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Cumberland Endodontics: Coming out stronger! A practice that wouldn’t stop

At Cumberland Endodontics, Drs. Adam Davis, Jonathan Uhles, and Eshwar Arasu persevered after a tornado and are growing with the help of a great staff and technologies like GentleWave.

Left to right, Dr. Jonathan Uhles, Dr. Adam Davis, and Dr. Eshwar Arasu stand at the site of their Mt. Juliet office — slated to re-open in 2022

Drs. Adam Davis, Jonathan Uhles, and Eshwar Arasu show resilience in challenging circumstances

Tell us a bit about your backgrounds

Dr. Adam Davis: I am the youngest of four children. My mom was a dental assistant, and my dad was a Naval Officer. We had the opportunity to live in Florida, Rhode Island, Virginia, Hawaii, and Spain. In junior high school, golf became my passion and ultimately led me to play for Bethel College in McKenzie, Tennessee. After accepting the U.S. Navy Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP) scholarship for dental school and attending the University of Tennessee, my next 5 years were an adventure — serving my country and allowing me to explore all dental specialties. After completing my naval service and my endodontic residency at Virginia Commonwealth University, I returned home and opened Cumberland Endodontics.

Dr. Jonathan Uhles: I grew up in Cookeville, a small town in the heart of middle Tennessee. I was fortunate to have parents who instilled in me the value of hard work from a young age. They believed in me and knew that I could do anything I wanted in life if I were willing to put in the work to make that dream a reality. I was fortunate to attend the University of Tennessee Health Science Center for dental school. Following graduation, I completed a fellowship with the Department of Endodontics and Operative Dentistry before entering and completing my postgraduate residency in Endodontics, where I received my MDS and certificate in Endodontics in 2014.

Dr. Eshwar Arasu: I was born in India and immigrated with my family to the United States. After stints in Nevada and Hawaii, we eventually settled in Columbus, Ohio. I attended the University of Michigan to pursue a degree in Biomedical Engineering before enrolling in the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. After enduring winters in Ann Arbor and Boston, I welcomed the opportunity to complete my residency training at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond where I was awarded an MSD and certificate in Endodontics. I joined Cumberland Endodontics as an associate in 2017, became Board-certified in 2019, and partnered with Drs. Davis and Uhles in 2020.

Why did you choose endodontics as your focus?

Dr. Davis: Since a young age, I have been competitive and always wanted to excel at whatever I did. This has led me to only do a few things, but attempt to do them as well as possible. In addition, I have always enjoyed challenging myself. Endodontics seemed like the most difficult procedure in dentistry, and I believe my competitive nature serves my patients well, as I hate to lose; when a case is particularly challenging, I get great satisfaction out of overcoming that challenge for my patients.

Dr. Uhles: As ridiculous as this sounds, I honestly think endodontics chose me. I went to dental school fully expecting to become a general practitioner and move back home and take over the practice of my family dentist. Once I did my first root canal treatment as a dental student, I was hooked!  I loved the challenge of that procedure and was always fascinated by the internal anatomy of the teeth. There’s no doubt the “thrill of the fill” left me wanting more.

Dr. Arasu: I’m a creature of habit. I learned in dental school that endodontics afforded me the opportunity to hone a procedural craft. Every case has its own unique challenge — sometimes subtle — that rewards patience and skill. Relieving patients of their dental pain has also helped me find professional purpose.

Pretreatment patient education with Dr. Uhles

How has the specialty evolved over the time you have been in practice?

Dr. Davis: In my 20 years of practicing, technology has made things more predictable for our patients. Practitioners can be more efficient to determine cases they should or should not treat, which is important since the addition of technology to our practice typically adds some fixed costs to the procedure. With the addition of CBCT, heat-treated files, and the GentleWave® System, practitioners can provide conservative endodontic access, dentin conservation, minimal shaping, and outstanding treatment with more efficiency than ever before.

Dr. Uhles: I was fortunate enough to enter this specialty when technology had really revolutionized the way care was delivered. I was trained with the dental microscope and CBCT technology. The biggest change I’ve personally witnessed is the introduction of multisonic cleaning of the root canal system. Without question, it has revolutionized the way we care for our patients and allows us to predictably address the complex anatomy within teeth.

Dr. Arasu: I am a relative newcomer to the specialty, but I have come to rely on preoperative CBCT imaging and intraoperative cleaning afforded by the GentleWave Procedure. My patients often marvel at the technological progress that’s enabled comfortable care relative to the procedures they underwent decades ago.

Dr. Uhles presenting for Sonendo® at AAE18

Is there any equipment that you wouldn’t want to do without for your practice?

Dr. Davis: Our office has always been out front in regards to adding technologies to improve care for our patients. My must-haves would be microscopes, CBCT, heat-treated files, and the GentleWave System.

Dr. Uhles: Up until a few years ago, I used to say there are three pieces of technology I couldn’t work without: the dental microscope, CBCT, and the electronic apex locator. Today, I’d have to add the GentleWave Procedure to that list.

