Some dentists always knew they’d be tending to teeth. From the time they were kids they’ve been diagnosing make-believe oral maladies or performing impromptu dental care on anything from stuffed animals, to dolls, action figures, family pets, and every other willing participant only kids could define.
Sometimes even unwilling younger siblings.
For those lucky dental pros that always knew teeth were their ticket, dentistry was it. Others found this honorable vocation by chance. Enter former major league pitcher Brian Banks.
In the now Dr. Banks’ former life with the Milwaukee Brewers and Florida Marlins, tending the outfield across America’s ballparks was the ticket. From the ballpark to the dental office, Dr. Banks made the unique transition from shagging flies and slapping singles playing America’s pastime to helping the underserved have access to proper oral healthcare.
Dr. Banks has since traded in his outfielder’s glove for rubber gloves, Brian Banks recently graduated from the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health at A.T. Still University in Mesa, AZ.
That’s what we call a circuitous route to practicing dentistry; from the major leagues to pediatric dentistry…let’s hear it for Dr. Banks!
Serving the Underserved
A.T. Still University is a unique dental school; home of the world’s first osteopathic medical school, established in 1892, A.T. Still University is recognized around the world as a renowned, multidisciplinary healthcare educator.
One of the primary focuses at A.T. Still is serving the underserved; providing dental care opportunities for people who do not have access to such care, or the means to secure proper dental treatment.
According to their website, A.T. Still students learn the sciences and techniques of healing as they are exposed to the social responsibilities of bringing health care to populations that are financially disadvantaged or in areas where comprehensive health care is not available.
This is where the newly crowned Dr. Banks found his second calling; at A.T. Still University, and in Mexico.
According to this article from The Arizona Republic, Clinica Betel in Atoyac, Mexico, was where dental students and faculty traveled earlier this year to provide care to residents of the rural town. It was the dental school’s second mission there within six months, and Banks was among students on the earlier journey.
Already convinced that he wanted to specialize in dental care for kids, Banks was at Clinica Betel when the dental school team, through a series of surgeries, repaired the cleft lip and palate of a 6-year-old boy.
The child had traveled to the clinic with his family for 18 hours by car from their home in Chiapas.
Banks was moved.
“So much of the underserved, unfortunately, happens to be the pediatric population,” he said. “The children fall into the brunt of that need of access and care. They can’t fend for themselves.”
He had been drafted in 1993 by the Brewers after his second year at Brigham Young University.
“I always promised my family that I would go back and finish my degree,” he said. “And in that process I continued to want to make a difference in the lives of others.”
After he was sidelined by a knee injury, he retired from the game in 2004, enrolled at Arizona State University and graduated two years later with a bachelor’s degree in biology in combination with other sciences.
“Health care always interested me, and I decided that dentistry was a way that I could leave my mark,” Banks said. “When I retire I will have made a difference to those in need of dental care.”
Do you know how your dentist came to the community…do you know where he or she went to school, or where they live, or what they do outside the practice?
We think it’s time to engage our dentists, and learn more about what makes them tick…as dentists and as human beings.