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Interview with Skip Tyson, April 19, 2005 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Skip Tyson, April 19, 2005
April 19, 2005
In this interview, pediatric dentist Dr. "Skip" Tyson discusses his child-friendly practice, including techniques, methods and patient strategies unique to his specialty.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Tyson, Skip Interviewer: Zarbock, Paul Date of Interview: 4/19/2005 Series: SENC Health Services (Dentistry) Length 51:20

Zarbock: Good afternoon. My name is Paul Zarbock with the University of North Carolina--Wilmington's University Library. Today is the 19th of April in the year 2005 and our interviewee today is Skip Tyson, a dentist with a specialty in pediatric dentistry. Before we go anyplace, sir, why the name "Skip?"

Skip Tyson: Well the name is "Skip" is there, and I tell this story fairly often 'cause people ask 'cause my official name is Chester Julian Tyson IV, which is very official, and my son is Chester Julian Tyson V. But Chester Julian Tyson is not really good for a pediatric dentist. Now maybe for a heart surgeon or something like that it might be great. But uhm.. when I was born, a little note went around that said, "It's a Skipper," just, you know, a little- the note that would tell everybody uhm.. that "It's a Skipper." So it had a little skipper on it and that's how it came around. They started calling me "Skip."

Zarbock: Okay. Well, what individual, series of individuals or event or series of events led you into the selection of dentistry as a professional member of the Healthcare Delivery System Team?

Skip Tyson: Well, you know, I wanted to be with people. I wanted to work with people in sort of- in terms of being a dentist or being a physician or- or being an engineer, being an attorney or something like that. I just thought it would be-- That- so that- that was tough 'cause a lot of people work with people. But then I wanted to work in the medical field or the dental field or something to be able to help people. And then uh.. the- the bottom line was just kind of a sad story. I was a lifeguard-- It was a funny story. I was a lifeguard at a country club in Pennsylvania and uh.. whenever- uh.. and I'd be there all summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day. And the people that would come help me were the dentists. The dentists were out there all the time, hanging out with the children and playing golf and chillin' out and stuff and I would talk to them and they liked their lifestyle. You know, they had a nice lifestyle. And when I would go-- Uhm.. When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do in terms of dentistry or medicine or something like that, other people's lifestyles were- were tough, especially the- the physicians and- and the surgeons especially in the- in the physician area like orthopedic surgery and things like that. They had very long hours and they were always kind of the- the particular-- We have great orthopedic surgeons here in town that I love, but- but in my particularity, they were-- It was right in the beginning of the '90s and late '80s and I guess paperwork was really starting to get bad and everything. And- and people were really getting sick of all the paperwork and all the insurance hassle and everything like that at the time and they were really fed up. And so when I'd ask dentists, like, how they liked their life, what do they do, they really liked it. And so I started kind of looking towards dentistry a little bit more, interviewing more dentists and finally figured out--

Zarbock: So you got the mirthful group and the disgruntled group.

Skip Tyson: Exactly.

Zarbock: You went with the mirthful group.

Skip Tyson: Right. Exactly. I might have just interviewed the wrong people at the time. But, you know, at that time, it changed--

Zarbock: Where did you go to dental school?

Skip Tyson: At North Carolina, UNC Chapel Hill.

Zarbock: And you did your undergraduate work?

Skip Tyson: At Western Maryland College. It was a small little school in Maryland, a tiny little liberal arts div- lit- little division three school with about uh.. uhm.. 1,200 people - 1,200 students.

Zarbock: Where are you from originally?

Skip Tyson: From Pennsylvania. From Gettysburg, Uh.. South Central P.A.

Zarbock: Uh-huh.

Skip Tyson: Yeah.

Zarbock: And why did you come to North Carolina for dentistry?

Skip Tyson: I came to North Carolina Dental School because at the time uhm.. and it still is a very-- It was a very good school. It- it was top three or top four in the country. Uhm.. A lot of that's based on amount of research that's done and amount of money that goes in for research. So it's hard to tell clinically if it really turns out the best dentists, and I- I think all the dental schools do fine for that. But at the time, you know when you're interviewing, you're thinking about schools, you know, you look at those facts and figures and that stuff makes a difference. Uhm.. The other thing was it was cheaper for in-state. It was- it was very in-- It was inexpensive if you were in-state uh.. student. If you-- And so, if- if you could somehow move to North Carolina and become a resident, it was very cheap and just for posterity reasons, you know, at the time, uhm.. I think- uh.. I think our tuition at North Carolina was about $3,000 a semester uhm.. and in North- in Pennsylvania where I would have gone, it would have been about $15,000 to $20,000 a semester and that was in Philadelphia schools. So there was a difference between $40,000 a year or $6,000 a year, which is a big deal and when- maybe when students are looking at this tape 20-30 years down the road, I'm sure it'll be just- it'll be even worse. You know, they'll- they'll think either one of those numbers was a bargain.

Zarbock: One of the interesting things for me has been to look at the change in the application process for students entering dental school. Now I've interviewed some elder people - well, my age at least--

Skip Tyson: Right.

Zarbock: --Individuals and they talk about being given a piece of chalk or a piece of ivory--

Skip Tyson: For their tests.

Zarbock: --And they have to carve a tooth. It took them several days, maybe several weeks.

Skip Tyson: Right.

Zarbock: But the only thing that was permitted was perfection. Well, did you have to endure that?

Skip Tyson: We didn't, not- not at my age. And again, if you talk to some younger dentists too, they'll- they'll tell you the same thing. We didn't have to do that when they carved-- You know, they give them a block of chalk and they had to carve a tooth out of it. We didn't have to do that stuff. We have-- Ours was much more- uhm.. ours was much more uhm.. well, just more a question and answer kind of thing. We had this one thing, a spatial relationship uh.. part where you just had to do that kind of stuff to figure out spatial relations and stuff like that, which is kind of tricky, you know. But if I could do it, anybody could do it (chuckles) 'cause I'm definitely not a, you know- you know, I'm not a gadget kind of guy.

Zarbock: You're not?

Skip Tyson: I'm not. I'm really not.

Zarbock: Many of the dentists previously interviewed was talking about his kids making model airplanes, model boats and stuff like that.

Skip Tyson: Yes.

Zarbock: You never got into that.

Skip Tyson: Well, I didn't do that. And a lot of the dentists now, like, you know, my colleagues will be into woodworking and they'll do stuff like that and I don't- I don't do that stuff. I think a lot of that has- a lot of it may be the factor of being a pediatric dentist. You know, in pediatric dentistry, a lot of it's-- You know, I always joke and say half of it's like a show. You know, you're- you're half a Disney entertainer and you're half a dentist. You're not half a dentist, but you do-- You know, you're such- such an entertainer that, you know, that- that's part of the job is doing that. So, you know, in terms of the detail of our work, you know, it's- it's detail. But it's not as detailed as, say, somebody who was an endodontist, you know, who does root canals or someone who's a prosthodondist, you know, who does super crowns or a general dentist that does a lot of crowns and stuff like that. You know, we do fillings and things, but a lot of times, it's- you know, it's pretty quick and it- more of it- it's more fun and talking to the kids than anything.

