Dr. Henry Cook, Pediatric Dentistry of Brandon
by Susan Marquez
Since 1995, Dr. Henry Cook has worked to keep the teeth of children in Rankin County healthy. He opened his first dental practice, Pediatric Dentistry of Brandon, after completing his special training in pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati. “I learned about Brandon when I was in dental school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center,” says Cook. “I did some research and learned that Brandon had a good population with a lot of kids.”
Cook was raised in Ocean Springs, where he graduated from St. Martin High School then attended Ole Miss, where he completed his undergraduate work before going to UMMC. About three years into dental school, Cook had the opportunity to study with Dr. William “Bill” Duncan, head of the pediatric dental department at UMMC. “He allowed me to work on some cases and he became my mentor. Dr. Lee Cope recommended I go to Cincinnati. My wife and I spent two years there, and I really enjoyed it.”
Cook’s wife, Kelly, is from Quitman, and she really wanted to settle in a small town like the one where she grew up. “We looked at settling in Ocean Springs, Hattiesburg, or Brandon, but in the end, Brandon won our hearts. We just loved the town and decided we wanted to put our roots down here.”
His first practice was located behind the Citizen’s State Bank building on Eastgate Drive. “Tom Underwood, who also developed Crossgates, built the building,” says Cook. “We outgrew that location quickly, and within five years we were searching for more property nearby where we could build a larger building.” He bought land from Underwood, just two blocks away on Gatewood Drive. Cook wanted a building that looked special and would be welcoming to his young patients and their parents. He and Kelly found a building they really liked in New Orleans. They sketched out a design for the building, and sought out architects who specialized in offices for Abraham Dental, who tweaked the design. Brenda Spears, a Brandon native, was the builder. He moved to the new office in 2003.
The 3,800 square foot offices provide children from infant to age 18 with the care they need to have healthy mouths and teeth. “We usually see patients around the time when their first tooth comes in,” says Cook. “We see them throughout their childhood, pretty much until they graduate from high school. After age 18, they move on to a general dentist.” Cook says he is considering adding a general dentist so that the transition for his patients will be easier.
While he’s been a solo dental practitioner his entire career, Cook says an orthodontist, Camille Sandifer, comes to his office once a week, so that kids can have their braces done at the same place they go to the dentist.
“I knew I wanted to be a dentist when I was fairly young,” says Cook. He is proud that his daughter, Kara, just started her first year of dental school. While he would love for her to join him in his practice, Kara says she just needs to focus on school for now.
Community involvement is important for Cook, who participates in area Chamber of Commerce events. “We also recognize Dental Health Week by going to preschools around Rankin County and teaching children the proper way to brush their teeth and how to eat healthy,” Cook says. In 2007, kids involved with 4-H were asked to have their favorite person to show their animal during the Rankin County Livestock Show. One of Cook’s patients, David Huff, asked Cook to show his goat.
Cook coached baseball for the Brandon Youth League as his kids were growing up and playing ball. In addition to daughter Kara, the Cooks have three sons, Ryan, an attorney in Jackson; Joseph, who is in his third year of medical school; and Seth, who is in high school. Cook is involved with We Will Go Ministries in Jackson, and he has taken several mission trips over the years. “Some are dental missions, but others are missions where we build, hold Sunday school, or whatever else needs to be done.” He is a member of Pinelake Baptist Church.
One of Cook’s favorite things about his dental practice is watching his patients grow up and become parents. “Many of my former patients have brought their children in to see me. That’s special. Living and practicing dentistry in Brandon has been a real blessing to me and my family.”