Dove Creek Dental Care
Dr. Will Brown, DDS
About Dr. Will Brown
It can take time to integrate into a small rural community to gain trust as an outsider in a tight-knit town. But the relationships that Dr. Will Brown has forged in just over a year drive his work as a dentist at the Axis Integrated Healthcare clinic in Dove Creek.
“I think one of the greatest parts about being a dentist, and this job, is just being able to have conversations with people,” he said.
Brown and his wife came to Southwest Colorado from Denver, looking for a less crowded area with access to the outdoors, especially as they watched the state’s capital boom in population. Brown was also always interested in public health, and when the Axis general dentistry position opened up, he jumped.
“It’s been great,” he said. “I think starting any new position, it takes a little time to feel it out, and learn the community. But it’s really picked up and I’m starting to get a really good sense of the community and it’s been great.”
Brown is originally from the Denver metro area. He wanted to pursue medicine of some sort, but wasn’t sure about the specialty.
“I was fortunate to have some really good mentors,” he said. “Parents of friends who are dentists, and let me come in and showed me what they were doing.”
He was especially attracted to the relationship aspect of dentistry.
“The relationship they had with their patients was what really drew me in, because it was a continuous, progressing relationship where they got to check in, in most cases every six months, and knew about each other’s kids, and where they were in school and what they were doing with their lives,” Brown said. “So I think the relationships were what really drew me in.”
Brown also came to appreciate the creative and hands-on nature of dentistry. “It’s a different approach to medicine,” he said.
He completed dental school at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Following graduation, Brown worked in the town of LaSalle, just south of Greeley, CO, for about one and a half years.
The Dove Creek dental clinic is located on one side of the Axis Integrated Healthcare clinic on Fourth Street, behind the Dove Creek Superette. In addition to the Integrated Health team, the dental clinic includes Brown, two dental assistants, one hygienist, and one front desk manager.
“The people I work with out here are fantastic, and that’s been really fun,” he said. They visit with patients from about 7:45 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.: Brown usually sees about eight to 15 patients daily, while the clinic’s hygienist sees about six to eight patients every day.
The main challenge has been establishing his credibility and commitment to the Dove Creek community, Brown said.
“When I talk to patients, there are a lot of reports of everyone being very transient, like the dentists, the providers,” he said.
On the flip side, though, the positives that have come with establishing trust and becoming a valued community member are great.
“Establishing that level of trust in the community and getting to know people — obviously that’s a challenge but it’s been very rewarding to be moving on the other side of that,” Brown said. “Getting to know people and learning all the families.”
It has been really meaningful to provide affordable health care to patients, he said, as the clinic offers treatment on an income-based sliding fee scale. Brown recalled helping one man enroll in Medicaid, so that his dentures treatment could be fully covered.
“Just the happiness he exuded from that,” Brown said. “He has improved his health drastically, from our first appointments to our last appointments, can’t even recognize him. He’s gained weight, which is not often the case when you extract teeth and put someone in dentures. He’s just turned his health around from the few months that we’ve seen him. That was a very rewarding patient interaction.”
Brown believes that instilling good dental habits in his patients is mostly about having a friendly conversation, and emphasizing how they can work together for a better holistic health.
“Certainly trying to educate, but just meet people where they are,” Brown said. “Having those conversations of, ‘This is how we can help you.’”
Brown and his family now live in Cortez. When he’s not working, he enjoys camping, fishing, and hiking with his wife and two children.