By Susan Richards
Like that fabled trespasser Goldilocks, Georgia dentist W. Palmer Westmoreland, DMD wanted to land somewhere that was just right – not too small, like the town he hailed from, and not too big, like Atlanta. He found that, as well as success, in Augusta, GA where he’s owned Westmoreland Family Dentistry since 2011.
Growing up in La Grange, GA, Dr. Westmoreland recalls being encouraged by his father to build a future with his hands and own his own business. When his sister became a dental hygienist, the young man saw a promising opportunity to take his father’s advice.
After completing his undergraduate studies at University of Georgia (UGA), Dr. Westmoreland went on to earn his dental degree at the Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry in 2003. He formed a dental partnership, but it dissolved after five years, which lead to practicing on a military base.
“I really enjoyed treating the military,” said Dr. Westmoreland. “Ultimately I knew that wasn’t where I wanted to be. It was a great stopping point while I figured that out.”
The two-year stint in the military – without actually having to enlist – became the transition to opening Westmoreland Family Dentistry in Augusta.
For the last decade he’s grown his business to providing comprehensive services to the Augusta area, or the CSRA as the locals call it, including preventative, restorative, and cosmetic. He currently has a team of seven assisting chairside as well as administratively.
A Passion for Care and Family
Early in his career, Dr. Westmoreland’s faith gave him pause about his motives for becoming a dentist and he knew he wanted to use his skills beyond the Central Savannah River Area as well. Through his church, he took several volunteer missions with other dentists to Peru, Ecuador, and Trinidad to provide oral and dental services to the underserved population.
“I saw need. I saw poor areas,” he shared. “And I saw people who were more joyful than some of those around me who have way more. It was a humbling experience.”
While still in dental school, a high school friend introduced Dr. Westmoreland to Sara, who was pursuing her own education as a physical therapist. They went on to marry and now have three active boys, aged 9, 12, and 15. The doctor refers to his family as his favorite hobby and loves spending time with them, whether on walks with Sara, fishing, or enjoying college football. (Go, Bulldogs!)
Challenges and Rewards
In 2019, Dr. Westmoreland added sedation dentistry to his practice thanks to DOCS Education. Not long after, COVID-19 arrived on the scene and like most practices, he was forced to close for two months to any patients except for emergencies. And there were a lot of emergency patients.
“It was a little scary,” he admitted when recalling that period with reduced staff and increased risks. Since reopening, the practice has been really busy. “I feel very blessed that we’re still here.”
Pandemic or not, Dr. Westmoreland has found fulfillment in the career that resulted from a desire to work with his hands and his father’s advice. “It’s great when you can give someone a better smile; when you get someone who’s nervous and hasn’t been able to go to the dentist. We can get them comfortable and to a place where they’re getting stuff done and everything is healthy. Then they start coming back,” he explained.
Although Dr. and Mrs. Westmoreland didn’t always plan to stay in Augusta, 17 years later they find their family has put down roots. He credits two initial reasons for staying: their church and balance.
“I grew up in a small town and knew I didn’t want to go back to that,” he explained. “Living near Atlanta, I knew I couldn’t handle the big city. Augusta has everything you want, but with a small-town atmosphere.”
It sounds like Dr. Westmoreland is just right for Augusta too.
Author: Susan Richards is a staff writer at DOCS Education. With over 20 years of experience in local journalism and business marketing, Susan’s career includes award-winning feature writing, as well as creating content with context for a wide variety of industries.