Take care of your smile


A smile is one of the first things people see when they look at your face. However, finding the right care in the Idaho Falls area can be difficult when there are so many options.

Dr James Drake of Park West Dental grew up on a dairy farm in Victor. Now he is an accomplished dentist ready to serve the community of Eastern Idaho, delivering happier smiles.

IFM: What made you choose your current job?

JD: When you grow up milking cows at 6,200 feet above sea level, 30 below zero in a barn, you will find a way to find employment indoors. I am not man enough to be a farmer. So I thought I’d better find a way to add value to people’s lives without farming. I like to work with my hands. I like to build things and try things. I am interested in restoring everything from antique forges and vehicles to wagons and chainsaws. I think that’s part of what drew me to dentistry, as well as economic stability.

IFM: What advice do you have for locals?

JD: Flossing is probably the most overlooked thing that people should and don’t do. The fluoride in our water is about half of what is recommended by the American Dental Association. The difference is usually made up if they regularly use toothpaste and floss. Children and parents tend to mirror each other. If parents have poor home care, so do children. Good dental hygiene habits are essential.

IFM: Do you have any tips for teaching kids these habits?

JD: First of all, do it yourself. I had a young mother today who said she was having a hard time with her toddler because the toddler didn’t want to brush her teeth. I am a big believer in combining the principles of love and logic. If a child feels like they are in control of their life, they are more likely to allow you to help them. I recommend giving the child all kinds of choices. Let them choose to brush their top teeth or their bottom teeth first. Let them choose between the Dora the Explorer toothbrush or their Minion’s toothbrush.

I also recommend using something called Plackers Dental Floss. This way, they don’t have to wrap dental floss around their fingers and put their whole hand in a child’s mouth. Flossing the back molars in children is very important and they should start as soon as the teeth start to touch each other on the back. Floss before brushing your teeth to break up any plaque, then allow the fluoride in the toothpaste to bypass those teeth and help prevent cavities.

IFM: What do you like the most about your job?

JD: I think it’s seeing restored teeth. I think it’s like when a contractor finishes a house and can take a step back and say, “Look what me and my team did! What I like most is being able to say, ‘Look, we’ve fixed something’. That or relieve a patient of pain. Sometimes they have been in pain for 3 days or 3 years.

Good teeth add a lot to your quality of life. It relieves the social anxieties that patients struggle with. It provides nutrition by allowing people to enjoy the things they love. Patients with bad teeth cannot eat an apple and this can really decrease their nutritional quality.

IFM: What are some of the new cutting edge technologies you are using?

JD: We use Solea laser, so we can repair cavities without numbing a lot of times because we don’t have to use the drill as much. We also use the Picasso cold sore laser to help kill the cold sore virus that is active and causes these lesions on their lifts. Then, for the materials that we use on a daily basis, we make sure that the composite materials have characteristics similar to those of natural teeth. This allows them to adhere well to the natural tooth.

IFM: What should people be aware of when seeking dental care?

JD: I warn people all the time against shortcuts, which are wreaths made too quickly or poorly finished. Many of them are made in the office on a machine as digital scanning technologies improve. However, in my opinion, they fall short of the “old tried and true ways”. Sometimes I think the concept of one hour crown or one day crown can be done well, but I don’t see it very often. That is why I would advise patients to avoid shortcuts.

For more information

West Dental Park

885 Pancheri Drive 208-932-4607


For more on the September issue, click here.

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