In his new location on East Holder Avenue in Houston, Dr. Tom Baggett began seeing patients last week.
Calling his new practice the Houston Dental Center, Baggett comes to town after a series of other career stops. Most recently, he worked eight months at an office in Licking, but when that operation closed its doors last year, he decided to open his own business in nearby Houston.
While Baggett was working in Licking, he and his wife, Shelli, purchased property in Texas County and began to feel at home.
“We just fell in love with the community,” he said.
Baggett graduated from the Louisiana State University school of dentistry in 1982 and has earned numerous awards for contributions to the field of dentistry. He holds memberships in the American Dental Association and Academy of General Dentistry, and had a dental practice in Lake Charles, La., for 15 years and another in Springfield for about three years.
At least one local dentist accepts Medicaid from already established patients, but one notable aspect of Baggett’s practice is that he will be the only dentist in Houston to accept new Medicaid patients.
“As time progressed, I realized this is a great place, but was in need of a dentist who does Medicaid,” he said. “So this was an opportunity for us to really be a blessing. And it has the potential of being a better hub for us, since Houston is the center of Texas County.
“We felt like it was the right place for us.”
After the closing of the Licking business, Baggett hired the team he had worked with there. Plans are in the works to also bring in an additional dentist.
“I’m very proud of this staff,” Baggett said. “They are exceptional. These girls are very talented, but also truly have a heart for what they do.”
The Houston Dental Center will treat mostly adult patients. Some of the services provided are routine surgical procedures, dentures and removable partials, crowns and bridges, root canal therapy, composite fillings, gum treatment, cleaning, orthodontics (including braces and invisible braces), and whitening and other cosmetic procedures.
Baggett said one of his primary approaches to dentistry is to maintain a patient’s dental structure whenever possible, rather than simply pull and replace.
“I’m for saving teeth, not pulling teeth out,” he said. “We can always make dentures, but if we have the opportunity to save teeth, we will. When I came to this area, it was a little bit of a culture shock because it was the first time I had worked in a Medicaid practice. But I fell in love with the people — and helping them — and I could see that they needed the best alternative they could have other than extraction.”
Baggett’s past includes 14 years of writing weekly “Ask the Dentist” articles for The American Press, a daily newspaper in southeast Louisiana. After being purchased when Baggett sold his practice in St. Charles, the articles are still being used by news publications all over the country.
“I never put a copyright on them, and when I sold my practice there, the whole file of 14 years worth of those articles went with it and I never thought twice about it,” Baggett said. “They had a lot of good material to work with.”
Not only is Baggett starting a new dental practice, but he and Shelli are also embarking on a new venture in ministry. The couple has pastored churches in the past and were approved Sunday as new co-pastors at Community Crossroads Church in Raymondville.
“Ministry had always been hand in hand with dentistry in my life,” Baggett said.
The Houston Dental Center is located next to the Edward Jones office, south of McDonald’s. For more information or to make an appointment, call 417-967-5001.
As time progressed, I realized this is a great place, but was inneed of a dentist who does Medicaid. So this was an opportunity forus to really be a blessing. And it has the potential of being abetter hub for us, since Houston is the center of Texas County. Wefelt like it was the right place for us.”