Meet Dr. Caitlin Batchelor
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in the D.C. area of Northern Virginia. I’ve actually spent most of my life in the Commonwealth, between going to school in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia (Go ‘Hoos!) and completing dental school in Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University, formerly known as the Medical College of Virginia.
I also spent a lot of time in Fauquier and Rappahannock Counties before settling in here in Harrisonburg.
So, how’d you end up in Harrisonburg?
Like a lot of things in life, it happened sort of by chance.
My husband and I were living in the Bay Area in California and were missing our friends and family back East. I started looking at moving home which eventually led me to Dr. Detrich’s practice here in Harrisonburg. I’ve always liked small-town Virginia, having lived near Front Royal and Warrenton before moving to California, and the practice felt like the right fit.
And, well, the rest is history!
We were delighted to find a welcoming, generous community in Harrisonburg, which made it easy to feel at home here.
What hobbies do you have?
Sperryville is a tiny town on the edge of Shenandoah National Park, so we also do our fair share of outdoor activities, like hiking and running. I love to read, I practice yoga, and I’ve been knitting for a few years. I also love to cook, and food (and wine and cocktails) is part of my daily life and routine.
I love an opportunity to dig in the dirt, these days with landscaping and flowers at home. Travel is in my blood, though I don’t do nearly as much as I’d like to these days.
And of course, I also love spending time with husband and my 2 Labrador Retriever dog babies, Baker and Leo. If you’re a patient at Batchelor Dentistry, you’ve probably seen them at the office.
Where does your interest in dentistry come from?
You might say becoming a dentist was a happy accident. It really was the result of following a meandering path but it has ultimately been wonderful.
As long as I can remember, I was interested in healthcare and explored a few different possible careers. But dentistry seemed like (and has proven to be) the right combination of health, art, and business, with a hands-on “doing” aspect I love. Plus there are never-ending opportunities for life-long learning to keep me energized and passionate.
What was your favorite part of dental school?
I attended dental school in Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University, and continued after dental school by completing a General Practice Residency at Wake Forest University, in North Carolina.
I was so lucky to learn from amazing professors along the way. Residency was really where I fell in love with dentistry and found in myself an unexpected satisfaction and fulfillment in helping people with special needs through sedation dentistry.
What was the biggest surprise about being a dentist that you didn’t learn in dental school?
Dentistry is such an emotional experience for my patients — especially those with fear or anxiety. It’s so satisfying to treat someone and help them have a better experience than they expected to have.
Did you have a mentor in school or a dentist you looked up to?
Dentistry is a wonderful profession because there is always something we can learn from other dentists and dentists love to help each other — it truly is a collaborative profession.
I’ve had wonderful guidance and taken great inspiration from dentists through my education and career — there are almost too many to name.
Cathy Jameson is not a dentist, but a practice management hero and an absolutely incredible woman.
Dr. Terry Dickenson, retired executive director of the Virginia Dental Association, has been such a wonderful mentor in the past few years. He continues to encourage me to do the things I think I cannot do, and to be curious about the future and the possibilities it holds.
Dr. Mark Hyman, an educator and speaker extraordinaire, has been a cheerleader whose drive and enthusiasm continues to inspire me.
On the flip side of the coin, here in Harrisonburg we have an amazing group of young dentists, many of whom are female. Though I would not consider myself a mentor, we definitely have a level of camaraderie and support for each other that I am incredibly grateful for.
What keeps you interested in dentistry?
Dentistry truly gives me the ability to change the lives of our patients by working with them to achieve a healthy smile. I relish the opportunity to always learn more and to reinvent my practice to reflect who I am and what I value.
What do you think will be the biggest change in dentistry during the course of your career?
There are so many possibilities with science. If even one of the biggest ideas being researched comes to fruition, it would be an absolute game-changer. I’m most excited thinking about:
Regenerating teeth from stem cells
Repopulating oral bacterial populations to eliminate disease-causing bacteria
Currently though, 3D technology and dental implants have been recent huge advancements.
Yet there is still so much power in science left to harness.
Tell us a bit about Batchelor Dentistry. How’d it start?
Dr. Robert Detrich is the father of what is today Batchelor Dentistry. He practiced for over 40 years before selling the practice to me in 2013.
Since then, the practice has evolved and changed to reflect me and my values, but I so appreciate Dr. Detrich’s desire to stay current with technology and best practices over his career, and I continue to benefit from that today.
What’s the coolest thing about Batchelor Dentistry?
Our approach and our team.
I could not do what I do without the amazing women who I work with every day. They make this practice what it is.
I cannot say enough wonderful things about these ladies. They are strong, intelligent, hard-working, caring, and kind. They are mothers, sisters, daughters, and top-notch health care professionals. I could not do it without them. Courtney and Ysabel are our longest-standing team members, both at 11 years. Robin started just before I did in 2013.
Everyone else has joined since I’ve been around, and I am so grateful to work by their side every day.
I would like to think we set the tone by striving to honor every person who comes to us where they are; listen to what they want for their health and their smile; treat them with kindness, love, respect, and a gentle touch; and build relationships through trust and care.
Our patients are guests in our home, and we want them to feel that.
Do you support any local charities or events?
Giving back to the community that gives so much to me is incredibly important.
I serve on the Board of Directors of the Virginia Dental Association and the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Free Clinic. I volunteer for the Free Clinic as well, providing no-cost dental care to area residents. I was on the planning team this year for the first Remote Area Medical Clinic in Harrisonburg which provided free medical and dental services to everyone who showed up. I also served as a volunteer provider as well.
We also financially support a number of community organizations, including:
Rockingham Ballet Theater
Harrisonburg Women’s Service League
Valley Bach Festival
Border Crest Retreat
What are your biggest dental health tips for patients?
Preventive maintenance needs to happen every day with brushing and flossing. There’s no getting around it. If you brush and floss properly, your dental health will be better than it would be if you do not.
What would people be most surprised to learn about dental health?
Most people don’t understand how closely the health of the mouth is connected to the health of the rest of the body, and to the chronic health problems so many people face. I think the medical community and the general population is finally starting to realize this. For years, so many people thought of the mouth as separate from the rest of the body, which it obviously is not.
If you want your body to be as healthy as possible — and who doesn’t — then you have to focus on your dental health, too.
Do you recommend an electric toothbrush?
Just about everyone could benefit from using an electric toothbrush. I’m a believer in Sonicare and Oral-B brand electric toothbrushes. There are many options on the market these days, but in my experience, these brands are still the best.
Why should someone become a patient at Batchelor Dentistry?
Because we want what is best for our patients. We care about listening to their goals and what they want, and helping them get there. We treat everyone as an individual. I’d encourage you to see for yourself. Schedule an appointment and come see what we’re all about.
So, what does the future hold?
I’m most excited about continuing to evolve the practice. As we continue to grow, I envision amazing opportunities to build a really unique experience for patients.