2022 Top Dentist: Charlie Clark

Editorial StaffJuly 1, 2022
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Dr. Clark with his daughter, Ellie, age 2, who loves to brush her teeth; Photography by Steve Craft
Dr. Clark with his daughter, Ellie, age 2, who loves to brush her teeth; Photography by Steve Craft

Pediatric Dentistry

Dental School/Year Graduated: Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health, 2007
Years in Practice: 15

Tooth decay is the No. 1 chronic childhood disease. How do you relay important information to young patients without scaring them?
Choosing words that are less scary is helpful in educating young patients on why it’s important to take good care of their teeth and gums. A classic alternative for decay is “sugar bugs.” And for kids who don’t like the term “shot,” we use “sleepy juice” instead to numb teeth. Including them in the conversation is essential.

How can incorporating the “tooth fairy” tradition into a child’s early years help promote oral health?
Well, it puts a positive spin on the experience, and positive reinforcement can help reduce fear and help overcome anxiety about what could otherwise be a scary situation. Once a baby tooth becomes loose, it typically means the adult tooth is close to coming in and needs its own space.

You combined your love of travel and service to open a dental clinic in Guatemala. What are some of the biggest issues your patients in underserved communities are facing?
Sugar. It’s everywhere. Even in families who have had lower rates of dental decay, we’re seeing increases in cavities due to diet. Even quote-unquote healthy diets including fresh fruits or kids drinking no-sugar-added beverages are at risk. It’s based on frequency and trying to limit dietary sugars to mealtimes. And stick to water and no-sugar snacks in between!

You’re from Seattle! Are you a coffee fiend?
Coffee fiend – yes! I worked for Starbucks as a barista in high school and as a learning coach at their corporate training center in college. Loyal to a fault.

You’re reportedly a big griller. Gas or charcoal? Favorite things to cook al fresco?
Gas for convenience, a smoker when we have more time. We have two little girls at home, so we have to manage time. Smoked ribs is a favorite, but it can take six-plus hours!

What’s your favorite portrayal of a dentist in TV or film?
Dentists often have a less than favorable portrayal, but if I had to choose, the dentist in Finding Nemo was pretty fun to watch.

 What’s the funniest thing a patient has said to you on nitrous oxide?
A 4-year-old explaining how he found out his pet rabbit “Mr. Mustache” was actually a girl rabbit when she had babies is always a classic.

 “If I wasn’t a dentist, I’d be…”
In the food service industry. I love the energy of being around people and how food serves as a conduit in bringing everyone together.