Zarbock: How do you develop this rapport with the child? Brand new child comes in.

Skip Tyson: That's a good question. You know, it's funny in that--

Zarbock: Brand new patient was the child.

Skip Tyson: Brand new patient - right, and it depends on the age I think. A lot of it depends on the age. But- but again for timing reasons, it's fun to talk about the things that we talk about. You know, nowadays, you know, we still talk about Spiderman and Batman. You know, I think about the things-- We look at age appropriate, you know--

Zarbock: I'm sorry. Who are Spiderman and Batman?

Skip Tyson: Well Spiderman and Batman are our big- uh.., you know, our big superheroes and they've been superheroes for a long time. Uhm.., you know--

Zarbock: Movies, comic books.

Skip Tyson: Movies, comic books from the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s and Spiderman and Batman are- and Superman are making big comebacks.

Zarbock: T-shirts, sweatshirts and that--

Skip Tyson: T-shirts, sweatshirts, uh.. shoes, sneakers, light-up sneakers, you know, the little-- We have LED lights, you know, and kids come in with- with those LED lights and their light- shoes are lighting up and all the Spiderman--

Zarbock: So these are heroic figures.

Skip Tyson: Yeah, and the kids love that stuff. And so-- And a lot of times, we'll look- you know, a rapport will start-- It depends on their age. You know, and I will be honest with you; I have trouble with talking with the children- the teenagers. They're- they're tough for- for us whereas if you talk to general dentists, they- they don't wanna talk to a five-year-old. But we're so used to it. We could- I could handle a three-year-old, four-year-old, five-year-old great. But if a 13-year-old comes in that kind of thinks I'm silly or, you know- you know, they shouldn't even be in this office, it gets tricky. You know, it gets tough 'cause they don't wanna hear that. They're- they're-- You know, at this point in time, you know, a young- a young teenager knows everything and- and we don't know a whole lot. And so it makes it difficult. But-- go ahead.

Zarbock: Okay. So I'm daddy and I bring my three-year-old son, Maximilian, in who's never been in a dentist chair. The first thing that struck me is the architecture and interior design.

Skip Tyson: Right.

Zarbock: You know, this is not a sterile black and white sit down in that chair and shut your mouth.

Skip Tyson: And shut your mouth, right. Well we did that-- A lot of it has to do with this thing we call Wow Factor and it's something now-- It- it started back in the probably late, or at least I was aware of it in the late '90s into the 2000s, but the- there's- there's a speaker named uh.. Roger Levin who speaks a lot in the dental community right now and he talks about something called Wow Factor. And I'm sure it's out there. But Wow-- You know, out there in the regular real world too. But Wow Factor basically means you want the child and the parent to walk out and say, "Wow, that was cool." You know, what- what- and what can you do in your office to make them walk outta there and say, "Wow, that's cool," and tell somebody about it?

Zarbock: Would you mind telling me about your two front doors?

Skip Tyson: Yeah, and that's part of the Wow Factor and that's what we did, you know. We have two front doors and- and we have one door for the adults and we have one door that's just- it's an- and I'll explain it for the tape but-- 'cause, you know-- But it's- we have one regular outside door and then one small outside door that's built just like the big one, but it's small for children. It's about three feet high and- and I guess two feet wide. And uh.. it's heavy and everything and- and the kids just love it. I mean the kids love it. We have a-- You know, in the front it'll say, "Dr. Skip and Dr. Stephanie" on the front of the- the- the adult door and on the bottom, on the little door it says, "Dr. Skip and Dr. Stephanie, Pediatric Dentistry," except that's in comic font. You know, it's something that easy, you know, as a Wow Factor thing.

Zarbock: So they negotiate their own arrival into your environment.

Skip Tyson: Yeah, and they come running in 'cause they have their own little door.

Zarbock: Yes. The first thing they see in the lobby is--?

Skip Tyson: Is the boat. We have a big, you know, and I'll explain it. But- but we have- uh.. we have, and that's called a magnet. In- in pediatric dentistry, we have something called a magnet, and a magnet is something that you- you take- you get the children to so that they won't tear up the rest of your stuff. (chuckles) I mean, really. You know, so- so, you know, if you're gonna have three and four and five-year-olds running- running amok in your office, you kind of would like have them to have a place to go to play and maybe not just jump around all over the furniture and look- you know, looking at the fish and stuff like that. So, but first thing they would see was- would be the boat and they'd also see a big mural that's on the wall that looks kind of like-- Uhm.. We- we wanted it to look like Bald Head Island. We wanted it to look like you were at Bald Head Island in the Maritime Forest area, like where the palms were and the live oaks were and the hanging moss and little birds and animals were kind of hanging around. That's what we wanted 'em to feel like 'cause as you go back into the office, if- if you've noticed, there's a- there's a river. There's like-- The boat is in a river and the river goes back and then in the back here where all the chairs are, it's an ocean. So it's like the river's going to the ocean is how it- is the theory of it.

Zarbock: And in Wilmington, North Carolina, a maritime theme is a very common and--

Skip Tyson: That sort of thing. Right.

Zarbock: --User-friendly kind of thing.

Skip Tyson: Right. That's right. And so--

Zarbock: Okay. So I've got little Maximilian and I plump him in the chair and he looks at you in a suspicious way.

Skip Tyson: Right.

Zarbock: What do you do?

Skip Tyson: The first thing I say is I say, "Max, how are you?" And- and Max may not say anything. And I'll say, "Max, what's your--" And- and we have our chart, our chart-- Uhm.. Where the parents sign up, the parents sign things, we have a- on our chart, it'll have uh.. their- their favorite- their pets' names. It has their pets' names. It has their favorite hobby. It has uh.. what sport do they like to play. So we have a whole bunch of lead-in things and- and so we'll try everything we can 'cause we always wanna get them to talk to us. We'd much rather have them talk to us than a quiet, not-talking child. It's very hard to communicate that way. So the first things we'll ask are a bunch of open-ended questions. So the first thing I'd say is, "Max, is your dog brown or white?" You know, or I'll say, "Max, do you have a dog or a cat?" or, "Max, those are cool shoes. Where did you ge- you know, did your mom get those for ya?" or- or something- something like that.

Zarbock: You're going to get some response.

