Dr. Michael Carpenter brought big city dentistry to small town Napoleon, Ohio, and his practice’s popularity has exploded.
It’s easy to see why Dr. Michael Carpenter wasn’t lured away to the big city. The heart of Napoleon, Ohio is a pretty, tree-lined main drag dotted with shops, cafes and offices. All around it, there’s street after street of perfectly restored old homes and vivid green lawns that, come fall, sprout handmade “Go Cats!” signs in support of the Napoleon High School Wildcats. Just outside of town are sprawling family farms with cornfields that seemingly go for miles. The air is fresh, traffic nonexistent, and overall, it’s pretty close to Hollywood’s silver screen ideal of Small Town, USA.
Napoleon is roughly 45 miles from Toledo, Ohio and 60 from Fort Wayne, Indiana—just far enough to be rural, but still an easy commute to bigger cities if patients really want to. Dr. Carpenter is keenly aware of that fact, and has created a practice that provides a cosmopolitan atmosphere and fully modern capabilities you wouldn’t automatically expect in a town of less than 9,000 residents. As a result, he draws patients from miles around and is growing every month. The pace is so brisk that he recently opened a second office in the nearby town of Delta.
Not surprisingly, entrepreneurship runs in the family. Dr. Carpenter grew up working in his family’s manufacturing business, inspecting, painting and shipping carbide and diamond-tipped cutting tools. It was not the future his father envisioned for his son, especially after he began excelling in school and showing a particular aptitude for science.
As a middle school student, Dr. Carpenter developed a special interest in the healthcare profession when he became a patient of local orthodontist Dr. Bob Namay. The visits made a strong impression. Dr. Namay was not only busy and successful, but both he and his team were genuinely happy at work. “It seemed like he treated people very well and they enjoyed working for him,” he remembered. “They were excellent at what they did.”
Before settling on dentistry, he explored a range of options from becoming a physician or pediatrician to oral surgery. “I just didn’t want to be 30 years old and at the start of my career,” said Dr. Carpenter. So he enrolled in The Ohio State University College of Dentistry, graduating magna cum laude, third in his class. He also did postgraduate training in cosmetics and implants at the Las Vegas Institute, and began a rigorous routine of taking at least 100 hours of continuing education annually—five times the state requirements.
He began practicing with another dentist, eventually buying the practice. In 1998, he founded Dental Excellence of Napoleon. The patient base grew so quickly, he had to hire doctors and three full-time hygienists to keep up. By 2000, he had already built a larger office and expanded from four chairs to six, and a few years later, six chairs to nine. That lasted until 2017, when he once again found his practice at capacity and moved to a new building with 20 treatment rooms. Benco Dental performed all of the installations and provided the majority of equipment. He says the move allowed him to jump from adding up to 155 new patients a month to a high of 281, with the practice serving over 10,000 total active patients and counting.
Today, Dr. Carpenter sees patients about six days each month, with two days devoted to IV sedation cases. The majority of his time is now focused on maintaining an exceptional level of patient care. He’s perpetually recruiting talented doctors, then mentoring and training them personally. The practice has its own orthodontist, the same Dr. Bob Namay that inspired Dr Carpenter to become a dentist. The practice also has a pediatric dentist, and Dr. Carpenter and his associate doctors place implants, do sedation, perform endodontics, and provide sleep apnea treatment. Patients, especially those who drive considerable distances, appreciate that nearly all of the treatment they need can be provided under one roof.
“It’s flattering as well as humbling to know they chose our practice, even though they drive past a dozen others on their way here,” he said.
The happiest byproducts of Dr. Carpenter’s success are giving back and delivering great care in the community. Changing the lives of his patients is a big motivator.
“Whether it’s taking them from a complete state of pain or eliminating significant decay and disease, to transforming someone who is embarrassed to smile into someone who is super proud of their smile, impacting each patient’s outlook is very rewarding,” he said. Dr. Carpenter also enjoys offering his team the chance to grow and develop along with the practice. “You can’t provide that in a smaller practice. Our team members aren’t stuck in one position. They can begin in one role, and if they’re very driven, there’s opportunity to move up.”
The practice is routinely lauded by media outlets miles around for their extensive community service. They’re an event sponsor for Dentistry From The Heart, doing free dentistry throughout the year. Every November, they celebrate Veteran’s Day by offering those who’ve served no-cost treatment. They also visit local schools on Give Kids A Smile day and throughout February for Children’s Dental Health Month, send treats overseas to troops via Operation Gratitude’s Halloween Candy Buyback, and pop up at various community events, such as parades and festivals, and even host their own Patient Appreciation events on a regular basis.
Somehow, Dr. Carpenter recently found time to author a book distilling his two decades of experience in practicing patient-focused dentistry. It’s called “Dentistry That Doesn’t Bite: Changing The Way You Think About Dentistry” and it has a five-star rating on Amazon.
He and his wife, Janette, also found time to raise a family, with four children from age 11 to 21. Two are interested in dentistry, and another has already interned in the practice’s marketing department. So, the first-generation dentist may have started a legacy that will continue to grow and positively impact the lives of his patients for decades to come.