By Alyssa Horace, Nadia Pressley and Aaron Bart
“How do I get past the teeth? I think about helping the person overall,” Dr. Nicole Jackson said. “Saliva and blood, all that kind of stuff, it’s just water, you know? Red water, clear water, regular water.”
Jackson works a normal 9 to 5 job, but she has found a way to make her work special. She’s a general dentist and loves what she does, but her job means more to her than just the paycheck. She sees it as a way to get to know her patients on a personal level and to make them feel at home in her office.
“I see my patients and I give them hugs, try to make it a very personable experience,” she said. “For me, it was seeing all these people who were deathly afraid. ... It’s much more customer service ... than it is teeth. You know, fixing teeth is just a part of it.”
Jackson has lived in the South her entire life, moving to Macon from New Orleans, Louisiana. She refers to her hometown as being full of rich culture. “I tend to think of New Orleans as a world of its own,” she said.
Before she became interested in dentistry, Jackson thought that she would become a journalist, up until the summer before her junior year in college.
Jackson’s brother-in-law is a dentist and she would help him out at his office during the summertime, she said. “I would’ve never thought that it would be something I would want to pursue. But I did and I mean, I fell in love instantly.”
For Jackson, the decision to pursue dentistry meant going to summer programs and taking an extra year in college. After graduation, she joined the Air Force where she did her dental residency, which she says was a completely different experience from her average workday now.
“In the military, they had to come see me,” Jackson said. “Here [at her current practice], it was people who were choosing to come see me, who were paying their money, and most of whom were fearful.”
Dentist visits have the reputation for being cold and unpleasant, Jackson added. “ But you know, dentistry back in the day was very sterile,” she said. At a recent appointment, Jackson’s mother was very nervous . “Just her sitting in the chair, she was crying. Like, she really has ... huge anxiety issues with dentistry.”