IOWA CITY | For some kids, getting braces is just another part of growing up, but for Grace Moore, the process was fascinating.

When her braces came off and she saw the results, she said she appreciated the potential of dental technology to change smiles and improve lives, and she knew she wanted to work in the field.

“After I got my braces off, I started thinking more about my own teeth and noticing everyone else’s teeth,” said Moore, a Mason City native and third-year student at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. “I started thinking about how a beautiful smile really does boost a person’s self-esteem. I had always been interested in the health sciences, and dentistry just seemed like a good fit.”

National Dentist's Day is celebrated in March, recognizing dentists and the important services they provide. And as her graduation date nears, Moore said she is looking forward to finally putting on her white dentist’s coat and beginning her career — one she hopes will bring her back to her rural roots.

“I’m pretty adventurous, but at the end of the day, I feel like I’ll probably stay in Iowa,” Moore said. “Iowa is a very safe place to live and my entire family is here. I really like the values of the Midwest and the people who live here. I appreciate the pace of life that comes with living in a smaller town.”

Grace Moore, a Mason City native, is a third-year dental student at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. TIM SCHOON, University of Iowa

For her undergraduate studies, Moore attended Loyola University Chicago, where she ran cross country and studied biology and biostatistics. When she started thinking about attending dental school, she knew she wanted to return to her home state, in part because her family members are die-hard University of Iowa sports fans, but also because she wanted to attend a top-notch dental school.

“Everyone I talked to had great things to say about Iowa's dental school,” said Moore, who asked for advice from her own childhood dentist, Dr. Daniel Burgmeier, a 1985 University of Iowa College of Dentistry graduate, as well as Dr. Michael Louscher, a family friend who is a 1996 University of Iowa College of Dentistry graduate, and Dr. Todd Hoeppner, a 1999 University of Iowa College of Dentistry graduate.

As for her personal experience, Moore has not been disappointed. Since she started the program, she has spoken so highly of her classes, classmates and professors that her younger brother is now planning to attend the school. He will begin his dental studies this fall.

“The clinical experience we get here is second to none,” said Moore, referring to the amount of time students spend working with patients, even in their first year of dental school. “When I go to dental conferences and I talk to other students, I realize how amazing and unique our patient and clinical experience is here at the (University of Iowa).”

When she graduates, Moore said she’ll probably look for work in general practice in Iowa. She said she’d like to help fellow Iowans achieve good oral health, no matter their age, and that she’d like to get involved in community activities and volunteering.

“Since I was born and raised in Iowa, I feel that I owe it to Iowa to give something back, and this is one way to do it,” Moore said. “I’m excited to work with kids, adults and elderly patients. I really enjoy patient education and communication, so I think general dentistry is a good place for me. I’m looking forward to a long career of helping my community.”

Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.