Dr. Stephen Smart of Impact Oral Surgery Unpacks Positive Experience with Rock Dental Brands, Not a “Typical DSO”

Dr Smart in lab coat Headshot Rock Dental Brands

When Rock Dental Brands first showed interest in my practice, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Typically, DSOs have a negative reputation and are notorious for limiting your professional freedom by interfering with treatment plans, causing staff turnover rates to increase and more. This is far from the case for Rock Dental Brands. The truth is, Rock Dental Brands is not a typical DSO – they are a support system that has positively impacted my practice by supporting my staff and professional freedom while also giving me peace of mind by helping me map out future retirement and succession plans.

Staff Support and Opportunities

One of my biggest hesitations with selling my practice to Rock Dental Brands was my staff. I have a very close group of employees who all helped lead my practice to success, and the last thing I wanted to do was leave them in the wrong hands. The Rock Dental Brands team made it clear that they had my employees’ best interests in mind and they would be taken care of, which was a huge relief. Not only do they offer support to my staff, but Rock Dental Brands can provide additional opportunities for my team that they wouldn’t have had without this partnership. The opportunities for advancement, relocation and more were also a major benefit of joining Rock Dental Brands.

Rock never showed any limitations and assured me I didn’t have to change a thing about the way I practice. This meant I was able to show up to work as I always have and take care of my patients as I always have without the pressure of interference or difference of opinion regarding treatment plans.

No More Stress About What Will Happen When I Retire

An obvious benefit of selling your practice is a better work-life balance; talk about a weight off your shoulders. When you’re running a practice, even if you have a great office team, there are so many administrative factors that you have to consider every day. Now, I only have the responsibility of producing, which is what I like to do the most. But another dramatic change in my stress levels is no more fear of the future – no more worrying about what I’ll do with my practice when I’m ready to retire or if something happens to me – and I think that is a common concern in this industry once you get to a certain point. And now, I don’t have to worry about that. That load off of my back is just as significant as the lack of day-to-day administrative responsibility.

Rock Dental Brands is Not a “Typical DSO”

After joining Rock Dental Brands, I was afraid that I would see a significant drop in referrals. Most providers have a negative perception of DSO groups and how they interfere with treatment plans and ultimately the patient suffers from that. I was afraid that would interfere with my referral doctors continuing to work with me, but that has not been the case. The truth is, Rock Dental Brands is not a regular DSO. Their priority is making sure their providers offer the highest quality of patient care and they trust that I will take care of my patients. I am able to show up to work as I always have and take care of my patients without the pressure of interference or difference of opinion regarding treatment plans.

About Dr. Smart

Dr. Stephen Smart provides service to our El Dorado location. Dr. Smart received a bachelor’s degree in radio and television from Arkansas State University and went on to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center where he received his Doctorate of Dental Surgery. While serving in the Army in Germany, Dr. Smart gained hands-on experience in the operating room under the supervision of oral surgeon, Dr. Jim Ruggles, and then completed his Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery residency at Letterman Army Medical Center in San Francisco.

Dr. Susan Sherrick of Westrock Orthodontics Speaks to Benefits of Dental Practice Management Groups

Dr. Susan Sherrick shares her experience with affiliating her orthodontic clinic with Rock Dental Brands, which has allowed her to grow her practice while keeping her focus on providing the highest quality of orthodontic care.

When I opened my practice twenty-two years ago, I was energized by my passion to practice orthodontics in Rolla, Missouri. While my passion for orthodontistry always remained, the stress of administrative responsibilities and day-to-day business operations began to take away from the reason myself and all providers go into this field: to solely focus on delivering quality care to patients.

The decision to affiliate with Rock Dental Brands was easy. They are a dental practice management group that is founded by dentists and focuses on putting patients first. This affiliation has not only relieved harrowing administrative tasks, but also allowed me to keep my professional autonomy and set my own schedule. All of this, plus Rock Dental Brands’ proven track record, I am able to trust them to do the right thing for my practice and my patients.

Work-Life Balance Restored

It is no secret that one of the biggest pain points of owning and operating a private practice is the all-consuming administrative tasks that are required. These tasks not only carry stress on a provider’s shoulders but also require countless late nights in the office and ultimately less time to enjoy life outside of work, which leads to burnout. With the support of Rock Dental Brands, I created my own schedule and have restored a work-life balance that allows me to solely focus on patient care during the day and enjoy my time outside of the office. The ability to completely unplug from work during my time off allows me to come into the office energized and focused on my patients, and late nights in the office being buried under administrative responsibilities are in the past.

Maintaining Professional Autonomy

Seeing firsthand how Rock Dental Brands supports their providers professional autonomy was another relief. Rock Dental Brands trusts me and my team to determine the best decisions for our patients, without influencing treatment plans. This professional freedom allows my team to offer the most effective treatment for each patient without interference, approval or conflicting opinions. I come into work every day prepared to make the best decisions for my patients, without the stress of providing daily production numbers or treatment plan interference. 

A Dental Practice Management Group You Can Trust
From the beginning, Rock Dental Brands treated myself and my staff with care and as valuable members of their team. My entire staff, most of whom had been with me for ten years, all stayed because they were treated right by Rock Dental Brands. Having the same team and delivering the same standard of patient care with the support and trust of Rock Dental Brands, made every step of the process seamless. Now our office continues to see more new patients without the heavy lifting on my end through the support of the Rock Dental team. I focus on my patients and trust Rock Dental Brands to take care of the rest.

