A kind dentist, a sobering diagnosis and a pretty girl all played a role in setting Dr. Thomas Stone on the path to dentistry.
“When I was young, I had a family dentist who was very kind,” Stone says. “I was one of those kids who actually enjoyed going to the dentist.”
But it wasn’t until high school, when Stone was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, that he began to think seriously about finding a career path. “I can remember sitting in the hospital thinking, ‘Man, this is a serious deal. I can’t just goof around throughout my life,’” Stone says.
About that time, he also became interested in the girl whom Stone would one day marry. Her father wouldn’t let her date during the week, but he would let her go to the library.
“So I really give him a ton of credit for me becoming studious,” Stone says.
Early in his general dentistry practice, Stone became active in the Greater Springfield Dental Society.
He has served as the group’s president, attended the Washington Leadership Conference several times and participates in its Give a Kid a Smile program.
Stone also has served as chairman of the board of the Ronald McDonald Tooth Truck and as co-clinical director of the first Missouri Mission of Mercy, a program that offers free dental care to those who can’t afford it.
The program, patterned after other Mission of Mercy events held nationally, helped nearly 2,000 people at the 2011 event held in Springfield.
Stone says while several programs are available for children, adults have a difficult time getting needed help.
“I think that we’ve seen a lot of kids who are getting treatment … but it seems with the economy in a downturn, that (adult) need will never be met. In some instances, we see it getting a little bit worse,” he says.
“The people who are in that great a need, they aren’t worried about toothpaste and toothbrushes as much as where their next meal is coming from.”
Stone says education and preventive care could help decrease the problem, and that’s why he has served in public school health fairs and visited children’s classrooms, as well as donated his services.
“The encouraging part is knowing I serve in a caring community that will continue to find ways to fill that need in any way possible,” Stone says.
Stone was named a fellow of the American College of Dentists in 2009, and a fellow of Pierre Fauchard Academy in 2008.Click here for full coverage of the 2012 Salute to Health Care.