There’s a huge tree growing out of the floor in Hayden Perkins’ Oxford office.
Against one wall, a bank of video game systems, mobile and standard, beckons his eager clients. A huge saltwater aquarium serves as a divider between two waiting rooms.
And as if the furniture in bright primary colors isn’t enough, original artwork and hundreds of photographs brighten the office at every twist and turn. The ceilings are vaulted. It’s airy and full of sunshine.
A large Golden Retriever patrols the halls, collecting love pats, totally unruffled by the commotion and chatter.
And on most days of the week, the Children’s Dental Center brims with 80 to 90 children, from toddlers to teens. Perkins is their pediatric dentist, and his patients come from as far north as Corinth and far south as the deep Delta.
His staff is crazy about him. So are his patients and their parents, especially those whose children cope with health challenges, including autism, paralysis, Down syndrome, seizure disorders and congenital heart failure.
“Special-needs parents are saints,” said Perkins, 38, a 2004 graduate of the School of Dentistry who received his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Mississippi in 1999.
His practice includes a specialization in caring for disabled patients, and to many of those families, Perkins is likely seen as a godsend: Unlike a lot of dentists in the state, he accepts Medicaid and the state Children’s Health Insurance Program.