After 48 years and so many teeth he can’t keep track of them all, Dr. Terry Hopkins, DDS, is setting aside his magnifying mouth mirrors and retiring.

After 48 years and so many teeth he can’t keep track of them all, Dr. Terry Hopkins, DDS, is setting aside his magnifying mouth mirrors and retiring.


“I have some of the same feelings now as when I graduated from dental school and was going into practice,” Hopkins said. “You just don’t know for sure what’s on the other side.”


From the time he was a sophomore in high school, Hopkins knew he wanted to be a dentist.


“I worked a couple of summers for Logan’s Dental Lab that was in the Masonic building here in Shawnee and got to meet all the dentists and enjoyed the work,” he said, “and it looked like they were enjoying theirs, so that’s when I started thinking about it.”


After graduating from dental school in 1967, Hopkins opened his first practice in Prague.


“Back then you could not advertise,” he said. “You were limited to a space in the newspaper, I think one inch high and maybe two columns wide, just simply announcing where you were located and this was your phone number. Then you just sat as you waited for patients to come in.”


Although Hopkins knew he wanted to be a dentist early on, he did not follow through with his original plan. After majoring in philosophy in college, Hopkins planned to retire from dentistry at 55, go back to get his masters and doctorate and teach philosophy at a collegiate level.


“Life got in the way and 55 got there a whole lot sooner than I thought it was going to,” Hopkins said. “Everyday you go to the office, you’re faced with different situations. Life just kind of rolls on and I really, really didn’t start thinking seriously about retirement until a couple of years ago.”


In his many years as a general dentist, Hopkins said he has seen many things, even a few instances that most dentists don’t encounter.


“I had a patient at the hospital years ago, probably five or six years old, doing full mouth reconstruction on him. A day or two before he came in, he’d stuck a bead in his ear,” Hopkins said. “The ENT doctor said, ‘Well you’re going to have him asleep, would you mind getting that bead out?’ So I extracted a bead from a kid’s ear.”


Despite growing up in Shawnee, Hopkins knew he wanted to return to town to grow his practice.


“The conventional wisdom when I graduated dental school was don’t go back to your hometown because you’ll always be remembered as ‘Little Terry,’” he said.


Hopkins and his wife said they are grateful to have raised their family in Shawnee.


“We have some neighbors who moved from Iowa across the street,” he said. “He told me, ‘I’ve never lived in a community that I liked as much as I like Shawnee.’”


Although Hopkins said he and his family could have lived anywhere, they are glad they chose Shawnee.


“It has just been such a great place to raise a family, and we can get anyplace we want to from Shawnee, Oklahoma,” he said. “It’s growing slow and steady and it’s just a good place to be.”


Retirement is a new journey for Hopkins, who said this is the first time in forever he hasn’t had to be somewhere at 7:30 in the morning.


“It’s just another chapter in my life,” he said. “So it feels good, it feels right, I think if I had done it five years ago, I probably would have looked back with some regrets. But I think at this point, though I’m going to miss it, I’m really looking forward to what’s out there next.”


Overall, Hopkins said he thanks the community of Shawnee for making he and his family so comfortable.


“So many good things have happened in our life here in Shawnee that it’s hard to cover them,” he said.


Through the years, Hopkins said he’s had patients grow up, move away, come back to visit and even bring in their children and grandchildren.


“I will miss the everyday contact with them, but it’ll be OK,” he said. “I’m ready to do something else now.”