Skip Tyson: We'll get some response and then we can take it from there, you know, if- 'cause if he says he- he has a brown dog, you know, we'll just joke around and say, "Well does that dog, does he like to eat? What does he do? What- does he stay inside or outside?" You know, then we'll just start going and- and just start talking. It's the children-- The toughest children we have are children we can't communicate with whether it's, you know, a mentally- a mentally disabled child or uhm.. a deaf child 'cause I can't sign, do sign language. So that's very tough, or a child that speaks Spanish because I can't speak Spanish very well, and that's what's happening here in North Carolina at this point in time. At our- at our stage here in Wilmington, get a lot more Spanish people. We have a lot of migrants and a lot of Spanish-speaking people and all. So that's tough. But, you know, so if you brought Max in, that's the first thing I'd- I'd say - "Max, uh.. how are you?" or the next question would always be- uh.. usually uh.. uhm.. "What school do you go to?" you know, things like that, or "Do you have any brothers and sisters?" You know, just open-ended questions.

Zarbock: What about the parents? Are they in the operatory when you're examining the child and treating?

Skip Tyson: Well, that's a very good question and now in our- at our time, uhm.. back- back in the old days, which would have been-- Let's- let's call the "old days" '50s, '60s, '70s, parents were never allowed really in the back except for a few exceptions. It- it would- it just wouldn't happen. Uhm.. Nowadays, in our- in our society now, it's- it's- it's a much more litigious society. People are suing people for just about anything. Uhm.. So and- and hopefully it'll change. When you guys are looking at this tape 50 years from now, hopefully uh.. it's- somebody's come up with a way to keep that from happening. But-- So to answer your question, there's a lot of offices, a lot of pediatric dentists say they want all the parents, they want all the parents in the- uh.. in the back, in the tr- in the treatment area. We still are old-school and really try hard not to keep- not to have them come in the back. The reason why is that the children do so much better without the parents and they just do. You know, and they just do. And it's not for any reason. It's not to hide anything. In fact, if we could, we'd probably have closed circuit TV set up so the parents could watch. You know, there's-- We don't mind them seeing, but the children just do so much better without the parent in- in the operatory.

Zarbock: I would assume that on occasion, some of the parents give clinically adverse body language signs like, "Oooh. Ahhh. Oooh."

Skip Tyson: Right. Like they-- What do you-- What?

Zarbock: Well, you're going to give the child, you know, a shot.

Skip Tyson: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Zarbock: All of a sudden the parent winces.

Skip Tyson: Right. Oh, yes, right. The parents can definitely harm-- They can hurt you. They can help you too and we will have them come back every once in a while, you know, if we need some help and we think the parent could help in that situation, we'll do it. Uhm.. If a parent expresses uh.. like a very firm belief that they wanna be back there, we have a couple of ground rules that we have in terms of uhm.. not being right there by their side-- You know, they can be in there. We- in our office, you know, we have that- that little- there's a little area where the parents could kind of hang out and look through these little portholes and see in the back. Have you never been to the back?

Zarbock: Not yet.

Skip Tyson: I'm sorry. You need to see it. But there's little portholes that the parent could sit and kind of look through and see what's going on back there without actually having to be right next to the child. Now this is for older children; you know, for four and five and six. You know, for children that are one, two and three, we don't really expect them to leave their parent. And so we have a special room where the parents and the children can- can be together and then--

Zarbock: Dr. Tyson, do you have patients one year of age?

Skip Tyson: Yeah. We have young children. What do we do?

Zarbock: What is their presenting problem?

Skip Tyson: Right. Well, right now, it- you know, the Academ-- This'll be interesting. The Academy of Pediatric Dentistry uh.. at our time recommends that we see a child at a year of age now. Now it's a good question because most children a year of age have about eight teeth. You know, they may have their incisors and maybe some molars trying to come in in the back. What we found is, if we can get to these children early enough and get to- not the children. It's not the children. They have nothing to do with this. If we can get to the parents early enough and give them the right habits to start with in terms of what the child's drinking, how they're brushing their teeth, what they're eating, how often they drink certain things, we can keep that child cavity-free from the very beginning. So it's all preventative. And so if we wait and not see the child until they're five or six, it's usually too late. I mean either they're in good shape already or they've got cavities and then we have to start all over. You know, we have to start that whole thing - good habits and it's hard. It's hard to break old habits. You know, and so it's nice when we can get to 'em early. And it's still hard. In this day and age, we- a lot of people respond like that, like, "Why would you see a child at one and- or two or even three," you know.

Zarbock: How do you get a one-year-old to conform to your request, like, "Open your mouth?"

Skip Tyson: Right, and you don't- and that's what happens. We call those children pre-cooperative. You know, and this is all based on how I was trained, you know, so it's different. You know, if you talk to other pediatric dentists, they'll tell you different things and- and if you guys are going into pediatric dentistry down- you know, 30 years from now, I'm sure it'll be different. But at least how I was trained and how we were- my colleague was trained is we call that age pre-cooperative, which- which is the nice word for saying, you know, they're just too young to be able to figure it out. I mean there's no way they're gonna be able to do that. So what we do is a lap-- We do what we call a lap exam and it's kind of hard to- to talk about but if you can figure two adults looking at each other, uhm.. you know, their knees touching each other and the- the mom is- is sitting there facing me and the child uhm.. is- is hugging the mom. And then what we do is I'm- I'm right here at my knees and we just lay the child back into my lap and mom holds their hands and also kind of squeezes their legs and we just look. It takes like a minute. I mean the exam takes about a minute uhm.. and the child's crying and we'll- we'll explain that to the mother; that, you know, don't worry. It's a pediatric dental office. You know, if you were at another place, it might be bad but, you know, we're used to it. So don't sweat it, you know?

Zarbock: Is there a reward built in for children?

Skip Tyson: Not really. We try not to do that, you know. That's one thing that we're trained to do is not- uhm.. not to bribe. We're- we're trying to train not to bribe. Now, is there some bribery that goes on there? Sure. You know, we'll definitely do it. Uhm.. And there's definitely re- rewards after. As soon as they're done, they get down and we give him a- you know, they get a toothbrush and they get a sticker and they get uhm..-- We give them T-shirts. They- they all get-- Everybody gets a T-shirt that has our name and our little surfin' tooth logo and stuff like that on it. So there is a reward, but we try not to do it uh.. before. You know, we don't say, "If you lay down, you can have this T-shirt." You know, we don't do that kind of stuff. So and- and- and yeah, sometimes they don't wanna lay down. And in- in pediatric dentistry now at this age, uhm.. you know, children don't-There're six, seven, eight, nine-year-olds that don't wanna lay down, you know. And so that's when, as pediatric dentists being the last line of- of defense in terms of tooth decay on a nine-year-old, that's when we use different kind of drugs to- to- to sedate them or to make them feel more comfortable so that we can actually fix their teeth. Different than in the- in the '50s and '60s and '70s when it was just old-school, you laid down and you got it done, you know, or else dad was gonna come in and hold you down and stuff like that, or the dentist or the assistants were gonna to hold you down. Back to the litigious thing, we can't- we can't do that now. You know, there's no- there's no real restraining and if there is, we have to get major consent, signed and talk to 'em and everything. So there's no more like the old, you know, when I was a child, you know. And I'm- my dentist was great. I never had a bad experience, but it-, you know, if you weren't-- I hear stories from parents saying, "You know, they just held me down and did it," you know, and- and that's not what we wanna do nowadays if we can help it.

