Dr. Andrew Donald, Deaf Dentist

Andrew Donald Deaf Dentist

Dr. Andrew Donald, Deaf Dentist

Dr. Andrew Donald loved math, science, and basic anatomy in elementary school. He naturally thought medicine would be a good career fit. Although, his ideas about a career path evolved once he entered a deaf school classroom. 

Watching his deaf teacher signing ASL, he picked up on a small but important detail. “I noticed that she constantly closed her mouth while signing.” Dr. Donald says he wondered why? “I made a joke, she laughed, and I noticed her teeth.” He began paying attention. Dr. Donald would look at people’s teeth and gums while signing, reading lips, chewing, and smiling. He came to a significant realization.

“A person’s smile impacts the person’s confidence to communicate, express, present, interact with others, as well as chew and maintain body health.”

With this realization, he decided to become a dentist. Dr. Donald says he has an outstanding support system who helped him reach his successful goals. His primary language is American Sign Language (ASL). He was able to communicate directly with his deaf parents, have ASL interpreters as well as support from his hearing and deaf peers. He says the combination of these accommodations helped him be successful. 

Although, his education and career was not without challenges. In a non-signing classroom, he learned directly from the lectures and notes, yet incidental learning had a big impact on his education. Incidental learning occurs naturally when interacting with others and engaging in activities casually with others. He says in a hearing and non-signing environment, other students were able to absorb information by hearing and understanding others’ approaches. Dr. Donald had to continually work to overcome the challenges. Being aware of these difficulties, he helps others to be more understanding of the communication challenges deaf people face. 

“I guide hearing people how to communicate with me on a daily basis.” 

Dr. Donald encourages peers and hearing people to use typing apps to communicate, so he can minimize misunderstandings. He says he prefers to write emails and do online orders to effectively communicate and he points out changes in how others communicate is helping the deaf and hard of hearing community. “Texting, rather than talking,” Donald says, “has broadened my advantages and advanced informational access.”

The idea of effective communication is something Dr. Donald brings into his practice with each patient. “I have an opportunity to educate the patients about the importance of their oral health,” Donald says, “And how oral healthcare can impact their whole health.” 

He takes pride in advocating and giving back, especially to educate the deaf and hard of hearing. Donald teamed up with Deaf Counseling Center to create an informative video about dental anxiety. Using video is another way he works to reach and educate all people.

“I want to make sure I provide good quality dental care to patients daily.”

He wants other deaf and hard of hearing to know reaching your goals are possible. “Take actions to succeed in your goals,” He says, “no matter how hard the journey takes.” 

“The journey will teach you many lessons, and goal achievements are just the beginning.”

And so, in the month of February, we are honored to recognize Dr. Andrew Donald.