Living a life by design
For almost a decade, Dr. Michelle Gauthier, DDS’07, has been mastering the craft of dentistry as an art form.
The young dentist always had an interest in the sciences, but her passion for creating detailed paintings and other forms of art was cultivated while she was a student at H.B. Beal Secondary School in London, Ontario. Once she graduated from the specialty arts program, she was determined to find a way to combine both of her passions.
Dr. Gauthier realized that becoming a dentist would give her a stable and rewarding career, as well as an outlet to remain creative and artistic while working on a new type of canvas – the mouth.
Often considered opposites, Dr. Gauthier believes science and art actually go hand-in-hand when it comes to dental work.
“A lot of dental work is considered aesthetic – correcting patients’ smiles and making them feel better about their appearance,” Dr. Gauthier explained. “I’m very particular about making everything look and feel perfect – one professor even gave me the nickname ‘da Vinci’ because I would spend so much time making fillings look beautiful.”
Since graduating from Schulich Dentistry, Dr. Gauthier has worked as a dental associate at various practices and at the University of Waterloo. However, in early 2015, the opportunity presented itself to acquire a practice called Lynhurst Dental, located in St. Thomas, Ontario.
She didn’t waste any time putting some personal touches on the practice, including hot pink dental masks and gloves, fun toys for children and playing upbeat satellite radio stations to calm the more anxious patients.
“I always knew I would eventually open or acquire a practice, but it’s funny how things happen when you’re not looking for them,” she said with a laugh. “This opportunity really just came into place for me, and even though it was overwhelming at first I have really grown to love it.”
Dr. Gauthier’s love of the arts and entertainment industry is also made obvious at her practice, as her office walls are lined with large posters and autographed pictures of her favourite musicians, athletes and sports teams. Other personal touches showcase her love of travel, specifically to big cities in the United States and Europe such as New York City, San Francisco, Paris and London.
The avid explorer doesn’t just travel for pleasure, however, as she is also an advocate for giving back on a global scale. In the summer of 2014 she took part in a one-week mission trip to Guatemala, where she treated hundreds of patients in need.
“Being able to give back to a community in need was an incredible experience, because you really see that some of these people have very little and they thank you from the bottom of their heart,” Dr. Gauthier said. She has continued to support international efforts through charities such as Childlife Network International Inc.
With less time to spend on her painting and other traditional art forms, she has channelled her artistic efforts into creating intricate jewellery for the mouth, using precious metals such as gold. She has created these unique accessories for musicians, professional athletes and television personalities like George Stroumboulopoulos.
If Dr. Gauthier had to give current students at Schulich Dentistry a piece of advice, it would be to be true to who they are – personally and professionally.
“I think some people are afraid to be themselves because they fear people won’t want to see that side of them, but I think the most important thing is to be true to who you are,” she said. “You’re not going to please everyone, so be sure you’re making your own decisions and that you enjoy what you’re doing.”
“And make sure you have some fun in the process,” she added with a smile.