Versailles dentist celebrates 25 years

Wanda English-Burnett, Editor

When Chris Brown drove into Versailles, he knew instantly that was where he wanted to open his dentist office. That was 25 years ago on July 12, one day after he received his license from the IU School of Dentistry.

Dr. Brown has never looked back. “I love it here...I couldn’t think of a better place to practice,” he told The Versailles Republican in an interview.

A farm boy from a small town, Knightstown, Dr. Brown had found his new home after living for a short time in Indianapolis. He had literally driven “all over”Indiana in search of the place he would plant his roots.

Over the years Dr. Brown says he’s had and still has a top-notch staff, wonderful clientele and has made friendships that go beyond his professional duties.

Although Dr. Brown doesn’t talk much about himself, he’s accomplished in the field of chronic facial pain disorders, along with his dentistry career. He holds a Master’s Degree in Biomechanical Trauma and is one of only 12 dentists in the US to hold that degree. This degree allows him to help those who may have been a victim of trauma-induced injuries.

Dr. Brown has published more than 100 articles on the subject, written three chapters for textbooks on the dental aspect of facial pain, and conducted a field trial for the Food and Drug Administration for the use of a dental appliance to treat headaches. He has presented in front of the National Institute of Health in Washington, DC, and is a member of the Board of Directors of American Academy of Pain Management where he held the position of president, the only dentist to do so.

Dr. Brown takes pride in his experience in the field of facial pain management saying, “It’s a real honor for me to get referrals from other health care providers.” He treats patients in his Versailles office located off US 421 and also practices at the Decatur County Hospital in Greensburg.

Working on numerous Workmen’s Compensation cases, Dr. Brown co-authored the Impairment Rating, an instrument used across the nation. His office is accredited by the American Academy of Pain Management. He said it was not an easy process, but one that is worth it.

Three staff members at the Versailles office are certified TMJ Assistants. Ruth Bausbach, Marita Mergenthal, who has worked with Dr. Brown for 19 years, and Belinda Brown, who is also the office manager. They are all certified through the American Academy of Cranial Facial Pain.

Dr. Brown says he completes about 100 hours per year of continuing education. “I want to give my patients the best treatment I can provide, learning all I can to better benefit them.”

Other staff members include: Carrie Tebbe, insurance coordinator; Traci Bruns patient benefit coordinator; Lorie Taylor, assistant manager; Kim Kage and Anna Bieser, hygienists; and Shannon Thomas, who has just been accepted to hygiene school; Dan Kress, presently in dental school; Katherine Smith and Vanessa Poore, dental assistants.

When asked about his many mission trips to help those less fortunate, Dr. Brown was hesitant to bring praise to himself, but admitted he’s been involved for the past three years going to the Dominican Republic, along with Dr. Rob Eversole and his staff.

Quick to say there were many others who take part in this mission to bring health and dental care to countries whose poor cannot afford it, Dr. Brown says it’s an experience like no other. Last year his group treated over 1000 people in five days. He laughed, “I could barely stand up straight when it was over.” He explained that the dentists are armed with antiseptic, anesthetic, and forceps. There is no electricity or running water. The patients sit in a rickety folding chair to have their teeth pulled. “These people have never seen a dentist,” Dr. Brown noted. At the end of the day there are as many people waiting in line as when they start in the mornings. “The need is great,” he noted.

Dr. Brown also volunteers at a clinic in Decatur County for people who cannot afford dental care.
Not only has Dr. Brown been in the Dominican Republic, but he has lectured in a number of countries besides the US including: Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malasia, and Canada.

Looking back on his 25 year tenure in Versailles, Dr. Brown says, “God has blessed me a lot.” What is his greatest challenge for the future? “To be available for the people who need me and to keep up with technology.”

His greatest accomplishment? His family - wife Belinda, daughters: Jessica, who has graduated from Purdue and is pursuing her career in Interior Design through an internship in England; Abby, who is a senior at Purdue, majoring in Photography; and step-children, Mark Volz, a senior at Batesville High School; and Savanna, a 6th grader at St. Louis. The family makes their home in Greensburg. “My family is my legacy...dentists will come and go,” he concluded.

Things have changed over the 25 years Dr. Brown has been a dentist. Actually, he admits there is almost nothing the same as when he started as far as technology is concerned. He says techniques and materials are totally different and he strives to bring the best dentistry techniques to his patients, giving them ultimate care.

Dr. Brown’s memberships include: Ripley County Chamber of Commerce, Southeastern Indiana Dental Association, Indiana Dental Association, American Dental Association, American Academy of Cranio Facial Pain, American Academy of Pain Management, Society of Automobile Engineers, Association for the Advancement of Automobile Medicine, and Academy of Forensic Dentistry.

Pictured from left seated are: Belinda Brown, office manager; Marita Cord Mergenthal, dental assistant; Lorie Taylor, assistant office manager; Carrie Tebbing, insurance coordinator; Traci Bruns, patient coordinator; Standing from left: Shannon Thomas, dental assistant; Anna Beiser, dental hygienst; Dan Kress, dental assistant; Katharine Smith, dental assistant; Dr. Chris Brown, Kim Kage, dental hygienst; Ruth Bausbach, TMJ assistant; and Vanessa Poore, dental assistant. Dr. Brown is proud of his staff and says they are all great to work with.