A Fireside Chat with Dr. Kris Cooper
At SMOMS, we’re excited to run a special summer edition of our Fireside Chat Series–We’ll call it a Bonfire Chat! Without further ado, we invite you to sit down, grab a s’mores, and learn more about our newest surgeon.
Dr. Kris Cooper joins SMOMS in July 2021, fresh out of his residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Q: What inspired you to enter the oral surgery field?
Dr. Cooper: I wanted to be a dentist my whole life. My mom worked as a dental hygienist, so when I was choosing between medical and dental school, that definitely played a big part in my decision. I love working with my hands, so I naturally gravitated towards the procedure-based surgeries.
Q: What was the first surgery you performed?
Dr. Cooper: It was a wisdom tooth extraction! Tooth number sixteen! I can still remember the patient. It’s all very vivid. My first non-dental surgery was during my medical residency. My first rotation assignment was dealing with burns, so I did a lot of skin grafting. I’m not a squeamish person, but those were some pretty extreme cases.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Dr. Cooper: Millimeters. We live at the crossroads between surgeon and dentist, with a unique opportunity for the details of dentistry to shine through. That means that we’re dealing in millimeters and tenths of millimeters with our surgeries. It’s that precision nature of our specialty, but it requires intense focus.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Dr. Cooper: I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and this job allows me to harness that in a really rewarding way. Solving an issue with one procedure is very satisfying to both the provider and the patient.
Q: What is your favorite surgery to perform?
Dr. Cooper: Orthognathic (Corrective Jaw) Surgery is exciting because it’s a huge change that happens all at once. It’s really cool to fix such a big problem in a relatively short window of time. That kind of surgery also has a huge impact on the patient; it can be very emotional and sometimes they cry because they’re just so happy at the change. It’s awesome to see that happiness.
Q: How does your career impact the way you see the world?
Dr. Cooper: Honestly, it doesn’t change how I see people. I make a serious effort not to notice or comment on people’s teeth, because I think they get self-conscious already when they’re around a dental professional. I do get a lot of people asking me for my professional opinion on how to “fix” them. I don’t know what to say sometimes!
Q: What are you most looking forward to in joining SMOMS?
Dr. Cooper: I can’t wait to get to work and start treating people. I’ve worked so hard, and for so long, refining my skills in school and this is the moment it all comes together. Personally, I’m also really happy to be back in Maine. I grew up here, and it’s great to be back home.
Q: Do you have a hidden talent?
Dr. Cooper: I can play the trumpet. But I guess that’s not very hidden when I pull it out and start playing.
Q: What is your favorite cartoon?
Dr. Cooper: Probably Trolls. My wife and I have three kids, ages 5, 3, and 1, so I have a pretty good pulse on the current cartoon scene.
Q: What is your favorite vegetable?
Dr. Cooper: Tomatoes–I know they’re technically a fruit! But I still love them. I love all vegetables though. I really enjoy gardening and landscaping.
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