The love of the ocean couldn’t keep Dr. Nathan Seng from returning to his hometown to build a new pediatric dentistry practice.
The former Naval officer, with the assistance of friends and family, opened his new office last week at the Crooked Creek Doctors Plaza in Jasper.
A bit of that love of the ocean is apparent throughout the new practice dedicated to children from infant to teens and those with special needs. He credits his wife, Laura, with the decor that includes the first of many sea creatures she will personally paint on the blue and green walls.
Dr. Nate, as he likes to refer to himself with his patients, has also installed a child-sized area with three tablets for patients to play games on while they are waiting for their appointments. His surfboard is now a decoration in the fun little area but is easily removed for when he and the family take a vacation.
During the ribbon cutting ceremony held Thursday afternoon, “Finding Nemo” (remember that great scene with the pelicans after the submarine exploded) fittingly played on a nearby TV. Two TVs are also mounted on the ceiling above the dentist chairs, giving the children something else to concentrate on while Dr. Nate and his staff take care of their teeth.
Dr. Seng (Nate) graduated from Jasper High School in 1999. He attended Indiana University and graduated in 2003 with a major in biology. He earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery from Indiana University School of Dentistry in 2007. He was awarded a scholarship under the Navy’s Health Professions Scholarship Program and was commissioned to the United States Navy Dental Corps.
While in the Navy, Dr. Seng was stationed at Parris Island, North Carolina and then in Okinawa, Japan. While in the service he found that he enjoyed working with children. “When I was in Okinawa, we treated these kids while their families were deployed. So we made a connection with them. I think that it is where it started,” Seng said. “And I’m a kid at heart, ask my wife she’ll tell you.”
According to Seng, he didn’t know if he would enjoy pediatric dentistry while he was in school. “It’s tough, not everyone wants to do it. A lot of times it’s a moving target,” he explained. “But you get down to their level. Let them touch the tools. Change your tone, change how you act and you never say the word shot.”
He and his wife have a 15-month-old daughter named Piper and are also expecting a baby boy. Laura promoted the idea to return home to Jasper and after Piper was born, the couple decided it was important to be back home with family.
The office has been coming together since March and the family just moved back to town in June.
In addition to his experience with children, Seng completed a pediatric dental residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. The residency has allowed him to form a relationship with Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center that allows his patients to be treated at the hospital for oral surgery or other extreme cases. “It’s unfortunate but you see four- and five-year-old kids with a mouth full of cavities,” he said. “And what four- or five-year-old is going to allow you to work on something like that in our office. Zero.”
His practice is a welcome addition to the county for parents who have had to take their children to Evansville or Newburgh for pediatric dental care. In testament, positive reviews from parents are already appearing on the practice’s Facebook page. It’s a difficult proposition to placate children but sometimes it’s an even harder proposition to make their parents happy. So far so good.