Dr. Scott Lafont’s career as a dentist has taken him across the globe to help his patients achieve healthy smiles and great outcomes. These days, he lives with his family in Alabaster, Alabama and practices at StoneCreek Dental Care. In this interview, he shares the story of his career, his thoughts on the future of dentistry and his love of fishing.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your practice. What does an average day look like for you?
I’m originally from New Orleans, but Alabama is my home now. I have the best team — without them, I couldn’t care for patients like I do. I normally see patients in two separate rooms, doing crowns, emergencies, extractions, evaluations for implants and dentures. It’s a multi-faceted practice.
How and when did you decide to become a dentist?
My wife inspired me. When we met, I was a young, enlisted guy in the National Guard with an active-duty job. I wasn’t going to school, but my wife studied dental hygiene. She ended up doing very well and became a teacher at the dental school, and I decided that it was time for me to go back to school full time and finish my bachelor’s degree in biology. Two years later, I went to dental school, graduated from the Louisiana State University School of Dentistry in 2002, and it’s been a blessing ever since.
What led you to practice at your current location?
Over the years, I’ve lived in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Arizona. After I retired from the Air Force, my wife and I knew we wanted to head back to the South from Phoenix. But we didn’t want to deal with the hurricanes and stuff like that in Louisiana. We looked at schools, at places where it would be easy to travel, at places where we would be close to family, at places that had charm and good food, and we decided to settle in the general area of Birmingham, Alabama. We prayed a lot about that decision, and the whole family agreed it was the right choice. Once we arrived, I went into private practice, but I didn’t want to own the practice. StoneCreek Dental gave me the autonomy and support I need to practice dentistry the way I want to practice.
I see that you specialize in implant, cosmetic and complex dentistry. Can you talk about that?
When I was in the Air Force, I was known as a go-getter, and I had a couple different bosses encourage me to get training for implant dentistry. I’ve always been interested in new technologies and learning new ways of doing things that let me work more efficiently and produce better results for my patients. Over the years, I’ve invested a lot of time and energy into learning more and getting training.
You served as a dentist in the armed forces. Tell me about your experience.
I come from a blue-collar family, so joining the National Guard was a way for me to afford to go to college. I did an active-duty job for a few years, met my wife, and was part of the Air Force National Guard for almost 10 years. When I went back to school, I had a scholarship from the military and went back to the Air Force as a dentist. I served my country from 2002 to 2016, both in the US and overseas in Guam and Japan. I’ve cared for new recruits and four-star generals, for Marines, sailors, airmen and soldiers, and sometimes their families. Finally, after 14 years in the military as a dentist, I retired from the Air Force in 2016.
Looking back, it was a blessing to be able to serve my country through my career. I helped a lot of good men and women, learned a lot and was able to take advantage of the opportunities that the Air Force gave me.
What do you enjoy most about being a dentist?
I just love doing dentistry. I love treating patients, and I love dental work in general. I like looking at a situation and figuring out what the best way to fix it is in the way that’s best for the patient. I try to give the best service I can to my patients, but also to listen and see where they’re at, what their wants and needs are and what they can afford.
Often, I’ll see patients who are coming to me for a second opinion. They’ll have seen somebody else who gave them a treatment plan they didn’t understand. Helping patients understand their care, going through the process, explaining different options and opportunities and advancements in dentistry and finally settling on the best plan is probably the thing that excites me most about dentistry.
What challenges do you see facing the dental industry in the future?
I think the biggest change coming to dentistry is the growth of 3D technologies, like 3D printing. That’ll bring down prices for dentists. In the military, I ran a multimillion-dollar practice, but I’ve been on the other side as well, where every dollar matters. It can be a real challenge to bring patients affordable dentistry that’s still at a high quality. I think both dental practices and the insurance industry will need to align to embrace these technologies and settle on new standards of care.
What advice would you give a fresh dental school grad?
“Dental school is not the last place that you learn.” That means if you want to be able to grow as a dentist, you need to put out the effort. Sometimes that means sacrificing personal time and money, but it’s important if growing as a dentist is what you really want to do. My recommendation is to stay on top of new technology and dental materials. It’s better for both the patient and for the dentist to be knowledgeable.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I wish I had more free time! I’m a little old-school, where my mind’s always on business and work. But I do like to fish when I can. We live in a neighborhood with a little lake, and I’m happy to just sit out there and zone out and relax, even if I don’t catch anything. Dentistry can be a stressful career, so it’s important to find moments to enjoy peace and quiet.
I also really enjoy just spending time with my family. Watching movies and shows, playing board games and card games, things like that. My kids are older now — 19 and 17 — and it’s fun to just chill with them.
Congratulations to Dr. Scott Lafont of StoneCreek Dental Care on being named our Dental Health Partner of the Month! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us, and tight lines next time you’re out on the lake!