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BEARING THE TORCH

THIRD-GENERATION DENTIST DR. NIKKI JONES BAILEY ON THE VIRTUE OF MISSION TRIPS AND DOWNTIME — AND WHY JUST ENOUGH TECHNOLOGY IS USUALLY JUST RIGHT.

HELPING HAND: Dr. Jones Bailey administers treatment (left) to a patient in Isiolo, Kenya, during a 2009 mission trip.

MY CAREER IN DENTISTRY started in 2001. It’s in my blood; I’m a third-generation dentist. My grandfather, Dr. Lee Clarence Jones — Howard University School of Dentistry, class of 1924 — and my father, Dr. Clinton M. Jones — Howard Dental, class of 1959 — set the path.

After six years of group practice, I took a leap of faith and branched out on my own. Building a dental practice from scratch is not easy. The largest stumbling blocks were learning how to run a business and train a team — and maintain my sanity. I also wanted the latest technology but soon realized I’d go broke if I bought everything dentistry had to offer. So I introduce a new piece of technology each year.

Traveling to Africa [on seven mission trips] opened my eyes to a different world. There are places in Africa that are similar to the West, and then there are remote areas where people have no idea that doctors and hospitals exist.

Implants and airway management with 3D technology has been a game changer. I love my 3D X-ray technology, which enables a more comprehensive diagnosis and helps me plan accurate, minimally invasive implant surgeries.

CAD/CAM technology has also helped my practice grow. Providing a crown in a single visit is amazing. I feel in total control of my indirect restorations.

IN THE SWING: The doctor, working out her pipes onstage with the Rowan County Big Band All-Stars

It’s important to have a life outside of dentistry. It keeps me balanced. Throughout my career, I’ve written and performed poetry. I learned how to salsa dance. I’m two belts short of a black belt in tae kwon do. I also practice yoga for strength and focus.

In high school I played saxophone in the marching band, and later in the jazz band. After high school, I kept in touch with my band teacher; he’s currently the leader of the Rowan County Big Band All-Stars, an 18-piece swing band that specializes in the Great American Songbook.

It fills my heart to help those in pain find relief. I use calming colors, soothing music and a soft voice and touch. I’ve watched toddler patients grow into adults with no fear of the dentist, and adults with bad memories of childhood dentistry relax — and sometimes fall asleep during treatment.