to patients by referring them to specialists for issues including orthodontic work or assessing the value of that shark tooth they found outside.
While growing up in some of America’s coldest, northernmost states—Wisconsin and Minnesota—David longed to live somewhere even wilder once he became an adult. He looked northward, setting his sights on Alaska, imagining himself as a small-town doctor or, better yet, a dentist. These days, he’s known as Dr. David Paape, founder of a local practice called Northstar Dental and a global nonprofit known as Compassionate Dental Care International. Beyond moving to Alaska, tooth tending is David’s dream. Between fishing trips in the Alaskan wilderness and volunteer work in developing countries, he cares for the community’s smiles with precision and gentleness. Northstar Dental’s services range from preventive exams, digital x-rays, and cleanings to repair work such as bridges and implants. To enhance smiles’ beauty, David also performs teeth-whitening treatments, which make enamel brighter than a supernova with a PhD.
Dr. F. Todd Wortham—or “Dr. T,” as his patients call him—is so well trained in implantology, he finds installing replacement teeth to be fun. The dentist, who has more than 500 hours of continuing education in advanced dental techniques under his belt, has learned to be one with his work to such a degree that even the challenging procedures have become a joy.
Together with longtime colleague Dr. Rachel M. Deininger, Dr. T takes time to get to know each patient who comes through the door or scratches through the drywall. In addition to installing dental implants, the doctors treat periodontal disease, whiten teeth with custom bleaching trays, and fit patients for dentures.
A familial knack for dentistry is obvious at Alaska Center for Dentistry, which was founded in 1977 by Dr. C. Michael Sage. In the ensuing decades, the clinic has grown into two locations that are home to a roster of experienced dental doctors and technicians, including Dr. Sage's son, Dr. C. Michael Sage Jr.—also a dentist. Kicking back in chairs with warm neck wraps and donning headphones, patients undergo a range of treatments, from cosmetic whitening procedures to routine examinations, screenings, cleanings, and tongue-reflex tests. Happy murmurs drift from kids, who stay entertained with engaging movies and toys while parents undergo exams and procedures.
Drs. Kris Gurr and Jeremy Bauer oversee the Wasilla and North Pole offices, respectively, of Alaska Dental Arts. Both locations offer routine family-dentistry services, such as cleanings, fillings, and teeth whitening. They can also schedule more advanced procedures, such as root canals?which is when the dentist plants entirely new tooth roots in the gums.
The two dentists at Mint Dental work to reduce the inevitable stress of dental care by staying open for extended and weekend hours and offering IV sedation to calm nerves. In treatment rooms, the team peers at x-rays of teeth, looking for hidden dental issues or evidence regarding lunches missing from the office fridge. Patrons mosey from the office, their teeth newly gleaming from cleanings or bleaching treatments.