Zarbock: I interviewed an elderly and now retired dentist who said that when he started practice, for an anesthetic, he would call a supply house and they would send him cocaine tablets that looked like Alka-Seltzer tablets in aluminum packages.

Skip Tyson: That's amazing.

Zarbock: And I said if you ordered a truckload, would they send you a truckload? He said, "Sure." The only thing he had to do was pay the bill.

Skip Tyson: Right.

Zarbock: They would take these tablets. They would grind them up. They would add a mild saline solution. Fill up the hypo and bang, there you were.

Skip Tyson: That's amazing. Oh, that would be used to numb the tooth.

Zarbock: Yes.

Skip Tyson: Wow.

Zarbock: And that was it.

Skip Tyson: That's cool.

Zarbock: He said but since then, so many things-- So my question is--

Skip Tyson: That is really cool. See, that's some neat stuff. You know, I'm just a young guy. I can't give a whole bunch of good old, good stuff.

Zarbock: But you're contemporary. Tell me about the drugs that you use. How broad is your armamentarium?

Skip Tyson: Yes-- Well, it's very broad. Uhm.. It term-- I would classify at least the drugs that we use in a- well, three different scopes really. We have like local anesthetics that we use to make the tooth numb and then we have uh.. sedative kind of drugs that we use to have the children be- become sedated and become a little more cooperative. So the- the drugs that we use the numb the tooth, they- they've been around for a long time now and- and it's what everybody uses, like lidocaine, you know, like the stuff we used to call novocaine. We really don't have that anymore, but it's usually lidocaine or different kinds of "caines" and stuff. And they come in a little- like a little- you know, if you only go in a little syringe and- and, you know, when you use it, you- you throw it away. Uhm.. And that numbs the tooth and stuff like that and that's pretty much the same for anybody. The drugs we use to- now at this point, uh.. to- to have the children be sedated; we- we have all different things. The- the big drugs- the big drugs are called benzodiazepines. That's the big name for 'em. What that is is like Valium. Those- those drugs are like Valium. We have a drug called Versaid, which is in the same class as those benzodiazepine drugs and those drugs are really cool because uh.. they don't slow the heart rate down and they don't slow the breathing rate down. And those are all the things that scare you, especially back when we were younger. The drugs that were used for sedation were- were like narcotics, you know, like Morphine or uh.. uhm.. uh.. well, Fentanyl and- and drugs like that where people still use that. But for us, we do what we-- Pediatric dentists now at this time use what we call conscious sedation. That's the catch word for meaning they're still conscious but they're sedated.

Zarbock: How do you administer...?

Skip Tyson: They drink it. The children drink it.

Zarbock: Non-threatening.

Skip Tyson: Non-threatening. Sometim- sometimes they won't drink it and we have to put it in a syringe and squirt down their- you know, in their mouth. But there's no IV. You know, there's no shot. And- and that's the trick. You know, the oral surgeons and- and some pediatric dentists will start an IV. They will do intramuscular injection like a shot into the leg. But to me, that kind of ruins it all because that hurts. You know, you might as well just do the teeth, you know. So what we do is we give them this Versaid. A Versaid is awesome. Again, it's like Valium and- and- and Valium will still be around then probably.

Zarbock: And you can make it taste good.

Skip Tyson: We can make it taste good and what it does it works in about 10 to 15 minutes and- uh.. and maybe in 20 or 30 years, they'll say, "Ah, that stuff's old." You know, Versaid's old stuff, you know. But- but right now, it's the state of the art. It's what-- Pediatric dentists are always looking for the magic bullet, which-- They call it the magic bullet because it-, you know, it's safe. It works quickly. It- it- it doesn't last forever. You know, it doesn't sedate 'em all day, but- and they won't remember anything. And that's what Versaid does. Versaid, they- it gives them amnesia. So they don't remember anything while we're doing it. It takes- works in about 10 to 15 minutes. So we can give to 'em and not wait for hours. They- you know, it starts working pretty much right away and it gives us about a half an hour of time to do stuff; you know, to really work, to get teeth fixed.

Zarbock: I can't think of one profession in which clinical services are bestowed known to me in which a clinician, upon seeing a problem, gets a sinking feeling like, "Oh, I wish--." What sinking feelings, when a problem is presented to you, which is the--

Skip Tyson: Like the worst.

Zarbock: --One that you really--

Skip Tyson: Just bugs ya?

Zarbock: Yes.

Skip Tyson: Uhm.. You know, I- I think the-- Well, like the one we just had before we started this interview is the little ten-year-old who broke his front tooth; you know, who broke his permanent front tooth that- that- that he's gonna have to live with the rest of his life. And he's a- a great little boy, you know, a cute little dude and he's gonna have to have a root canal and then we'll try to bond some stuff on that tooth and see if it stays. And eventually, he's probably gonna have to have a crown, you know, and eventually have to have the crown replaced. So, you know, he just ran into an aluminum bat, which is interesting 'cause I don't know if they'll have aluminum bats then, but he just was playing baseball at night and just turn and ran and smashed into an aluminum bat and broke his tooth. So that gives me a sinking feeling 'cause I think if that was my son-- You know, nowadays, I have a chil- I have a child. I have a five and a three-year-old. You know, and I think now, I'm always thinking "If that was my son." If that was my son, I'd be bummed. The other thing that's- that's a- appropriate now at this point in our- in the- in 2005 is we have these permanent- these kids come in with uhm.., and this is why I love pediatric dentistry because, you know, these problems that give you a sinking feeling, they're not that big of a deal. Uh.. You know what I mean? They're a big deal to us and that's why my wife says she's glad I'm not a heart surgeon because I get- I take this stuff really personally- personal. But, you know, the- bad things are a broken front tooth. You know, we can fix that, you know. The other bad thing is- is hypo- eh.. what we call hypoplastic molars, and these things are where the molars, no fault of the child, but the molars, the permanent molars formed weird. They formed funny. They didn't form the way they were supposed to. They had some weird yellow deposits or weird brown deposits or weird stain and they're not very strong and they're weak and they get cavities real fast. And it's a real dif- difficult problem for us because the children are young. When their permanent molars come in, they're six and they're very hard to restore. These teeth are kind of chalky. They're very hard to fix and so that's a sinking feeling for me, especially for a family that's been good and everything's been good. The child's doing great and everything's good and all of a sudden, they come in for their checkup when they're, you know, you know, they're si- their regular checkup. We see every- you know, every child six months and- and they come in for their checkup and these molars are there and we have to tell 'em and it's a big pain.

