Life Dental Group comes together for conference in Oxford

Published 3:18 pm Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Life Dental Group is on a mission: The Oxford-based company wants to power world-class dental care across the Southeast by making patient care and comfort the core responsibility of every team member, every day.

It’s a mission that Life Dental leadership reiterated during its first annual conference — called The Big Event — which brought together the dentists, hygienists and office managers from the company’s seven practices across Mississippi and Alabama.

“Are you taking care of people? Are you forming relationships with your patients? That’s the name of the game,” said Dr. Mike Huggins, Life Dental’s executive officer and lead dentist challenged during his opening remarks. “If you take care of your staff and your staff takes care of your patients with you, then the rest of it takes care of itself.”

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The Big Event, said Chief Operating Officer Shawna Reynolds, was an opportunity for the team to celebrate the successes of the previous year. These included the addition of two new practices, the hiring of several new team members and the opening of its flagship clinic located on South Lamar here in Oxford.

“Everybody in this room has worked so hard this year,” Reynolds told the group. “You’ve overcome challenges we’ve never even seen before, so we sincerely thank each one of you for all that you’ve done to lead our team to success.”

It was also an opportunity for the full team to work together to assess performance, talk about challenges, and plan for the year to come, which will include the addition of three to five new clinics, as well as the recruitment of new dentists, hygienists and other team members to lead these offices.

“We’re looking for dentists who are willing to take ownership of their practices and who want to learn and broaden their clinical skill-set beyond what they learn in school,” said Jeff Hand, who leads Life Dental’s recruiting efforts as chief acquisition officer.

During The Big Event, the group also had the chance to learn from leading industry experts such as Dr. Jyme Charette, who leads a restorative and cosmetic dentistry practice in Louisville, Ky. He taught a continuing education session focused on dental implants for attendees.

The group also heard from Richard E. Simmons III, an author, speaker and leader from Birmingham, Alabama, who spoke to the group about the importance of wisdom. He walked through a set of principles he considers critical for cultivating wisdom, including integrity, intellectual humility and social intelligence.

Although this the first occurrence of The Big Event, Huggins said it has always been part of his vision for the company and its commitment to providing team members with high-quality training on both the clinical and business sides of dentistry.

“When we started Life Dental, our vision was to have a central location in Oxford, where we could bring our team to train them and set them up on a fast track for growth,” Huggins said. “A major part of that was a yearly kickoff where we could get together, network and learn from each other.”

Dr. Katie Denney, who leads Life Dental’s practice in Huntsville, Alabama, said she gained an important perspective from the event.

“[The Big Event] was very beneficial for all parties involved, the doctors, the team leaders, as well as the office managers,” Denney said. “It allowed us to coordinate with the other offices and see what was working for them. In areas where they’re struggling, we worked together to come up with solutions.”

In addition to talking business strategy and training, Huggins and Reynolds honored the top- performing employees and practices from across all of Life Dental’s locations.

The group’s top dentist was Dr. Shelly Osborn of Batesville Dental. Osborn’s practice was also one of Life Dental’s top performing offices. Huggins commended her work ethic and willingness to meet diverse patient needs.

“[Osborn] is a workhorse,” Huggins said. “Patients come in and need an implant, they get an implant. They need braces, they get braces. Whatever they need, she gets it for them.”

Osborn, who was Life Dental’s first dentist, has seen it grow immensely during her time with the company. She said the people are their greatest asset.

“The key to Life Dental’s success is the people, 100%,” Osborn said. “We have a great group of people that are all very determined and hard-working and that’s very hard to find.”

Other awards went to Melissa Cobb of Premier Dental in Tupelo, Miss., who was named the company’s top hygienist, and Columbus Bright Smiles for having the best overall performance for the year out of all Life Dental’s offices.

The Big Event also attracted exhibitors and vendors from throughout the dental industry, such as Patterson Dental and BioHorizons, who networked with Life Dental’s team.

The day ended with dentists sharing actionable steps to improve patient care, efficiency and growth in 2022 that they would take home to their practices. Dr. Beau Murphey, who is in his fourth year practicing at Southern Family Dental in Byram, Miss., looked forward to returning to Byram with his goals, improving his practice and serving his community.

“Working with Life Dental has been really, really great,” Murphy said. “We’ve grown our practice exponentially from the time that we took it over. Life Dental has really good systems, really good staff that we’ve put together. It’s been really great for our community.”