Unlike a lot of dentists, Dr. Brandi Dupont didn’t follow a family member into the business, nor did she grow up with a particular yearning for a career in oral health. Rather, the UNLV School of Dental Medicine Alumna of the Year's pathway to dentistry was simply borne out of a desire to improve the lives of the less fortunate.
“Not long after I started working for a low-income community health center in Reno, I learned there was a huge need for dentists willing to work in public health,” she said. “That’s when I knew I wanted to pursue a career in dentistry and assist patients who might face roadblocks to quality dental services.”
Dupont actually began working for the Community Health Alliance in her native Reno six years before completing her dental medicine degree at UNLV in 2007. After completing her degree, she returned and worked for Community Health Alliance for another 13 years. Today, she’s transitioned to working for a pediatric dental office that provides dental services to low-income children.
Dupont’s commitment to bettering her community’s dental health expands beyond the walls of her office, as she also has served on the boards of the Northern Nevada Dental Scoiety and the Governor’s Advisory Council for Oral Health. It’s easy to understand why Dupont would be asked to serve in such prestigious roles, given her slew of professional credentials: She’s a member of the American Dental Association, the Academy of General Dentistry, the Nevada Dental Association and the Northern Nevada Dental Society.
While patient care and serving her community are obviously Dupont’s primary professional goals, a secondary objective involves dispelling a longstanding myth about dentists: that they enjoy inflicting pain. “Seriously, I’ve heard this at least a dozen times from patients,” she said. “I love to prove to them that a trip to the dentist doesn’t have to hurt.”
The coronavirus pandemic has reminded all of us about the power and importance of being resilient. Share a moment from your time at UNLV that helped build resiliency in you.
I would say my education in resiliency started the moment I stepped through the doors of the School of Dentistry program. Dentistry is a tough field, and learning it was even tougher. Besides a lot of late-night study sessions that helped build determination, learning to take alginate impressions — repeatedly — until you got them right was a great lesson in resilience.
What advice do you have for today’s UNLV dental students as they try to navigate our changed world?
Fall in love with this profession. If you love what you do, everything tends to fall into place. Make no mistake, those first few years as a dental professional are going to be tough, but you will come out on the other side with immense confidence in what you do.
And one other thing: Never stop learning.