Zarbock: Is that function of genetic pool, or what's your best guess?

Skip Tyson: No. We don't know. We do not know. We don't know. Some people say it's from too many antibiotics like when they're young. These teeth are forming at like birth to about a year. I mean they're really forming at birth to about a year. So we- we think it could be a trauma at- at birth. It could be like a lot of antibiotics. It could be a lot of ear infections. We- we don't really know. You know, it's funny 'cause sometimes we'll say- we'll see a child like that and we'll say, "Did your child have a lot of ear infections?" and "Yeah." Every once in a while, a parent will say, "Yeah, they sure did." You know, and we'll say, "All right. Must be from ear infection." But I'll- I'll ask another mom a week later and they'll say, "No, the child was perfectly healthy." And so, you know, it just- it sounds good if they say yes, but if they don't-- there's no cause and effect. We just don't know. But it's a pain. But again, back to that- about being a pediatric dentist, you know, those are probably- you know, if you asked that to a heart surgeon or you asked that to an oral surgeon even, you know, they'll say, "You know, what bugs me is when somebody dies." You know, that bugs me and- and, you know, that's one thing when I was thinking about what I wanted to do that I knew I didn't have the- I didn't have the conscience or- or the guts to be able to tell somebody they're gonna die or- or not be able to save somebody and have 'em die. You know, when I get ma- I get mad because we did a filling on a baby tooth and it fell out. We have to pull it out and that makes me mad. But it's a baby toothm in reality. Even though it bums me out and the poor child's got to go through it and we have to tell the parent and they're not real happy. But in reality, it's a baby tooth.

Zarbock: I'm going to broaden the field a little bit--

Skip Tyson: Yep.

Zarbock: --The question field a little bit. When you got out of dental school--

Skip Tyson: Yeah.

Zarbock: --Who taught you the business of being a dentist?

Skip Tyson: Yeah. Well, uhm.. nobody. Uh.. We didn't really learn that. You know, and that's probably what everybody's is if you've asked that question. You know, nobody has- has taught us really how to be dentists, you know. They- they- they try hard in the schools now. They're trying better and the- the American uh.. Dental uh.. Association is trying hard and we have what they call the Council of the New Dentists I think. And one of our colleagues here in town is on that - excuse me - where they're- they're- they're trying hard to- to teach these new dentists coming out about the business of dentistry. But what it turns out is they really can't. It's funny, and this is what I figure is they can't really teach you because it's not real yet. You know, when you're in dental school, you're just trying to learn how to fix teeth, you know, and how to fix people's mouths and stuff. So, you don't really care about the business of it. You know, you just- it's not that big of a deal. The only way you learn is when you're out, when you finally get out there and it hits the fan and you have to figure it out, you know.

Zarbock: But not only are you a professional, but you're also an employer.

Skip Tyson: Right. You're an employer and- and you're a bookkeeper and, you know, you're a manager. Exactly. And- and you're a marketer. You gotta do it all, you know. It real- it's tough. It's- it is. It's a tough thing.

Zarbock: Yeah, and of course there's the tax problems lurking over your shoulder.

Skip Tyson: Right.

Zarbock: You've got to maintain records.

Skip Tyson: Right.

Zarbock: You've got to maintain documentation on everything that you do irrespective of what it is. If you said "good morning," you better write it out.

Skip Tyson: Right.

Zarbock: "I've said, 'Good morning.'"

Skip Tyson: Right. It is that way for the patients especially and right, as an employer, for all our records. All our employees have records.

Zarbock: Well, did anybody mentor you when you came into that?

Skip Tyson: Did anybody--? Uh.. uhm.. you know, I went to a lot of courses. You know, I saw that Roger Levin uh.. person talk and that's funny because that was as a resident, you know, and I- I did my residency at- at Charleston, at the Medical University of South Carolina down there, from nice- '95 to '97 and Charleston was a great town. It still is and it'll still be one in 2050 or whenever. Uhm.. uhm.. but- but we didn't have a lot of training there either in terms of business management.

Zarbock: It's clinical skills.

Skip Tyson: Yeah. Clinical skills - learning how to deal with a situation and- and uhm.. we had a couple guys talk. But- but really going to conferences, seeing people like Roger Levin talk, you know, t- learning about Wow Factor and then just reading and just figuring out how-- What- you know, what you have to do is figure out what kind of practice you wanna have as well--

Zarbock: Did an architect help you in this office?

Skip Tyson: Yeah. Yeah. When I came-- My story, if- if it matters, but I'll just make it quick. You know, I came and I rented a space from an orthodontist here in town, an older orthodontist who's retired at this point. Uhm.. But he had two offices here in town and he said, "Skip"-- and it benefits the orthodontists to have a pediatric dentist with them because pediatric dentists have a lot of children. Orthodontists need a lot of patients and so it just works out great. And we never got into it. It wasn't supposed to be a, you know, "I'll see these patients and you get these braces on," but that's kind of how it works- it worked out, you know. So he benefited. But we rented two space- two offices. One was uh.. down next to New Hanover Hospital and the other was up near Laney High School. And so we got to share those two. We were one in every- you know, one a couple of days a week. And so what happened was we learned what we liked, what we didn't like about those offices. So we came to this one. To answer your question, I went to the architect and I had a drawing of what I wanted it to look like and he said, "Let me figure it out." And so we built office around that and the architect helped. So I hope it won't- well it might be boring with my- with my- my specific spiel.

Zarbock: No, really, I may have mentioned this off-camera before, when we first got acquainted.

Skip Tyson: Yeah.

Zarbock: One of the things that I would have loved to have done was to videotape George Washington's cook.

Skip Tyson: Oh, yeah.

Zarbock: Wouldn't that have been interesting?

Skip Tyson: Yes.

Zarbock: Give me everyday what was going on.

Skip Tyson: Right. Yeah.

Zarbock: I don't care about the Battle of Trenton. You can read that in a book.

Skip Tyson: Right. Right. You can read it.

Zarbock: But how were his table manners?

Skip Tyson: Yeah, exactly.

Zarbock: What did he prefer? How did she cook the food?

Skip Tyson: Right. Right.

Zarbock: Who did the dishes?

Skip Tyson: Right. That's exactly right.

Zarbock: So what you are telling me is how it exists right now.

Skip Tyson: Right.

Zarbock: And repeat, "When I am long gone, somebody's going to pick this up and say wow--

Skip Tyson: Worm hole.

Zarbock: --Way back there in the year 2000."

