This Texan’s Community-Focused Career is Inspiring a New Generation of Dentists
Dr. Gregory Stoute has practiced Preventistry in the public, military and private sectors, all with a thread of altruism woven through his leadership.
Dr. Gregory Stoute’s 40-plus-year career in dentistry has taken him from conflict zones in Iraq to the prestigious halls of Harvard, working in all kinds of dental practices. And though his tenure is peppered with distinguished titles, he’s remained focused on leveraging what DentaQuest calls Preventistry — practicing at the intersection of prevention, care, value and access — to help underserved populations.
At 67, he’s settled into what he calls a “whole new career” as an administrative clinical leader at DentaQuest, managing quality control for the company’s provider network as director at its Texas office. And though he’s officially retired from clinical work, Dr. Stoute’s altruistic ambitions are far from over. His focus on fairness, equity and community make him a Preventist.
How did your career in dentistry kick off so altruistically?
When I was in Dallas as a private practitioner early in my career, I did a lot of bartering. When people didn’t have money, I’d exchange dental care for services. I had someone do our office’s landscaping in exchange for dental work. It was a trade-off: I didn’t take any money, but they cut the lawn for free. There was another guy who needed a full-mouth reconstruction — crown and bridge work, which was really expensive. But I traded that for free dry cleaning for two years, so that worked out well. He had a completely reconstructed mouth, and I didn’t have to do much laundry.
For the past 15 years, I’ve taken dental students to Jamaica on a mission trip once a year. They’re exposed to a very poor — and a very grateful — population. It’s life-changing for the people we serve, and for the students I teach. I take college juniors who haven’t had a lot of exposure to oral surgery and teach them how to extract teeth. I’d say about 30 percent of the students who go on the mission trip end up working in underserved communities or community health centers. And they return! My faculty has expanded because former students come back to volunteer on the trip as leaders. We also provide elementary students with dental education and supplies like toothbrushes and toothpaste, and we have portable units to do treatments. [They] come back different students, no question. The experience is eye-opening, and it’s something they won’t forget for the rest of their lives.
What inspired you to get into dentistry in the first place?
I went into health care back then for all the altruistic reasons — to help people. A lot of minority practitioners are funneled into minority communities, and a lot of those are low-income communities. Plus, I’ve always had a soft heart. [But] I actually had never been to the dentist before I got to college. And the only reason I went was because I needed a recommendation for dental school, so I needed to find a dentist who could write me one. He found a cavity, filled that, then wrote me a recommendation for dental school!
Is there a reason you’ve held so many different types of positions within the dentistry field?
When I was younger in my career, I always tried to reach out to try new experiences. I think you can learn from everything. Even though I’m on the administrative side now, helping Medicaid patients and providers at DentaQuest, there are still opportunities out there that are avenues for learning. I haven’t retired from that aspect of my career. There’s always something new out there to explore.
DentaQuest’s Preventists are making an impact on their communities in a host of different ways. Read more stories about Preventists changing their communities and learn more about the future of oral health at Preventistry.org.