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Meet Dr. LaTonya Gillespie-Johnson of Southern Pearl Dentistry in South Atlanta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. LaTonya Gillespie-Johnson.

Dr. LaTonya Gillespie is the owner of Southern Pearl Dentistry a General Dentist who is both diligent in her craft of serving the community and committed to her profession as an oral healthcare provider. Dr. Gillespie is native of Atlanta, Ga. born and raised in College Park. As a child, her childhood dream was to become a dentist. Growing up in a community where health care needs were overshadowed, LaTonya developed a since of benevolence at a young age.

LaTonya started the journey to Dentistry at Westlake High School where she interned at a family dental practice. She then graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology/Chemistry from Voorhees College. During her collegiate experience, her priorities were to prepare herself for professional school and to make a difference. LaTonya was a well-rounded student, as an athlete, tutor, campus queen, “Miss Voorhees College” and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Shortly afterwards, LaTonya was admitted into Marquette University School of Dentistry, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While there, she became involved in organized dentistry. After receiving her Doctorate of Dental Surgery, she moved back home to Georgia to begin her career as a Dentist.

Dr. Gillespie plays a big role in the community as a health care provider. She dedicates a portion of her time and energy every month encouraging oral healthcare awareness. Her energetic spirit has led many strategic initiatives that have implemented a positive impact on the community and her patient base. Her keen ability to reduce anxiety and discomfort during dental procedures, while providing quality care has set the tone for her career. LaTonya has the utmost concern for comfort and care, which is why her patient base ranges from 6 months to 100 years of age.

Dr. Gillespie is an active member of the American Dental Association, Georgia Dental Association, Academy of General Dentistry, and National Dental Association. She has a strong desire to continuously participate in continuing education courses to remain current in the fast-paced world of Dentistry. She has a passion for serving others and educating the community on maintaining excellent oral health. Dental work and family ties are what keep Dr. Gillespie going. She enjoys sports, traveling, painting, photography, and spending time with husband Murvin Johnson and daughter Skylar.

Has it been a smooth road?
Absolutely not, I experienced multiple bumps in the road along my journey to becoming a business owner. The foundation of getting into dental school was delayed due to my college not having the proper guidelines in place to assist me. The President of Voorhees College at that time, Dr. Cleveland Sellers was instrumental in assisting me with knowing the preparatory qualifications for students wanting to excel in the medical/dental field. Such as enrollment. He taught me how to network outside of my inner circle, which led to being admitted into dental school.

As if getting into a dental school wasn’t a hurdle itself, graduating from dental school was just as hard. As the curriculum was straight-forward, I experienced an issue of ethical behavior as a dental student. As a student dentist, we worked under the license of our professors. Ethically, one must agree to remove all empathy from treating patients. Wisconsin is a Medicaid-based state, so healthcare isn’t a concern for most, which was hard for me to endure. So, I overly exerted empathy for every patient, which could be ethically compromising. This situation could have ended my career as a Dentist before it started. Learning to be professional and suppress my emotions was the hardest thing to do because I genuinely care for others. However, learning to follow protocol, document everything, and to continuously be true to who I am, taught me to never cut corners and to be prepared for anything at moment.

Lastly, as a Dentist, my first job was interesting. I worked for a Corporate Dental company that I was hoping to gain experience with before I entered the world of private practice. My goal was to be partnered with an experienced Dentist and gain mentorship. Nevertheless, that did not happen. I became a Senior Associate within months of working and ended up becoming a self-taught Dentist, referring back to my instructors. No guidance, no peer Dentist to ask questions, and in charge of staff in the same age bracket. Like any professional, I had no clue how to be a leader, as I was thrown into a position with no direction. This required me to grow instantly as a dental professional and wife. Learning what not to do in the business world of dentistry is what has made me a better Dentist.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Southern Pearl Dentistry – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Southern Pearl Dentistry was established in 2018, under the influence of Dr. LaTonya Gillespie-Johnson. Southern Pearl Dentistry is established in southern belle form; extreme elegance, strong leadership, and servants of the community. The vision of Southern Pearl Dentistry is to assess the need for educating our community of living a healthy lifestyle, starting at the core.

Our Mission is to provide excellent affordable dental care, in a friendly, comfortable environment to people of all ages including people who have limited or no dental insurance. Our goal is to optimize oral health care practice by changing one smile at a time. Oral Cancer is the silent killer in the world of Dentistry. As Oral Cancer Awareness advocates, we have saved many lives. We are focused on growth and healthy oral hygiene, as many think a healthy smile is full of white teeth. We want to educate as our motto indicates “your smile is worth our time.”

Dr. LaTonya Gillespie-Johnson is a full range General Dentist who does it all, braces, whitening, extractions, dentures, root canals, veneers, conscious sedation, etc. Our practice age range is from 6 months to 100 years old. We are a dental office that wants to see your whole family. Our family-friendly staff make you want to encourage others to check us out.

At Southern Pearl Dentistry, our philosophy is to provide treatment to the whole person – with a special focus on how your teeth and gums relate to your total body health. If you’re looking for personal and quality care, Southern Pearl Dentistry is where you should be. We want our patients to be confident in their smiles.

As a community-driven dental office, one can expect to see us at your neighborhood stores, local health fairs, PTA meetings, basketball games, community events, etc. What sets us apart from other dental practice is SERVICE. Most health care facilities actually tell you about what they are doing for your community, but you never see what they are doing for the community. We actively participates in Mission of Mercy of Georgia sponsored by the Georgia Dental Association. As well as travel internationally for Healthcare Missionary trips. We believe in our Mission and stand by our Vision and Values. We will educate our community one smile at a time.

Lastly, we also understand that choosing a dentist is an important decision. After all, your smile is your greatest asset and says a lot about your overall health. From the moment you walk in our doors at Southern Pearl Dentistry, you’ll be welcomed by caring staff in a relaxed, stress-free environment where the whole family can feel at ease. Southern Pearl Dentistry worked hard to build an exceptional team of dedicated, caring dental professionals committed to your good health and a great smile.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I am a Georgia girl in every aspect. I’m from South Atlanta by way of (College Park) and I don’t feel like there is anywhere else I would want to live. I’m a southern girl with plenty of pearls, that loves the mixture between country life and city living. I love my Atlanta Hawks, my Falcons, and you can find me at the Atlanta Dream home games court-side. Atlanta has grown and matured in such a manner, that this is the place to be. The millennials are coming here and elevating their careers because Atlanta has the resources. I don’t have many complaints, but I’ve grown to hate the Atlanta traffic, but that comes with the growth of the city. Nevertheless, growth is key!

Contact Info:

  • Address: 1883 McDonough Road
    Hampton, Ga 30228
    Suite 100-D
  • Website: southernpearldentistry.com
  • Phone: (678)990-3364
  • Email: southernpearldentistry@gmail.com
  • Instagram: southernpearldentistry
  • Facebook: southernpearldentistry


Image Credit:

Simone Kilgore (88 Vintage LLC)

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