McAllister Dentistry - Jessie
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you decide on Dentistry? (vs. Med School)
I always thought I would go to Medical School. My grandfather was a surgeon here in Ottawa and worked at the Civic Hospital. It was my dream to follow in his footsteps. I studied Biomedical Science at the University of Ottawa and I was accepted into both Medical School and Dental School. I ultimately decided to pursue a career in Dentistry and I have never looked back. Dentistry is a combination of all things that I love: health sciences, helping people and being creative. I excel in and enjoy the artistic aspect of Dentistry. I have the opportunity to create works of art and help people feel confident in their smiles every day!
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
My biggest challenge to date was dealing with a change of ownership at my former dental office - where I had worked for many years. I had established strong professional relationships at that office and it was difficult to step aside when the practice was sold to a new group. However, this was also a blessing in disguise. This was a catalyst that encouraged me to rediscover my own aspirations as a dental service provider. I came across a commercial space that was available and I began the journey of creating my new dental office, McAllister Dentistry. We built this clinic from the ground up, with the hopes of changing the way people view dentistry. We wanted the office to be a small, family-run business where we could truly care for our patients and take the time to get to know everyone who walked through our doors.
What makes McAllister Dentistry unique or different compared to other dental offices?
We focus on a biological or holistic dentistry approach which is founded on the principle that the whole body is connected. We take this into consideration when making treatment recommendations and educating our patients. There is a link between overall health and dental health (and vice versa). The two cannot be considered independent of one another and we must ensure that they are in harmony. We have partnered with a local holistic nutritionist to help provide advice regarding which foods can affect your overall health and teeth! We also consider patients' concerns when it comes to the removal of amalgam or mercury containing fillings. We have procedures and protocols in place to ensure that this is done safely and effectively.
What does Ottawa bring to your business?
Ottawa is a great community with great people and local business owners. I have been very fortunate to receive a lot of support from my friends, family and colleagues. I was born and raised in Ottawa so I have established a strong network of people who believe in me and want to see me succeed.
Is dentistry competitive in Ottawa?
Dentistry in Ottawa is becoming increasingly competitive due to the presence of large corporate businesses taking over the industry. This trend is saturating the market and making it difficult for small, local businesses to compete. The problem with corporate dental is that there is often a lack of connection and consistency for the patients. In fact, the business owner may not even be a dentist at all. They often hire the staff and create a clinic, but they are not involved in the day to day care of their patients. I want to change this way of practicing dentistry and I would like to see a return to the local, independently-run dental clinics. At McAllister Dentistry, we take the time to get to know each and every patient personally and we treat them as family!
When you aren’t helping create healthier smiles, what do you do with your free time?
In my free time I enjoy getting outside to experience all that Ottawa has to offer. My husband and I go skiing in the winter and take long bike rides in the summer. I have to give credit to my husband for making me branch out and try different activities. I can sometimes get caught up in my work and become a workaholic. He definitely balances me and helps me to realize the importance of enjoying the small things in life.
Do you have a favourite Ottawa business? Perhaps a place you grab coffee or lunch?
I have many favourite Ottawa businesses. I am particularly inspired by local female entrepreneurs. I have followed the story of Pure Yoga and Pure Kitchen from the beginning and I try to support them whenever I can. These two women started out as young entrepreneurs with a great idea and a dream. They worked hard, established a brand, and created a very loyal following. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, they have helped people in our community become more health-conscious and aware of the importance of living a balanced lifestyle.
As a business owner what keeps you up at night?
There are many stresses that come with owning a business. The most difficult aspect for me is ensuring the well-being of everyone around me: including my staff, my patients and my family. It is a large responsibility to take care of others. I must take on many roles within my organization and also in my personal life. Finding balance is key and it is often something that I struggle with as a business owner.
What is your number one tip for avoiding cavities?
We focus on providing nutritional advice and oral hygiene instruction to help patients avoid cavities. Prevention is key! The stereotypical dental response would be to ‘brush and floss your teeth daily’. But the truth is, that’s only half the battle. There are several other important factors in maintaining oral health. We like to focus on a more holistic approach. We partnered with a local nutritionist to provide some dietary advice. A few good tips would be to avoid foods with added sugar, especially foods that will get stuck in your teeth. We also recommend to avoid snacking or sipping on sugary drinks whenever possible. The longer that sugar sits on your teeth, the more likely it is to form a cavity. If you have a sweet tooth and need an occasional treat, eat it with a meal! Your saliva contains protective factors that will help wash away sugar when eaten with other foods. If you are looking for an alternative snack that is healthier for your teeth, try vegetables, nuts or cheese.
Why do you think Ottawa is the greatest place to live?
Ottawa is the greatest place to live because it has a smaller, tighter knit community than some larger metropolitan cities. We often find new local restaurants, shops and other businesses which tend to receive tremendous support from the community. There are many networking opportunities and we have a strong, supportive business presence. The city is also surrounded by nature which makes it easy to get outside and enjoy all the activities that Ottawa has to offer, when you are not working on your business.
Oral hygiene is important for pets as well as humans. As a fellow dog owner, your pup must have some clean teeth?! :)
Ironically, my dog hates it when I try to brush her teeth! She also has allergies so we can’t give her any dental cleaning products. This makes it difficult for us to ensure that she receives adequate oral hygiene care. As an alternative to commercial products, we give her naturally shed antlers which help clean her teeth as she chews. We also visit the vet regularly to ensure her oral hygiene is up to date.
Giving back to the community is part of your professional and personal life. Do you have a favourite charity here in Ottawa?
Dentistry can be costly and it is not always accessible to everyone. For this reason, I spent many years volunteering with the PODS mobile dental clinic. We travelled to local shelters and community associations to provide basic oral hygiene and dental care to young, single mothers and their children. We need to educate these susceptible patient groups to prevent cavities and improve their oral health. We want these young people to grow up to be successful, self-sufficient members of our community and we understand that they need access to proper care. If they feel good about themselves and can smile confidently, we know that we’ve done our job!