2020 Top Dentist: J. Gregory Sabol

Editorial StaffSeptember 10, 2020
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Photography by Steve Craft
Photography by Steve Craft

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Dental School: The Ohio State University, 1999
Medical School: Vanderbilt University, 2003
Years in Practice: 14

You have a degree in molecular genetics and did research on skeletal jaw and facial development. How does this background inform your current practice?
The genetics degree was not the plan from the beginning. I just followed my interests over time and ended up where I’m at. In retrospect, it all makes sense and seems to be a natural progression. It confirms that I’m doing what interests me and what I love to do.

What does the life of an “on-call” dental surgeon for Valley hospitals look like? Are you summoned in the middle of the night and on weekends? Any particularly harrowing or touching stories?
It was a busy but rewarding juggling act during the earlier phase of my career, when Phoenix had fewer trauma centers and no [oral and maxillofacial surgery] residency. I treated patients with significant issues such as gunshot wounds, crushed faces from auto accidents, life-threatening infections, things of that nature. These were often in the middle of the night and also on weekends. With my private practice growing, and my family getting older, I take less calls now, but still maintain involvement. The high volume of complex cases at that time really helped solidify my surgery skills.

What’s next on the horizon in oral/maxillofacial surgery? Any interesting developments?
Digital treatment planning has been a practice changer. I use this technology with skeletal jaw surgery, where I surgically move the jaws into a more appropriate position. Being able to predict jaw movement in three dimensions prior to the surgery is critical.

You’re an avid runner who races competitively. What captivates you about running?
Some days, it’s the seclusion and contemplation that it allows, and some days it feeds my competitive needs. I’ve run most of my life and competed heavily in college. Running has always been there when I needed it. I always feel better after a run.

You traveled around a lot during your dental training. Why did you decide to call Phoenix home?
Phoenix is a great place to live for the active lifestyle that we enjoy – my kids both play sports, I’m a year-round runner, and as a family, we enjoy outdoor activities like fishing, target recurve archery and mountain biking. Arizona offers many locales for all of these types of activities, from mountain to lake.

Who is your favorite dentist in popular culture?
Living in Arizona, I would have to say Doc Holliday.

“If I wasn’t a dentist, I’d be…”
Involved with sports medicine or exercise physiology. I’m interested in optimizing our body’s potential during endurance exercise. It bothers me that I’ll naturally and inevitably become a slower runner as I age. I want to find out how Tom Brady and Cristiano Ronaldo [get their] ability to be physically young and perform at a high level regardless of age.


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