BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) – It’s not day-after-day you get your enamel checked by a Bay Space legend.
Berkeley-based dentist, Dr. Thomas Arnold has spent almost 50 years educating his sufferers correct oral hygiene.
With a continuing smile on his face and round the clock vitality, he has certainly made his mark on the Bay Space.
KRON4’s Noelle Bellow discovered he’s carrying on a uncommon legacy began by his grandfather.
“I wished to create one thing that relieved concern and anxiousness about coming to see the dentist.”
Dr. Thomas Arnold is also called “Dr. Completely happy Tooth.”
Dr. Arnold and his spouse and accomplice Dr. Wendi Wilson created the “Dr. Completely happy Tooth” character within the late ’80s.
Collectively they visited faculties dressed as a six-foot molar armed with a smile and a toothbrush and floss. They taught youngsters how you can fight cavities and dental decay, even passing out a comic book guide they created.
“I put plenty of time into it and vitality in it. Hopefully, it did some good.”
“Dr. Completely happy Tooth” was an enormous hit by means of the ’90s. Dr. Arnold has obtained quite a few awards and recognition through the years.
And although he doesn’t don the costume anymore, relieving sufferers’ fears continues to be his each day follow.
“In 2024 it is going to be 50 years since I’ve practiced dentistry within the Bay Space.”
He’s been in the identical location all the time.
In truth, the workplace positioned on Martin Luther King Junior Method in Berkeley was initially run by Dr. William Pittman, the very first Black dentist to open a follow within the East Bay again in 1930.
“It was once known as Grove avenue. Grove avenue was the colour line the place all of the Black people lived on this aspect, and the white people lived on the opposite aspect.”
Dr. Pittman practiced there for nearly 50 years too, so a dentist has been on this similar location for nearly 100 years.
Having a Black dentist to look as much as wasn’t new for Dr. Arnold although. His ardour for the profession began when he was only a younger boy visiting his grandfather, Dr. Thomas Louis Hunter, one of many first Black dentists within the South.
“I simply form of knew that is what I wished to do.I noticed the respect folks gave him. The form of work he did. I simply all the time wished to be like papa hunter.”
In truth, Dr. Arnold is a third-generation medical skilled. He, his grandfather, and his father, who was a medical physician all attended Meharry Medical School in Nashville.
Within the Black group that was very very completely different throughout these occasions.
“We weren’t accepted into the bigger white faculties. We needed to go to Meharry for dentistry or medication or Howard college for dentistry or medication.”
He mentioned being amongst different black lecturers and college students was a pleasant consolation zone, however in 1972 he’d get a suggestion to embark on a brand new path after being certainly one of simply three graduates accepted into the dental residency program at Mount Zion in San Francisco.
“After I acquired accepted, all my classmates had been jealous.”
And whereas his acceptance was spectacular, it additionally introduced on a brand new problem as a result of, for the primary time, Dr. Arnold was studying from and alongside folks of a unique race.
“I felt insecure for a few week after which I assumed ‘oh shoot.. they don’t know any greater than I do know! So, I form of went on from there.”
When requested about his largest lesson realized, Dr. Arnold mentioned “no one was any higher than me. I used to be simply nearly as good as anyone else, being a Black man.”
Now, almost 78 years outdated, Dr. Arnold continues to be practising with pleasure and a smile educating his sufferers and paving the way in which for the subsequent era of dentists.
I form of take a look at myself as being an excellent grandfather in dentistry being a Black dentist working alongside a various group of dental hygienists.
Physician Arnold has no plans to retire quickly, however he hopes if and when he does his dental workplace will proceed to serve the group for many years to return.
“I simply need this complete space to recollect they’ve good dentists of their neighborhood that they’ll go see.”