Even after 36 years, Dr. Mark Fort is continuing to expand his dentistry business by embracing a new partnership, new technology and valuable relationships with patients.
Fort opened his office in August of 1983, with only two treatment rooms and one employee who worked for him as a receptionist, assistant and bookkeeper. In August of 2019, Dr. Matt Johnson merged his practice with Fort — Matt practiced for 10 years with his father Dr. Mike Johnson until he retired.
Fort — whose office has expanded to include four treatment rooms since his current location on East Byers was built in 2005 — said he plans to continue to grow, especially in the use of cutting-edge technology.
“I’ve really embraced technology,” Fort said. “I think that’s one of the reasons that Dr. Johnson approached me to join up. In the last 18 months, we’ve updated our digital X-ray sensors, added a second digital Intraoral scanner, and updated our original intraoral scanner. I’ve been making digital scans and in-office crowns same-day for over five years now.”
Fort said that merging his practice was a good decision. The personality conflict that can be the biggest challenge with sharing a practice has not been an issue for the two, who say they are doing their best to learn from each other.
“Dr. Fort and I agree on lots of the basics of treating patients,” Johnson said. “We both try to focus on the fact that we’re treating a person, not a tooth. We spend more time talking in the room than we should, mainly because that’s what I’d want as a patient. It’s a relationship and I don’t ever want to be someone who is just looking to get onto the next tooth.”
Fort has a similar mindset, saying the most rewarding aspect of his job is the relationships built with patients. Although a lot has changed since the ’80s when dentistry was silver fillings and the occasional gold crown, Fort said his main objective has stayed the same.
“I’ve told people over the years that my goal is to make their visits to the office a little more fun,” he said. “We talk and laugh with our patients. I noticed at our office Christmas lunch this year what a great group I have with me.”
Fort has experienced many successes over the years, but it’s simply seeing people be confident in their smiles that are some of the most rewarding.
“I am particularly excited about a gentleman who has been without teeth for some time,” Fort said. “He had implants placed on the upper and lower, and we are nearing completion of his case. I cannot wait to see him smile.”
Fort said he also enjoys taking care of young patients, who usually come with their parents the first few times to ease them into the dental chair. Fort said after watching their mom or dad get their teeth cleaned, most toddlers will ride in the chair and allow him to check and clean their teeth.
“It’s not long until they can’t wait to get back to get their teeth cleaned again,” Fort said. “I have a little girl in particular who is a 4th-generation patient. Her great grandmother still comes to me. If she needs a filling, she just plops in the chair and opens her mouth. She trusts me.”
That ability to help someone’s entire family and develop such close bonds has helped keep the job enjoyable for nearly four decades.
“It’s been a great place to work and grow a family, and it seems to be getting better all the time,” Fort said. “How fortunate of a choice that I made because look at all the cool stuff I get to play with now. Plus I get to talk to new and old friends all day long.”