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After Trauma, a Brand-New Smile

David Gunter Baughman

Houma, Morgan City

Specialty: Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
• Northeast Louisiana University 1989
• University of New Mexico in Albuquerque 1990
• University of Texas Dental Branch, Houston 1996
• Louisiana State University at New Orleans Medical School 2000
Native of Farmerville

Profile by Caroline Malouse | Portrait by Lauren Self

Dr. David Baughman loves his job. “I could do it till I’m 100,” he says. With his thriving practice and active lifestyle, it seems entirely possible that he’ll have the chance to do just that. He and his business partner, Dr. Chris Saal, have 13 employees and operate out of Houma, Morgan City and Thibodaux. At their oral and maxillofacial practice, they place dental implants, extract wisdom teeth and other non-restorable teeth, diagnose head and neck cancer and perform orthognathic surgery (corrective jaw surgery). When on call at Terrebonne General and Thibodaux Regional hospitals, they treat emergency facial trauma cases.
One special case was an offshore worker who experienced severe trauma when a pressure hose exploded, destroying his jawbone and badly lacerating his lips. He was airlifted to Terrebonne General Hospital, where Baughman cleaned up the wounds. The patient was allowed to heal before Baughman created bone grafts to repair his jaw, replacing teeth with dental implants. After careful work, the patient’s smile and jaw function were restored. “That was a huge challenge and a gratifying result,” says Baughman.
He knew this line of work was for him when he extracted his first tooth in dental school. Baughman comes from a long line of pharmacists, including his father, grandfather, uncle and brother, and had wanted to follow in their footsteps since age 6. Growing up, he spent time in his family’s corner drugstore, working behind the counter at the soda fountain, checking inventory after school and in the summer and watching customers fill prescriptions and pass the time. But with the advancement of medical technology and changing times, modern drugstores and pharmacies had become the norm by the time he graduated pharmacy school. After practicing pharmacy for a couple of years, he realized he missed the community-gathering feel of the old corner drugstores and felt that he wanted to be even more directly involved with patient care. “I was working at MD Anderson in Houston next door to the University of Houston dental school,” Baughman says. “One day I walked over and spoke to an adviser about applying, and the next thing I knew I was studying to be a dentist.”
His educational history is impressive indeed. After earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in pharmacy at what is now the University of Louisiana at Monroe and at University of New Mexico, respectively, he earned his dental degree at the University of Texas Dental Branch in Houston and then went on to earn his medical degree at Louisiana State University at New Orleans. Working as colleagues with professors in his later years of school, he also completed a general surgery internship and an oral and maxillofacial surgery residency, both at LSU.
Although he sees dozens of patients a day, Baughman still finds time to act as the president of the Louisiana Society for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, a position he earned after spending four years as secretary/treasurer and two as vice president. He also just finished six years as a board member of the Louisiana Dental Association, representing Bayou District Dental. As if his leadership in dentistry weren’t enough to keep him busy, Baughman is also an avid outdoorsman who likes to fish and compete in triathlons. “There’s a great group of athletes in the area,” Baughman says of the friends he swims, bikes and runs with. He finds time before work and during lunch to do the things he enjoys. On top of everything, he loves to hang out with his children and even coaches their 7- and 8-year-old coach-pitch baseball team, where the coach pitches the ball.
Baughman’s only concern about his field is the current state of flux of health care policies. “I don’t like being with the unknowns of governmental health care and insurance companies,” he says, ever sympathetic toward patient needs. Patients can rest assured that  Baughman does his best to ensure excellent care for them.

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