Get to know our favorite dentist ⁠— Dr. Chelsea Tolbert!

1) What inspired you to become a dentist? When was that?

While playing pool in my parents game room, in high school, a billiard ball accidentally came off of the table hitting me on Christmas Eve, breaking 5 front teeth in shards. Before then, I had fillings growing up, but I mostly knew of my dentist as the guy who entered the room for 5 seconds telling me everything looked good, then I would go home. It wasn’t until after I was hit that I was informed of all of the reconstructive work a dentist can provide. I had the options of large restorations, veneers, whitening, and crowns. I was so overwhelmed with options after trauma that I couldn’t focus on how to restore my teeth. I went into work at 7am, after my midnight trauma, with my teeth in pieces. I felt unable to smile, to a point of crying and having to leave work only a few hours in. I didn’t feel like me. I was later able to see a dentist who restored my teeth and helped me smile again. This experience has given me the ability to relate with patients and truly understand what they are going through. 

2) Do you have any dental heroes?

I was blessed with the opportunity to work in a pediatric dental office before dental school as well as shadow other dentists in my hometown. All of the providers loved their job! Dentistry is amazing! One of the providers said to me, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this everyday.” This phrase encouraged me through dental school. The love for this profession and amazing patient interactions makes this career very exciting, and I can now truly say that I love going to work everyday.

3) What is your dream patient interaction?

I always have the patient’s best interest in mind. Living through dental trauma myself, I relied on my past dentist to provide me with the best possible options for my case so I could make an informed decision. My favorite dentist/patient interactions are when I feel like a patient is truly interested in hearing my advice and professional opinions so we can make an informed decision together about what best suits their circumstance. When patients accept my advice it truly inspires me to give the best result to the patient! Working together to make a beautiful outcome is my favorite aspect of dentistry. 

4) How do you want to practice dentistry? What words would you hope people would use to describe your patient care or treatment?

I would hope that patients would describe my patient care as compassionate, gentle, thorough, and kind. My biggest goal for my career is to be fully trusted by my patients. It truly makes both of our experiences so much more fun and creative!

5) What hobbies do you have outside of dentistry?  

In RVA my favorite hobbies include going to local breweries, baseball games, and new restaurants. I enjoy a cold beer on a hot day, local ice cream, and a juicy burger!