Dr. Glenn Crooks has spent a lifetime working with his hands, and few things give him more pleasure than passing along the tricks of the trade he’s amassed in the course of an almost four-decade career.
In fact, Crooks, head dentist at the North Georgia Health District’s Whitfield County Health Department, loves his job so much that he doesn’t consider it a job. “People ask me when I’m going to retire,” he says, “and I tell them I am retired. I just happen to have a job.”
The Miami native earned his dental degree from Emory University in 1978. After serving in the Navy for three years as a dentist, he opened a general dentistry practice in Atlanta. In addition to treating his patients, he completed courses at the nonprofit Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, Florida, learning advanced techniques enabling him to continually add new and improved services for his patients. The institute, established 40 years ago to honor Dr. Lindsey D. Pankey Sr., offers courses in advanced dental education “to bridge the gap between what is known and what is practiced,” according to the institute’s mission statement.
The skills also enhanced Crooks’ service as a volunteer, a passion he has incorporated into his career since earning his degree.
“I volunteered for 20 years making dentures for the Ben Massell Dental Clinic,” he says, referencing the nonprofit Atlanta clinic offering treatment to people unable to afford care. “I enjoyed doing it, and it was a much-needed service. Not many people like making dentures, and there’s an art to doing it quickly and well.”
Ten years ago, he moved to Dalton, Georgia, where he oversees the health department’s nonprofit dental clinic. “This is just like a private practice,” he says. “We treat children of all ages, and two days a week, we have a dentist who comes in and does adult work. There’s plenty of work to keep all of us busy.”
Crooks also shares his expertise with DCG seniors who rotate through the clinic. “I love being able to share practical methods and new innovations,” Crooks says, citing innovations such as the best materials to ensure a proper bite or the optimal carbide burs to shape and restore teeth.
Says Mason Sawyer, a DCG senior who completed the rotation last summer, “I learned quite a lot from Dr. Crooks. He definitely takes the time to watch and give you feedback. It was a very worthwhile experience.”