Spreading a little kindness to spark change, “America’s Best Dentist” Dr. Karen Fields-Lever

Everyday she prays she’s serving as a “change blazer.”

National award winning dentist Dr. Karen Fields-Lever made it her mission to “be the change” she “wish to see in the world.” Living up to Mahatma Ghandi’s quote, she’s set up her own practice “28 to BRUSH,” launched a mobile segment to provide service in underserved areas in Chicago and remains active in the community by volunteering at day care centers to help children.

Named “America’s Best Dentist” in 2016, for Dr. Fields-Lever it all started with education.

Dr. Karen Fields-Lever
Dr. Karen Fields-Lever (courtesy photo via Coleman Entertainment Group)

Growing up in Detroit, Michigan she was raised by two parents with bachelor’s degrees who were always “pushing” her “to the limit.”

“Education is key to success,” Dr. Fields-Lever said of the family’s value of education.

Always doing well in school she went on to enroll at Spelman College where she received her Bachelors of Science in Biology Pre-Medicine graduating with honors. Later, she enrolled in Dental School at Howard University College of Dentistry to earn her Doctorate of Dental Surgery. Her education didn’t stop there as she went on to complete her residency at Yale University.

Now residing in Chicago, married with two kids, she’s been able to relax on Friday’s where she can spend quality time with her family on the beach during the summers. But that does not mean for one second she’s stopped going above and beyond her duty.

As a child Dr. Fields-Lever admired how “pristine” and “professional” the clinics she visited were. Looking to recreate that quality and then some, after practicing for six years when she had the opportunity she opened up her own practice in 2014 called “28 to BRUSH” Dental Studio in Forest Park, Illinois.

The unique name comes from the 28 teeth people brush before and after their wisdom teeth.

“It’s truly one of a kind,” Dr. Fields-Lever said of the name. “It’s a fun name, easy to remember.”

Not only is it a dental studio with just a fun name, it’s one that has their clients smiling when they walk in.

“We have people who truly love us,” she said. As “we truly cater to our patients.”

The goal of setting up shop was to create a dental home for African Americans to feel comfortable and feel like they are a part of a family. While her mission was accomplished, she decided to launch an element to her service to further give back to her community. This element was a mobile dentistry.

Since 2016, her business would come to the community. Helping needy areas in the inner city of Chicago, they provide oral health access by visiting community centers and schools.

“At first, it was a bit eye opening…and then it became a special experience as it was a hands’ on view of what was needed,” Dr. Fields-Lever explained of her initial visits.

To date, this portion of her business reaches 16,000 students.

“Us being able to serve 16,000 students pushes healthcare and I’m proud of that,” she said.

Continuing to push for oral health initiatives Dr. Fields-Lever continues to actively be involved in the American Dental Association, Illinois Dental Society, Chicago Dental Society, the Academy of General Dentistry and International Association of Orthodontics.

Ultimately, she received a letter informing her she was named “America’s Best Dentist” by the National Consumer Advisory Board.

“I was elated,” Dr. Fields-Lever shared. “It’s a bit of pressure, but it is a great reminder.”

Even with all she’s accomplished with her successful award winning business and involvement with dental organizations, she volunteers a ton to further give back to the community.

Donating her time she teaches the importance of proper oral care in early childhood. She’s spread these teachings to day care centers like My Little Angels and Montessori Spanish Immersion. Also partnered with Minority Student Organization of Triton College, together they went beyond educating students on health care by showing them potential career options in the field.

Always pushing her business and philanthropy to the limit is why she received Chicago Scholar’s 35 under 35 Leadership Award as it recognizes business success and outstanding civic activity throughout Chicagoland.

“With the honor they asked us to be mentors so I loved that I could lead in that capacity,” said the doctor who also contributes and supports organizations such as KLEO Center, Urban Initiatives, Breakthrough Ministries, Spelman Alumnae Association and is a member of Jack & Jill – Western Cook County Chapter.

While Gandhi’s quote “we must be the change that we wish to see in the world,” resonates with Dr. Fields-Lever, the member at Fellowships Missionary Baptist Church prays on a daily basis that’s she’s serving that purpose.

“If I can spread a little kindness then I know I have started the process of change,” Dr. Fields-Lever said.

By Gino Terrell

Originally published in MCXV.


Gino Terrell is the Director of Content at Hidden Valley Culture Blog/In-Depth section. Terrell covered local artists and reviewed mainstream shows in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area under the Twin Cities Daily Planet (2014-15). He also freelanced for MinnPost and interned at Pioneer Press, KSTP TV (the Minneapolis ABC News Affiliate) and American Public Media Group. He's accumulated over 30 awards from the Associated Collegiate Press, Society of Professional Journalists and National Association of Black Journalists and founded award winning student-magazine Pipers In-Depth at Hamline University (St. Paul, Minnesota). He was once the sports editor for the school newspaper, The Oracle. Follow him on Twitter: @Gin026

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