Last month a lot of negative publicity was given to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam about a picture on his personal page in the Eastern Virginia Medical School 1984 yearbook.  He apparently thought it was humorous to feature a character in black face standing next to another person dressed in a Ku Klux Klan costume.  I can understand black people not like being made fun of, and my late parents had reason not to think Ku Klux Klan costumes carry much humor, either–but that’s another story.


Dr. Northam could never have been elected governor of Virginia without the support of black supporters.  I’m sure Dr. Northam regrets his youthful poor judgement at humor and has apologized to his black friends and supporters.  Likely by now they’ve forgiven him, since it was 35 years ago.


Since Republican Ed Gillespie spent millions trying to defeat Northam in the recent election, I’m sure his campaign knew about the yearbook photo but chose not to exploit it.
I think the yearbook page revelation was thrown out as a smokescreen, a brilliant diversion from comments the pediatric neurologist made two days earlier promoting a bill in the Virginia legislature that would allow infanticide–after a baby is born.


Go on YouTube and hear Dr. Northam say an “infant would be delivered, kept comfortable, resuscitated” and then “discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother” on whether or not to end the infant’s life.  No mention if the mother would have veto power or if the father or the infant gets a vote.
Ending a person’s life because of mental or physical defects reminds me of Nazi Germany in the 1930’s.


A woman I admire, was born with spinal bifida.  She has trouble standing for long periods if she’s speaking to a group, and endurance seems to be a constant issue.  But she’s been such an inspiration for so many women she’s led in Bible studies in our three county area.  I never knew anyone more loved, esteemed, and respected for biblical knowledge the years Marcia and I attended church with her.  What would it be like today if our friend had been voted to die?


The congenital heart defect, Tetrology of Fallot, was often a death sentence until Dr. Alfred Blalock performed the first surgical repair at Johns Hopkins in the 1940’s.  Today correcting the defect is very common, and the children grow up, leading normal lives.
Now that the entire human genome has been mapped, the causes for such diseases as sickle cell anemia may be stopped before the end of this century.  Out of about 135 million nucleotides on chromosome 11, just one nucleotide, Adenine, is substituted for the nucleotide, Thymine in sickle cell.  Stop that exchange and life should be normal.


So what does all this have to do with a dental office?


For over three decades, we have treated mentally and physically handicapped people under general anesthesia in the hospital who can’t be treated in a normal dental office.  People Dr. Northam might give thumbs down on life.  Some are wards of the state, families having deserted them years ago.  Many have family members who love them as much as my wife and I love our two girls.  Even though most are not verbal, I feel certain they can feel pain and suffer from dental infections like the rest of us.


My staff and I will continue to respect and give the best treatment we can for the least of these.  We are grateful for the compassion and care we have seen extended by so many in pre-op, anesthesia, and post-op at Piedmont Henry.


Maybe some of them will be cured someday and be able to enjoy a meal at Buckner’s–with some teeth.

I was honored to attend the 100th birthday celebration of my patient, Mr. Thomas Taylor, at Community Bible Church in Stockbridge.

Mr. Taylor flew military transports in the Pacific during World War II.  After MacArthur and the Americans liberated the Philippine islands, some of his prominent passengers included the Philippine head of state and his family.


After his discharge from the Army Air Corps, Mr. Taylor became a pilot for Southern Airways until his mandatory retirement in 1977.  He was the pilot that the Georgia Bulldog football team always requested to fly their charter flights to away football games.  On his last flight from Huntsville to Atlanta, one of his passengers was  Liberace.  When the great pianist learned this was Captain Taylor’s last flight, he treated the entire Taylor family to front row seats at the Fox Theatre for Liberace’s performance that very night.


Captain Taylor and my late father were close friends, as were my late mother and his late wife, Lenora.  His daughter, Deborah, and my sister, Claire, were in the same grade.  My older brother was friends with his late son, Tommy.



When I was about five, I asked Captain Taylor how much it cost to fly from Atlanta to Miami.  When he said $35, I was astounded.  I got five cents a pound for picking pecans, and the Griffin Daily News paid about two cents for every paper that got delivered.  My brother let me keep the whole nickel for every “extra” I sold.  But who could or would pay $35 for a jet ride?  The Captain kindly explained to me that businessmen so valued their time that they were glad to pay that much to save time.  Back in that era before the interstates, it took about a day and half to drive from McDonough or Griffin to Miami.  That day I began to see the value of time.


