When you talk to Dr. Jennifer Thomm about dentistry, her passion is evident. “I was always fascinated by the unique mix of health care, artistry and technology,” she explains. If you visit her office at B-1323 Michigan Avenue, you’ll see clear evidence of her passion. She proudly describes how her Cerec machine can rebuild a crown in just over an hour, working much the same way as a 3-D printer. The machine creates a beautiful, durable finished product, all while the patient waits. This machine represents an exciting new offering for her practice.
Dr. Thomm graduated from dental school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio in 2003 and soon returned home to Sarnia. She never planned to run her own practice. “Initially I thought I’d work for someone else. However, I built such strong relationships with my patients that when the previous owner of the practice indicated he was retiring, I felt that I had to take over. I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving my patients and having to start over somewhere else,” she explains.
She was strongly encouraged to take on the challenge of running her own practice by her parents, her brother-in-law Timothy Chi, CEO of an international technology company, and local oral surgeon Dr. Harold Gretzinger. When Dr. Thomm was starting out, Dr. Gretzinger’s practice was right across the hall. She often asked him for advice. “Whenever I faced a challenge, Dr. Gretzinger would hold up this dental book that he called the brick. He would say, ‘Stay the course, you know the theory, you know what to do,’” she remembers with a smile.
Her brother-in-law has also helped her mould the culture of her office. “Our office culture has been built around demonstrating reliability, kindness and friendship with our patients. Dentistry is a business that requires a high-degree of trust and respect between the patient and the dentist. I knew early on that a career in dentistry would allow me to help people by improving their health and confidence. However, owning my own practice has given me the flexibly to help those in our community with more than just dentistry.” She explains that owning her own practice has also given her the flexibly to take an active role in the community. Her entire team is active in an array of local fundraising activities.
In 2013 Dr. Thomm relocated her practice to its current location. She spent six months planning the layout of the new office and hired a dental contractor to complete the work. She had plenty of support and input from her parents and her husband Kevin. Their backing was paramount. “Dentistry is a capital-intensive business. Whether it was graduating dental school with student loans, purchasing a practice or subsequently building a new office and relocating, these were major decisions that required large investments and were full of risk. I’d be dishonest if I said there hadn’t been some sleepless nights along the way, but I’ve never felt that I’ve been on my own.”