When it comes to healthcare, the presence of Black doctors can not be understated. Celebrity dentist Quodarrius "Dr. Q" Toney, founder of the Essential Toothbrush, whose famous clients include Memphis rapper Glorilla, takes this fact extremely seriously in his line of work. Dr. Q not only prioritizes how great a smile looks and emphasizes the importance of proper oral hygiene for communities of color who have historically not been given proper access to this type of care.
Below, Dr. Q breaks down his love for his profession and how to maintain a great smile.
EBONY: What attracted you to the field of dentistry?
Dr. Q: I always wanted to be a doctor. I went to Howard University and they allowed us to connect with doctors and learn about different specialties liked optometry. But when I went to dentistry, I loved it. I love the way that dentists can serve a patient in a special way. I also love that I'm helping somebody to feel confident and see themselves in a better light. I've had patients who've been through trauma, domestic violence, car accidents, and being able to serve them as a dentist in a pivotal moment in their life is significant.
What drew me to dentistry most of all is the attention to detail of the work. What may appear like an inch in one's mouth is like a mile and makes a huge difference. People stick with their dentist for a long period of time and with my company, we love to connect with people throughout their life while giving them the best care possible. It's a beautiful profession.
What do you love about being a Black dentist who serves his community?
Black dentists make up about 4% of the profession so representation in the field is of the utmost importance. I love dentistry. I didn't start to notice like my clientele ramp up until October through December. That's when a lot of people were starting to notice me and share my work. As word of mouth happened, people started talking about how much they loved my personality, style, and care. Since then I've had a wide variety of patients.
There's a stigma behind social media but there's also beauty in it to where we can connect with people worldwide, you know? Through my platform, I can allow people to see that if I can do it, so can they. This is the type of work that we're doing in our community. Even though we're based in Atlanta, Georgia, 70% of our patients travel from different cities. Being based in Atlanta was important to us because we needed access to a major airport where our patients can catch a quick flight, see me, and we can really sit down and focus on a treatment plan for them to have comprehensive care.
I think being a part of our community grants me the understanding that, unfortunately, not everybody has access to certain types of health care. The United States is still trying to figure this healthcare thing out. Because of this, seeing a dentist is sometimes a luxury. Although my practice is focused on cosmetic dentistry, we still do general dentistry, cleanings, and cavity care and ensure our patients are healthy. This is why we started the Art of Aesthetics Dental Studio at the end of 2022 as it allows us to connect with different programs and mission trips to go out into the community and give out free dental work to those who can't properly afford it.
What are some misconceptions folks have about dental health?
From my vantage point as a doctor, a major misconception in dentistry is about how folks understand veneers. Folks believe that you have to get your teeth shaved down completely to fit the veneer. This has to happen in some cases but not all the time. When this happens, over the years, your teeth will lose all their structure; that's not good.
Another misconception I've noticed is the belief that Black doctors are not qualified as other doctors. We all have to pass the same exact state board exams. Another misconception would be that the dentist is going to hurt you. First of all, we're not here to hurt you. I'm here to make sure you're calm, rested and properly cared for.
What are key tips you’d share for maximum oral health?
You have to brush twice a day; that's a must. Many think that they just have to brush once in the morning and they often forget to do so at night. I say two times a day, and also if you have time after those major meals, such as after eating curried foods or drinking coffee. If you're concerned about the color of your teeth and staining, brushing after eating is very crucial.
It's also a good practice to floss daily. Many people don't floss, but it's very important that you floss because there are things you cannot see between your teeth. That's where a lot of the cavities can start. I tell people to floss once a day, but flossing after you finish a meal is amazing. It will do wonders. Water picks are great for flossing. I recommend them to all my patients because it allows you to get through your teeth.
I also believe that as we age, we must continue to ensure we're healthy. What also goes hand in hand with oral hygiene is making sure we have a primary care physician. I tell my patients that proactive care is always the best, even if they don't see anything wrong. Because if we do this, someone can catch if something wrong early.