I’VE WANTED TO BE a dentist since I was 4 years old.
As a child I was extremely fearful of the dentist, and I wanted to change that for people.

After two years as an undergrad, I finished a year of dental-assisting training and became an RDA before entering dental school. I wanted to work in an office and be positive that dentistry was the career path for me — and I loved every minute of it.

When I opened my own practice, I immediately started investing in it and buying technology. I started with digital radiography, laser cavity detectors and intraoral cameras. In the last year, I purchased the Solea laser. I understand that most people don’t like going to the dentist, and attention to patients’ needs has helped shape my practice and has contributed to the tremendous growth we’ve seen over the last three years.

Technology has made dentistry such a better experience for the patient. For example, the Solea laser helps me
perform restorative procedures without anesthesia. It allows people to get the care they need without fear and anxiety. It also helps kids love the dentist.

Writing a business plan has been the key to my success. I review it often and revise it as needed. We have a very efficient practice; my staff and I are all like-minded in our approach. Time management is always a struggle. It’s difficult to juggle a practice, 10 employees, thousands of patients, a husband and three children. Balance is the key.

Last year we started an annual Veterans Dental Day to provide free dental care to uninsured veterans. The response was awesome — my staff did an outstanding job, and the gratitude we received was amazing. I’ve volunteered at Baxter Community Center, which serves low-income patients, since I graduated from dental school. I’ve been on the advisory board for the dental programs at Grand Rapids Community College for 10 years. The board provides curriculum input and helps the college graduate students whom dentists are looking to hire.

I’m so passionate about dentistry because I truly believe there’s nothing better than a beautiful smile. I also work hard to educate my patients about the connection between a healthy mouth and a healthy body.

” Paying attention to my patients’ needs has contributed to the tremendous growth my practice has enjoyed over the last three years.”

DR. SARAH PALMER, 37, lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her husband and three children. Her practice, Sarah Palmer DDS, is located in nearby Grandville.