The Best of Chippewa Falls Volume One's guide to the riverside city » Presented by Mason Companies, Leinie Lodge, Northwestern Bank, and Go Chippewa Falls

Opening Up

Nothing But Smiles: New Dentistry Combines Mental and Dental Health

Shook Family Dental challenges patient apprehensions about going to the dentist

Sawyer Hoff, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

CARE FOR YOUR MIND AND YOUR … TEETH? One local dentist aims to combine therapeutic practices with dentistry to create a more welcoming dental experience.
CARE FOR YOUR MIND AND YOUR … TEETH? One local dentist aims to combine therapeutic practices with dentistry to create a more welcoming (and calming!) dental experience.

Some of the things most everyone dreads doing include standing in line at the DMV, paying taxes, folding laundry, and – of course – going to the dentist.

Local dentist John Shook is hoping to change that last one.

This September, Shook Family Dentistry will open on Talmadge Road in Eau Claire, with the goal of creating a more welcoming, calming dental experience.

Shook grew up with dentists for parents, which pushed him to follow in their footsteps. Yet, it wasn’t until he ventured to Costa Rica and Nicaragua, where he assisted with dental work, that he made the official decision to attend dental school. As he witnessed the impact that dental work has on others, he felt motivated to make dentistry accessible to all, he said.

I don't think (mental health) should be viewed as 'i have a problem so I need to get help.'

I think literally anybody can go and hopefully get something from it. 

John shook

owner of Shook Family Dental

Shook has plans to implement a membership system so that patients can have what they need done and not what their insurance tells them can be done.

“We want people to stop thinking of their own health as insurance-driven,” Shook said. “And more, ‘What do I actually need?’”

Not only is Shook passionate about oral health accessibility, he is also passionate about mental health. Shook Family Dental will work with Uplift Counseling to provide more affordable and accessible mental health resources to help alleviate dental anxiety.

“Everybody can benefit from it,” Shook said. “I don’t think it should be viewed as ‘I have a problem so I need to get help.’ I think literally anybody can go and hopefully get something from it.”

For every five new patients that Shook Family Dental receives, they will be able to sponsor one person to receive counseling from Uplift. Eventually, Shook hopes to add a type of exposure therapy available to patients who have serious fears of going to the dentist.

“The first step is just making it through the front door and sitting in the waiting room,” Shook said. “And that’s it. Then maybe in the next appointment, you can sit in one of the chairs. It’s all about small steps.”

Shook is trying to reshape how dentistry has been done by starting his business from scratch, including elements that many other dentistry practices don’t have, such as TV monitors with headsets above patients’ chairs to drown out the sound of drills, or an office specifically dedicated to getting to know your dentist.

“I wanted to create my own culture,” Shook said. “When you buy an office you’re stepping into that culture and you can try all you can, but you’ll never be able to fully change it.”


Shook Family Dental

3838 Talmadge Road

(715) 575-9684

shookfamilydental.com