Snell provides general dentistry at private practice
Jerry Snell II
Cherokee Nation citizen and dentist Jerry Snell II performs an examination on a patient at his private practice Keys Family Dentistry, which he has owned and operated for 15 years in Keys. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Keys Family Dentistry is at 25279 Highway 82 in Keys, and provides general dentistry services. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
KEYS – Cherokee Nation citizen Jerry Snell II has known since graduating high school that he wanted to practice dentistry and have his own business.
After attending three colleges and obtaining a degree, he has owned and operated Keys Family Dentistry for the past 15 years.
Snell initially worked for the tribe at the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell for four years before opening his practice, which provides general dentistry services such as fillings, extractions, crowns, dentures, cleanings and exams.
“When we opened up here, it was by The Lodge off of Indian Road (in Keys),” he said. “We were there for seven years, just a general dentistry practice doing fillings, extractions, crowns, dentures, that kind of stuff.”
Keys Family Dentistry is now located at 25279 Highway 82 at the north end of town and has been there for the past eight years.
Snell also partnered with a dental office in Locust Grove for 10 years. But after selling it a year and a half ago, he is full-time with his practice in Keys. He said he believes he made a difference with patients in those 10 years.
“You can tell a difference. Whenever we got the Locust Grove office, as far as the patients and what the health care was in their mouth to whenever we left, I felt really good about it when I left. I could see an improvement,” he said.
He currently has a staff of four. Most are CN citizens or they worked for the tribe in some capacity, and he said it is important to him to have representation.
“I grew up at Colcord, Oklahoma. My dad worked for the tribe for 43 years in social services, so I came back home after dental school. I wanted to stay around here, stay around my people,” he said.
He also works with other tribes when patients are referred to him for care. “We do a lot for different tribes. That’s what we’re here for, is to try and help our people.”
Snell belongs to the Society of American Indian Dentists as a board member and his goal is to assist youth who are interested in the dentistry field.
“I’ve been on that board for a number of years now,” he said. “One thing that we try to do is get youth into dentistry and try to help them along. That’s kind of our thing. What’s great about the business is kids need contacts to help them get into dental school and good resources as far as people they can talk to.”
Snell sees clientele from around the Lake Tenkiller area, Tahlequah, Stilwell and even from his hometown.
“That’s one of the gratifying things about dental, too, is helping people that you’ve grown up with and been around that come back and trust you,” Snell said. “What was a surprise for me here is all the people who moved here are retired and I do a lot more dentures and partials than I ever thought I would when I went into a private practice. We went from no patients when we opened up to, I’m not even sure, just staying busy.”
Snell said he likes being present with the patients as he helps them.
“The specific thing is when you’re helping people and you’re right there with them. I like the fact, too, that every day is different,” he said. “You’re doing the same procedures but it’s different with different people. It’s a challenge and I enjoy it. When I was starting out and even when I was growing up, I was never afraid of the dentist. You hear story after story after story, ‘I’m afraid,’ I hear it every day. And I never was. You try to be compassionate and get them through it. A lot of times those people that are scared, when you get through it, they’re going to stick with you forever,” he said.
Keys Family Dentistry is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and the first Friday of every month. For information, call 918-458-5155.