Straight Teeth Talk: Paula Deen's new career, new smile are ageless

Sept. 6, 2010 at 4:06 a.m.
Updated Sept. 7, 2010 at 4:07 a.m.

Mac Lee

Mac Lee

By Mac Lee, DDS

Recently, I was invited to go to Dr. Brad Durham's dental office in Savanna, Ga.

Durham is a world-renowned dentist, teacher and lecturer. I had only met him once before. I didn't know until I got to his stunning office in Savanna's Historical District that he transformed the smile of The Food Network's Paula Deen from crooked and yellow to a Regis Philbin-like, Hollywood smile.

For some, her beaming grin may be too much, but if you go to You Tube and type "Paula Deen dentist" you will see a video of her loving her new smile.

Durham didn't tell me much about Paula; he is too professional. He did show me her new restaurant in downtown Savanna and her home. Actually, he only lives a couple of houses down from her on the Wilmington River.

This is an old area of Savanna known for its huge oak trees that are covered with long, beautiful Spanish moss.

Doctors don't usually invite other practicing doctors into their office. So, unless you are a dentist, it may be hard to understand what an honor it was to have him invite me and another Texas dentist to practice.

Durham has a thriving practice and more than 20 years of experience in the dental industry, and although as much as I hate to admit it, that makes him quite a bit younger than me. His single intent for our meeting was to show us "old guys" how he has a better way to diagnose and treat patients. He took us under his wing, so to speak, to show us with one-on-one training, how we can do the same.

During our visit he saw many patients, all with different problems, i.e. severe headaches and neck aches, broken down teeth plus headaches, ground down teeth and even one whose teeth were destroyed because of bulimia.

Durham does what I have always tried to do with my patients, don't just treat the symptoms, do extra research and find the root of the patient's dental problem.

He measured the activity of the muscles that cause the jaw to move, he tracked the way the jaw moves while swallowing, opening, closing and chewing, all with new and fascinating tools specifically designed for dentists. This information gives the dentist more precise records that will ultimately help the patient get out of pain while getting a new smile.

Durham is not the only dentist using this new technology with great success. Two other well-known dentists, Dr. Curtis Westersund, of Calgary, Canada, and Dr. Tom Hedge, of Houston, also invited me to their practices for special instruction.

At the end of the Savanna trip, I asked Durham why me? Why did you go out of your way, lose a weekend and no telling how much money to do this?

He told me he had heard about me for many years, admired my work and wanted to get to know me and to share his knowledge that has helped him and his patients so much.

He also said that he admired the fact that I was energetic and intelligent, and wanted to keep learning and advancing my practice even though I'm already successful and have been around a while. Just like he said he truly admired Deen, still going strong in her 60s and expanding her businesses. He said he wanted to be like us and always grow and learn as he advanced in age.

What an honor. I used to think that people in their 60s should think about retiring, but I must be more like Deen - I feel my career is just getting started, and I am very excited about it.

Stay tuned for more about the advances in dentistry.

Mac Lee is a dentist in practice in Edna. He is the co-founder of Dentists Who Care, a national movement to educate the public on modern dentistry. If you have dental questions you can call him at 361-782-7191or visit him at



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