Meet Dr. Ronni Brown

If anyone had ever told me that I would be a dentist who worked with inmates at a medium security correctional facility, I would have told them where to go and how fast to get there! But it is true, real, cool, rewarding, and fascinating and has been my path and career direction for more than 20 years. It has opened my eyes to the magnitude of untreated dental disease that is experienced by so many people in our communities and the impact that substance abuse has on oral health.

I had to tell this young adult, whose life was just starting, that he needed to have all of his teeth extracted.
I still remember my very first patient on my very first day of work. He was 20 years old and when he opened his mouth, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; teeth that were blackened, broken and rotted. I had to tell this young adult, whose life was just starting, that he needed to have all of his teeth extracted. But as my day continued, and even as the years have passed, I have come to realize that this patient was not just an isolated incidence of misfortune but reflected the growing use of methamphetamine and other illegal drugs used by patients in all walks of life. These drugs cause irreversible damage not just to their oral cavity but also to their lives; robbing them of their family, friends, physical and mental well-being, and even their freedom.

In some ways, my work day has not changed much from that very first day. Every single day, I see patients whose teeth have been destroyed by drugs that they have either smoked, swallowed, injected or snorted. What has changed, however, is the knowledge, communication, and treatment strategies that I have learned which allows me to provide predictable and high quality dental care to my patients.

Together we can treat our patients with confidence, sensitivity, and honesty.
As I speak across the country and meet dentists, hygienists, assistants and office personnel, I realize that almost every practice has patients with substance abuse disorders. My presentations aim to provide all staff members with the skills necessary to become competent in recognizing, managing and treating these patients. I believe that if we educate ourselves about the perils of addiction then together we can treat our patients with confidence, sensitivity, and honesty.

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