Dr. Mary Blakeley founded Willow Creek Dental back in 1998. It was located in a small office at the corner of Quebec & County Line in the Willow Creek Shopping Center, hence how we got our name. She has since moved the office twice, most notably to our current location in Lone Tree. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry and also has advanced training in dental implantology, neuromuscular dentistry, sleep apnea treatment and TMJ disorder therapy.
You grew up in a big family in Wyoming and went to undergrad in Nebraska. What brought you to Colorado?
I knew I wanted to practice in a larger city but still wanted to be close to home. Denver fit the bill. It’s a great place to live, has lots to do, and is a great place to raise a family.
Have you always wanted to be a dentist? What got you interested in dentistry?
I was a dental assistant for the local dentist in Pine Bluffs in high school so that gave me exposure into what the dental industry was like. When I started college, I was undecided. I always loved my science classes and knew that some sort of medicine is what my heart desired. When I attended a health-career fair my junior year in college and spoke with the admissions director from the UNMC College of Dentistry, I immediately knew that dentistry was what I wanted to do.
You started Willow Creek Dental in 1998 after working as an Associate in a practice for one year. What made you decide to start your own practice?
I have always been an independent person who wanted to be in control of my own destiny so it made sense to start my own practice. I also wanted to be able to control how my patients were cared for without the constraints of being “managed”.
Are there any specific areas of dentistry that you particularly enjoy?
I get a lot of joy from helping someone whose teeth are failing them get a new, healthy smile that restores their confidence and are proud to show off.
If you weren’t a dentist, what career would you pursue?
I probably would have pursued a career in medicine, although I can’t imagine not being a dentist! Dentistry has allowed me to still have a life outside of the office and have time with my family.
You were a student-athlete in college. What sport did you play? Do you still play today?
I played volleyball at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Even through dental school and after I moved to Denver, I still played club volleyball. I used to coach my daughter’s club team and I try to play on occasion. However, a busy family life prevents me from playing as much as I would like to.
Speaking of a busy life, you and your husband have a blended family with six children—all teenagers! When not busy with your kids and their events, what do you like to do for fun?
I really enjoy going on an annual beach vacation with my husband, Ben. We also try to go on a vacation with the whole family once a year. I also enjoy going snowboarding, water-skiing, hiking, golfing and working out.
You are a country music fan—what has been your favorite concert?
I like a lot of music…including country!! My favorite concert was probably Garth Brooks. I saw him in Vegas and in Denver. Both were incredible shows! He is such a gifted entertainer.
Tell us something about yourself that people don’t know.
Two things. First, I grew up on a cattle ranch in Wyoming.The ranch is still owned and operated by my family and has been in operation since 1890. Second, my high school volleyball team was once featured on ESPN for having 12 state championships in a 15 year period.
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere with water. Whether it is Grand Lake on a boating vacation or a Mexico beach vacation, as long as I am on the water, I am happy.
Favorite Movie or TV Show:
I do not watch anything on TV regularly. I do love watching the Broncos on Sunday or the Huskers on Saturday, though. I don’t have a single favorite movie, but two of my favorites are Legends of the Fall and A Walk in the Clouds.
Favorite Local Restaurant:
There are a lot of great restaurants in Denver, but, Carmines on Penn is one of my favorites.
Favorite Holiday Tradition:
Every other year, my entire family gets together for Christmas at my parent’s home in Wyoming. Our annual White Elephant gift exchange is a lot of fun for the kids and adults. It usually turns into a “snowball” fight that instead of snowballs, Christmas wrapping paper is wadded up into tight balls that work as ammunition. As you can imagine, in a family with mostly boys as grandchildren, it usually ends when something gets broken or someone gets hurt!!