Although his hearing has diminished in recent years, his mental acuity remains strong.  After the Comair Flight 5191 to Atlanta crashed in Lexington a few years ago, he explained to my dental assistant and me why the two runways can be confusing at night.  When a jet taxis out from the gate there, the fork on the left goes to the 3,500 foot runway #26 (too short for commercial jets) whereas the 7,000 foot runway #22 has to loop around left but after taking the fork to the right.  He remembered the layout of that airport over three decades after flying into it!


We Americans owe so much to these members of The Greatest Generation.  Our prosperity and freedoms are the fruits of their bravery and sacrifices.  I’m glad I got to show my appreciation.




“Daddy wants you to help him carry some things,” my wife told me that cold Christmas day in Virginia back in 1983.

A man of few words, I couldn’t say I knew my father-in-law very well then. We silently drove up to the family Southern States store, a place that sold mostly grain and fertilizer but also carried a potpourri of other items people in a farm town need like farm clothes, horse tack, and toys.  We headed over to the Nottoway County jail. The jailer immediately led us back to the cells without much conversation. It was almost like he was expecting us.

The best thing I could say about the joint was it was warm. It was crowded with four men to a cell. And filthy. The commodes, in need of Ajax and without lids, were out in the open of the cell. There was no privacy for the most basic of needs. I can’t remember seeing the sinks or a shower.

There was no evidence of gifts or Christmas day there. Just a quietness from a depressed group of forgotten men who had their troubles conforming to rules of their society.

We went by individual cells and opened the bags. There was candy. It’s doubtful the prison cuisine there was cooked by Aunt Bea. The games he brought would help with the certain boredom since there was no TV like jails here have. Sports magazines and Mad magazines for those who could read were a good idea, too.

Then there were the New Testaments from the Gideons. This Gideon didn’t just stop at the school house.

Tommy spoke to all of the inmates. One he recognized as a star football halfback from a couple of years back. “What are you in for?” he asked.

“Me and a bunch of folks were at this place drinking. I got to fightin’ and the police came.” He only had a few more days to serve.

The prisoners were black and white, and hardly dangerous if they were in that county jail. How many stories were to be told? Drunken fighting. Writing bad checks. Non-support. Taking somebody else’s property. In general they chose not to confirm to what society expected of them.

With each group my father-in-law ended with, “You know the real reason for Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ. He came to save us from our sins.” The Bible could tell them how. Then he ended with a prayer.

That the men listened and were respectful to Tommy when he spoke of Christ’s birth, the meaning of Christmas and when he prayed surprised me. The reason these men were in jail was because they didn’t respect others’ property or rights, our laws, or even themselves. So why the civility to this man that any of them knew barely at best?

You can argue they were attentive because of the loneliness and neglect they felt that Christmas day when no one else remembered them. But I think it ran deeper than that.

They saw benevolence from a man who had no family or social reason to offer them kindness. They knew he had nothing to gain for himself.

I don’t remember what my wife, Marcia, gave me that Christmas. But I remember what I got four Decembers earlier when we got married. A father-in-law who I could always look up to and revere.


This post was originally published in the Henry Herald on December 23, 1994 – view the tearsheet here.

High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because most people who develop it don’t know they have it.  High blood pressure (hypertension) sometimes leads to heart attacks and strokes.  Two patients who have been in our practice have lost sight in one eye due to high blood pressure.  Hypertension ( high blood pressure) can cause the kidneys to shut down.

The standard of care is to take each adult’s blood pressure.  The CRDTS clinical exam, currently required to obtain a Georgia dental license, requires candidates to take the blood pressure of the patient before treatment in one segment of the clinical exam.

Blood pressure readings consist of a top number (systolic) and a bottom number (diastolic).  A systolic measure of 180 or above or a diastolic of 100 or more are generally indicative that dental procedures should be deferred until the patient’s blood pressure is better controlled.  Dr. Daniel’s policy has always been not to treat a patient with uncontrolled hypertension in the dental office.

