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Volunteer Spotlight with Dr. Braun

Dr. Braun is an absolute treasure to our team and our patients, and we are so happy to bring you this great interview with him.

Q: How long have you been a dentist?

A: I started in 1968 - you can do the math.

Q: Why do you volunteer your time as a dentist at HealthLink? How long have you been here and how did you hear about us?

A: I’ve been here around 10 years and I heard about HealthLink from a physician who was volunteering here at the time, when HealthLink was also serving as a medical clinic. We were friends and good colleagues and he kept telling me about this great place with great people where he volunteered and was trying to get me over here for about a year! While it sounded interesting, I kept putting it off because even though I was retired, I was not bored. I was diving into a heavy interest of mine – pharmaceuticals and medicine. Finally, I decided to give it a try because it seemed like this place really had a great thing going. The rest is history.

Why do I do this? I have always felt like I have this kind of natural way with my patients. I have never subscribed to the idea that they are just appointments to check off my list for the day. I enjoy actually understanding people and who they are and where they are from and really listen and get to know them.

Everyone deserves that, but it is key when working or volunteering in a free dental clinic like this. For a lot of our patients, even the worst tooth pain is the smallest problem they have. I like to make sure they are comfortable and listened to. I give empathy and respect; I don’t just read things off of a screen and move onto the next patient.

Q: What do you like to do when you are not volunteering your time at HealthLink?

A: Study! I love studying (and really studying) medicine, pharmacy, and Northern/Southern Renaissance Art. Aside from studying, I love to go trout fishing!

Q: If you could make people remember one important thing about their oral health, what would it be?

A: I have two things!

1. Maintenance. Meaning brushing, flossing, schedule check-ups, etc.

2. Diet. Moderation in all the foods we eat is key and try your best to stay away from foods that stick to your teeth! Anything with a gummy consistency of course but also baked snacks like crackers and cheese curls that stick to the teeth! Remember moderation here is key. Also remember that food like green beans, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower you can never have too much of!

Q: Since it’s National Children’s Dental Health Month, if you could make children remember one important thing about oral health, what would it be?

A: Oh if I could make them? Avoid refined sugar wherever possible!

Q: Do you have any tips or tricks for parents trying to instill good oral hygiene habits in their children?

A: Yes! First, imitation! Brush your teeth when your kids are brushing don’t just tell them to brush their teeth. If you want them to floss, floss with them.

Second, if your kids like to snack after dinner, try to make it a food that does not stick to the teeth! Something healthy like a pear, apple, celery, carrots, etc. And even more importantly – make sure the last thing your kids do is brush their teeth! If your kids brush their teeth and then have a bedtime snack (especially if it is one that sticks to the teeth) – you might as well not have them brush at all!

Q: Do you have a favorite children’s book or activity that helps promote good oral hygiene and habits in our children?

A: Yes I do! Get the kids outside in nature and exploring! When kids are exploring nature and new things, they're less likely to be thinking about junk food!


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