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Dr. Mark T. Bentley Celebrates a Half a Century of Dentistry in Troy

By Matt Bayman
  As a child growing up in Martins Ferry, Ohio, Dr. Mark Bentley assumed that when he grew older he would have to wear dentures, just like his grandparents did. However, since embarking on a 50-year dentistry career that started in 1974, and armed with ongoing education, training and a healthy smile, he knows this fate is no longer inevitable, neither for himself nor his patients. “Most people who floss and brush on a daily basis and visit their dentist routinely for dental cleanings and exams will not outlive their teeth,” he declares.

  Reflecting on five decades dedicated to dentistry, all spent exclusively in Troy, Dr. Bentley takes pride in knowing that he has provided "Teeth For Life" to numerous patients and contributed to their overall well-being. "My passion lies in dentistry's ability to enhance anyone's quality of life," he affirms.

   It also helps that he loves his job and the community he serves. 

Humble Beginnings
  How did a young man from Martins Ferry find his way to Troy? Love played its part, naturally.

  While studying dentistry at The Ohio State University, Dr. Bentley met his future wife, Linda (Mott), a Troy native, who persuaded him to return to her cherished hometown to establish his first practice. He’s never looked back.  “I could never have found a more perfect setting to build my dental practice than Troy,” he said. “It is populated with the most wonderful people, and many of them have become my patients. It is one of the wisest decisions I have ever made.”

  Acquiring his inaugural practice before completing dental school, Dr. Bentley stepped into a two-room office on Robinhood Lane in Troy in mid-July 1974, greeted by eager patients awaiting his arrival. Contrastingly simple compared to his current establishment on North Market Street (which has 12 treatment rooms, 37 employees, its own labs, specialized equipment, and three doctors), the Robinhood Lane office required hands-on management at all levels, with Dr. Bentley handling hygiene appointments alongside his duties. Linda, juggling first-grade teaching at Concord Elementary in Troy at the time, would assist after school, underscoring their shared commitment to the practice's success.

  One of the initial steps the couple took, once they were able, was to employ a dental hygienist who also served as a receptionist. This marked the inception of their growth journey, which continues to this day.

Changes and Growth
  In 1983, Dr. Bentley moved from his rented office on Robinhood Lane to a house that he and Linda converted into a dental office. The new office had five treatment rooms and a large reception area and lab, as well as a sterilization area. “We were so happy to have all that space and convenience for many years,” he said.

  As the years passed and staff grew (and technology changed), Dr. Bentley and Linda soon realized they needed a larger space to operate and grow. In 2000, they decided to build their own dental building at 1523 N. Market St., where they remain to this day. They opened there in January of 2001.

  Dr. Bentley said nearly everything about dentistry has changed since he started his first practice, especially in the realm of digital technology. This includes the use of scanners, digital impressions, artificial interpretation of digital x-rays and 3D imaging. Procedures and methods also have improved, from dental implants and IV and oral sedation to whitening and painless anesthesia, to name a few.

  Dr. Bentley said he and his staff continue to invest in digital technology and training, all in the name of improving the experience and health of their patients.  “We would like to further embrace digital dentistry almost on a microscopic level and to add more specialties so that our patients don’t need to travel for specialized services.  Our doctors and team have always attended continuing education courses and will continue to do so in the future,” he said. “Because our team is so focused on providing dental education to our patients and community, I would like to see our community become more obsessive about oral maintenance and maintaining optimum dental health.  Hopefully, more and more of our community will realize the effects of their oral health on the health of their whole body."

“I could never have found a more perfect setting to build my dental practice than Troy,” he said. “It is populated with the most wonderful people, and many of them have become my patients. It is one of the wisest decisions I have ever made.”
- says Dr. Mark Bentley, pictured here with his wife, Linda - 

Never Stop Learning

   To keep up with the changes and advancements in his field, Dr. Bentley has never stopped learning.  “My most serious hobby over the past 50 years has been continuing dental education, whether it is in clinical areas or in management.  To retain my license, I strive to take many more hours of continuing education than is required each year by the Ohio Dental Association.  I require that my very gifted associates, Dr. Julie Jones Heckman and Dr. Zach Curtis, do the same,” he said.

   He’s also been influenced and encouraged by Linda.  “I happened to marry a woman who pushed me into taking as many business seminars as clinical.  She supported me in this and without her, we wouldn’t be here.” 

   Along with continuing education and seeking guidance from experts, Dr. Bentley and Linda are constantly on an endeavor to hire, train and retain only the best team members.  “The staff we have are amazing, friendly and committed,” Dr. Bentley said. “The Team Leaders, Gina, Annie, Kimberly, Nicole, Tonia and Taylor are trusted staff members who work diligently with our other staff members to make sure that each patient is treated with respect and receives the best dental treatment available.”

Dr. Zach Curtis, Dr. Julie Jones Heckman & Dr. Bentley.

Generations and Integrity

   With 50 years of service in one community, Dr. Bentley not only has a dedicated staff but also many patients who have been with him since the beginning, as well as generations of new patients.  “We have now treated the children and grandchildren of some of our patients,” he said.  “I am blessed to have that kind of trust placed in my hands.  I have had the opportunity to make many friendships with so many of these patients.  I love the stories that so many of them have shared with me.  I often tell my patients that they are no longer patients, but instead are here purely for my entertainment.  I tell them to always bring a story with them on their next visit.”

   Dr. Bentley said his staff also has enriched his and Linda’s lives.  “They have enriched my life in so many ways.  We spend more time with our staff than we do with our families and I have been fortunate to have so many qualified, caring and gentle people surrounding and supporting me each,” he said. 

Giving Back

  In 2005, Dr. Bentley was fortunate to recover from quadruple open heart by-pass surgery.  The experience left him with a new sense of gratitude, as well as a new sense of purpose in his life and career.  “I wanted to give back by delivering basic dental services to children and adults who would not otherwise receive this care.  Through help from a ministry with Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church (in Tipp City), I was able to provide these services in Jamaica,” he said.

   Over the course of nine different mission trips, Dr. Bentley traveled to some of the poorest areas of Jamaica and provided free dental treatment to people who otherwise would have none.  He often performed 35 to 85 extractions in a day.  “The people were very poor and lived in shacks and trash was everywhere,” he recalls.  “Even under these bad conditions the people were gracious and happy and thankful.” 

   When Dr. Bentley is not working, or continuing his education, he spends time on his small farm; often mowing and landscaping, and doing woodwork and photography.  He also enjoys hiking, biking and spending time in nature. “Linda always says that if I had not chosen dentistry, I would have been a farmer or a forest ranger,” he said.  Dr. Bentley and Linda also enjoy traveling and spending time with their daughter Megan and her family.

Dr. Bentley doing mission work in Jamaica, providing free dental treatment to people who otherwise would have none.

The Next 50 years

   Although Dr. Bentley enjoys his time at home and traveling, he said he doesn’t see retirement in his future.  “Often I go to work and try to decide if I am working or just plain having fun. I’ve heard it said that one is very fortunate when your vocation becomes your vacation! I’ve said this before, but it still holds true: I plan to work until I keel over in some patient’s lap! I hope it’s not yours!”

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