Clinician and Coach

Dr. ArNelle Wright shares what led her to pursue a career in dentistry and why she hopes to inspire other dentists.

By Jenna Hughes

Dr. ArNelle Wright’s earliest encounter receiving dental care was later than most. As a high school student experiencing dental pain, once she received that much-needed dental care, she was beyond grateful for the emotional well-being that came along with the visit. Her early dental experiences were impactful in such a way that led her to pursue a career in dentistry so that she too could improve people’s lives in the same way. 

Dr. ArNelle Wright

“In my own practice, I want patients to feel safe, cared for, respected, and worthy; in the same way that the dentist I saw took care of me,” said Dr. Wright, now a practicing clinician and dental career coach. 

Patients are often apprehensive to visit the dentist, as many anticipate pain and anxiety associated with dental procedures. Dr. Wright’s primary patient demographic includes patients in terminal dentition, which means these patients are at the point of losing all their teeth. As a result, these individuals are often frightened and anxious about their treatment, and sometimes avoid it altogether. Dr. Wright ensures that she meets each patient where they are, recognizing that their care comes at a crucial time in their lives. 

“There is a lot of emotion attached to losing your teeth, as patients view them as a part of who they are,” she said. “I take pride in explaining all the treatment options to the patient upfront, so that they make the best decision for their self-esteem, budget, long-term outcomes, and expectations.” 

Dr. Wright believes her ultimate job with terminal dentition cases is to be a bridge for the patient’s next step, which typically includes educating them and making them feel comfortable with their treatment options: do nothing, fabricate either complete dentures, partial dentures where applicable, or replace their teeth with an implant-supported restoration.

In and out of the operatory

Being a successful, trusted dentist requires not only extensive clinical expertise, but empathy for patients in their unique situation. Dr. Wright hosts coaching sessions to use what she has learned throughout her time in the profession to train, assist, and walk alongside other women dentists. 

For Dr. Wright, personal growth and development is at the forefront of each interaction within her career, be it with patients, auxiliary staff, or colleagues. Because it’s her passion, she piloted the “Being and Becoming Your Best” program, to help other dentists and dental practices focus on their patient care, while developing both their leadership and business acumen. 

“Being and Becoming Your Best [BBYB] is a community that provides coaching to individuals and groups of women ready to take their career to the next level,” Dr. Wright said. “We focus on leadership development, which includes generating buy-in from your dental team.” 

Within BBYB, Dr. Wright also consults dental teams on the culture piece to their practice, what it looks like in the day-to-day, and how it’s felt and recognized by patients. “It’s so important for dentists and licensed professionals to understand each role within their practice along with the ins and outs of their business,” she said. 

Verbal communication skills, clear expectations, a starting point to growth, and recognizing team needs are among the tools Dr. Wright brings to equip her clients for personalized success. “I also teach a course called C.R.E.A.T.E. the Culture, where I do a deep dive with the practice owner and the practice manager, separately and together, to get a clear understanding of what their expectations are concerning office culture, on both a leadership and team level. We start these sessions by identifying where they are currently (starting point), understanding their current pain points, while keeping team growth, practice growth, and patient care in mind, and we grow from there.” 

C.R.E.A.T.E. the Culture is her signature program that she wishes to share with women in dentistry, so that they start their careers as strong leaders, and pass the same torch on to their successor(s). 

Well-being in dentistry 

With her many responsibilities, Dr. Wright has come to realize the importance of personal and professional well-being. As a result, she is intentional about balancing both her clinical focus, and coaching practice. Dr. Wright encourages dentists during coaching sessions to check-in with themselves often by taking a step back, clarifying expectations, taking any personal time whether they “feel” it’s necessary and beneficial or not, and to give grace to their staff members. 

“I’m in clinical practice during the week, and usually I’m working with coaching clients after hours or on weekends,” she said. “It’s been a good balance, and thankfully I have a team and amazing support system to keep me organized. There were times, though, over the past three years that I was focusing on my many leadership requirements, and I couldn’t balance both. With time, I have learned when to say yes, when to defer, and when to say no, thank you.” 

Dr. Wright desires to partner with recent graduates and younger dentists who have the confidence to speak up and ask for career guidance. She aspires for her coaching clients to perform at their highest level and remain open to evolving into who they need to be for the next step in their careers. 

“What I ultimately want people to know about me is that it’s a big world out there in dentistry, and there are so many opportunities for people to grow as leaders, to grow as speakers, and to take a personalized, independent route in addition to the practice of clinical dentistry.”

The Power of Mentorship
Mentors have the power to guide and help dentists grow within their careers. Dr. Wright realized early on in her career the importance of having someone to talk to that also understands the field of dentistry. She believes being built up by other experienced professionals in the field better equips dentists for long-term success. Dr. Wright also developed a program of her own that mentors aspiring dentists, while guiding them through a future career in the industry. For more information about Dr. Wright, you can find and connect with her on LinkedIn, at her website, or on Instagram where she is socially known as @thedailydentist.