Dr. Arasu: I can echo Dr. Uhles on the usefulness of those technologies and will add among them digital record keeping. Patients and providers alike are happy to minimize physical paperwork whenever possible.

CBCT imaging, operating microscopes, and GentleWave
technology in action with Dr. Davis

Tell us about the recent tornado, and how your supporting partners helped you to rebuild and reopen.

Dr. Davis: Wow! The tornado was on the ground for nearly 60 miles — a remarkably rare occurrence. There are definitely certain events in your life that you can remember with amazing detail. That day, week, month, year was one of those for me. We had friends who were huddled with their families as the tornado ripped their house apart. We only lost our building. Dr. Uhles and I started communicating a little after midnight, right after the tornado came through. My description of the inside of the building is to imagine a giant from Harry Potter picking the building up, shaking it like a snow globe, and putting it back down. After we assessed, contacted our insurance company, and rallied help, we got to work. There was so much to do it was overwhelming, and yet somehow “doing” is what kept us sane. In addition, as March ended, the COVID-19 shutdowns started!  Thankfully Dr. Uhles, Dr. Arasu, and I leaned on each other and worked maybe as hard as we ever have to get up and running in a temporary office in about 9 weeks. We could not have done any of it without the best staff out there. As we head into 2022, we are looking forward to seeing the hard work pay off with what will be our crown jewel in our new office and teaching center.

Severe tornado damage to a Cumberland Endodontics office pictured in the early morning and afternoon of March 3, 2020

Dr. Uhles: March 3, 2020, is certainly a day I will never forget. The tornado that devastated middle Tennessee made a path between our office and the oral surgeon’s office next door. Seeing the devastation was heartbreaking, but we were also thankful for our safety and the fact it occurred during non-business hours. The first week, I don’t think I slept. There wasn’t really a pause to take in the full effect of what happened or to grieve; we just immediately went into recovery mode. Each of us carried some of the burden to ensure that we progressed as quickly as possible to become operational again in a timely manner. Each of us leaned into each other, relying on our individual strengths to ensure we kept progressing. Despite the challenges that were ahead, including the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to open our temporary office 6 weeks later.

Left: Demolition of the office in 2020; Right: Exterior rendering of the reconstructed office and attached clinical education center

Dr. Arasu: To set the scene, I was set to be married less than 2 weeks after the tornado struck. I will always be grateful for Drs. Davis and Uhles, who shouldered much of the immediate burden in sifting through the destruction and planning our entry into an interim office. They did so to allow me the opportunity to focus on the wedding preparations. There may not have been much to celebrate in the lead-up, but their attendance at my wedding is a fond memory that I will cherish.

Interior rendering of the patient lobby

What other great triumphs or challenges have you overcome?

Dr. Davis: My personal health is something I like to share. For many years, my health was not a priority. Like many people, a stressful day led to me wanting a reward, and food was my reward. After my middle daughter Olivia was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I began to make changes in my life. In the beginning it was small changes — cutting out fast food, fried foods, and soda. Then I added physical fitness and have transformed my health. This has been a slow and steady process, but it was so difficult to start at 46 years old and so rewarding to see where I am now. My focus is being an example for Olivia.

Dr. Uhles: Personally, my favorite triumph since I joined the practice in 2014 is being able to witness our growth — even in the midst of recovering from a tornado and a global pandemic. We’re all very passionate about our profession and root canal therapy, but more importantly, on the patient experience. At the end of the day, patients don’t care about the white lines we see on radiographs. They care about how they are treated, how their needs are addressed, and the overall patient experience. That focus really helps us set Cumberland Endodontics apart.

Dr. Arasu: The growing impact of the global pandemic on the U.S. followed not long after the loss of our office to the tornado. These existential challenges compelled us to reevaluate our priorities and, above all, appreciate the value of our team. That we were able to navigate those obstacles speaks to the resilience of our staff, doctors, and our broader dental community.

With Drs. Davis and Uhles in attendance, Dr. Arasu’s wedding takes place 2 weeks after the tornado

What would your tips be for someone starting an office now?

Dr. Uhles: If you’re starting a new office, build the practice the way you want it from day one. Don’t wait for the right time to add this or that piece of technology — you’ll always find an excuse as to why the time isn’t right. Create your ideal working environment from the start, so you can grow your own expertise and experience. Strive every day to be better than the day before, and let your work and brand speak for themselves.

What is your advice for maintaining a successful practice?

Dr. Uhles: Maintaining a successful practice really comes down to two critical components. The first is to know yourself and your brand and never compromise on what you are trying to achieve. For us, we want to be the best in our field and are dedicated to always putting our patients first. This is our guiding principle, and because of staying true to that vision, we’ve built a positive reputation within our communities, which has allowed us to grow with time. The second critical component to a successful practice is the people who help us achieve our vision. Without a dedicated staff, our vision and brand couldn’t flourish. They are Cumberland Endodontics.

Dr. Rich Mounce reviews how he cleans and disinfects the root canal system in his article “GentleWave: Root canals cleaned at the speed of sound.” Read it here: https://endopracticeus.com/gentlewave-root-canals-cleaned-at-the-speed-of-sound/

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