Dr. Daniel was recognized in the March 31, 2008 issue of USA Today for changing one life by his requirement for taking blood the blood pressure on every patient.  Read the article here: USA Today – He grits his teeth gets healthy

Dr. Randy Daniel in Budapest

I just got back from Budapest, Hungary.  It’s as beautiful as Prague, but much bigger, and was not destroyed during World War II.  Divided by the Danube River, Budapest sits on one side and Pest on the  other.

Danube River

Maybe the reason the beauty of Budapest is not so well known is that it’s difficult to get to from Western Europe by car.  Perhaps with the proliferation of discount airlines more Americans will go witness its beauty.  I took the overnight train for the twelve hour ride, on a sleeper car not mistaken for the Orient Express.


Hungary, like the rest of Eastern Europe, was known for so long as “second world.” Just another way of saying Communism had rendered its abundantly educated people poor.

Danube River in Budapest

But since the Iron Curtain came down over a quarter century ago, Budapest has shown remarkable signs of prosperity.  The restaurants have good food at reasonable prices, and the nice hotel suite was quite a bargain compared to rates in Germany.

Danube River

Even though much of Europe is becoming more secular, in Hungary and Germany they shut a lot down during the week of Pentecost.  I did visit a Hungarian dental office that was open during that week and quite busy.  The equipment was modern, and the sure sign of affluence was the fact that the dentist places dental implants.  The Hungarians have embraced capitalism and are enjoying its rewards.

View from building in Budapest

Before the Cold War was won and the Iron Curtain came down, it was unthinkable for an American like me to venture into Hungary unannounced and freely move about.  In 1980, Ronald Reagan was one of the few who thought the giant prison of Eastern Europe could be liberated in a decade without bloodshed, tank battalions, or nuclear weapons.  “They lose.  We win,” he said.

Thanks to America, under Ronald Reagan’s leadership, citizens in Budapest today can benefit from dental care comparable to what we deliver in America.  It’s a pity our public schools don’t educate our young people about this.

President Ronald Reagan

Milstead Baptist ChurchMarcia and I spent last Saturday night at Millstead Baptist Church, serving as chaperones for Family Promise of Newrock, an interdenominational ministry of many churches in Rockdale and Newton Counties.  This ministry serves families who have temporary emergencies such as losing their homes to foreclosure.  The goal is to help these families stay together and get back on their feet.

Typically the families sleep in Sunday School rooms.

Family Promise of NewRock

Each week the Newrock trailer transports beds and other items to the next church that will host the families.  Notice the Millstead volunteers loading up the beds.  In the picture above Millstead member Chris Conner’s truck is ready to transport the trailer to the next destination.

Kitchen ServiceAbove are two of the volunteers who prepared meals for the Family Promise guests.

It’s encouraging to see churches like Millstead Baptist offer their facilities.  Their kindness will not be forgotten by many mothers, fathers, and children during some trying times.

Randy Daniel, DDS

Next Sunday’s Super Bowl represents the culmination of the 2015 football season, even though we are now into 2016.

Two of our patients had football success on the national level that we would like to recognize.

Ryan Kay played his high school ball at Dutchtown before moving on to Troy University in Alabama as a punter.

Ryan Kay - Troy UniversityRyan averaged 46.2 yards per punt his last six games which is outstanding.   However, having 17 of his punts during the season land inside the 20 yard line instead of going in for touchbacks was a valuable component for his team’s defensive strategy.

Christian Reeves earned a scholarship to Virginia Tech after playing at ELCA as a wide receiver.  He got to travel to the Sugar Bowl his first season.Christian Reeves - Virginia Tech

After two seasons Christian transferred to William and Mary, where he made the All Conference team in the Colonial Athletic Association in  2015.  He had four catches for the Tribe in their near upset of Virginia, and accounted for six first downs in William and Mary’s upset of #4 James Madison before going out with a hamstring injury midway through the second quarter.

What puts both of these young men ahead of many of next week’s Super Bowl players is that they both will leave college with degrees! 

Christian will have a degree in Business and Economics from the second oldest university in America, where Thomas Jefferson and two or three other presidents attended.

Ryan was already a graduate student when the 2015 season began and has one more season of eligibility left.  At the rate Ryan is going, it will not be surprising if Ryan has a Ph. D. before he leaves Troy.

