Dr. Kerri Simpson is a three-time graduate of the WVU School of Dentistry who practices at MMS Dental Implants & Periodontics, splitting her time between offices in Morgantown and Bridgeport, West Virginia.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from Boston University, Dr. Simpson received her bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene (2013) and her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree (2017) from WVU. During dental school, she served as class president, legislative liaison for ASDA and helped launch a mentorship program at the School, among other activities. One of her most cherished achievements was winning first place in the American Dental Association’s Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research and its Application for her research on silver diamine fluoride, a first for WVU. She then entered the Master of Science program in periodontics, under the direction of Dr. Gian Pietro Schincaglia, and became the first resident to graduate from the program in 2020.
In addition to serving on the SOD Alumni Association Board of Governors, Dr. Simpson is the new dentist representative for the West Virginia Dental Association and the first female ADA delegate in West Virginia’s history. She also belongs to the American Academy of Periodontology, American Association of Osseointegration, Mon Valley Dental Society, Pierre Fauchard Academy and the American College of Dentists. A Morgantown native, she continues to reside there with her husband, Matt. She proudly serves as a member of the National Ski Patrol in her spare time.
Learn more about Dr. Simpson in our Q&A.
Q: What led you to pursue a career in dentistry?
A: To be honest, I did not find my love for dentistry until late, despite coming from a dental-oriented family. My grandfather was a dentist, grandmother a hygienist, oldest sister a dentist (graduate from WVU SoD), and my father a microbiologist and adjunct professor in Periodontics at WVU; however, I thought I had a different path and took the long way around to find my true love in dentistry.
Q: What makes the WVU School of Dentistry
A: Of course, when speaking about one’s alma mater, we all may be a little biased, but I truly believe the WVU School of Dentistry has some attributes that are one of a kind and makes us unique. One of the best attributes we have is our small class sizes. This benefit allows our faculty to be more interactive and engaging with each student and gives our students more time spent “hands on.” During my time spent in ASDA, we would always discuss our dental schools with other students, and time and time again, they were always shocked at our class size and our clinical requirements. Class sizes were half, if not more, and requirements were double. I always felt proud discussing this with students and still do to this day. On the other side of the coin, what sets us apart from other schools is our alumni and dental community support. WVU SoD is the only dental school in the state and the majority of our state’s dentists are alumni. This creates an enormous collective that has an adoration for the school they went through and also an understanding of where the students are now.
Q: What compelled you to specialize in periodontics?
A: Whenever I tell someone that I ended up in Periodontics, the usual response is “Oh, that makes sense,” because of my hygiene background and my father being a microbiologist; however, it goes further than that. I fell in love with Periodontics because I believe it is the perfect mix of dentistry, medicine (overall health) and surgery. Yes, both my background and education in hygiene and my idolization of microbiology helped shape my inclination, but the mix of all my loves together was irresistible. I still get to practice dentistry, perform surgeries and help someone’s overall health by getting their periodontal conditional stable. I am in love!
Q: What do you find most rewarding about your career in dentistry?
A: I absolutely love interacting with people. Getting to know them and listening to their stories. I love helping people with their concerns and problems, but most of all I love helping people get over their fear of dentists and more importantly their anxiety/embarrassment of their oral health. I have been in the dental chair a good amount of time and have felt that shame that sometimes is embodied when in the chair, and I love sharing this empathy with the patient and watching their entire demeanor change. Some of my most rewarding moments are when the patient tells me how comfortable they are with me in the chair or that they do not have anxiety when they are with me.
Q: Why do you think it’s important for alumni to stay engaged with – and give back to – the School of Dentistry?
A: I want the alumni to think back to when they were in dental school and remember what it was like during those times: What helped you during difficult moments? What do you wish you would have had during those times? Or, what were some of your favorite moments during those four years? I know that times are constantly changing, and things may be different than when you were in school. But the basis is the same, and now is the time you can make a difference and make an impact. I know I would not be where I am today without our alumni and amazing mentors. We become so focused on what is between the walls of the school that we lose sight of the big picture. We lose sight of the future and what our profession is about, and this is why the outside light and wisdom from our alumni is so important. A quote stated by one of my mentors is one of my favorites when speaking about our Alumni Association and our profession, “Standing on the shoulders of giants.” We are always moving forward and need the aid from those before us to forge ahead and to improve where we have come from.