Dr. David Crocker conducts a dental exam in his Tignish clinic. He concludes a 43-year dental practice in West Prince on Feb. 20.
TIGNISH --When he first started practicing dentistry in West Prince, Dr. David Crocker needed to spend a considerable amount of time convincing patients to keep their teeth rather than getting them pulled.
“It was kind of a way of life: you kept your teeth until you were late teens or 20s and then you got your teeth out and got a plate made,” he reflected.
Commenting on how times have changed, he said, “we see a huge number of people now going into their 20s with not even a cavity; all their own teeth and not a cavity.”
He gives credit for that change to the government dental health program and education about the importance of practicing proper dental care.
Crocker, a Miramichi, NB native, is set to retire on Thursday, February 20. A combined retirement party for Crocker and a meet and greet for his replacement, will be held Wednesday, February 19, 5 p.m., at the Tignish Co-op Health Centre.
Dr. German Gomez, currently practicing at the West Prince Dental Clinic in Woodstock, takes over Crocker’s practice effective February 21.
Dr. Crocker and Dr. Gary Jackson, both fresh out of Dalhousie Dental School, moved into a clinic the provincial government provided for them in Alberton in 1971. “This area needed dentists and we both came here,” Crocker said. Three years later, in September, 1974, Crocker re-located to the Tignish Health Co-op Centre and Jackson moved his practice to O’Leary.
He would have been content to mark 40 years in Tignish in September but said timing was right as Gomez was looking to open his own practice.
Initially, Crocker had only planned to practice in West Prince a year or two and then go back to school to specialize, but he settled in for the long-haul.
“Both Donna and I decided it was a terrific place to raise our kids, a great community to live in. It was pointless to go back to school,” he said. Donna, his wife of 45 years, has been part of the practice from the start.
The practice has changed some over the years. At one point about 60 per cent of his patients were children. “The tendency now is smaller families, and a lot of the younger families are moving away, so the practice is aging a little bit,” he acknowledged and declared it “a terrific rural practice.”
After retiring, Crocker said he will spend more time on his farm, tending to his blueberries. He also hopes to do some travelling and is considering doing some locum dentistry up north.