An Ohio dentist has centered her career on hard work, adventure, and giving back.
Jessica Gott, DDS, didn’t exactly shadowbox her way through a career-determining decision, but she did "shadow" multiple professions to help narrow down and eventually finalize her choice.
Gott, a relative newcomer to Ohio-based Five Points Dentistry, shadowed a veterinarian, an emergency room physician, a plastic surgeon, and other specialty physicians before she landed in dentistry.
Was any other field close?
“I thought being a veterinarian was pretty good,” Gott says. “I went out and delivered a baby cow. That was pretty cool. I like the whole larger farm animal type of thing, so it was a close choice. But I just didn’t know if I wanted to smell manure all day.”
For Gott, who has been out of dental school for three years, that was a good consideration.
Importance of Education
Gott, who received her DDS from The Ohio State College of Dentistry, believes that continuing education and experience are the fundamentals to creating a good dentist. Walking the walk, she’s done more than 150 credit hours of continuing education in the past year, six times the state requirement.
“There’s always new procedures being developed, better ways to do things,” she explains. “If you look at a TV, you used to have your old box TV and now you’ve got great 4K resolution. So you really don’t know what’s best if you’re not out there learning about it.”
How does Gott determine where to invest her educational time? She focuses first on areas that will impact patients the most. After that, she concentrates on what she likes.
“There’s so many different things in dentistry so you’ve got to know a little bit about everything,” Gott says. “But if you can focus in on one thing, you can really make that shine. For me, it’s about implants.”
More Than Expected
Gott describes herself as a new dentist, and points out that there’s so much more to dentistry than she expected.
“I learn something new every day,” she says. “The more you practice, the more you learn. With people, not every situation is the same. So it always has my attention. It doesn’t get old. I’m very happy to be in this career.”
As are a growing number of women entering the field of dentistry. Statistics indicate approximately 50% of dental school students are women. Gott believes there are specific reasons for the attraction to the field.
“I think more females are going into dentistry because it’s something where you can sort of set your own hours, and run things the way you want,” she explains. “I think more women want to be home more with their families. So if they can build their hours around a child’s school schedule, it’s a good way they can also be professional.”
Gott enjoys an active lifestyle outside the practice. She has participated in half marathons, and even the Tough Mudder, a series of hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle race designed by British Special Forces to challenge the toughest of the tough.
And being tough is nothing new to Gott.
“I grew up with two older brothers who were very competitive in sports,” she explains. “I mean, we’re so competitive that every time we get together we play Monopoly, and we’re out for blood. We’ve got our own set of rules, so you’ve got to pay attention and be up on everything. That’s just kind of my family’s style.”
Even though competing in Tough Mudder events can mean plunging into a dumpster filled with ice water, or slogging through a field of mud with live wires hanging overhead, Gott says it’s all part of the challenge. It’s also about working as a team.
“No man left behind,” she says. “It’s just something fun to do to challenge yourself.”
To prepare, and to maintain overall health and fitness, Gott is active as a CrossFit member at a gym her brother owns. CrossFit is a program that combines a physical exercise philosophy with competitive fitness sport.
“It makes me a better, overall athlete,” she says.
The Tough Mudder events also help support the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity and veterans service organization for wounded veterans of military actions following the events of September 11, 2001. And that’s another important aspect to Gott’s life: giving back. She has been a national bone marrow donor for more than nine years.
“I had a friend … when she was 19 she was diagnosed with leukemia, so she had to get a bone marrow transplant,” Gott recalls. “It’s hard to find matches. She was on a long list of people looking for a donor, and she ended up having to get one from someone in Europe.”
The procedure, Gott admits, is very painful. A huge needle is inserted into the hip of the bone marrow donor, and there’s really no effective way to numb the area. But it’s not a long procedure, and Gott feels it’s worthwhile.
“I figure, if you put yourself out there, maybe you’ll be able to help someone else just by donating,” she says. “That’s life-changing for them, and it doesn’t really cost you a lot.”
She’s also a regular contributor to the Hope for Paws charity.
“I love animals,” Gott explains. “I’ve got two of my own. Anything I could do for them I would.”
And she also does anything she can for her patients.
“There are a lot of people who say, ‘I never smile,’ whether it’s from decay or overcrowding,” Gott says. “When people thank me for giving them back their smile, that’s the most rewarding thing.”