Paul Kelly

Written by Kevin Barry Category: Profiles Issue: October 2016
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Oral Maxillofacial Surgery
Dental School: University of Louisville
Years in Practice: 11

How does oral maxillofacial surgery differ from general dental surgery?
Oral maxillofacial surgery is a recognized specialty by the ADA. Those within our specialty complete a 4- to 6-year hospital residency and are considered leaders when it comes to surgery associated with the teeth, jaws and surrounding structures of the face. Dental surgery refers to procedures limited to the mouth. General dentists act as the quarterback in oral health care, by keeping some procedures while referring out other surgeries to the specialist.

Which procedures are the most gratifying for you to perform?
Wisdom teeth extractions, bone grafting, dental implants and trauma are all very fulfilling. A letter sent from a 19-year-old patient expressing gratitude for helping her find her “best self and giving her self-confidence” after correction of her asymmetric jaw changed me as a doctor forever. That was truly gratifying.

You have a pretty hip and well-designed website. Are aesthetics important to you in all areas of your practice?
Absolutely. If I’m going to be your surgeon and put my name on the case then I demand an aesthetic and functional outcome. My father taught me that to be a great doctor you have to be a little “OCD.” I’m that way in everything I do. You want your doctor checking things over three or four times.

What are some of the ways you reassure or calm uneasy patients before a surgery?
My favorite question to distract patients as I sedate them is “Do you have a movie and ice cream picked out for later today?”

How would you describe the design and décor of your office?
Modern-casual. Everything we did in the design was to emphasize function and feel. No one is rushed in or out of my office. We invite you to stay and enjoy the lobby area – it is not a “waiting room.” Many dentists and other specialists will frequent my continuing education room designed to teach and learn from each other.

What are your hobbies and passions outside dentistry?
I love staying active and enjoy golfing with many other dental professionals in our community.  Running has always given me an outlet to focus my thoughts. But nothing is more worthy of my time than my wife and our four children. Most of “my time” outside of work is centered on developing and supporting them.

What’s the funniest thing a patient has said to you while sedated?  
One of my favorite parts of my job is managing sedated patients, whether for routine wisdom teeth extractions or more involved surgeries. After sedating a patient to perform a complicated bone-grafting and implant reconstruction case, she woke up and said, “You were a lot better looking in my dreams.”

“If I wasn’t a dentist, I’d be...”
It is hard to imagine myself doing anything else. I love my job. I suppose I would be a different surgical specialist. Orthopedic or vascular surgeon... Nah, I’ll take oral surgeon, thanks.