By STEPHANIE BUNKER
Moapa Valley Progress
Payden Anderson, who grew up in Moapa Valley, has finally achieved a lifelong goal of becoming a dentist. And he has returned home to practice near his hometown.
“It’s a surreal feeling to have graduated from dental school and go to work as a dentist now,” Anderson said in an interview last week.
Dr. Anderson is now working at two locations: at Falcon Ridge Dental in Mesquite, and at Las Vegas Modern Dentistry.
Dr. Anderson said that his desire to become a dentist began at a young age. At just 18 months old he had a baby tooth knocked out. An adult tooth had taken its place by the time he was in kindergarten. So he had an abnormally large tooth for a number of years before he was able to get braces and correct it.
Initially Anderson thought that orthodontics was the direction he would take. “It turns out that I like the broad scope of dentistry and don’t want to focus on one aspect of it,” he said.
Anderson said that his sister had also looked into becoming a hygienist and shadowed a dentist for a short time. Her experience had also perked Payden’s curiosity.
“I went to college and I shadowed some dentists as well,” he said. “That confirmed what I wanted to do.”
Payden said that once he started dental school he never looked back.
Anderson started his long journey of schooling about 8 years ago. He completed his undergraduate degree at Dixie State College in St. George. Then he began dental school at UNLV in the fall of 2013.
“I was accepted into dental school in a few different places,” he said. “But I had a friend that graduated from the UNLV program two classes ahead of me and he told me about how their program has early clinic hours.”
Anderson explained that the other schools don’t start them on patients until their 3rd or 4th year of school. UNLV, on the other hand, will have students begin practicing hygiene within the first year. Another factor in the decision to go to UNLV was that his family lives in Logandale and it helps to have them around, he said.
Payden and his wife Krista had two sons while he was working on his undergraduate program at Dixie. Nash is now 7 years old and Lincoln is 5. Their youngest, Kate, is 5 months old and was born during Payden’s last semester of dental school.
The young family moved back to Logandale a few months ago and are enjoying settling here. Anderson said that Lincoln loves it here; he sits at the breakfast table and pulls back the blinds on the window so he can watch the cows across the street while he eats.
“The boys aren’t cooped up in the city anymore, they love to go outside and play,” Anderson said.
Payden has been officially practicing dentistry for six weeks now, splitting his time between Mesquite and Las Vegas. He works 3 days in each location.
Anderson works at Falcon Ridge Dental on Mondays, Wednesday, and Thursdays and at Las Vegas Modern Dentistry on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Although he works 6 days a week he feels like he has more time at home and with his family than he had during his schooling which was an extremely demanding schedule.
“I still have nightmares that I have to wake up and go take exams or I feel like I should be studying,” he said.
Anderson has a special Back to School special running through September 15. For every exam and cleaning he will include the x-rays for free.
Anderson is hopeful to build a base of clients in the northeast Clark County communities. “I feel like I can be a better asset to these communities rather than Las Vegas,” he said.
Anderson is more than willing to see his patients with dental problems that might arise, even after regular business hours. “Anytime I can help somebody I am more than happy to,” he said.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Anderson call Falcon Ridge Dental at 702-346-5202 and request an appointment with him.