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Bruce Smith

Page history last edited by Brian Riedel 13 years ago


Dr. Bruce Smith was interviewed in 2010 by Jordan Smith and Weikei Yu.

Smith agreed that the students could mount a Wikipedia entry about him. The original Wikipedia entry is provided below.

Informed consent, an audio recording, and extended paper documentation for the interview are available at the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Return to the SWGS 201 interviewee list.


Bruce William Smith (b. March 3, 1951) is a dentist, LGBT advocate, and philanthropist residing in Houston, Texas. In 1981 he established a private practice in Houston's Montrose neighborhood[1] and has been practicing there since.

Smith is noted for being the first dentist in the Houston area to treat persons with HIV/AIDS in the early 1980's. He was the founder the Houston District Dental Society's (now known as the Greater Houston Dental Society) infectious hazards committee[1] and is a co-founder of the Bering Dental Clinic (which is now part of Bering Omega Community Services).[1]


Personal Life and Education

Smith was born in Troy, New York. His father's job with IBM required the family to move often during Smith's childhood. Eventually, this brought his family to Richardson, Texas in the mid 1960's. He graduated from Richardson High School in 1969.[2] He attended University of Texas at Arlington and graduated in 1975 with a B.S. in biology with an emphasis in microbiology and a minor in chemistry.[1][3] While he was in college he worked in a dental lab where he learned how to work with plaster and molds.[3][2] This combined with an interest in working with his hands led him to pursue a career in dentistry where he could utilize his love of science and artistic ability. He earned a Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas.[1] After graduating in 1979, he spent two years in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, rising to the rank of Lieutenant.[1] During his time in the Corps, he focused on sterilization and infection control practices. He was stationed at Prairie View A&M in Hempstead, Texas. [2] In 1981, he left the corps and established a practice in the Montrose area in Houston, Texas,[1] where he currently resides with his partner, Tony Carroll. They were married in 2003 in Canada.[1]


Treating Patients with HIV/AIDS

Smith was approached shortly after establishing his practice by Dr. DodiƩr Piot who had a HIV/AIDS patient who was suffering from an excruciating toothache. No other dentists that the physician approached would treat the patient due to his HIV/AIDS infection. Using his background in microbiology and knowledge gained working in the corps with sterilization and universal precautions, Smith agreed to treat the patient.[3][2] For several years after, it was only Smith and a small number of other dentists in Houston that would treat HIV/AIDS patients. Smith would go on to advocate more frequent dental care for patients with HIV/AIDS in order prevent life threatening complications which are often trivial or minor for healthy individuals.[3][2]

Smith used his knowledge and experience to teach other dentists universal precautions that made treating HIV/AIDS patients as safe as treating any other patients, though initially was met with resistance by some professionals. Eventually, universal precautions were accepted as proper protocol for all dentists. Since then the CDC has established 'Standard Precautions' to deal with individuals with blood-borne pathogens. The threat of transmission of such viruses is very real, but if proper guidelines and procedures are followed, the risk of transmission is virtually nonexistent.[3][2]


Infectious Hazards Committee

In 1983 Smith founded and headed the Houston District Dental Society's infectious hazards committee for five years.[1] The committee's goal was to find a way to provide care for HIV/AIDS patients in Harris County.[2]

In spite of increased awareness and education about AIDS, many dentists at the time still refused to treat HIV/AIDS infected individuals. Smith and other dentists sought to establish a clinic specifically for HIV/AIDS infected patients where these individuals could receive adequate dental treatment without discrimination. They were turned down by many private organizations[4][2] and Harris County for a location where they could treat their patients. However, they finally found a location of practice at the Bering United Methodist Church. [4][5][2]


Bering Dental Clinic

With local dentists, philanthropists, and charities, Smith helped found The Bering Dental Clinic on September 4th, 1987, which consisted of a staff of about 35 volunteer dentists donating their services to treat individuals with HIV/AIDS on a rotating schedule.[4][5] Most dentists at the time were reluctant to treat patients with HIV/AIDS for fear of contracting or spreading the disease and potentially alienating other patients due to the stigma attached to the disease.[4] Individuals could receive the preventive care that they had been denied but so crucially needed.

The Bering Dental Clinic offers treatment to these individuals free of charge and without prejudice. It was initially funded by the Bering Memorial Methodist Church, the Bering Community Service Foundation and the Houston District Dental Society; the clinic received no public funding.[4][5][2] Now, they also receive Federal and State funding in addition to the continued donations of individuals and private foundations. In 2005, the clinic served 2,351 patients. [6]

As of 2010, Smith is still a Board of Trustees Member for Bering Omega.[2]


Private practice

Smith continues dentistry today at his practice located at 1006 Missouri Street, Houston, Texas. His practice has earned him the Favorite Dentist Award from OutSmart Magazine since 2000.[1][2]


Advocacy, philanthropy and charity work

In addition to his extensive work with the Bering Dental Clinic, Bering Omega Foundation, and Bering Community Service Foundation, Smith is also involved in a number of political and charitable causes, including the Victory Fund, the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, the Texas Freedom Network, Planned Parenthood, the Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.[1]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Bruce Smith (June 2009). "Meet the Doctor". Bruce W. Smith D.D.S. http://www.brucesmithdds.com/meet_the_doctor.php. Retrieved 25 February 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Houston ARCH. "Personal Interview". Houston ARCH. http://houstonarch.pbworks.com/Bruce-Smith. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Stensrude, Janice (February 2010). "Something to Smile About". Outsmart Magazine. http://www.outsmartmagazine.com/cms-this_issue/201002--Something+to+Smile+About.html. Retrieved 25 February 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e SoRelle, Ruth: 'Clinics a boon to AIDS patients', Houston Chronicle, sec. 1: 12, 25 Aug 1987, Retrieved 25 February 2010
  5. ^ a b c N.A., 'Dental Clinic set up to handle AIDS victims', Houston Post, sec. A: 17, 28 Aug 1987, Retrieved 25 February 2010
  6. ^ Omega Bering Dental. "How We Are Funded". Omega Bering Dental. http://www.beringomega.org/cms/index.php'option=com_content&task=view&id=19&Itemid=34. Retrieved 25 February 2010.

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