By: Eric Sandbulte, The Brookings Register

There’s a new face in Brookings, and he aims to put a smile on everyone’s face, all while making sure those smiles are bright, strong and healthy.

John Bisson bought Gates Dental – now Bisson Dental – in February, soon after he, his wife Alex (Hoffman) and two children (a 2 1/2-year-old son and 5-month-old daughter) moved to Brookings.

Although he was raised in Sturgis and his wife is a Eureka native, their move to Brookings feels like a move back home because both attended South Dakota State University – it’s where they met, in fact, while both were on swim team.

When he started out in college, he wasn’t sure what he’d wind up doing, starting with pre-pharmacy and then considered engineering. It wasn’t until his junior year that he decided upon dentistry, but there wasn’t a singular moment that led him to make that decision.

“It always had been one of my passions, one of those things I could see myself doing,” Bisson explained, adding, “It just fit what I wanted in a career. The older I got, the more I knew I wanted to be in healthcare of some type, whether as a physician or dentist or whatever else.”

After graduating from SDSU in 2011 with a biology major and chemistry minor, he and Alex moved to Omaha, so he could attend the Creighton University School of Dentistry. He graduated in 2015.

While learning the ropes at dental school, he gained a newfound appreciation for the variety of procedures that happen in a dental practice.

“For the most part, I was blessed with good teeth, and I took care of them, so I never really saw that side of it growing up,” Bisson said. “Outside looking in, … I didn’t really know that there was that much to it. I figured a good portion of a dentist’s day was taken up by doing the checkups and things like that, but there are a lot of other procedures out there and work to be done.”

While they enjoyed their time in Omaha (Alex worked as a news anchor there), they wanted to move closer to family, and in 2016, they moved to Mitchell for two years.

He worked as an associate dentist but eventually wanted a bit of a change.

“We always kind of wanted to own our own practice. Like I mentioned before, we really loved Brookings from when we lived here. We kind of knew Brookings was always near the top of our list of places we wanted to end up. So the second this opportunity came up, we jumped at it and haven’t looked back since,” Bisson said.

He’s put in plenty of his own elbow grease as he works to update the building. New carpet has been installed, the walls painted, new trim work, electrical and updating some equipment. Bisson likes the family-friendly feel of the office, and the hard work being done is helping enhance that.

After all, it’s the family aspects of dentistry that he enjoys the most.

“One of my favorite things about dentistry is that family feel of it, where you see people for long periods of time and gain relationships with them. I like talking with a lot of the checkup patients, see how their weekend or day is going,” Bisson said.

Of course, it’s also rewarding that he gets to see the results of his work pay off rather quickly.

“If you have a really bad toothache, a chipped tooth or want your teeth a bit whiter, a lot of times those things can be done the same day. You can see that change immediately, not only in the appearance of the tooth or the pain being taken away, but in the patient’s overall demeanor and how they feel about themselves. That’s a rewarding part of the job, those things you can make a difference in someone’s life,” Bisson said.

Putting kids at ease during their trip to the dentist can be a tricky affair, but having kids of your own does help, Bisson has found.

“I was always jealous of my classmates in dental school who had kids at that time. I feel like I was always pretty good with kids, but they’re always on top of recent toys and cartoons, things like that, so they could relate that with the kids,” Bisson said. “Since I’ve had my own kids, I feel like that’s easier for me because now I know the characters on Paw Patrol and PJ Masks.”

Although Bisson knows that more and more tech is being introduced into dentistry, the basics of what happens at the dentist’s office haven’t changed much. At Bisson Dental, patients can have routine checkups, cleanings, x-rays, fillings, crowns, root canals, implants for tooth replacements, dentures and more. Cosmetic dentistry, which includes such procedures as whitenings, have also become more popular.

Business hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday at 305 Main Ave. S. Appointments can be made by calling 692-2820.

Contact Eric Sandbulte at

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