A local dental practice welcomes a new addition to its team.
Dr. Josh Murphy — the new lead dentist at Family Dental Health of Union — is glad to be “back home” in South Carolina.
Murphy is originally from Aiken, but for the past three years, he practiced dentistry in Kotzebue, Alaska.
After graduating from Harding University in Arkansas and dental school in Charleston, Murphy and his wife, Amber, began discussion about where he would begin practicing dentistry.
“I thought, ‘Where in America is the greatest need?’” Murphy said.
That is when he felt led toward Alaska.
“I felt like that was it,” Murphy said, explaining that the rate of tooth decay is high in the extreme environment of often-below-zero temperatures.
“There are not a lot of dentists willing to live 35 miles inside the Arctic Circle.”
Murphy worked at an Indian Health Service (IHS) hospital — a central hub out of which planes flew to 11 different villages, treating the Inupiaq Eskimo people. Although the Murphy’s enjoyed their time in Alaska, the birth of their one-year-old son Caleb prompted a move.
“The extreme climate is not really suitable for a baby, and really we were just too far from family,” Murphy said.
Murphy looked at dental offices throughout the state, and he was impressed by Family Dental Health. Murphy was attracted to the group after finding out about its “Dentistry From the Heart” event last December, during which more than 150 people in the community received free dental care.
“I like this group,” Murphy said. “There’s already a balance between business and taking care of those around you. They were already striking that balance where I wanted to be.”
Considering the success of Dentistry from the Heart, Murphy is planning the second event for April 2013. He said free dentistry is one thing Family Dental Health can do in the community, but he wants the event to be a springboard for more community involvement — something the community can do as a whole.
Dentistry from the Heart was just one attribute that impressed Murphy.
“I also looked at Dr. Weber’s work,” he said. “It was good, and I noticed his patients trusted him. They trusted him because he earned it.”
Carol Smith — office manager for Family Dental Health — pointed out that the feeling was mutual.
“With Dr. Weber’s retirement after 36 years, he was very selective with who would carry on the torch of Family Dental Health,” Smith said. “He passed the office and position on to Dr. Murphy.”
“Our practice has always been focused on the quality care that our patients deserve, and having the opportunity to bring Dr. Murphy on board with us is going to ensure that our patients continue to receive the exceptional care that they expect from us,” Smith added.
Murphy said his patients are his top priority at work, especially those who are children.
“It struck me in Alaska that kids tend to take the brunt of things,” Murphy said. “If mom has cavities, then kids usually have more cavities. A lot of dentists don’t like dealing with that. You’ve got to take care of kids.”
Murphy said no one should have a fear of going to the dentist.
“Things shouldn’t hurt,” he said. “A lot of people are scared because someone hurt them in the past. That’s not good dentistry. You treat people like you want to be treated.”
Murphy officially started at Family Dental Health a couple of weeks ago, and he said everything has flowed naturally so far.
“I like the people,” Murphy said when asked his opinion of Union. “I’ve found it’s easy to make friends here. It’s easy to get along with people here, more so than anywhere else.”
His patients have also expressed that they are pleased with their new dentist.
“He is so easygoing, patients are really connecting with him,” Smith said. “Almost every patient has said, ‘I didn’t feel a thing.’”
After her visit, Betsy Hudson posted on Family Dental Health’s Facebook page, “Liking the new faces at the Union office.”
Another patient, Deborah Crisp, also had positive feedback regarding her visit with Dr. Murphy.
“He’s really a nice, down-to-earth young man,” she said. “I like that he takes the time to talk to you and on your level where you can understand.”
The Murphy family is currently looking for a home in order to make Union their hometown. Murphy said he is happy to be here, and he plans to stick to the philosophy he has had all along.
“Treat people right and everything else takes care of itself,” he said. “I don’t worry about the business end too much.”
Along with the new face of Dr Murphy, patients will also notice other changes at Family Dental Health. All the operatories have been given an updated look with state-of-the-art equipment to go along with the digital x-rays, intraoral photography and computer monitors provided for patient education. New evening hours have also been added. Patients can now be seen on Tuesdays as late as 7 p.m. Family Dental Health has also added several insurance companies to its list of providers, including Blue Cross Blue Shield and Companion Insurance.
For more information about Family Dental Health — located at 216 South Mountain St. — call (864) 427-0397.