Affiliating with Rock Dental Brands has offered more stability, freedom and flexibility, while directly contributing to the success of my practice. ​​Today, I can have professional freedom with my patients and practice, but without the weight that comes from owning and operating a private practice.

Susan Sherrick, DDS, MSD

Dr. Sherrick received her bachelor’s degree and completed the six-year dental program at the University of Missouri at Kansas City School of Dentistry. Dr. Sherrick graduated with honors in the top ten percent of her dental class, earning her Doctorate of Dental Surgery in 1995. During her dental education, she was inducted into the honor societies of Phi Kappa Phi and Omicron Kappa Upsilon. Upon graduating, Dr. Sherrick was accepted into St. Louis University’s Graduate Orthodontic Program, where she earned a Master of Science in Dentistry degree, specializing in orthodontics.

Rock Dental Brands Expands, Acquires Nine New Clinics Across Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee

Rock Dental Brands is proud to announce the acquisition of nine clinics across Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri, bringing the total number of Rock Dental Brands supported clinics to 84 across three states. The acquisitions were completed jointly with Rock Dental Brands’ doctor-owned affiliated professional dental practices in separate transactions over recent months.

The Arkansas clinics announced in the acquisition include two locations of Jim Moore Orthodontics located in Pine Bluff and Monticello; two locations of Arkansas Oral Surgery in Conway and Russellville; Dr. Michael Wharton-Palmer, DDS, Pediatric Dentist located in Texarkana; South Arkansas Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery located in El Dorado.

The Missouri and Tennessee clinics announced in the acquisition include Arquitt Pediatric Dentistry located in Springfield, Mo.; Sherrick Orthodontics located in Rolla, Mo.; and Michelle Johnson Orthodontics located in Bartlett, Tenn.

“Our continued expansion and the acquisition of these nine specialty clinics is another milestone for Rock Dental Brands in our mission to bring quality dental health access and care to more Americans,” said Rock Dental Brands Chief Executive Officer, Kristi Crum. “Rock Dental Brands is in growth mode. As we continue to expand, our top priority remains bringing the highest standard of patient care and treatment to the communities we serve.”

To learn more about how Rock Dental Brands can support your dental practice, visit joinrockdentalbrands.com. Rock Dental Brands also has opportunities for providers to join our current affiliated locations. To learn more about joining the Rock Dental Brands team of professionals, visit joinrockdentalbrands.com/joinourteam

Dr. James Lee’s Mission

Our very own Dr. James Lee has been caring for the dental needs of the children in Orphanage Emmanuel for over 24 years. Each year a large group of volunteers from Arkansas and Tennessee team up and travel to Honduras to complete various projects at an 450 child orphanage located in Guaimaca, Honduras. 


This February Dr. Lee’s wife, two Kidz Choice- Fort Smith staff members, Crystal and Pam, and Rock Dental Brands Marketing Specialist, Jess Clark accompanied Dr. Lee in his yearly mission trip to Guaimaca, Honduras. This amazing group of volunteers set out on an ambitious task to remodel and add to an old medical clinic on the property. 


He treated 68 patients, did 33 composites, 14 crowns, 6 pulpotomies, 15 extractions, and 68 fillings. 


“I do the very same work on the children in Honduras that I do at home in Fort Smith. They get the exact same care and treatment plans as I give my patients at home.” – Dr. Lee  


Jess reflected on the trip and said “I  felt a sense of gratitude for being a part of something larger than myself, but honored to work alongside a doctor that cared so deeply for the children that others had so easily discarded.” 


Many of the children recognized Dr. Lee and hugged him. Mrs. Lee would hold their hands and soothe them if they were scared and play soccer on the front porch if they were bored. Dr. Lee performed work on patients that he likely wouldn’t have seen as a pediatric dentist in the states, because the patient was older or cases he may have referred out, he took on the work. One case I remember very vividly he pulled the wisdom tooth (a case he would have referred out) of a 34 year old special needs man. It took Dr. Lee an hour and a half. The patient was shaking and kept choking during the procedure. I was so grateful to be there and to hold his hand and tell him everything was going to be ok and he was doing such a good job. 


Another case that stuck with me, we did two crowns and extracted the top front four baby teeth of a three year old. Dr. Lee and the team were absolute champs and professionals keeping the baby calm as he was squirming and upset in the chair. Again, I had the opportunity to sooth the baby and then scoop him up in my arms when he was finished. Less than five minutes after his procedure, he was back to babbling to me in Spanish and showing me his toys. 


My favorite memory on the Orphanage Emmanuel campus was when the city turned off the electricity on Thursday, we shut down the clinic and went to work on the medical clinic. Next door to the medical clinic was this huge playground and I found all the special needs kids playing. So I went over and played with them, pushed them on the swings and swang with them and passed out candy. When I was bone tired, I went and sat on the concrete steps and all the special needs kids piled in around me to love on me. It’s one of those moments in time you just wish you could freeze. 


There were a few things that struck me about the orphanage. It was an absolutely gorgeous campus, well maintained by the children and staff. The children were so very well behaved and well mannered. There was a high number of special needs at the orphanage, yet SO loved by everyone there. They may have been discarded by their parents, but they were so welcomed by Orphanage Emmanuel.


Sometimes we have these lofty ideas that we go out and change the wold but so often we are changed.