Faith, Integrity, and “Tooth Talk” Help Dental Business Shine
By Cynthia Yeldell Anderson
NASHVILLE, TN — Nashville dentist Dr. Jacqueline Butler Mitchell, affectionately known as the “Tooth Talk” lady is celebrating 15 years of business ownership of one of the largest and most successful black-owned dental practices in Tennessee.
Integrity Dental opened in May 2004 with one staff member and two dental chairs in a 1,000-square-foot space. By 2013, Dr. Mitchell had expanded her practice in Nashville and Smyrna, becoming the first black female general dentist in the state of Tennessee to have three practices open simultaneously.
Today, after merging her three practices under one roof, Dr. Butler Mitchell operates Integrity Dental Care in a 4,500-square-foot location inside Southern Hills Hospital with nine dental chairs and more than a dozen employees.
“I was a start-up practice, that means I started from scratch, with no patients” said Dr. Mitchell who now sees approximately 30-40 patients each day. I am very grateful for the growth overall. God has blessed me with the gift to be a dentist and a business owner and I don’t take it for granted. The three things that have impacted my success are: my trust and belief in God, supportive friends that are positive thinkers, and a dedicated staff who believe in and support my vision.
Dr. Mitchell is author of the popular “Tooth Talk” features in the Tennessee Tribune. Weekly, she answers questions such as: What can cause bleeding gums? How to find a good dentist? and Why use an electric toothbrush?
Recently, she expanded the segment to radio. In March, weekly “Tooth Talk” segments began airing on 92.Q radio station in conjunction with the printed newspaper articles on Wednesdays in The Tennessee Tribune.
Dr. Mitchell said “Tooth Talk” is an important platform for her to educate the community on the importance of oral health including brushing, flossing, diet, and preventative dental care.
“My office is in a melting pot and the sector of people we see come from all walks of life and many take for granted the need of going to the dentist,” Dr. Mitchell said. “Many people just don’t go to the dentist until they have a problem. We want to educate the parents and children and begin to break the generational curse of only going to the dentist when you have a toothache. My staff and I are planting seeds of the importance of going to the dentist twice a year for checkups.
A member of Mt. Zion Church, Dr. Butler Mitchell said God ordered her steps 15 years ago when her pastor and friend, Bishop Joseph Walker, III preached a series on encouraging one to step out on faith to be a business owner and to set a plan into motion.
Bishop Walkers teachings “inspired me to put a business plan together and to step out on faith to start my first dental practice.” This was a leap of faith because I had taught at a dental school in Dallas, Texas for 6 years and worked as a dentist in Dickson, TN for 1 year, but had never owned a business before, much less started a business. I thank God for his grace and mercy. God has truly opened doors of opportunity for me and I thank him daily.
Work ethic is the key to Dr. Mitchell’s success. Each morning she arrives at her office at 5:45 a.m., more than an hour before her employees arrive for work, and her day usually ends after 6pm. Dr. Butler Mitchell named her business Integrity Dental Care because she takes owning a business serious and she does her best to treat her staff and patients as she would want to be treated. An example of her integrity is she is adamant about paying her employees and her bills on time. “She said her staff and vendors must be paid first before she pays herself.” “I’ve heard the stories of how Blacks are always late paying, and I wanted to change that stereotype as a “Black Business Owner.”
As a 1995 graduate of Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry, Dr. Mitchell credits Meharry professors such as Dr. William Butler and Dr. James Tyus with instilling in her the skills she needed to be successful.
“I wouldn’t be as good of a dentist as I am today if I didn’t have that foundation from Meharry and the work ethic and values my parents instilled in me” said Dr. Mitchell.
She makes it a priority to give back to the community by sponsoring various events at Mt. Zion Church, National Black Police Association’s Thanksgiving and Christmas events, a free lunch program for the kids during the summer, developed a Senior citizen program that includes free dental screenings and educating them on their dental needs, provides scholarships for Meharry dental students, and each year her office distributes 300 backpacks to children in the community surrounding her dental practice. During this Back to School event, her staff provides free dental screenings and a report card that lets parents know if their child needs to visit a dentist.
This month a new dentist, Dr. Candace Murphy Reddick, will begin working at Integrity Dental Care under the leadership of Dr. Mitchell.
Dr. Mitchell said she is looking forward to working with and mentoring Dr. Murphy Reddick and other young dentists, and I’m believing God will continue to add more employees to the practice as we increase our family of patients.