Khori A. Hunter and Dr. Nasha Hunter
Few things are more heartwarming than the smile of a child. It has the power to delight us as adults, but more importantly, it is one of the most impactful means of starting a friendship for a young person. An attractive smile elicits confidence, and nothing is more critical during a child’s developmental years. Unfortunately, for most children, visiting the dentist can be a frightening experience, and for parents, it can be nearly intolerable. For the residents of Sugarland and Richmond, Texas, however, life just got a lot easier.
The husband-and-wife team of Khori Hunter and Dr. Nasha Hunter created two “dental homes,” where children, teens, and special needs patients can actually enjoy visiting the dentist. Sweetpea Smiles Dental Group is a carefully constructed environment that is more akin to a friendly playroom than an office, where everyone, including parents, can feel safe, secure, and worry-free. Whether for preventive dentistry, dental emergencies, sedation dentistry, orthodontics, or general oral health, the group of dentists at Sweetpea Smiles ensures that each visit is pain-free and that every patient gets the smile they deserve.
Whether a result of Khori’s business expertise and savvy, Nasha’s expertise and love for helping children, or their cooperative desire to build a business (to serve families in the communities they serve) around their family, the Hunters have carved out a niche, and in the process, have nearly eradicated the stigmas associated with pediatric dentistry.
We spoke with president and CEO, Khori, and chief clinical officer pediatric dentist, Dr. Nasha Hunter, to learn more about them, their practice, and the secret to their success.
Before we talk about your practice, let’s get an idea of who you are as individuals. Can you give us some insight into your backgrounds?
Khori: At heart, I’m an entrepreneur, but my background is primarily in engineering and business management. I’ve started quite a few organizations and learned a lot from those experiences. My most recent venture, aside from Sweetpea Smiles, is Pareto Growth, which is a consulting firm that helps companies scale and grow. During the pandemic, we’ve assisted more than 100 small businesses. I think that my experience is the perfect complement to Nasha’s. She handles the clinical operations and I take care of the business components.
Nasha: I’ve known I wanted to be a dentist since I was 12 years old. This desire was inspired by my family dentist back in Jamaica, who owned her own practice. I pursued the dental field academically right after college and received my BS in biology from the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. My parents, who were very supportive, invested in me going to Howard University for my Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. After graduating dental school, I completed a two year general practice residency, practiced as a general dentist in Jamaica in a private office for 1 year, and then completed my pediatric dental residency at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center. For the past 11 years, I’ve focused on preventive dentistry, full mouth dental rehabilitation, sedation dentistry, behavior management, interceptive orthodontics, and providing oral health care for special needs patients.
What is the mission statement for Sweetpea Smiles Dental Group? What is your primary goal?
Our vision is to build and support a network of pediatric “dental homes” that will offer more access to better care for more families across the United States. We provide a fun, safe, and nurturing environment for children, while helping them develop good oral health habits from an early age. As a resource for education and information, we also build meaningful relationships with parents, their families, and the communities in which we serve.
I understand you are both from Jamaica and met in college. What goals do you share as a couple and as a team?
Khori: I think the most obvious commonality is our love for children. We work together as parents and as business partners, but these two roles are not necessarily mutually exclusive to each other. As parents, we can identify with the struggles that everyone has, especially when it comes to taking the kids to the dentist and building children’s self-esteem. That recognition leads to solutions for the business. If you can’t make the family dynamic work, there would be little chance of success in structuring a professional team. I find great reward in seeing the staff develop and achieve a common goal, much as I do watching our family grow.
Nasha: Khori and I are fortunate to work well together at home and on the business. We both love what we do, so we act silly and laugh at work, and our patients see that. It puts them at ease, which is, after all, the very foundation of our practice. And I love to see all children, not just my own, enjoying themselves, growing, and thriving. It’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of their journeys, and if giving them a healthy smile makes their paths a little smoother, I’m blessed to give them that.
What would you say are your greatest achievements?
Nasha: Aside from starting a family and building Sweetpea Smiles with Khori, it would be becoming board certified. Although to maintain the certification requires continuing education, which can be challenging with regard to time management, I’m proud to dedicate myself to this very special area of dentistry. It allows me to offer the latest technologies and advances in our growing patients, which are often not available in other offices.
Khori: My family and creating our Sweetpea Smiles signature “dental homes” are definitely at the top of the list. I do find my role with Pareto Growth extremely fulfilling and I am proud to be acknowledged as an Accredited Fort Bend County Gold Badge Consultant for assisting local businesses rebuild through the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Khori A. Hunter, President & CEO
Dr. Nasha Hunter, Chief Pediatric Dentist
Sweetpea Smiles Dental Group