When I was about 15, I went on a medical mission trip with my church to Panama. They just assigned people random places to work and they put me with the dental team. I didn't know anything about dentistry. We did a lot of extractions. I mean, we would do like around 250 extractions a day. In the off time, I was able to go to the other various groups and see what the other areas we're doing. The medical group was mostly treating for worms or head lice, they would give them pills and the patients would feel better, but I knew they were going to return back to using dirty water, using the same hairbrush or sleeping in the same bed and ended up getting the exact same thing all over again.
But with the extractions, I felt like we were taking up the tooth and it wasn't going to grow back, so I felt like we were doing more long-term help. When I came back to the States and was able to work with a dentist here, I was able to see that dentistry is really artsy. There's so much more than just being book-smart or having the science knowledge, but you're able to see, or construct a smile for someone and help them get exactly what they're wanting.
I went to dental school at the University of Tennessee that's located in Memphis. I've been really active with the dental community as far as here we have the Chattanooga Dental Society. They have presentations that come in at least once a month where we can listen to their courses and glean information that's important to our patients currently, whether that's new technology or advances in the field or changes with various medical communities that we need to be aware of.
I think it's amazing when you get to have big cases where you have someone who's embarrassed about their smile, who doesn't ... When they're walking around they cover their mouth or do a lot of frowning, and then you get to empower them and encourage them and help just give them that confidence to smile again. I think that there's little else that changes a life than being able to smile. It changes your whole outlook, so I really enjoy that part probably the most, but I enjoy the small parts too as far as teaching parents, especially new moms how to care for their baby's teeth, knowing that we are teaching not just the mom for their mouth, but teaching kids and their kids for generations to come. Love that education part.
Dr. Erin Eudaly grew up in Columbia, TN as the oldest child of three. She was interested in teeth from a young age; she even remembers writing a poem about dental hygiene in third grade. Positive experiences with her own dentist gave her the vision of pursuing a career in dentistry. Her childhood visions of polishing molars and filling cavities were solidified by the end of her high school years with several moving and powerful encounters in Panama.
She helped care for hundreds of children and adults in a makeshift clinic, working each day as long as the sun would allow. Her ability to speak Spanish allowed her to have a direct interaction with the patients, explaining the nature of their disease and treatment and then calming and consoling them through their procedures. She particularly enjoyed holding the young children as they had their teeth examined. It was witnessing this level of disease and having the hands-on experiences in treatment that hooked her on dentistry for good.
She graduated from Harding University in Searcy, AR with a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. She went on to complete dental school at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry in Memphis. Dr. Eudaly practiced dentistry for several years in Millington, TN before moving to Chattanooga. She and her husband, Stuart, were attracted to Chattanooga because of its landscape and people.
Dr. Eudaly loves her career in dentistry because it blends her loves for art and science and also allows her to meet amazing people with inspiring stories. She appreciates the focus at Smiles of Chattanooga on giving the best care in the best atmosphere. She has received numerous awards in her career, including the James T. Andrews Memorial Scholarship Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service in Restorative Dentistry, Dean’s Certificate of Achievement Award, and a High Achievement Award in Special Care Dentistry for treating patients with disabilities.
She especially loves seeing a patient’s face light up after a great experience, whether it was receiving a painless injection or seeing the end result of a cosmetic case. She also enjoys seeing patients take an interest in caring for their dental health and changing their habits.
When not at the office, she loves cooking, traveling, painting, and hosting get-togethers for friends. She also loves spending time with her husband and her young son, who was born in April 2018.