A “Country Dentist”
Mixture of Skills and “Down Home Care”
are Trademarks of Dr. Ison’s Practice

The idea of a “country doctor” seems to be an anachronism in these days of budget-minded medical corporations and insurance red tape. Patients of Dr. David Ison, though, know better.

The Williamstown-based dentist is a colorful throwback to country docs of the past — taking in all the patients he can, regardless of the level of care they need or their ability to pay for care.

“You have to return back what you’re given, especially when you’ve been blessed with so much,” says Ison, a native of eastern Kentucky with the still-present gentle drawl.

“If you go into (health care) to just make a living, I can’t fault you for it. But I just couldn’t practice that way,” he continues. “I’ve never turned down a patient because of their inability to pay or their circumstances. I just couldn’t look someone in the eye and say no. We’ll find a way to help.”

Son of A Country Doctor

Ison, the son of a country doctor father and a mother who worked as a nurse, has a practice that draws patients from Northern Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. Along with the usual clientele, he also has become known for his work with special needs patients, from infants and toddlers to geriatric care and patients with mental and physical problems who can’t be treated on an outpatient basis.

For those patients, he also has a hospital practice where patients can be sedated
during their treatment. Formerly the chief of surgery at New Horizons Medical Center in Owenton, he’s currently on staff at Frankfort Regional Medical Center and St. Elizabeth Hospital in

Licensed as a family practitioner, his practice has come to include pediatric and geriatric care, oral surgery, orthodontics and prosthodontics (full and partial dentures).

His specialties, as it turns out, are as diverse as his past.

Growing up in the Manchester, Ky., area, Ison had what can easily be called an eclectic youth.

He learned to drive by the age of 10, chauffeuring his dad to medical calls throughout the mountains of eastern Kentucky. By age 14, he says, he had driven to Florida and back.

After graduating high school, he worked as a heavy equipment operator and even earned a master rating as a ship’s captain before deciding upon a career in social work, earning his degree from Cumberland College. Eventually, he went to work for the state of Kentucky as a social work administrator, but after a few years in the job, he still felt something was lacking.

“I didn’t feel fulfilled, but I still knew I wanted to do something in the service area,” he says.

It was then that his uncle had a suggestion.

“My uncle was a dentist. He told me, ‘If you really want to do something that helps people, you should come back home, because we need dentists,’” Ison recalls.

He quit his state job and enrolled in the University of Kentucky’s dental school at the age of 29, graduating in four years and returning to Manchester to set up his private practice, a hospital practice to care for those with special needs and a rotation of patient hours at three local nursing homes. It was then that the scope of care he provides would become his hallmark.

“I stepped into a community that needed all sorts of specialized care. At UK, they trained us — especially those of us from eastern Kentucky — to provide a wide array of services because of the need that was out there,” says Ison. “So, I didn’t try to limit myself. I tried to encompass as much as I could into my practice to help as many folks as I could.”

A Move North

A chance encounter led him to Northern Kentucky years later.

On a 1999 road trip, he stopped at a store in Williamstown. There, he met the local chief of police, who learned Ison was a dentist and talked him into relocating to the area.

“By then, I was a little overwhelmed with my private practice, the hospital and nursing homes back in Manchester, so it was intriguing,” he explains. He decided he needed a break, and Williamstown offered it. Within three months of moving his practice, though, he had set up another hospital practice, seeing the same number of patients because the need was so great.

A decade later, he’s never regretted the move, Ison says.

“It’s an honor to take care of my patients, people who really need it, because otherwise they might fall through the cracks,” he explains. ■