It’s all about the patient

Living in a beautiful, historic city like Fredericksburg is a great experience. After 52 years as a practicing dentist, Dr. John Willhide continues to look for ways to provide the patient with a memorable experience at his dental office.

Dr. Willhide

“Being in the same place for so long allows me to build my reputation for providing the type of treatment that is consistent,” Dr. Willhide shares. “I love being an inner part of the community where I can build a caring practice that allows me to really get to know patients.”

“We treat people not just teeth and it’s important to get to know every individual in order to do it well,” says Willhide.

With every new patient, Dr. Willhide telephones the individual the night before their appointment. He introduces himself and learns about the patient’s health priorities and a little bit about the person on their terms. Dr. Willhide believes that he is better prepared to provide a personal and positive experience before seeing anybody in a clinical setting.

Dr. Willhide’s advice for new dentists is to have specific aspirations, “Get a vision for both your life and the way you want to practice as a dentist.”

“I need to know who the person is before we talk about treatment. If I can learn about the patient, their priorities and what type of treatment they expect, then I’m better able to connect and deliver the care they need.”

Initial conversations are personally done by Dr. Willhide, not his staff, and he also likes to call and follow up after any invasive procedures. A lot of patients have multiple systemic issues and he likes to know that their overall health is also alright.

Dr. Willhide as a Green Beret

Dr. Willhide firmly believes in continuing education for both himself and his staff; not only clinical training but administrative training as well. Their study is not limited to updated technology training but also OSHA, HIPPA and Insurance.

Dr. Willhide’s fascination to learn and remain technologically advanced in the field of dentistry, has strengthened his commitment to help veterans resolve sleep disorders. Dr. Willhide is one of about 15 dentists in Virginia approved by the US Department of Veterans Affairs to provide appliances to veterans with sleep apnea. He explains how the technology within dentistry is what makes it such a fascinating and engaging field and why he is always eager to learn new ways to deliver care in the digital world.

Willhide goes on to say, “Treatment for Sleep Apnea goes beyond Veterans and our practice gets referrals from physicians in sleep medicine practices to fabricate sleep appliances. We believe we are saving lives in this part of our practice, as the effects of Sleep Apnea can be devastating. An oral appliance used for the treatment of sleep apnea is much more comfortable and user friendly than a C-Pap. Thus patients are generally more compliant in its use. A C-Pap not in use on the bed stand all night leaves the patient at greater risk.

Although we have looked at and diagnosed Malocclusion for years, new research has shown that repositioning teeth not only allows better function, but can create more room for the tongue, which impacts Sleep Apnea.

Thus the use of Invisalign to realign, level and derotate teeth also aids in preventing periodontal disease which can contribute to systemic issues such as arterial and heart disease. Dr. Willhide believes that the dental profession is contributing more and more in treating systemic illnesses.

We are also members of the of the Spear Institute, which not only teaches advanced clinical dentistry, but with the acquisition with Pride Institute, it now includes Practice Management in its curriculum. This aids us in managing our practices efficiently so that we can devote our attention to more effectively treat patients with this wonderful new technology. What a beautiful combination!”

Now an octogenarian, Dr. Willhide does not have any immediate plans to retire from the practice he has caringly built during his extensive career as a dentist.

Upon graduation from the School of Dentistry at the Medical College of Virginia, Dr. Willhide began his career in the U.S. Army Dental Corps for 4 years as a Green Beret. During his service, he obtained specialized experience in dentistry, rotating through specialty programs in periodontics, oral surgery, endodontics, and prosthodontics that help him offer all these services to patients.

“Not enough young dentists go into the armed services once they graduate,” Dr. Willhide says. “It was an invaluable experience to have before going into private practice. I highly recommend even an internship that would provide a great way to experience dentistry in ways that will help train dentists for the rest of their career,” Dr. Willhide advises.

Dr. Willhide’s advice for new dentists is to have specific aspirations, “Get a vision for both your life and the way you want to practice as a dentist.” Personal relationships with patients matter. Dentists graduating today experience different issues than he experienced decades ago. But, what still matters is the need for patients to have trust in their doctor. This type of care delivered at Heritage Dental helps contribute to the positive doctor-patient relationship that Dr. Willhide provides to every single one of his patients.

The goal at Dr. John Willhide’s practice is to, deliver the kind of outstanding experience that will exceed your expectations – from the moment you come through our door, to the moment you leave.

John W. Willhide, DDS, founded Heritage Dental in Fredericksburg, Virginia in 1979. He has been a practicing dentist for 52 years and intends to remain dedicated to patients not retirement.

Dr. Willhide has been an active member in the Rappahannock Dental Society, The Northern Virginia Dental Society, The Virginia Dental Association because he believes that in order to make a contribution to the profession of dentistry, you must get involved. He is also Fellow of the VDA, The American College of Dentists, The International College of Dentists, The Pierre Fauchard Academy and The Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.


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