History It’s not often in Phoenix … a metropolitan city known for its large number of out-of-staters and part-year residents – that you’ll find multiple generations of the same family involved in the area’s local business community. But the Kerr name is no stranger to the Valley, perhaps most known for the family’s retail sports center, Kerr Sporting Goods, a Valley favorite for many years. Dr. Mark Kerr, D.D.S., of Kerr Endodontics in Gilbert, remembers growing up sure he’d follow in is father’s footsteps and join him in the retail sporting good industry.
“I grew up here,” says Dr. Kerr. “I went to Arcadia High in East Phoenix; our family has been here for several generations. I remember the family business being a very large part of my life. I had planned to take the torch and carry on the business as I got older, but life had other plans for me.”
Dr. Kerr’s affinity for science and the helping professions – and an intuitive nudge from his wife, Christine – ultimately drew him into dentistry. A first-generation dentist, Dr. Kerr feels he’s found his niche in endodontics, a field that allows him to pursue the science and analytics of the profession. He thinks most endodontists would agree they tend to be perfectionists. He says, “I don’t think you can go through an endo residency without truly enjoying science and research. Getting out there and practicing endodontics can come with a great deal more complicated cases and nuances than many other dental specialties. You’re dealing every day with the science of bacterial infections which require a very meticulous and precise nature. I feel lucky in practicing endodontics. It’s so multifaceted, and I have really found what makes me tick.”
After his training and residency at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, Dr. Kerr completed an AEGD (advance education in general dentistry) and initially practiced as a general dentist in Richmond before returning to school for a two-year residency in endodontics. He returned home to the Valley and began his work in endodontics as an associate with another practice before striking out on his own. In 2003, he opened his doors as San Tan Endodontics in Gilbert. “It’s been an incredible time for us,” he says. “The southeast Valley has grown tremendously in the years that we’ve been here, and the practice has grown right along with it.”
“I feel lucky in practicing endodontics. It’s so multifaceted, and I have really found what makes me tick.” That growth sparked an evolution for Dr. Kerr, who has since changed the practice name to Kerr Endodontics, to better represent its personal, family nature. At the same time, the practice relocated to the Higley Park Professional Village immediately off the 202 San Tan Freeway on Higley Road.
Dr. Kerr doesn’t subscribe to the ideal of spending a lot of time, money and energy on creating a practice that relies more on visual design, technology and gadgetry than good people and professional practices. Rather than preemptively adopting each new development as it hits the market, Dr. Kerr watches closely to determine the feasibility, performance and ultimate relevance and benefits of the product or procedure before taking it on.
“There’s a lot of push and promotion out there for new technologies and some of those really do enhance patient care and practice effectiveness. But others have really been designed more to generate profit than to add value to the industry. Just because it looks good, sounds good….doesn’t mean it works equally as well for the patient. It makes sense to me to spend time differentiating the two.”
Dr. Kerr’s team readily adopts and applies the technologies they do feel add value to the practice, including state-of-the art magnification tools with integrated video cameras and digital radiographs, allowing referring dentists to receive patients’ dental images for fast review. Relatively new rinses have come onto the scene to aid in the disinfecting portion of root canal procedures, helping to achieve a more thorough cleaning in otherwise inaccessible areas. New science behind fillings is also promising, including a product that bonds the filling to the tooth. There is on the horizon, the potential of actually growing teeth using pulp stem cells. It’s really remarkable and very exciting to watch develop.”
Advancements in implant technologies continue to see impressive growth, though Dr. Kerr finds that an area to particularly carefully evaluate. A believer that the ultimate goal of good, solid endodontics is the saving of a tooth, Dr. Kerr isn’t quick to recommend implants if there’s a chance a tooth can be saved. “When a dentist is having a hard time evaluating a tooth, we as endodontists, determine on a daily basis whether or not a tooth is diseased and can or should be saved and whether the dental pain is coming from the tooth or from something else.” Implants certainly have their place and when necessary, provide a terrific alternative for patients when a tooth just can’t be saved. Whatever the decision, patients will appreciate the time and energy Dr. Kerr and his team extend to educate throughout the entire case, explaining what procedures are recommended and why and making sure they have the information needed to feel comfortable with the decisions that are made.
Dr. Kerr enjoys the relationships he’s able to establish with clients. During the time they’re together, Dr. Kerr and the team at Kerr Endodontics take good care of their patients, providing a positive experience during a time that might otherwise be stressful for them. “A lot of fear comes from the unknown and so we place a lot of importance on the information and education that makes people feel better about the treatment process.”
Dr. Kerr says he couldn’t have chosen a better profession for himself and that his greatest satisfaction continues to be helping to alleviate the fear, pain and frustration that bring patients to his office from around the Valley. “When one of our previous patients sends a friend to us for care, that indicates we are achieving our goals and at the end of the day, that’s the science that really means something to us.”