It’s a full year since I opened Delicate Periodontics and Implant Dentistry. In keeping with a tradition started last year, I’ve decided to dedicate my first post of the Delicate News to a few personal reasons of why I’m thankful to be a periodontal and implant surgeon at the end of the practice’s first year.
First giving thanks to God. For everything. Period.
I’ve been on this journey since I was a child really. I remember my dad telling me about how limited dentists were in his home country of Jamaica. A dentist would visit his area once per year, and if a tooth was decayed it was removed. After a future negative dental encounter as an adult, he avoided dentists for the rest of his life. In his honor, I’ve always strived to make my patients’ experiences as comfortable as they can be. I’m thankful for his transparency with me. When Jamaica opened their first dental school I found a contact and offered my services; to this day I’m part of their Periodontology Course, teaching the next generation of dentists in Jamaica during the summer.
I’m thankful that despite his bad experiences, he never discouraged me from pursuing this career path. It was my dad who took time from his business to escort me to the northeast for my dental school interviews. One dean came to meet my dad because he was so impressed with me as a candidate. My dad (true to form) responded: “I have no idea why she wants to be a dentist.” If you know me personally, you know I’m a daddy’s girl at heart. His support despite his own fears has meant the world to me
I’m thankful for my mom, for taking me as a small child with her to work. My mom was a public health nurse. She dealt extensively with health education on various issues affecting the communities she served. One Saturday per year the Public Health Department would host “Early Intervention”, a program which aimed to catch health issues that would impact learning early so resources could be provided to give the students a better chance as being successful. My mom loved her work, it was meaningful. We were always stopped by past students or their families and they were so grateful for her.
It was a seed planted early for me. That seed grew into me getting a Master of Public Health and is also why I seek out opportunities to engage with people on better understanding oral health. Whether they are my patients learning about their health concerns, preschool to elementary aged students better understanding oral hygiene, or participants at a community outreach events, I try to be present.
I am FAMU made. My undergraduate studies at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University was one of the best in my life. I had mentors who challenged me. Rigorous studies. Friends who supported me. And lots of fun! Special thanks for Dr. Brooks-Walters, Dr. Oguntade, Dr. Lamango, Dr. Peterside, and FAMU and Harvard School of Dental Medicine Alumni Dr. Edward Scott. Between these professors, I learned science, perseverance, and the true meaning of hard work. I’m so glad FAMU chose me!
I’m thankful for Dr. Augustus White, a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon who was my society chairman at Harvard Medical School. At Harvard, the dental students are dually trained at the Medical and Dental School for the first two years. Dr. White believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. He would reach out to me with books, articles, warm words, he even had a special candy stash for me. He was my cheerleader at Harvard. I gave his farewell speech when he retired from the medical school. I didn’t even recognize how huge he was in the medical community until years later. I’m forever grateful to him.
If I start naming every family member, friend or dentist who played a role in this journey I’ll run out of the room. ️ But special mention for Drs. Peggy Timothy, Nachum Samet, Brian Swann, Linda Nelson, and Leonard Garfinkel. My besties Jerry Nemorin, Jeanette Stewart, & Crystalle Stripling for keeping me grounded throughout this journey. To my Boston family Drs. Monica and Tyrone Porter for their love. This journey through school, school, and more school was just that, a journey!
I’m thankful to those who questioned me as well. For the many who have suggested that I can’t be a mom and be a successful periodontist. For those that suggested I would be happy to not work at all once I had children. For those that because I’m small in stature said I would not be able to extract teeth. And for that one special person that upon meeting me blankly told me he would never consider hiring a woman because women get pregnant (this was in 2013). I have proven you all wrong.
I am a working mom. I’m grateful to say I started residency pregnant, had my daughter during year one, and still finished my program. During my son’s pregnancy, I worked up to one week before he was born. I would make the joke that if I leaned on a patient and my tummy touched their shoulder that it was the baby trying to assist in the surgery. I can’t number the patients who waited until I returned from maternity leave to complete their treatment despite having other options. I LOVE being a mom. I LOVE being a periodontal and implant surgeon. And I LOVE that I didn’t have to choose. It’s not easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My children are at the heart of all that I do.
I’m thankful for my hubby, Roossely Delica. We met at a party when I was 17 and he’s been my heart ever since. During our long distance courtship he has flown or driven more miles than either of us can remember. He has weathered the storms and danced with me in the rain, too. We often kid that he earned a dental degree, too. When I would study, my husband would literally sit up with me until he fell asleep with his head on my lap while I continued to study.
Most of all, thank you to every patient who has given me the opportunity to be a part of your smile story. You have trusted me with a personal part of your health care. I feel connected to each of you. I learn from each of you. I’m inspired by each of you. I’m grateful for each of you.
And I’m thankful for what’s to come. This year has definitely been one for the books. I’ve met more lovely members of this great Palm Beach community than I can even begin to recall. It has been my honor and joy to treat and interact with you. I will continue to deliver excellence in surgical periodontal and implant dentistry care. I’m beyond humbled, excited, and thankful.