Forest Groves Vaughn Tidwell accepts Doctors in the Community award

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Vaughn Tidwell still gets excited when talking about dentistry, even after three decades. After more than three decades, Vaughn Tidwell still considers dentistry his greatest passion and his favorite hobby.

Recently, his enthusiasm was recognized with a “Doctors in the Community” award, a national decoration recognizing the top-rated doctors in communities large and small.

A short video summarizing Tidwell’s skills and mission statement appeared, among other screenings, on NBC and the Today Show. It introduces “highly recommended doctors to the community, which will make it easier for residents to select the right healthcare professional,” reads part of the award’s mission statement.

“It means a lot to me to have been selected for it,” said Tidwell, a Forest Grove Rotary Club member, who pointed out it could “bring people into dentistry who would otherwise not seek service. It’s to demonstrate our passion so the public can see us as people.”

Winners are chosen for popular rankings from patients on review websites and other leading independent health care rating companies; professional qualifications and reputation, including education, residency, board certification, hospital appointment and disciplinary record; and skills such as listening and communicating effectively with patients, demonstrating empathy and instilling trust and confidence.

With a new honor to tack onto his resume, an up-and-coming clinic in Idaho and a brand new cone-beam machine that is reputed to be able to diagnose once undetectable ailments, Tidwell is feeling pretty good about his 32 years in dentistry and 31 years in Forest Grove.

If a 12-year-old Tidwell had never sat in an Idaho dentist’s chair after a bike accident, he likely would have lacked the inspiration to become an award-winning dentist. But as it happened, Tidwell set his sights on a goal early on while he had his mouth repaired.

“It’s so cool to be able to help people and improve their quality of life,” said Tidwell. “I live for it.”

Of his many patients who have entered his office in despair and left with relief, Tidwell recalls one woman who sought him out for a second opinion. While an X-ray pointed to yet another root canal procedure, scans from Tidwell’s cone beam machine revealed a cyst, saving her the pain and expense of another unnecessary and ineffective surgery.

“It brings us to a whole new level,” Tidwell said. “We’re able to diagnose more accurately because we’re able to see things much more clearly.”

“It allows me to see inside the area in 3D,” Tidwell said. “I can see the bone quality, the height and thickness of the bone, and inside the teeth; I can see the roots and the inside of roots.”

Tidwell opens his machine — which he said emits less radiation than an X-ray and costs less than a CT scan — up to other area dentists and doctors who want to use the technology.

About once a month, Tidwell travels to Idaho to work in his second practice near McCall, a resort town, two and a half hours away from Boise, where residents can find the closest dental clinic.

The clinic Tidwell literally built himself operates on a sliding fee scale, offering different rates to clients depending on their incomes and means.

After spending time in McCall as a child, Tidwell didn’t have any trouble picking the spot for his second home. It also didn’t hurt that Tidwell calls McCall the water and snow skiing capital of the country — a few of his other hobbies.

Three decades after driving around trying to find a nice place to live, Tidwell is glad to have made his home where “warm, friendly, beautiful and authentic people” have become part of his life.

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