Skip Tyson: Right. Look at this computer if you can see it. That's what our computers look like now. I don't know if you can see it, but this is pretty much-- It's a little old 'cause some of this stuff's old, but- but that's it, you know. So we have a big server back there in the back that runs everything. So- and we wear scrubs like this.

Zarbock: That's another thing. Again, an older dentist said one of the biggest changes in dentistry that he had experienced over a substantial number of years was the change in garb that a dentist wears.

Skip Tyson: Oh, yeah.

Zarbock: He said, "When I first started off, I wore a shirt, a tie and--

Skip Tyson: No gloves.

Zarbock: No gloves. No mask. Nothing, and that stuff sprayed all over you."

Skip Tyson: Yeah.

Zarbock: But we dentists never got the run-of-the-mill stuff like colds and flus.

Skip Tyson: He just gets inoculated every day- every couple of days.

Zarbock: But do you wear a mask when you're examining the child?

Skip Tyson: Right. Yes, we wear mask and gloves.

Zarbock: Okay. What does that do to the infant?

Skip Tyson: Yes. That's right. Now we- you-- You know what? That's right. That's a good question to ask and we probably shouldn't show OSHA this 'cause they'll get mad. But uh.. we- I don't wear a mask very often when we're doing an exam, especially on an infant, you know, or two or three or four-year-old. We don't usually-- I- I don't and Dr. Freccia, my- my partner, might, but I don't wear a mask very often when we're doing typical exams. Just- that means just looking at their teeth and checking them out. When we're doing fillings and stuff and there's stuff flying everywhere, yeah, you know, that's when- that's when we'll put a mask on and usually uh.. glasses too if you don't have glasses.

Zarbock: Is that a scary thing for the patient?

Skip Tyson: Uh.. They seem to do fine. You know, especially at our place now, you know, we have those video games on the ceiling. You know, we have video games on the ceiling. We also have Nitrous Oxide, back to the drugs. You know, part of the- one of the- the first tier drug is Nitrous Oxide because you can- you can come in without it. You can leave without it. It just works right there when we're fixing those teeth, you know. So- so, we put- the child has Nitrous Oxide and we have video games on the ceiling and the video games are like uh.. uhm..-- Uhm.. We have Nintendo Game Cubes, which are what, you know, in 2005 that's what we have and they're running with disks and they're- they're really neat. And they have a wireless controller so their controller doesn't have a wire on it and they can just play the video game while we're fixing their teeth. So it's worked out awesome and I mean it's the best thing you could do (laughs) I will say. He's laughing back there behind me. (laughs)

Zarbock: What's your age range?

Skip Tyson: The age range is uhm.. we'd say- we'd say birth. We've seen a couple infa- neo- children that- just born, because they- sometimes they'll have teeth and parents want to know why they have teeth at that age and there's some fine--

Zarbock: Why do they have teeth?

Skip Tyson: Uh.. Don't ask me a clinical question. I'll have to look at my book. No. Their teeth are called- uh.. they're called natal- uh.. neonatal teeth and- or natal teeth depending on when they were formed and when they erupted. But sometimes it's usually the real baby teeth that have just erupted early and sometimes they'll have roots and sometimes they won't. And if they roots uh.. and if they're intact and strong, we'll let 'em in- we'll- we'll try to leave them there if we can as long as it doesn't interfere with breast feeding. If that- if that's a problem, because that can be an issue, then we have to deal with that. Uh.. But sometimes it's not. But anyway, so- so zero, but typically our- our first patient would be two to three and then we usually go to about 14 or 15 up to about 18. But I can't talk to an 18-year-old anymore.

Zarbock: I wonder what a 14, 15, 16 would prefer not being called a pediatric--

Skip Tyson: Right, a pediatric dentist, right. Yeah, and that's right. You know, and I joke about that and I say, you know, if the parents can- if the kids usually-- You know, parents will ask that frequently - "How long can we continue to come?" like if their children have been here since they were seven and now they're 13. I'll say, you know, if- if- you know, we'll say 18, you know, as long there's nothing major. If something happens that we don't feel comfortable to do, we'll let the general dentist- you know, we'll send them to their family dentist. If the child wants to stay, we'll let 'em stay. But if- if they can get past between like that age between like 13 and 14 where they don't think it's cool because then they definitely-- There's a point where they think it's not cool, like there's- "I'm too old for this crap." But- but there's a point where they'll find-- They'll think it's-- Like when they get to be 15 or 16, if they can make it to that they'll say, "This is cool man." You know, they joke around with their friends - they're going to see their dentist and they can play video games and stuff. They- they learn eventually that their general dentist won't have that type of stuff. No. Yeah, but that's prob- you know that's probably the answer to that.

Zarbock: Would you do it again?

Skip Tyson: Yeah.

Zarbock: Become a dentist?

Skip Tyson: I definitely would. Uh.. I would become a dentist. I- uh.. I--

Zarbock: And specialize as you have?

Skip Tyson: And specialize as I have. I definitely would. I mean I think I got lucky and found a niche. It's definitely a personality thing. I mean I think you definitely have to have-- You know, I think dentistry in itself, you have to have a certain kind of- of personality and a certain kind of uhm.. a drive and just, you know, kind of like knickknacks and stuff and I- I don't, but I've learned how to use my hands and- and deal with little things and stuff. But then uhm.. I think dentistry was great because it provides a- a nice- uh.. it provides a nice way of life. You know, you don't make millions of dollars. You know, I don't think you're a dev- you're not a developer. You know, I always say those developers out there developing land, and you're not a multimillionaire uh.. you know, you know, wealthy Disney CEO or anything like that. But you know, you have a good family life uh.. I- I feel. You know, you can- if that's what you want. I guess if you don't wanna be with your family, it's not good. But if you wanna be with your family, you know, you can set your schedule so you can be with them and- uh.. and you make, you know, a relatively nice income, you know, so you can afford to do things that you might like to do and- uh.. and you get to help people. You get to change people's lives. You know, it makes my day when people say, "Dr. Skip, me and my children love coming because they love coming down." I said, "They're gonna to love going the rest of their life because they've started out--" And that's, you know, I'm just a dentist, you know, but it's fun to feel like you're making a difference.

Zarbock: There are two topics that have produced an array, an interesting array of responses.

Skip Tyson: That's fine. Yeah.

Zarbock: I'm going to give you the topics and ask you to respond.

Skip Tyson: Okay.

Zarbock: Women and dentistry and number two, mercury.

