Aug. 18—LA GRANDE — There's been a new face at Eli Mayes Dental in La Grande for several months now, and with it, new services at the dental office that has served Union County for 40 years.
Dr. Yvonne Morgan was hired in April 2021, after completing dental school at Oregon Health Sciences University and practicing in Eugene for three years.
And now, after several months, Morgan has become acclimated to Union County and plans on staying around as long as she can.
"We were looking for that small-town feel, to be part of that community, and it ticks all of those boxes, especially in terms of outdoor recreation," she said. "We have dogs. It's just like a playground out here."
Morgan is far from a native. She grew up in northwestern Ontario, Canada, in a small town. She met her future husband while attending school at the University of Portland, where she studied biology and French.
According to Morgan, she was planning on going to medical school, but after her twin brother underwent extensive dental work, she began talking to dentists and realized her passion.
"They had an oral surgeon and a prosthodontist, and I just got to talking to them, and seeing how much that changed my brother's life and seeing his care just really launched me in that direction," she said.
After attending the University of Portland, Morgan enrolled in the dental school at Oregon Health & Science University. As part of her training, she was assigned to La Grande, where she met Mayes, who is a part-time faculty member at OHSU.
"We were able to have her come into Elgin and work for us as a student. We immediately loved her, our patients loved her, so we asked her to work for us right then and there," Mayes said. "It's taken three years to get her back."
Upon graduation, Morgan and her husband moved to Eugene for three years, where she practiced general dentistry, but after getting a taste of Eastern Oregon, they knew they wanted to return.
"I knew Eli from my dental training, and the timing worked out great," Morgan said. "We came out here, loved it here, it's paradise. We just bought a house. We're here to stay."
Morgan specializes in Botox and dermal fillings, and she is the only dentist in Union County with this speciality, according to Morgan and Mayes.
Botox, which is generally used to remove facial wrinkles, blocks muscle contractions, which can be effective for relieving pain and jaw issues, according to Morgan. Dermal fillings, which are substances injected into skin tissue to add volume, have the same application.
"Part of what I love about dentistry is that you can pick what you really like, and in that small-town environment, when people can't travel to a specialist sometimes, we can handle things here, which is really nice and part of what I wanted in a smaller area," Morgan said.
Morgan is one of three dentists at Eli Mayes Dental, and her speciality will allow the business to be on the front edge of new dental practices, according to Mayes.
"She can do anything she wants. She is a very driven, bright lady, and right now she's focusing on aesthetic dentistry," Mayes said. "She's moving into Botox, which most people think of just getting rid of wrinkles, but in dentistry there's a lot of pain and jaw issues that Botox can help."
He added: "Nobody in La Grande is doing anything like that."