PORTSMOUTH—Local dentist Dr. Robert Nelson celebrated 60 years of practicing dentistry on June 24, with friends, family, and colleagues there to celebrate the impressive milestone.
Nelson’s office on Offnere Street in Portsmouth is so much more than just a dental office to those who work within its walls. Nelson and his staff know that the services they’ve provided the community for decades can have positively life-changing results for many who walk through the doors.
Nelson’s daughter and employee, Trish Scarberry, is proud of the legacy of smiles that her family and the staff at Nelson’s office have brought to our community.
“The first thing everybody looks at when they see someone is their smile. It’s very welcoming, it’s like a front porch. You’re welcomed when you see a beautiful front porch,” she said.
“That is something that [Nelson] has always strived for: to help people so that they have a welcoming smile, so that they can be comfortable and loved,” Scarberry added.
Sitting in his office awaiting a day of celebration, Nelson tells me that the last sixty years have been a gift.
“It’s like a flash in the dark, like a strike of lightning. It just went so fast. I think of all the fine things I’ve been told by people, ‘you’ve eliminated so much pain, you’ve made people smile,’ or ‘you gave them smiles.’ This is what God gave me the ability to do, so I try to use that ability,” Nelson said.
Having practiced dentistry since 1962, Nelson has seen astounding changes to his field, and has worked hard to keep up with them—in some cases, even being ahead of the curve with his own research.
Nelson said that early in his career, when he noticed a connection between gum disease and other health problems in his more mature patients, some dismissed his observations.
“I was told I was a boat-rocker,” Nelson said with a chuckle. “I said, ‘you do it the way you want, but I’m going to do it the way I think is best.”
Trusting his research and instincts, Nelson now says that the connection between periodontal disease and other issues such as cardiac problems, stroke, widespread infection, and even dementia is now widely studied and accepted.
“The American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, the American Dental Association [all] say that the mouth is probably where most of the body’s problems start: with bleeding gums,” Nelson explained. “When the blood gets out, the bacteria get in. They go throughout the body but they can settle in the valves of the heart—and [cause] strokes, all kinds of other problems.”
A member of 33 various dental organizations over the years, Nelson has positively impacted not only patients, but colleagues as well, with some simply referring to him as “Uncle Bob.” In a farewell speech to the House of Delegates at the Ohio Dental Association from 1991, fellow dentist Dr. Irving Kaplan, DDS had this to say about Nelson:
“I’ll miss going to the ADA Annual Session and being with Bob Nelson. Bob checks in with The Ten Commandments in one hand and a ten-dollar bill in the other. And in five days, he doesn’t break either one. Bob has a combination of paranoia and apathy—he believes I’m out to get him, but he doesn’t particularly care.”
Nelson said that his colleagues later told him that they’d never heard Kaplan personally discuss anyone else the way he did Nelson.
As Nelson’s staff, family, and friends began to fill his office, Ohio State Representative Brian Baldridge presented him with a certificate of recognition from the General Assembly of the Ohio House of Representatives commemorating his sixty years of service.
“You have truly impacted the lives and dental health of your fellow Ohioans in a positive way,” the certificate read. “We thank you for your commitment to your community, and we look forward to your continued hard work and service to the great people of Scioto County.”
Nelson is grateful for his service to the area and remains humble as he remembers those sixty years that flew by.
“All the changes in dentistry—how it’s improved the lives, and benefits, and blessings and the healings of patients. My goal is to keep everybody’s help up the maximum,” Nelson said.
“I just thank God that I can do this. Taking care of patients, trying to get them out of pain, and protecting their health: it all starts in the mouth.”
Reach Kasie McCreary at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931 or by email at [email protected]
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