March 17, 2017 | Staff Stories
Not many people think going to the dentist is fun—unless your dentist is Dr. Leah Tekle.
“When I was a little girl, I was that weird kid who never had cavities and I liked going to the dentist,” she told us. “It was always a pleasant experience for me.”
Many people think of the dentist and automatically the word hate comes out of their mouth. Others cringe at the thought of scheduling that bi-annual checkup. Dr. Tekle suggests eliminating the negativity and the word ‘hate’ out of your vocabulary, especially at her office.
“Hate is such an ugly word,” she told us. “The hardest thing about being a dentist is when I walk in the room and someone automatically says, ‘I hate the dentist,’” Dr. Leah said. “I take it personally sometimes because all I want to do is help our patients have a great experience.”
Dr. Tekle strives to be a great dentist giving her patients something to smile about—a positive outlook about dentistry.
“My goal is to turn a previous negative experience into a good one before they leave my office,” she told us. “I try to understand what happened before, why they dislike the dentist so much and then I make it my mission to alter their mindset.”
Getting to know the patient, establishing relationships and tackling challenges are things Dr. Tekle looks forward to in her day at the office.
“It’s hard seeing a little child—for example—come in scared because the parent already told them how terrible the dentist is,” she said. “I have to make them feel comfortable and break down their apprehension.”
Decreasing fear in children and adults boosts the likelihood that a person will voluntarily go in for preventive services, which is an important part of keeping teeth healthy.
From Intern to Team Member
While going to A.T. Still University, Dr. Tekle did a dental rotation at Mountain Park. She was so impressed by the organization and how progressive it was that she decided to come work here after her move back to Phoenix.
Receiving her Master’s simultaneously in Public Health also gave Dr. Tekle a better scope of the work community health centers do.
I enjoy working at a health center, especially at Mountain Park,” she said. “I loved the people that work here and knew from the beginning that I wanted to be a part of this organization.”
Dr. Angela Relf, Dentist and Department Chair, has known Dr. Tekle since 2011 when she was a dental student here. Her determination, adaptability and willingness to learn impressed Dr. Relf, and she made it her mission to have Dr. Tekle on her team in 2015.
“Leah is the most beautiful and humble person that you can ever meet and her care style follows her personality. She genuinely cares,” Dr. Relf expressed.
Dr. Tekle’s family is from Eritrea, a country on the east coast of Africa, but she was born and raised in Seattle where her five sisters still reside. She lived in Arizona while attending A.T. Still University, but decided to move to Washington after school. Dr. Tekle and her husband Bobbi returned to Arizona two years ago to raise their family. The couple have two children—Laila is 2-years old and Elijah is 10-months.
“Being a mom has changed my life so much, something I never expected,” she said. “I love seeing my kids grow up together. I have five sisters and it was so great having someone to play with while growing up. ”
Advice from a Dentist
In 2016 Mountain Park launched the integrated pediatric dental program. It allows pediatric patients to receive a free dental screening during their well check visit.
“First, I want our patients to know that we really genuinely care,” she said. “Second, please, please keep brushing and flossing. And visit your dentist every six months. Prevention is so important and we’re here to catch things before they become a cavity or an extraction.”
The integrated pediatric program is a great way to keep your child’s teeth healthy. Learn more about the program and the success we have seen since implementation.
And remember, our dental team is here to make your teeth healthy and your smile bright.
To schedule an appointment call (602) 243-7277.