Meet Dr. Richard L. Owens, our Dental Health Partner of the Month. Dr. Owens is the owner of Owens Family Dental Care in Destrehan, Louisiana, where he practices with his son Dr. Reid M. Owens.
Dr. Owens served in the U.S. Air Force for several years before graduating from the LSU School of Dentistry. Committed to continuing his dental education, Dr. Owens has received his Mastership Award from the Academy of General Dentistry, which has been achieved by only 2% of U.S. and Canadian dentists.
As a veteran, Dr. Owens believes in serving his community. In 2012, Dr. Owens was commissioned as a Lieutenant Colonel Dental Officer in the Louisiana Army National Guard, and currently serves as their State Dental Officer.
Dr. Owens has four children, two grandchildren and two best friends — boxers Bacco and Stella. Let’s learn more.
Why did you decide to become a dentist?
As a student, I became interested in the biological sciences and learning about the mysteries of the human body. During my college career, I was fortunate enough to obtain part-time employment as a medical technologist and meet dental students who also were working part-time in a hospital environment. I became quite interested in the dental profession and made the final decision to pursue this career avenue. I was especially interested in the application of science, artistry, and technology in the dental profession as well as the respect and autonomy that defines this profession.
How long have you been practicing?
I graduated from LSU School of Dentistry back in 1981 and have been practicing dentistry for around 39 years.
What is the most rewarding part of your career?
The most rewarding thing during my career is the relationships that I have been blessed with over the years with my patient families. Most of my patients have been working with me for years, and I’m honored and blessed that each of them definitely knows who their dentist is if asked. On a personal note, the most rewarding was the dental school graduations for my son Dr. Reid Owens and his wife, Dr. Stacey Owens.
One of the funniest stories from the dental office?
The funniest issue I remember is a situation in which I had to barter with a five-year-old patient for her to allow me to restore a couple of carious teeth. We made a deal that if she came in on her next visit and allowed me to treat her, then she was to bring in her nail kit and paint my fingernails. Well, she definitely remembered this, and after her treatment was done, she pulled out her kit and went about painting my nails with three coats of three different colors. Mission accomplished.
What do you consider dentistry’s biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge in dentistry involves the education of children and parents regarding the medical necessity of dental health and dental care, as it’s linked systemically to the overall health of the body. People will always seek out care they want, but not care they need.
As a society, we’ve missed the boat regarding public education regarding dental care. We achieve preventive care for only around 40% of the overall population.
Being involved with the military in Louisiana and personally reviewing charts for around 11,000 Army National Guard soldiers, only 35% of the enlisted soldiers in this state have ever been to a dentist for preventive care and actually have a dental home. Dental diseases and maxillofacial pathologies are rampant in this country today.
What do you do in your free time?
Growing up as a musician — I was a trumpet player in bands — I always enjoy concerts, plays, and the arts. I also greatly enjoy the game of tennis and love going to professional tennis tournaments. Of course, the top of my list involves spending time with my family and grandchildren, and my church brothers and sisters.