Taking Care of Your Smile

An exclusive Q&A with Park West Dental’s Dr. Drake

Published online: Sep 26, 2021 Articles, East Idaho Health I.F. Magazine Staff
Viewed 1613 time(s)

A smile is one of the first things people see when they look at your face. However, finding the right care in the Idaho Falls area can be challenging when there are so many options. 

Park West Dental’s Dr. James Drake grew up on a dairy farm in Victor. Now, he is an accomplished dentist ready to serve the East Idaho community, providing happier smiles.

IFM: What led you to choose your current profession?

JD: When you grow up milking cows at 6,200 feet above sea level, 30 below zero in a barn, you'll find a way to find an inside job. I'm not man enough to be a farmer. So I figured I better find a way to add value to people's lives without farming. I love to work with my hands. I like to build things and try things. I'm interested in restoring everything from antique forges to vehicles to wagons to chainsaws. I think that's a part of what attracted me to dentistry, as well as the economic stability. 

IFM: What advice do you have for locals?

JD: Flossing is probably the No. 1 most neglected thing that people should do that they don't do. The fluoride in our water is about half of what's recommended by the American Dental Association. The difference is usually made up if they're utilizing toothpaste and flossing regularly. Kids and parents tend to mirror each other. If the parents have poor home care, so do the kids. Good dental hygiene habits are key.

IFM: Do you have any advice for how to teach those habits to children?

JD: First of all, do it yourself. I had a young mother today who said she was struggling with her toddler, because the toddler didn't want to brush. I'm a big proponent of the combination of the love and logic principles. If a kid feels that they're in control of their life, they're more likely to allow you to help with that. I recommend giving all kinds of choices to the child. Let them choose whether to brush their top teeth or their bottom teeth first. Let them choose between the Dora the Explorer toothbrush or their Minion's toothbrush.

I also recommend using what is called the Plackers flosser. This way they don't have to wind floss around their fingers and jam their whole hand in a child's mouth. Flossing those back molars on children is really important and they should start as soon as the teeth start coming close to touching one another in the back. Floss before brushing to break up all the plaque and then allow the fluoride from the toothpaste to get around those teeth and help prevent cavities.

IFM: What do you enjoy most about your job?

JD: I think it's seeing restored teeth. I think it's akin to when a contractor finishes a house and can step back and say, “Look at what me and my team did!” What I enjoy most is being able to say, “Look, we fixed something.” That or relieving a patient of pain. Sometimes they've been in pain for 3 days or 3 years. 

Good teeth add so much to your quality of life. It relieves social anxieties that patients struggle with. It provides nutrition by allowing people to enjoy the things they like. Patients who have bad teeth can’t eat an apple and that can really decrease their quality of nutrition.

IFM: What are some of the new cutting-edge technologies that you are using?

JD: We use the Solea laser, so we can repair cavities without numbing a lot of times because we don't have to use the drill so much. We also use the Picasso laser for cold sores to help kill the cold sore virus that's active and causing those lesions on their lifts. Then, for the materials we use everyday we make sure the composite materials have characteristics similar to that of natural teeth. This allows them to bond well to the natural tooth. 

IFM: What should people be aware of when seeking dental care?

JD: I caution people all the time against shortcuts, which are crowns that are made too quickly or not finished properly. A lot of those are made in the office on a machine as digital scanning technologies are getting better. However, in my opinion, they’re not up to the standards of the “old tried and true methods.” Sometimes I think the crown-in-an-hour or crown-in-a-day concept can be done well, but I just don't see it being done well very often. And so I would caution patients to avoid shortcuts. 

For More Information 

Park West Dental

885 Pancheri Dr 208-932-4607


To read more of the September issue click here.


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