Nancy Williams, DPH’s North Health District Dental Director, Retires After 37-Year Career

March 2, 2015

“I’m going to Disney World!” said Nancy Williams, DDS, on her final day as dental director for the North Health District of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). After 37 years practicing dentistry, Williams is retiring and will focus her time on family, friends and travel.

Of those 37 years as a passionate dental health professional, Williams spent 32 of them caring for children's teeth, educating parents and children on the importance of oral health and overseeing dental services for the six-county North Health District based in Dalton.

Williams’ trip to Disney World is a prime example of the change of pace she is expecting in her life after retiring.

“It’s such a lifestyle change, but it’s simply time for it,” Williams said of her retirement. “My daughter has a work conference down there and asked me to come. I thought to myself, ‘I can go, I really can go this time!’”

Originally from Florida, Williams received her dental degree from the University of Michigan. A few harsh winters propelled her back down south to Georgia where she began a private dental practice in Kennesaw, Georgia. Although Williams was enjoying dentistry, she disliked the business of managing a private practice. After marrying in 1979 and moving to Dalton in 1980, the daily commute to Kennesaw also became challenging.

As a result, Williams eventually gave up her practice but soon had an opportunity to use her much-needed skills one day a week in the dental clinic at the Gilmer County Health Department in Ellijay, Georgia. Then in 1983, Williams became dental director for the North Health District. The district’s dental clinic was in the old Whitfield County Health Department building and, at the time, was just a small room with one dental chair she shared with her hygienist.

“We certainly weren't able to see a lot of kids back then,” said Williams. “But when the new health department building was constructed in 1996, we were finally able to expand services. We then had two chairs and were able to see many more patients.”

In fact, their patient load grew so substantially that some local dentists and the existing district health director renovated additional health department space for the dental clinic.

“We went from two dental chairs to four and added two hygiene chairs, which has been wonderful in helping us meet the demands of our patient load,” said Williams.

Since then, the clinic has acquired advanced dental equipment and added more personnel.

Currently, Glenn Crooks, DDS is the public health dentist for Whitfield County, and the part time dentist in charge of adult dental services is William Bumgarner, DDS. There are now two hygienists, one of whom serves as the district dental health educator, and two clerks.

Dental services in the district expanded even further under Williams’ leadership with the acquisition of a state-of-the-art mobile dental van in 2007. The van made it possible for Williams to take convenient dental care to locations where it is needed most, including schools.

“With the dental van at a school, each child spends about 20 to 30 minutes in the chair for dental care, which means they miss very little classroom time,” Williams said. “That’s much better for both children and parents than having to miss school and work, sometimes all day, for dental appointments. The mobile unit provided a great opportunity to expand our outreach.”

Beyond utilizing the van to deliver important dental services, Williams also gained some new experience and expertise from her mobile van.  

She humorously added, “I know way more than I ever wanted to know about RVs and maintenance thanks to this project!"  

Williams’ comprehensive impact has certainly not gone unnoticed over her many years as a Georgia leader in dental and oral health.

“Dr. Williams has been a real champion for dental health in our district,” said Bruce Broadrick, Georgia's state representative for District 4 and member of the Whitfield County Board of Health. “Not only has she provided accessible dental care to children, but she’s also emphasized the importance of good dental health practices to people of all ages. The addition of the dental van enhanced her outreach to our communities, and as director of the district’s dental program, she has helped fill the gap in the dental health care disparities that exist for many adults.”

Now, Williams’ attention will center on her family and personal passions. Williams’ husband, Steve, is an attorney for the McCamy Law Firm in Dalton. After 36 years of marriage, the couple is most proud of having raised three very accomplished children in Whitfield County.

All three of the Williams’ children are University of Georgia graduates. Eldest daughter, Jessica, is an OB-GYN in Macon. Their older son, Peter, lives in Richmond, Va., holds a master’s degree in international security and terrorism and recently worked on a research team for political campaigns. John, their youngest, graduated from the University of Virginia’s School of Law and is a public defender in New York City.

The Disney World trip is only the first of what promises to be a life of well-deserved joy for Williams, which is just as it should be after many years spent making a positive impact on the lives of her patients and the people of north Georgia.

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