Editor's note: The American Dental Association is seeking nominations through Dec. 31 to recognize 10 new dentists in 2021. Honorees will receive a $1,000 gift card and be recognized in various ADA publications and channels. For more information or to nominate a new dentist, visit ADA.org/10under10.
One of Dr. Wade Banner’s main goals — as well as for his staff and colleagues — is to continue finding better ways to serve vulnerable populations.
Recognizing that access to dental care for patients with special needs, disabilities, and the elderly can be difficult, Dr. Banner has made portable dentistry—which allows him to reach these patients — a sole focus.
“One thing I've always liked doing, and it’s something that my father really instilled in me, was doing service for people who need help,” said Dr. Banner, who credits his dental path to that wise piece of advice from his father. “And so, a strong part of me going into dentistry was being able to serve a community that is in need of a service.”
Dr. Wade Banner, a 2014 graduate from Western University of Health Sciences, College of Dental Medicine, has been practicing dentistry for six years. A family friend had introduced Dr. Banner to exploring dentistry as a career.
“Between the lifestyle that dentists had, in addition to the family and work balance, that's what really started to intrigue me and made me think about it more,” he said.
But the need to help vulnerable populations stayed at the forefront.
Early in his dental career, Dr. Banner began working with a non-profit Regional Centers in California that provided services for patients with special needs. He was also a faculty member at his alma mater, where he helped with setting up community clinics in elementary schools and treating kids. That helped him to understand the concept of portable dentistry. As time went on, he received an increased number of requests from those who lived in senior living facilities or who were unable to leave their homes.
“It can be difficult for some to find a dentist that will come to them,” Dr. Banner said, recognizing the need for portable dentistry. “In cases like this, patients find themselves having to make emergency room visits by ambulance or other methods of transportation, which can be challenging and costly.”
Because of the lack of dentists in the U.S. who are able to make house calls, Dr. Banner said, he’s looking at expanding to multiple locations outside of California while continuing to improve the service and care provided.
“Some of my patients have behaviors which would normally require them to be put to sleep for dental treatment,” he said. “And our goal is to prevent that, and reduce the increased medical risk that comes with it.”
“And even though it's a very challenging way of providing dentistry because you have to do an entire dental set up four to six times a day to be able to do fillings, extractions, crowns, or whatever the patient needs, it’s rewarding,” he added.
Dr. Banner credits his ability to think outside the box in solving a problem, especially in dental care, to his grandfather.
“My grandpa was always my childhood hero, and he continues to be my adult hero,” he said. He invented potato machinery, but before then, they dug potatoes by hand with shovels. As an entrepreneur, he just did things differently. So I try to take after him, by being an entrepreneur who does things outside of the mainstream.”