Not too many dentists are portrayed positively in the media, we all pretty much know that. Even when something so routine as a third molar extraction becomes fodder for reality TV it becomes as heinous as possible. Oh, and thanks, sound teams, for when you add that special bone-cracking celery effect during tooth removal. You really help the cause there.
Want to know why I think that this dentist is truly one of the good guys? Not only was Dr. Kevin Finley, DDS gracious in accepting an interview request a few days after his appearance on the A&E Network, he was able to work it in amongst…get this!….fooling his whole dental team into thinking they were working, but he had secretly booked the day full of fake patients and instead thrilled all of them with a birthday party, complete with a shopping spree, a scavenger hunt, fine piano bar dining, board games (with big fat bills for winning!) and an early send-home. That takes heart. So thank you, Dr. Finley, for doing your best to make dentistry go well on TV, and for being the kind of dentist that everyone wants to work for.
With that said, here’s our conversation:
DentalBuzz: It’s intriguing to see a dentist doing a little bloodletting on unscripted television, especially on a show that’s as popular as Duck Dynasty. How long have you known the Robertson family?
Dr. Kevin Finley: I have known the Robertson’s for over 25 years. Phil has been a patient in the past. Korie has been a patient for over 10 years and her children have been patients since their first dental visit.
DB: So Willie’s not a patient? Why not?
KF: By his own admission, he does not like going to the dentist. Korie says that she is going to get him in sometime. They do seem to be very busy people.
DB: Maybe it’s time for a dental intervention! Or at least a postcard. Speaking of postcards, Wal-Marts all over the country seem to have postcards and everything else, for that matter, branded to Duck Commander this and Duck Dynasty that. Is the whole town of West Monroe like that too? How has their success changed your community?
KF: It is important to know that Phil is a great businessman. The Duck Commander and the Buck Commander have both been fantastic businesses long before Duck Dynasty. Don’t let the beards and accents fool you. Phil ( and the rest of the family) are really smart and VERY hard workers. (Filming my part of the episode was more work than i could have imagined).
It appears that the entire community is elated that they are so successful. The old adage that “a profit is not without honor, save in his own city”, does not apply here. We all love the Robertson family and they have brought nothing but positive influence to our community. It is no secret that they are Christians and they are not ashamed of who they are. They proclaim their love for God, their family and their country. They really are a phenomenal family. That being said– the business of Duck Dynasty has been great for our community. It is fantastic to see the local West Monroe police having to direct traffic in and around their store because people are coming here from all over the place. Duck Dynasty has put West Monroe Louisiana on the map, so to speak.
As for Wal-Mart, it is not an easy thing to get your products in Wal-Mart, they, too, are great business people and they know what sells. I can honestly say that the success of the Robertson family has been a wonderful benefit to our community.
DB: It gives a whole new meaning to living one’s faith, huh? They get to be who they were meant to be and lift everyone else around them up in the process, including all their TV viewers and fans. Which brings us to how they’ve elevated your world for a while, at least. In last week’s episode you extracted the third molars of both John Luke and Sadie in the same day. That’s eight teeth in front of a camera crew! No pressure, right? What was that like?
KF: It is unique to human nature that if you know a celebrity, it kind of makes you feel special– sort of like a celebrity yourself. I got to feel famous for about 1 minute. As a side note, when I have gone to dental meetings and met other dentists and they find out I live in West Monroe, Louisiana, they all ask if I know the Duck Dynasty family. I tell them that I do and that some of the family are patients of mine–they usually look at me kind of sideways and say “that’s great”, but all the while thinking that I am lying.
I really love to see success stories, especially in person, and is even more of a thrill to be asked to participate in their story. You would have to know this family to really feel what I am saying. As to the treatment, I have been in practice for 29 years and the dentistry itself was quite normal for us. I remember from dental school reading in our oral surgery textbook that “wisdom teeth extractions are easy, except for those that aren’t”. I really didn’t know what that meant until I did my share of third molar extractions. They either come right out in a few minutes or it’s “hold on to your butts”, we are going to be here for a while. Usually on teenagers, the surgery goes very well, as was the cases for John Luke and Sadie.
I guess if I was going to have any anxiety it would be with the anesthesia–we all know that the unexpected can happen and we would not like it to happen while parents were in the room or while the filming was going on. As it turned out, thanks to Delvin Price our Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, who is off the charts amazing, conscientious and caring, and our wonderful dental assistants, Frances and Kim, the Robertsons went to sleep, stayed asleep for their procedure and woke up when it was over, only slightly worse for the wear. I would call this quite a successful operation! Of course, after they woke up, then the real fun began, as you saw on the show. I can’t say enough good things about this family and my life has been enhanced just by knowing them—regardless of how famous they may be.
DB: Fame and good fortune sometimes goes to the right people, that’s what it sounds like you’re saying. As an insider looking out (because after all, you do live and work in the Beard Bubble there!) your experiences with the Robertson family seem to explain their phenomenal success to the rest of us: Duck Dynasty is not so much about characters as it is about character. Thank you, Dr. Finley, for sharing a juicy little slice of what it’s like to be a dentist in the middle of reality TV.
So there’s a final serious answer everyone wants to know about working with the Robertson family: How have you and your team ever managed to do dentistry through all that facial hair?
KF: (crickets chirping).
Didn’t catch this episode of Duck Dynasty? You can watch it now in its entirety by clicking this link to the A&E website: John Luke After Dentist