“We are like a family, all working together.”

by Kathy Van Mullekom

Talented people make a business run smoothly and successfully. No one knows that better than Dr. Kelly Paxton of Midgette Family Dentistry in Chesapeake. As a dentist, first and foremost, Kelly works with a team of dental assistants, hygienists, and front desk administrators to keep her patients healthy and happy.

"We are like a family, all working together," she says of the practice's 25-member staff. "We would not be able to keep this office going without the hard work of every team member. Each member takes care of what they do best so that our doctors can provide high-quality dental care."
 An all-female team of dental hygienists helps Dr. Paxton, Dr. Brian Midgette, Dr. James Baker, and Dr. Ryan Shuck to ensure complete care from start to finish. "When you have good people working with you, it's very rewarding," she smiles.

Kelly has been with the practice since 2006. After graduation from the University of Detroit Mercy's School of Dentistry in her home state of Michigan, Virginia's blue skies and temperate climate attracted her and her husband, Robert.
Kelly also valued the well-known reputation of Midgette Family Dentistry, which has been in the Western Branch area of Chesapeake for more than four decades. In addition to routine dental care, the dental office is valued for its technology and specialties. Patients needing crowns appreciate the time-and-money-saving CEREC technology-a computer-assisted process that images, designs, and produces the crown in the office on the same day.

"Most of our crowns made in office are made of a glass-ceramic material called lithium disilicate," Kelly points out. "This is a metal-free material that is stronger than regular porcelain crowns. It blends very well with a patient's natural teeth, and very few materials can beat its strength."
 Midgette Family Dentistry's doctors also provide popular cosmetic services, including virtually invisible braces known as Invisalign, teeth whitening, cosmetic fillings, contouring, bridges, specialty dentures, dental implants, and veneers.  

After nearly 14 years at Midgette Family Dentistry, Kelly was at the point in her career where she had the confidence to solve any problem that came her way.

Then came COVID-19-the biggest challenge that she and everyone at the practice had faced so far.

"One day, we were seeing patients, as usual; the next, the governor is closing all dental offices," she recalls. "We didn't know what kind of virus we were up against, so we had to re-examine our protocols."

At first, only dentists were deemed essential to handle emergency dental needs. Elective dental procedures were put on hold, and most of the staff stayed home.

"I'm grateful we were able to help so many people in pain. We helped keep a lot of people out of the hospital emergency rooms," she recalls. "When new safety measures were put in place, we made sure we had all the tools we needed-special protective gowns and face and eye shields-so that we could reopen ."

In May, the practice resumed with a modified schedule and performing all dental procedures. Patients are screened for COVID symptoms and are safeguarded with extra precautions such as an enhanced air-filtration system and aerosol-reducing devices chairside.
"Many viruses are transmitted via blood and saliva," Kelly explains. "Because of the infection controls that were standard in dental offices, we were already ahead of the game. We already wore surgical masks for all treatment. We also receive yearly training on how to protect ourselves and our patients. We have added more precautions that we will continue after the pandemic is over.

"I hope I am a positive role model
for my boys.
I want them to know
that a woman can be a professional
and still be a loving and supportive mother at home."
 -Dr. Kelly Paxton

Dr. Kelly Paxton

"We have been very strict with our guidelines because they are important for the safety of patients coming to our office and our employees," Kelly continues. "We are going beyond the recommended 15-day quarantine and not seeing patients for 30 days after a positive COVID test. We are doing this because we cannot have patients wear masks while we are working on their mouths."  

Looking back over the year of working through a pandemic, Kelly is proud of how the patients have responded to the practice's enhanced safety protocols. "Patients, from age 2 to 90, have returned and felt comfortable doing so," she adds with a smile. "It amazes me how all our patients have trusted us. Some people say this is the only place they've been to since the pandemic started."

Kelly also praises the mostly-female staff for helping each other through the months of challenges, especially during those times when many of them had to stay home to be with children who could not go to in-person school or daycare.

"It's been a tough year, but we've all been here for each other," she asserts with pride.   
Kelly always knew she wanted to be a dentist, thanks to the inspiration and loving care she received from her childhood dentist.  All the dentists she saw growing up were male, but that never discouraged her from following her dream.

Kelly realizes just how perfect the profession is for her-and for any woman looking to forge her own life-work balance. She appreciates being able to work from eight to five and finish in time to make it to her children's after-school events. "This is a very family-friendly profession," she observes.

Kelly is also grateful for the job security that goes along with the profession.
"People will always need a dentist," she says. "But the greatest reward is knowing that you can fix a problem from start to finish and seeing the final results."

On the home front, this dedicated doctor values the support she gets from her husband, Robert, who, like many, now works from home.

Thankfully, their sons have continued mostly in-person school throughout the pandemic. The boys are learning to be independent and helpful around the house, even with some simple cooking. Neither talks about dentistry as a profession-not yet at least, and Kelly is okay with that. She believes her desire to have a career outside the home will help them make their future career decisions.

"I hope I am a positive role model for my boys," Kelly concludes. "I want them to know that a woman can be a professional and still be a loving and supportive mother at home."

Office Manager Lynn Cipcic and Dr. Kelly Paxton

Midgette Family Dentistry

3326 Taylor Road
Chesapeake, VA 23321