Making People Smile
In his junior year of high school, Fred Thurston ’76, DDS’79 made two goals for his career: to make people smile and to be self-employed. For him, the obvious choice to meet both goals, the first one truly, was dentistry. As a pre-dental student at UF, Thurston took a chemistry class with Professor William Dolbier.
“I loved his class,” says Thurston. Dolbier became his mentor, recommending him for dental school and, three decades later, for the Leadership Board of the UF Chemistry Department. Thurston accepted and continues to promote an education in chemistry. “When you go to college and doctoral school, you find out that learning is a lifetime experience.”
Thurston graduated in 1976 with a BS in chemistry and a doctorate of dental medicine in 1979. “A degree in chemistry opens up so many doors,” he says. “I did not realize how many fields it could propel your career toward.” Still, Thurston kept his goal of going into business for himself. “You start the 80-hour weeks to work 40 hours,” he says. “You invest a lot of time to be successful on your own.” The investment certainly has paid off. In 1980, Thurston opened his private practice, Thurston Comprehensive Dental Center in Auburndale, Fla. Appropriately for a chemistry alumnus-owned business, the clinic has a state-of-the-art laboratory producing dental implants and prides itself on a patient-centered approach. People notice and appreciate the attention to detail. On Google, where Thurston receives rave reviews, one patient wrote, “I never thought in my lifetime that I would say, ‘I had fun at the dentist’s office.’ I have put off going to the dentist for several years due to my fear of the pain. Now I can’t wait for my next visit. This will be my ‘dentist family’ from now on.”
“Dentistry is being able to help people with their general health — their smile, their self-esteem,” Thurston says.