Ala Barakat has not only become a respected Dentist in the North Jefferson community, she has become a prominent supporter of the community as well through her dental practice, Smiles Forever of Gardendale. Dr. Barakat recently built a wonderful building for her practice and continues to grow her practice and become an even bigger part of the community. Dr. Barakat received a Certificate in Molecular Science and Bachelor of Science from The University of West Florida and then graduated dental school at LSU. We wanted to catch up with Dr. Barakat and give our readers some insight into her story and how she decided to become a dentist.
Tell us a little about you and your journey to becoming a dentist?
I get asked this question all the time and it has been quite the journey. I am originally from the country of Jordan, also known as the holy land, but I grew up in Florida and Louisiana. I did change my career plans a few times in the past. I did not always know I wanted to become a dentist. I was working towards the medical field to become a surgeon, but as the time passed by in college it became unappealing to me, and I felt that it is not who I am. I am a curious person by nature and always have been, so I decided to start working towards medical research. I did work in a research lab at the University of West Florida and it was fun, but it did get quite lonely in the lab. Sometimes I would only see two people all day. Then I decided to embrace the artistic side of me and I worked for a cosmetic line as a makeup artist. I loved seeing the after result and making a difference. I enjoyed it.
I have family that work in the healthcare profession, both medical and dental, and was asked if I had any interest in dentistry. At first, I said no, but the idea of the cosmetic part of dentistry was very appealing for me. Being a dentist combined all of what I was looking for. So, I decided to shadow a few dentists to get some experience in the field. I did get offered a job as a dental assistant and I worked up until I got accepted into the Louisiana State University School of Dentistry program. Let me tell you, it was not easy to get into dental school! I am grateful to have found a career that I am passionate about and enjoy every day. It is an honor and a privilege to be able to change lives and be a reason behind a healthy smile!
What was important in your choosing Gardendale for your practice?
I used to work in Cullman, and I would pass by Gardendale all the time. I have always heard how close the community of Gardendale is and how the city is growing. I heard the people of Gardendale are known for their southern hospitality and for looking out for each other. I wanted to be a part of that!
I grew up in a small town in Florida, where everyone knew each other and looked out for each other. The people of Gardendale were very welcoming and kind to me. I have been in Gardendale for more than five years and I am blessed and thankful to be here and to all my patients and friends for their trust and continuous support. I strive to provide the best quality dental care while getting to know the community and making friends.
You recently made a big investment in property in Gardendale and built a brand new, state-of-the-art facility. Tell us about that experience and what you will now be able to offer patients?
My new clinic has been built and renovated by Southwood Construction Company. We planned for months and worked extremely hard to provide the City of Gardendale with the most up to date dental office design that fits our city and expresses my gratitude for allowing me to become part of the community. My old location was in a plaza and none of the treatment rooms had windows in them. At times it did feel like you were trapped there.
Also, my patients did complain about parking space. I did not want patients to feel trapped in a closed room, so I knew in my new location I wanted each room to have a window. I love that you can see the beautiful nature of Alabama from each room and patients do not have to worry about parking space anymore.
I always try to stay updated on the newest technology and offer a comfortable dental atmosphere to the best of my ability. I do get to know my patients and care for them individually. Each patient requires a different treatment plan and I do take my time with each patient to provide a treatment that fits each one and offer many dental services as well as aesthetic cosmetics. Patients have told me in the past that they used to drive to other cities to get some of the aesthetic cosmetic services and they are happy I am able to offer it here in town.
I also offer general family dentistry and I provide the best dental options for my patients of all ages. I am a certified Cerec doctor and I do offer same day permanent veneers, crowns, and bridges. Most patients love this option because it changes their life all within one day! For long procedures our dental chairs do offer heat and different massage options during their dental treatment.
The City of Gardendale has placed an importance on bringing medical and dental professionals into the city. How has this focus made an impact on your practice?
A positive impact, of course. Many of my patients are also from the surrounding cities of Jefferson County. They do come to our city to have both medical and dental treatments done. I feel it opened the eyes of surrounding cities to how Gardendale is flourishing and it encompasses many specialties. I also love it myself because I don’t have to travel far for any medical checkups. Most of my doctors are within five minutes. Patients do tell me they enjoy being able to catch all of their appointments in one day without being late because we are all within close proximity.
Do you have any plans for growth in the future?
I am planning on expanding my dental practice and doing a dental spa on the other side of the clinic. Where aesthetic cosmetics can be offered in a different setting to provide more of a calm pleasant atmosphere during each treatment. I also will be looking for an associate dentist in the future who is also passionate about their career and wants to provide the best quality dental care to ensure our city remains in good hands and to help me take care of my community.
*This article first appeared in The North Jefferson Herald.