Best of Moffat County 2018: Dentist sinks his teeth into work, school board, chocolate
It doesn’t matter that many people would rather not see him — one Craig dentist truly enjoys his work.
“Come and see us; we’d love to see you,” said Dr. Lee Atkin, who was voted 2018’s Best Dentist and owner of Craig Family Dental. “Dentistry is a mix of art and science. It allows me to work with my hands to create things that are based in science. It’s a healing art, a health care profession.”
After graduating from dental school in Las Vegas, Atkin has worked as a dentist for 11 years, eight of them in Craig.
Before purchasing the practice from the late Dr. John Ilko, Atkin worked for a large group practice
“I was looking for a practice to purchase,” he said. In choosing Colorado, it helped that he had family ties to the state.
“My folks lived in Denver at the time and my, wife Stacy Atkin, was born in Colorado Springs,” he said.
In the eight years since he bought the practice, Atkin said he’s doubled the number of patients he sees.
The practice wouldn’t have grown without the help of a dedicated team, including Dental Assistant Bailey Kurz, Dental Hygienist Crickett Dewall, Front Office Manager Jesica McGuinness, Hygienist Peyton Pogline, Dental Assistant Taylor Atkin, and Front Office manager Jeanne Dilldine — the longest serving employee. Dilldine has worked for the practice about 30 years.
Taylor Atkin is the dentist’s daughter, and of working with his child, Atkin said, “It’s surprisingly good. I had my doubts. She’s considering dental hygiene, so I told her, she needs to come work in the office to see if it’s something she likes.”
When asked what might surprise his patients about the practice Taylor Atkin said, “We eat a lot of candy.” Her father added, “We usually have a stash of chocolate in the office. It’s OK to eat it, as long as you brush and floss afterward.”
Outside the office Lee Atkin rides motorcycles and is planning a long distance trip this summer to Canada and possibly Alaska.
“I feel free of schedules and commitments and pressure and stress. It’s a time I can spend with myself,” he said.
Readers not only voted Lee Atkin the Best Dentist in Moffat County, they also voted him the Best Moffat County School Board Member, a position he’s held since winning the election in November 2017.
“It’s been rewarding for me. … It’s been a big learning process, too,” he said.
Knowledge gained, along with the relationships developed with the district administration and other board members, has had a positive impact on his perception of public education in Moffat County.
“I feel Dr. (Dave) Ulrich (district superintendent) is committed, and he’s learning some things, but he’s committed to education, to the kids and the teachers. … The people on the board, I don’t see personal agendas. They are in it for the right reasons and are there to do the right things for the school district and kids,” he said.
One of the first decisions he had to make as a school board member was to close one of Craig’s elementary schools. He said it wasn’t an easy decision, but as a dentist, he’s used to working through difficulty to help his patients.
“There are a lot of people who are not excited to see the dentist. They are hurting and don’t want to be here. We use patients — the number one thing — talking, nitrous oxide and anti-anxiety meds,” he said, adding that “giving someone their smile back, whether that means dentures or just fixing teeth, seeing someone leave here with a big smile, that’s what does it for me.”
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.
Twenty years ago, as a sophomore at University of Colorado Denver, Nathan Brough wrote an economics paper on hemp’s potential to grow the nation’s gross domestic product.