Joe Young also teaches at two community colleges
In Joe Young's dental office in King City is a framed poster for the 1949 movie, "Mighty Joe Young," which sometimes gives his patients pause.
Since Young happens to have the same name as the famous gorilla from both that movie and a 1998 remake, he likes to have a little fun with it. However, except for the gorilla references, Young's dental practice has continued in much the same way as that of longtime dentist John Chessar, from whom Young purchased the practice in October 2012.
Young said that he pretty much decided to become a dentist at a (forgive the pun) very young age.
"I was born in Utah, and my family moved to Lake Oswego when I was 8 years old," he said. "My parents still live there, and I live there. I always wanted to be a dentist, and since high school, I mostly worked to become one."
Young graduated with a degree in biology from Brigham Young University-Idaho, where he met his future wife Amanda; also during his college years, he went on a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Costa Rica in Central America. From BYU, Young went to the Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry and fulfilled his dream of becoming a dentist.
Along the way, Young and Amanda, a registered nurse, have had five children - Benjamin, 9; Matthew, 7; Jacob, 5; Rebekah, 3; and Elisabeth, 9 months - and Amanda also works part time in his office.
Before Young settled in King City, he worked in a variety of settings, starting with a one-year hospital residency in the emergency room at Queens Medical Center in Hawaii. Surprisingly, patients need emergency dental work in hospitals, under such circumstances as getting their teeth knocked out in bar fights.
Back on the Mainland, Young worked for a pediatric oral surgeon in Washington for another year, noting, "A lot of his patients were mentally handicapped adults, who no longer were pediatric patients but fell between pediatrics and adult care - it was a really good experience."
Also, Young said that in his King City practice, some of his patients have had cancer or other serious incidents so their teeth have been affected by medications, radiation and chemotherapy.
His office is open five days a week, and he also teaches dental hygiene students at Chemeketa Community College and Portland Community College.
Young explained that in the U.S., dental hygienists are getting more autonomy and doing more than just cleaning teeth these days - they are administering anesthesia and also doing drilling and fillings.
The Oregon Institute of Technology in conjunction with PCC sends a group of students who have nearly completed the two-year dental-hygiene program on a dental mission to a developing country every year.
"The students choose the country to go to, plan the trip and fundraise," Young said. "Last November six students, a dental hygiene instructor and I went to Liberia in West Africa for two-plus weeks on a dental mission.
"We teamed with Medical Teams International in Tigard, which provided us with a lot of the equipment and supplies we needed. I worked in an established clinic and during that time, I removed 100 teeth and did 20 fillings. The students set up a mobile clinic at two different schools and an orphanage.
"I like doing that type of service dentistry ever since I spent two years in Costa Rica. In fact, I got a new non-electric dental chair that is portable that I plan to take into nursing homes to work on residents' teeth."
In Liberia, which has 6 million people and about six dentists, according to Young, dental therapists do the work.
"While they have no college degrees, they train for a year in India and back home to do extractions and fillings," he said. "They were doing extractions as fast as I was. I think dental therapists is the way to go in Liberia. It had a 14-year civil war, which ended about one year ago, and most of the professionals fled the country."
Beyond Young's education, training, humanitarian work and teaching, he received the Academy of General Dentistry Association's Fellowship Award during its 2013 annul meeting. To accomplish this goal, Young had to complete 500 hours of continuing dental education and pass a comprehensive exam.
Young, who actually completed 600 hours in the last five years, said, "Three years is the minimum time to get that award, and the next level is the mastership, which requires 1,100 hours of education."
But no matter his professional accomplishments, Young said, "My family is the highlight of my life - that's why I do what I do."
Young's boys are involved in Cub Scouts and basketball, and he joined the King City Lions Club almost as soon as he hit King City. "They helped fund the African trip," said Young, adding that another dental mission to Honduras in July is on the horizon.