Through a special project named "Women in Dentistry: A Glance Back and a Look Forward", the School of Dentistry celebrates women and their contributions to the healing art and science of dentistry.
Trisstar Oliver, DDS
WVU School of Dentistry, Class of 2013
Meet the Dentist
I am a 2013 WVU SOD graduate originally from Georgia (technically a military brat). I completed a biology major with a Comparative Literature minor degree at the University of Georgia for undergrad, and after dental school, gained additional training in a General Practice Residency program with the Hampton, VA Veteran Affairs Medical Center. I am happily married with a daughter and have a love for travel and oral health. I practice as a general dentist in Tennessee at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center, treating our country’s honorable and courageous Veterans.
Question: Why did you decide to become a dentist?
Answer: As a child, I remember only negative and sometimes traumatic encounters with medical doctors because of my past health issues. However, I always remembered having the best and most caring experiences at the dentist. As I grew older, I had the opportunity in high school to shadow different medical professionals and fell further in love with dentistry because of its flexibility, its creativeness, and its compassionate providers. It is a profession with so many diverse opportunities and ability for growth and change.
Question: Why did you attend WVU?
Answer: My dentist mentor that I shadowed during my undergraduate years encouraged me to apply for a summer immersion program held for a week by WVU that offered an introduction into what dental school would be like and allowed me to interact with the faculty, staff, and students. I am so happy that I applied and was accepted to that program because until then, I had not known about WVU SOD. After such a positive experience at the summer program, I applied to WVU and earned a spot in the 2013 class. It was the best decision I could have made because I truly felt prepared and knowledgeable after completing my DDS.
Mentorship and sponsorship are crucial for career progression.
– Sheryl Sandberg from her book Lean In.
Question: Which memorable experience in your dental school program helped you move from student to oral health professional?
Answer: There are so many experiences to recall, but the one of the most memorable is when my third-year research group and I went to McDowell County (along with other surrounding rural counties) to complete an educational outreach program for all the elementary schools in the area. It was an enlightening experience because it was a population I might not have normally interacted with due to limited geographical access to care. It allowed me the chance to step out of my shell and be an educator, constructing and implementing a program to increase the dental knowledge of a community of people that usually do not have regular contact with dental professionals. It makes you assess the things you take for granted, such as regular preventive check-ups or even access to a new toothbrush every 3 months. And the kids were all so wonderful and excited to meet us and learn from us. It one of many opportunities during dental school that I felt I was making an impact.
You shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.
Question: What advice do you have for current dental students?
Answer: Don’t wish your time away. As difficult as this program can be and will be, you will make great memories, friends, and experiences while here. So, take every second, every minute, every moment in; learn and reflect on the experiences, trials, and sometimes tribulations because it only happens once. I look back at parts of my life and many of my biggest moments and memories were when I was a dental student. Your career as a dental professional is inevitable, but until then, enjoy being a student and exploring all that this program, school, and environment has to offer.
Question: What puts a smile on your face?
Answer: What always makes me smile is when a patient tells me I have improved their outlook on the dental profession. I work with an older population the majority of the time, and many have similar stories of being fearful of the dentist and/or having poor prior experiences, either as a child or during their military career. So, when I can treat them, gain their trust, and have them leave the office with a more positive view of dentistry, there is a sense of accomplishment from that. Our profession sometimes gets stereotyped in a negative light, but I know that as providers, we truly want to give our patients the best and most caring treatment possible.
We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.