Drumright dentist goes extra mile

Drumright Dental Center has provided thousands of dental exams over the years at the Special Olympics. (Clemmer/KTUL)

To put it into dental terms...

"We've got a cross-bite on number 14," said Dr. Travis Burkett of Drumright Dental Center.

You don't need an X-ray to see there's something different about the roots of Drumright Dental.

"It's the most rewarding day that we have," said one employee.

It's the day of the Special Olympics.

"It's the best day of the year for me and my staff," said Burkett.

For the past five years, Burkett has closed down his office and opened up a mobile clinic at the games.

"We set 'em down and we do an actual dental screening," he said.

Their goal this year was to see 750 people.

"No decay, no trauma," he said during one exam.

For people outside the special needs community, it may come as a surprise that simply finding a dentist who will treat you is a massive challenge.

"You could not believe what you got into looking for a dentist who takes care of these special needs kids," said parent Jerry Evans.

From parents, stories of heartache and uneasiness...

"I'd taken him to one dentist, and I just wasn't comfortable. At all. He wasn't comfortable," said Kimberly Custer.

Her son, Kyle, a presence in Special Olympic bocce, found himself invisible at the dentist's office, until...

"It's not like, 'Hi how are you?' It's, 'How are you and how are you?' You know, they acknowledge your child," she said.

It's a kindness so readily on display that you realize Burkett's secret to treating teeth is that he first treats hearts.

Of the 50 volunteers at the clinic, some were brand new to the profession.

"I just graduated with my dental hygiene degree on Saturday," said one volunteer.

Why have them here?

"My goal is for them to actually interact with these patients and realize when they go to the real world and get a job that they can do it, there's nothing to be scared of," he said.

Drumright Dental...

"We feel like this the right thing to do, so that's why we do it," said Burkett.

Demonstrating what it means to be special, by just being human.

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