Skip Tyson: Oh, that's funny. Okay. Yeah, the women and dentistry with the older guys is, yeah, that's interesting. Yeah. You know, for my generation, it's not that big of a deal mainly just because uhm.. you know, it's fun. It- it- I wish I could see- I'd love to see the see the tape of you- with the older- the older guys, you know, 'cause it'd be interesting to see because, you know, we- I- I had dental- I had women in my dental school, you know, in my class. You know, they- we all- we were probably 35% women in my class and now it's probably 50/50 I think. It's really up there. So it was never a big issue. It's not a big issue with me at all. Uhm.. eh.. you know, the- the older guys, they- they didn't even hav-- I mean some of those guys didn't even have Black people in their class, you know. So I mean that's- that's amazing if you think about it. I mean that was in the '50s and they had- they didn't even have Black people in their class.

Zarbock: It was all white males.

Skip Tyson: It was all white men, you know, which is just craz-- It was only 50 years ago, which is a lot. Yeah, you know, it's getting there. It keeps going farther and farther back, but, you know, they talk about how the patients, you know, like, and I don't mean to get into this, but it's just interesting to me. It's history, you know. The- the Black patients weren't even allowed up in the one clinic. You know, they had their own clinic and- and in North Carolina, you know, in the- in the '50s. So they have a whole bunch-- You know, the older dentists have been through that kind of stuff. But I mean I can't imagine, you know, seeing, you know, Black dentists now and seeing women in dentistry. You know, we have-- There's tons of women dentists here in North Carol- in- in Wilmington especially. Uhm.. And it's- I mean it's great. I think the only issue is- is that right now at this time, we feel like we're gonna have a shortage of dentists 'cause we have a lot of women in dentistry and women are gonna have children and the women may retire early or may decide not to work. So people are worried that there is gonna be a shortage. Is that good?

Zarbock: Let me ask directly. Have you ever notice any difference in clinical skill, difference in diagnostic treatment - anything - between men and women?

Skip Tyson: No, not one time. Never. Never.

Zarbock: And patient contact and patient involvement is a function of personality?

Skip Tyson: Yep.

Zarbock: And you're not going to send somebody to a milling machine and turn everybody into the same personality.

Skip Tyson: Right. Exactly. Exactly. So it's all different and I have no- there's no difference I- I don't think between a man and a woman at all. Now I would say as a fighter pilot, you have things like- you have things like that where, you know-- You know, that might be a little different. I don't know. I know we have women fighter pilots and stuff, but I- you know, I think in dentistry uh.. I mean I don't- I don't think there's any difference at all. In fact, sometimes, it may be non- you know, I would think sometime- they may have a little softer side, you know.

Zarbock: It seems to me in any clinical area, you really have to have, should have at least the personality that connects with what the clinical work is going to be.

Skip Tyson: Exactly. Right. If you're a heart surgeon or a brain surgeon, you better like it.

Zarbock: Then you better like it.

Skip Tyson: Yeah.

Zarbock: And you have to have the personality to go--

Skip Tyson: Have the personality - exactly. I was at a really neat conference uh.. a year ago and it was a personality conf- it was a person- it was a con-- I thought it was gonna be boring. I thought it was gonna be boring. It was about uh.. uh.. personalities and- and personality tests, you know, and how you do it. And this- it was a great test and there's a book out there. I can't remember who wrote the book, but he talks about lions. He breaks personalities into four different kind- kinds of people - bears, no, no, no., beavers. I can't remember now. There's a beaver. There's a uh.. - oh, shoot. I can't remember. But anyway, there's four animals and it's really neat because you can run the test in like five minutes at your office. The girls fill out a thing and it's really neat to see how everything- you know, the girls all fit into different things. Oh, I know. There's a lion. There's a golden retriever. There's a beaver and there's something else. So the lion's like the real, like, take-charge person. The golden retriever is a making-everybody-happy person. Uh.. The beaver is, like, keep-everything-in-order person, and uh.. there's somebody else, but I can't remember. But it's neat because, you know, it cam- it was true. You know, our people at the front, you know, our bookkeeper; you want them to be more of a beaver person. They don't need to be golden retriever. They need to be like-- They don't wanna really be out here saying hi and stuff. Someone like me, you know, I was more like a golden retriever, uh.. a little bit of a lion kind of person. So I like to be a leader, but I also like to be joking and talking and stuff. So you don't want that person doing your bookkeeping. My wife taught me that, and that's why I don't. I don't do that. See, I don't do the bookkeeping. My wife does that.

Zarbock: What about mercury?

Skip Tyson: Mercury? Uhm.. Interesting. I'm in a, you know, a dif- different spot being a youn- younger dentist, but I'm- I'm not so young that I don't not use it. You know, I think some of the younger guys, the real younger guys might not use it at all. We use it. I- you know, I know mercury's obviously a poison, but in amalgam, which amalgam, which we use for fillings, it's in there. Uhm.. But it's been shown from, you know, millions of studies from the ADA that it- it doesn't not leech out in a- in a- in a toxic amount or even an anything amount.

Zarbock: Although that accusation has been made.

Skip Tyson: That accusation was made about 20, well, 15 years ago I'd say. When I was in dental school, actually, I think it was in the- the mid-'80s, late '80s maybe.

Zarbock: And bring on the lawsuits.

Skip Tyson: And bring it on, yeah. And now, the dentists lose their licenses now. The ADA will take your license away if you tell somebody you have to have your merc- the amalgam fillings taken out of your mouth because of the mercury.

Zarbock: Is that right?

Skip Tyson: Yeah, because people were trying--

Zarbock: Isn't that interesting.

Skip Tyson: It's interesting.

Zarbock: Because a dentist told that to me. He wanted to remove all of my fillings because I was being poisoned.

Skip Tyson: Is that here in town?

Zarbock: No.

Skip Tyson: Okay. Good. Okay.

Zarbock: No, this is a different state, different town.

Skip Tyson: Okay. Yep, that's right and- and if you did that-- You know, because in dentistry, and I tell people this a lot, you know, dentistry is just like every other profession. I mean, you know, we- hopefully we have a lot of good people. But every once in a while, you're gonna have some bad-- You know, there's gonna be bad people everywhere. There's gonna be people trying to make money and stuff. And so what happened was all these- a lot of the- a lot of these particular guys said, "Oh, we're gonna- we're gonna make a fortune." You know, everybody's gotta have-- You know, 60 Minutes came out and these people were poisoned by their fillings. "Man, that's great. We're gonna have to take everybody's fillings out." You know, what they found and- is that- uh.. and Dr. Freccia could, my- my partner, could help me maybe more to this. She's- she's a little younger there. She may be more up on- on this, but the studies that were run, the- the children, I mean the people are exposed to much more mercury when you vaporize it trying to remove the amalgam than if you just leave it in there. It's like an asbestos ceiling. You know, if the asbestos is intact in the ceiling, you're fine. But as soon as you try to remove it, it gets in your lungs. Well that's what happens to mercury. So, you know, all these peop- dentists saying this stuff is just ridiculous, you know. So- so now a day, you know, we- we- for our personal use, you know, we- we use a mercury even on a child- you know, even on the younger children, especially if- if you can't-- You know, mercury is still-- Amalgam, not mercury; but amalgam, which is made with mercury and tin and different kinds of other metals, is still great. It's the closest that, still is the closest thing we have to tooth structure. You know, it wears the same. Uhm.. And- and- we could put it-- It could be wet. You know, the- the new fillings we have now, _______ with the white fillings that we bond; you know, we- we etch the tooth and we bond the tooth and then we glue the filling to it, you know, almost like a painting process. That stuff cannot be messed up. It's gotta be perfect. That whole- every stage of that cannot get saliva on it. It can't get wet. It can't do any of that stuff. So if you have a five-year-old with a big filling that needs to get done, you know, you're not gonna get to do all those steps and the amalgam's great. You put-- You can plug-- You can take amalgam, put it on finger and stick it in there and smooth it off and you're done. You know, we don't do that, but you can. And that's what we've done. You know, I have fillings in my teeth that have been there since I was ten and they've lasted great.