Both young men come from outstanding families.  Ryan is the son of Steve and Angela Kay of Jonesboro (Henry County residents).  Christian is the son of Scott and Michelle Reeves of McDonough.

Yesterday was hospital day at Piedmont Henry.  We do mostly special needs patients there, people who can’t be treated in a conventional dental office.  I got there at 6:30 a.m. and was done by 10:20–a short day.  Kolleen spent several hours getting everything done administratively, and Megan packed up everything we needed without us having to call her to bring a single item from the office.

Prepping for surgery at Piedmont Henry

I was amazed once again by how quickly Carlee had all of the setups ready by the time we got started at 7:30.    Behind that mask is a very busy mother  who left her very active three year old Baylor and precocious one year old daughter with their grandmother to assist me.

Working in the mouth is a very small and crowded area.  An oral endotracheal tube going down into the trachea through the mouth can make for a miserable day.  That’s why I’m grateful for anesthetists like Andrew Bracken who have the skills to go through the nose instead.    Andrew has done the majority of my cases at Piedmont Henry since he arrived from UAB in 2008, and has made my cases go smoother because of  his anesthesia skills.  Although I anticipated a difficult airway yesterday, the intubation didn’t take him 30 seconds.


He and his  wife are expecting their first child in August.  I predict his son’s first words won’t be “Mama” or “Dada” but “War Eagle!!!”

Another outstanding CRNA at Piedmont Henry that I’ve had the privilege of working with is Ginger Hamilton.  Ginger came to our hospital shortly after Andrew and has always accommodated me with nasal intubations, too, so naturally she’s golden in my eyes, also.

Nurse at Piedmont Henry

I was sorry to learn that in a few months she will be leaving Piedmont Henry to go to the hospital over in Griffin.  She lives in Griffin, and her commute will only be about five minutes!  Translation:  More time with the three kids.  The folks in Spalding County are getting an outstanding CRNA.

When the cases are over, Carlee, Andrew, Ginger, and I drive off for a fun weekend.  But the parents or caregivers of special needs patients have a job that’s 24/7, 365 days a year.  They rarely get a break or day off.  If you have the opportunity, offer a helping hand.

Clayton State Graduate in Dental Hygiene

One of our employees, Chelsea Parker, has reached a milestone in her dental career.  Chelsea graduates from Clayton State University this Saturday with a degree in Dental Hygiene.  She has already passed her national and regional boards, so it’s just a task of completing her paper work to get her license.  Since she passed the CRDTS board, she can practice in 44 states.

Chelsea has worked here for three years as a Dental Assistant.  Her first year here she took the prerequisite courses for Dental Hygiene before she was admitted to the Dental Hygiene Program.

Chelsea is one of four young ladies from our practice who are getting Dental Hygiene degrees this month.

Chelsea is pictured here with a graduation cake presented to her by employees of our practice.


I was back in Birmingham last weekend as an Examiner for the Central Regional Testing Agency at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Dentistry.  The dental school at UAB is noted for the research by Dr. Jack Lemons that determined the best biocompatible materials for dental implants.  Anyone who has had an implant with a crown placed in the last three decades has benefited from Dr. Lemons’ research.

One of the benefits of being an examiner is getting to interact with other clinicians from different states around the nation.  Pictured with me in front of the UAB School of dentistry are Dr. John Doering on the left and Dr. Conrad Journee in the middle.  Dr. Doering was on the faculty at the University of Iowa after being in private practice.  Dr. Journee worked in public health before entering private practice in Missouri.


University of Alabama School of Dentistry

Before calibration on Friday, I got to have lunch with Dr. Jerald Clanton at The Fish Market.  Dr. Clanton is one of the best teachers I ever had in my career, and definitely the most knowledgeable in anesthesia.  After his Oral Surgery training, he graduated from medical school and became an anesthesiologist.  He taught anesthesia to medical students, anesthesia residents, CRNA’s, dental students, and dental residents.  Thanks to him I got to experience doing ventilations and intubations in the operating rooms at the VA, Eye Foundation, and UAB Hospital.  I never broke any teeth doing an intubation, but Dr. Clanton let me know I would be the one to fix them if I did!

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Copyright 2015 Dr. Randy Daniel, D.D.S.

All photographs shown are cases completed by Dr. Randy Daniel and are copyrighted.

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