Introducing Dr Joseph Bonang Nyepetsi
I was born, raised in Botswana, and lived in a small village where I completed my primary and junior secondary school education. At the age of 16, I left home and went to a boarding school to complete senior secondary school education which is equivalent to year 11 and 12 in Australia. During my schooling years as a young boy, I was always inspired by my teachers. Every teacher I came across were all dedicated and compassionate people, they taught with great passion and took pride in what they did. Back in the days growing in a village, most of us came from very disadvantaged backgrounds and hence teachers played a big role and made a difference in the lives of young boys and girls. They would teach, encourage, motivate, and direct students on the right path. My teachers have played a crucial role in shaping and helping me become who I am today.
The story of a missing front tooth.
In 1992, I was playing Karate with my older cousin. We were just having fun and I remember falling and hitting the ground with my face down!!! Next thing I know there was a piece of tooth on the ground and had a half top front tooth remaining. The next school holidays I visited my mother, she was working in the city at the time. I remember my mother taking me to the dentist for the first time, I was 9 years old. The dental surgery was situated in the big referral hospital in the city. I remember waiting to be seen, the atmosphere was calming and relaxing, the place was exceptionally clean and all I could see was big shiny machines. Everyone at that clinic was very friendly and it was here that I visualised myself working in a place just like this in the future. My time came and there I was seated on the dentist chair. The dentist and his assistant were a very pleasant team, I remember being numbed and the feeling that followed was a very strange one but fun. Half an hour later my front tooth was fixed with something white that blended with my other teeth. This was the coolest thing I ever experienced, and I could smile again.
A year later after my tooth was fixed, I developed a lump beside it. Once again, my mother took me back to the hospital and unfortunately my tooth was removed, and I would then live with a missing front tooth for many years. I got nicknames from other kids at school because of my missing front tooth. I was called Chinos, literally means gap in the mouth. It did not bother me that much because back in the days missing a front tooth was just a common thing, it just became your trademark if missing one. At age 18, I finished my high school and did very well with examinations. I was excited about going to University, so I applied for a Premedical course. As soon as I started the course, I learnt that there were students who were going overseas to study engineering and health science courses. Dentistry was one of the courses available to study overseas. The thought of going overseas was extremely exciting. The prospects of becoming a dentist were now becoming real, there was now a way of learning how to regain my missing front tooth. Without hesitation, I applied to study dentistry. I was accepted to study Bachelor of Dental surgery at National University of Ireland in Cork and in 2005 I left my beloved country and went to pursue my studies in the republic of Ireland.
I would spend the next 5 years in Ireland to complete dentistry. In Ireland things were a bit different, missing a front tooth when you are young is a weird thing. At dental school, one of the main struggles of a student is to find patients you can practice dentistry on to help meet yearly academic requirements. There was a student who was a year ahead of me and she was from Botswana, she asked me to be her patient, so I agreed. There I was on the chair, the instructor came, and we started talking about my missing front tooth. It would have been at least 10 years since I had it removed, as a result the adjacent teeth have moved, and the gap had narrowed. The Instructor was keen to get the ball rolling and the only solution was to have a dental implant placed. There is just one little problem, the gap has narrowed, and it is too small to fit a proper sized front tooth. So, I had to wear braces for few years. The whole process was exciting, and I thought to myself after graduation I would love to learn more about implants and braces. Back in the days, implant and braces were not taught much, we got few lectures on the subjects.
In 2010, I had completed my dentistry course and had graduated with an honours degree in Bachelor of dental surgery. In addition, I now have a front tooth and can now smile with confidence. I have been away from my loved ones for 5 years, so I decided to go back home and serve my nation. I got a job in the public service and worked at the same clinic where I had my first dental visit, and my tooth removed many years prior. I worked there for two years. Everything was going well in that period,and I gained a lot of valuable skills in oral surgery. I had this itch inside of me to learn more about dentistry, implants, and orthodontics. I had to make the most difficult decision ever to leave home and loved ones again to pursue my career. At the time I knew a few people who were in Australia working as dentists. So, I finally left my job and came to Australia in 2012. The move to Australia was an exciting and adventurous one but filled with a lot of uncertainty. I got a few jobs around and a year later I landed in Broken Hill NSW wales and stayed there for 3 years. I have been away from my wife (at the time was my partner) so in 2015 we got married in Botswana and she joined me in Australia.
I was now here in Australia with my wife and the question on both of our minds was now what? My wife has dreams of studying Pharmacy at some point, so In 2016, we decided to venture into private practice, and the search began. We travelled to a few places around Australia, viewing a number of practices, but we just couldn’t find a place we liked. It was then we found a practice on sale in Armidale, Markham Street dental. We drove from Broken Hill to Armidale to meet Dr Paula Bower and her husband Andrew Bower. Upon arriving we immediately fell in love with Armidale. We also liked the idea that there was a University, and my wife could one day pursue her dreams of becoming a pharmacist. However, there was only one problem. Markham Street Dental was largely built around implant dentistry and at the time I did not have skills in implant dentistry. However, this was an opportunity for me to start training in implant dentistry immediately as this was my area of interest. After purchasing Markham street dental, I enrolled with Brener implant Institute in North Sydney and trained in implant dentistry for the following 12 months.
I began to notice that patients who were attending the clinic were families who had children with teeth alignment and bite problems that would require treatment a few years down the line. Whenever parents enquired about braces, I felt inadequate to provide information and would just refer them to the orthodontist in town. Orthodontics was something I wished to learn and soon after completing implant education in 2017, I enrolled with James Cook University in Cairns to study a part time graduate Diploma in Orthodontics for two years. I am now proud to say At Markham Street dental we now provide comprehensive care in general dentistry, Implant dentistry and orthodontics.