Dr. Rebekah Lucier-Pryles, of White River Junction, Vermont, is among the recipients of this year’s 10 Under 10 awards, which recognizes new dentists who demonstrate excellence early in their careers. Dr. Lucier-Pryles co-founded Pulp Nonfiction Endodontics, an educational collaborative that provides evidence-based endodontic continuing education. She is also a postgraduate department assistant clinical professor at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and teaches at the Harvard University School of Dental Medicine.
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.
Looking to have a more direct impact on people’s lives, Dr. Rebekah Lucier-Pryles found herself in pursuit of a career in dentistry after a conversation with a friend's parent. And after spending some time at their practice, Dr. Pryles soon began her journey into dental school and discovered endodontics to be, “a beautiful mix of emergency diagnostics and really collaborative care”.
“I remember my second year at Tufts, sitting in an endodontics class, and just having a really good time,” Dr. Pryles said. “I was engaged. I was interested. I just really enjoyed what I was doing clinically. And thinking to myself that I didn’t realize work could be that enjoyable. And it was that moment that sent me down the path to endodontics. Just realizing that I could have fun.”
And in 2013, after completing her postdoctoral program in endodontics at Tufts University, she committed herself to the field.
Since graduating, Dr. Pryles divides her time between private practice and teaching at both Tuft’s post-graduate endodontics residency and Harvard University. In her practice that she co-owns with business partner, Dr. Brooke Blicher, she focuses on root canal therapy and endodontic treatment. Dr. Pryles stated that she is grateful to have found her Dr. Blicher and that they have, "crafted a clinical practice that provides what I think is exceptional care to patients."
"Just to be able to work with her on a daily basis makes me incredibly proud of what we have done together,” she added. “And I am excited to see what happens next."
Reflecting on meaningful partnerships, Dr. Pryles notes the relationship she has with the physicians at the local hospital.
"We have developed an inter-professional practice with the ENT practice and neurology because so many of the pain syndromes and sinus conditions that show up have a dental component,” Dr. Pryles said. “We have educated the physicians on what we do and have been able to refer patients in need of service to them as well.”
Another collaboration that Dr. Pryles is proud of is being a part of the Vermont Dental Society’s COVID-19 response team along with their executive board.
“[The team] worked incredibly close together during the dental shutdown to communicate what was going on to membership, as well as helping them to get necessary PPE, and helping Vermont dentists respond to this challenging experience,” she said. “I helped dentists from all over the state with this, and feel that it is something that I’m really proud of. It’s work that is continuing and it’s just great to have people to rely on to do that.”
As for how endodontics has changed her, Dr. Pryles said it has made her feel more confident in her clinical and diagnostic abilities.
“I have fallen more in love with dentistry and it has been confirmed as the right choice for me,” she said, adding she has learned how people can be energized by their career rather than just satisfying it. “In both clinical practice, academic, and in organized dentistry, I enjoy all of the aspects. It’s been a really fun surprise.”
“I get to go into the office and help others feel better in a very real and meaningful way,” she said on how she has affected the lives of her patients. “So whether it’s providing that care for my patients or teaching the residents how to provide that care in a compassionate way, it’s a really lovely feeling to have such a direct impact on somebody’s life.”
Along with her patients, Dr. Pryles has also found great joy in teaching.
“Teaching right out of school has been an incredible experience and the relationships that I have developed with the residents is something that I really value,” she said. She advises fellow dental professionals to consider even part-time work in academics because it can have an incredible impact on dentistry and dental practitioners, and help more patients as a result.
Looking into the future, Dr. Pryles said, “Professionally, I think the future holds continued clinical practice. It’ll be really interesting to see how part-time educators fit into dental education now and in the future, especially with what’s going on with COVID. And I certainly hope to be a part of that change.”
Outside of her professional life, Dr. Pryles is married and has two children, and says of their future, “I'm really excited to see my family grow, I have two small kids, a four-year-old and a nine-month-old, and am excited to see what they become in their lives.”