Zarbock: Isn't there a very elaborate and demanding disposal system that has to go along with mercury?

Skip Tyson: Yeah, there is. They're very-- Yeah, there is.

Zarbock: I mean you can't just put it in the empty tin can--

Skip Tyson: You're not supposed to just dump it down the drain and stuff like that. That's right. Yeah. There's a big deal. So yeah. I don't know that much about that, but yeah. And we're not removing a whole lot of amalgam, you know, but the-- And- and for, you know, there's nothing wrong with the composite and stuff and there's nothing wrong with amalgam and if, you know, somebody says, you need to have your amalgam removed because it's messed up and stuff like that then yeah, that's fine. If you wanna replace it with a white filling that's cool, but don't-- I don't-- I- I really believe that you shouldn't remove-- Now maybe ten years down the road I may wanna say, "Hey, can I see that tape. I wanna change that." You know, but right now, uh.. the amalgam, if- if it's healthy and it's great, leave it. I mean if it's in good shape.

Zarbock: Permit me a little whimsy here please.

Skip Tyson: Sure.

Zarbock: Do you have a story or two about the strangest things that happen? Again, older dentists whom I've interviewed always monitor, "You won't believe this, but--"

Skip Tyson: Right. Strange things. Okay. One thing is a funny story. Uhm.. Well one is uh.. when I was a resident. Uhm.. The children in our waiting room; there was a big playhouse that you could climb up; you know, a big play hut that you could kind of climb into and get up into the- you know, into the windows and stuff like that. Well, the kids, they didn't wanna go to the dent-- You know, a lot of those kids-- As a- when you're in residency, you see a lot of children and a lot of 'em don't really wanna be at the dentist. And- and- the- first of all, our residency was in the hospitals, had to walk into the hospital. It wasn't exactly the most friendly place. We'd go out there to pick up our children and they'd be- they had climbed up into this fort and hid up in the corner. (laughs) Well, we then get up. So we'd have to climb up in this fort, grab them by the legs and start trying to like pull 'em out this fort (laughs) and try to get 'em in there. So that was always funny. And then uh.. one child one day got his feet in the window - I mean this is pediatric dental stories - one time in the door and he got- he got his feet, you know, up like this and his arms up like that (laughs) and we could not get up there. Then we finally had to get like three or four people to actually get him into the clinic. So it was kind of funny. I had one-- Uh.. A lot of this is behavior management stuff, but one of the dentists here in town called one day uh.. when I first started and he said- he said, "Skip, I've got- got a patient over here I need you to see." And I see, "Okay. That's cool." An- and he said, "Well, he's locked himself in my bathroom." (laughs) He said, "He ran outta my chair and ran into my bathroom and locked the door. I can't get him out." And I said- I said, "Wow. I'd be glad to look at him, but, you know, you're gonna have to get him out of your bathroom first. You know, I'm not coming over there, you know." So, you know, those kind of stories, the behavior management stories are pretty funny. Uhm.. Can't really think-- I mean we always have funny kid stories. Uhm.. One little boy, for like two years, all he wanted to wear in here was a Batman costume. So every time he came in here, he was a Batman and so-- Batman pants and shirt and like the mask and everything. He was Batman every time. That was kind of cute too. But just little things like that, you know.

Zarbock: But as I've walked around briefly in your clinical area here, I'm impressed with the variety of colors. It's soothing, but there's an abundance of different--

Skip Tyson: Very soothing.

Zarbock: The mirth of your staff. You know, they go around smiling and seem to be enjoying what they're doing.

Skip Tyson: Right. Be happy.

Zarbock: Yes.

Skip Tyson: Yeah.

Zarbock: This is a great practice.

Skip Tyson: Well, thank you. Yeah, and that's-- It all starts from- from the beginning. You know, you just decide what you wanna do. You know, and if I feel like if I came in or Dr. Stephanie came in and we were uh.. grouchy right away and started barking at people right away, everybody's gonna be barking. So even if you really-- It's really a Disney show. I mean really. Like uhm.. I have to watch out when I get home 'cause sometimes we're on stage all day. I mean we joke. We call it Disney. Our passwords are Disney, you know, here because we want everybody to just think, you know, this is-- We want it to be like Disney. So, you know, on the way home, it's kind of har- you gotta to recharge. You know, you gotta be ready. See, my children are five and three. So I want to be ready for them just like I am here. It's hard sometimes. My wife ends up getting the brunt of me usually. I try to be, but I'm just "ahh." You know, you just- you know, you can only smile and be so happy for so often.

Zarbock: I remember a parallel story from another dentist who said, "I have to make decisions all day long. When I go home and my wife asks me, 'Well, do you want to go out for dinner tonight?'" I said, "Just tell me if we're going to go out and don't ask me what I want for dinner. Put it on. I'll eat it."

Skip Tyson: That's great. That goes hand-in-hand; you know, and this happens I think a lot in the- in my circumstance. You know, we're all bosses in our own office. You know, I mean it's a- it's a small- it's a small little thing. It's not a lot of people. You know, but you're still- you're the boss of it. So when you leave, it- it's hard, you know, to- to take orders-- You know, if your wife says, "Could you please-- You know, why don't you clean up those dishes or something?" You know, you're like, "Don't tell me to clean up the dishes. Nobody tells me--" You know, but that's your dishes and you should clean them up. You know, and it's been- that's been hard I mean at first to kind of figure that out, but I figured it out, you know.

Zarbock: Dr. Tyson?

Skip Tyson: Yes.

Zarbock: Thank you for your time.

Skip Tyson: Thank you very much.

Zarbock: This has been a great interview.

Skip Tyson: That's good. I hoped I talked enough about the present.

Zarbock: You did. Fair thee well, sir.

Skip Tyson: Thank you.

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