Dentist Changing Frowns to Smiles

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PRIEST RIVER — To give back to those whom you love is one of the soul’s deepest desires. Years can go by, however, with the longing unfulfilled. Yet with careful planning and patience, a lucky few get to experience the joy that comes from applying a lifetime of experience and expertise to a world suffering intense need. Dr. Lon Peckham, formerly one of Priest River’s town dentists, has returned with precisely this one goal in mind: to give.

Article by Judd Wilson

Peckham is already taking appointments for his new, part-time, nonprofit dentistry. He calls it the Smile Miracles Project, “They’re smile makeovers for people who can’t afford it,” he said. For years he toiled away in order to save up the funds that now make this project possible. Opening the first week of October, the practice will offer dental services to people on a sliding scale basis, meaning there will be little reason for people to ever feel like they can’t afford good dental work.

But Peckham has tweaked his nonprofit project with a few unique features. First, he will apply the same holistic dental health approach to his new patients as he has applied to his patients throughout his decades-long career. This won’t be a fix-me-now-see-me-later kind of doctor-patient relationship, he said. “We don’t quit until you’re healthy and looking great,” from head to toe, he said. Peckham isn’t only interested in teeth. He’s interested in how dental health affects the whole person. He emphasizes what he calls “the cross of dental health,” which includes the four elements of periodontal health, gum health, tooth health, and bite issues.

Second, his sliding scale beneficiaries will be required to volunteer in the community. Smile Miracles isn’t about handouts, he said, but changed lives — and that includes giving back.

Peckham’s practice will have two examination rooms, a 3D cone beam dental CAT scan, an operating microscope, digital X-rays, and the usual assortment of dental office equipment available, he said. As an added bonus, he said his work will be done one patient at a time, and by appointment only. “So people will get 100 percent of my attention,” he said, smiling. Peckham earned his degree at the Oregon Health Sciences University in 1985 and has practiced in Priest River and Post Falls.

To schedule an appointment, call 855-55DRLON, or 855-553-7566. He will see patients on Mondays and Thursdays only, typically between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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