Credentials, experience, and associations are extremely important aspects to look for in a pediatric dentist. What makes one stand out from the other? WHO they are. Our Doctor Spotlight series allows our tiny patients and parents to get a glimpse into the doctor’s lives. Come get to know us!
Doctor Spotlight: Dr. Leigh Wilson
Dr. Wilson joined our team in Fall 2016. She serves patients in our Gastonia and Waverly offices. She has a deep-rooted passion for providing care to special needs children. In the last year, she spent her residency at the Children’s Hospital in Colorado. In Moshi, Tanzania, she provided dental care for children with vision impairments as a volunteer. She shares our vision of providing a safe and calming environment for kids while they receive dental care.
Why did you decide to focus on pediatric dentistry rather than general dentistry?
The short answer is that I’m just a big kid at heart, but the real reason is the chance to be a positive role model in a child’s life. I look forward to being able to offer consistency in a child’s life and can be someone that they look back on their childhood and remember that I always believed in them. I want all of my patients to grow up and love going to the dentist, or if they don’t love the dentist, at least they won’t fear the dentist.
Do you have kids?
Yes! I have a 15-month-old little girl named Hattie Ann. She was born in Colorado while I was in residency and is enjoying becoming a North Carolina girl!
What are some of your “tricks” to help ease kids’ fears about their dental visits?
I love talking to little girls about my “frozen juice” when giving anesthetic, I convince them that Elsa gave me some of her special powers to make it feel like winter in her mouth.
When I’m doing extractions I always tell the kids that I’m using my “Hulk” muscles to really push on their tooth, and if they watch closely I might turn green!
What’s the best part of your day?
My favorite part of my day is walking on the front porch when I get home from work and knocking on the glass to get Hattie’s attention through the door and seeing her face light up when she realizes I’m home! Then we spend 5 minutes ringing the doorbell over and over, which makes her giggle uncontrollably.
What’s your favorite kids’ show?
I don’t watch a lot of TV with a 15-month-old running around, but I do love kids’ movies. My niece has made me watch Frozen more times than I would like to admit, and I love singing the songs during my day to little girls who are scared, you can stop tears quickly with a poorly tuned rendition of “Let It Go.” I also love Cars, Tow Mater is hilarious and one of my favorite characters of all time. If you turn on any Disney princess movie I still find myself mesmerized by the story and lessons that they can still teach me today.
What’s your favorite color?
I have three favorite colors, kelly green, neon pink, and violet!
Do you have a sweet tooth? If so, what’s your favorite sweet?
I don’t have just one sweet tooth, I have a whole mouth full! Any road trip I have ever taken is never complete without Swedish Fish, Haribo gummy bears, Muddy Buddy Chex Mix, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Basically anything sweet and gummy (not sour) and anything that combines peanut butter and chocolate is my kryptonite.
Have you always wanted to be a dentist? If not, what did you want to be as a kid?
I honestly did not know I wanted to be a dentist until I was a junior in college. I had always wanted to follow in my sister’s footsteps and become a physician, an OB GYN, to be specific. I wanted to be a part of that miraculous moment in someone’s life when they brought such love into the world, but after long discussions with my sister and the type of lifestyle that medicine offers to your family, I had second thoughts.
My mom’s best friend growing up was our dentist’s wife, and I had a lot of dental work done as a child, and I really liked going. I changed to Pre-dentistry my junior year of college and never looked back!
I love Pediatric Dentistry because the training still requires a vast amount of medical knowledge of syndromes, medical disorders, medications, and I feel like I’m always having to think, but it also allows me to be a great mom, and offers such a great life-work balance.
Do you have a role model or a mentor? Why do you look up to them?
This is such a hard question, I am blessed with so many amazing people in my life that I can’t only choose one.
My mom would have to be the number one role model in my life, she has been such a great example of a kind, compassionate, working mother that has shaped me into the person I am today. She has her Ph.D. in Special Education and worked for my entire childhood, and she has instilled such a spirit of service in all of my siblings.
My sisters would also have to be included in my role models. My two older sisters have taught me so much about being a working mom, being a loving sister, and have provided me with such support through all of my decisions in life. My younger sister is also someone I look up to so much, she is a special education teacher in New Orleans and is a wonderfully patient, kind, giving person that I strive to be like.
Lastly, Mrs. Abbie Rogers was someone who I have looked up to my whole life, she was like another grandmother for my sisters and me when we were growing up in Mississippi. Mrs. Abbie started a summer camp for children and adults with special needs many years ago, which my sisters and I were lucky enough to be involved with during our childhood because our mom was one of the assistant directors. Through this experience, I was able to experience the joy and fulfillment that can only be achieved through service to others, and I can wholeheartedly say that this led me down a path to a healthcare career.
What is your favorite sports team?
I love the University of Georgia Bulldogs football team! Go Dawgs, Sic ‘em!
Finish this sentence: When I was a kid… I never had a haircut until I was 8 years old, and I have the craziest/curliest hair. So my sisters liked to, and still do to this day, kindly refer to me as “fro-baby.”