“A forward-looking new practice with deep roots in the community”
McKinney-Graham Dental Arts is the Featured Cover Story of the July Issue of Hickory Living Magazine
“A forward-looking new practice with deep roots in the community”—Peter Eisenhauer in Hickory Living Magazine
A forward-looking new practice with deep roots in the community
By Peter Eisenhauer | Photos by Revival Creatives
The idea of setting up a new joint dental practice came to Drs. Kyle McKinney and Bryan Graham while they were having lunch at Hatch Sandwich Bar. Both were at a cross- roads in their existing practices in northwest Hickory. Bryan’s partner, his father-in-law, Dr. Coke Gunter was transitioning into retirement. Kyle was dealing with the physical limits of his existing office, Oakwood Dental Arts, a beautiful legacy building not designed for modern dentistry.
“We were both simultaneously looking to modernize and keep up with the latest technology to make sure we are giving our patients the best experience and cutting edge care,” said Kyle. “And we had the idea to build a new facility together.” Their discussions began in 2019, and by early 2020, they were ready to proceed.
In the meantime, they learned that long-time Hickory dentist George Clay was selling his practice, and they decided that he would be a great addition to their team.
The pandemic slowed the process but by mid-year, arrangements were in place, and construction started in December of 2020. The new office was built at the Gunter & Graham location, with the addition of an adjacent office and a complete renovation of the space. “We ended up taking everything down to the studs and starting over,” said Kyle.
McKinney • Graham Dental Arts opened January of this year. “It’s a state-of-the-art facility,” said Bryan. “There are not many technologies that we don’t have.” This includes 3-D imaging and X-ray technology, same day crowns designed using a digital scanner and milled in a cad cam machine, as well as 3-D printers used to create surgical guides for precise placement of dental implants. The technology saves time and reduces the possibility of errors. The doctors are happy that they can take care of almost all dental needs for people of all ages.
“One of the goals when we came together was being able to treat most anything that comes into our office in a place where patients are comfortable,” said Kyle. They take care of children from their first appointment, to braces or Invisalign, and extracting wisdom teeth. For adults, they can handle any crowns or implants and specialize in cosmetic work, from veneers, to implants, to full- mouth rehabilitation.
Bryan says the same day crown is one example of the benefits patients get from the new technology. Traditionally, dentists prepare the tooth for a crown, then take a messy impression that gets mailed to the lab. The patient leaves with a temporary tooth and comes back for a second visit for the permanent crown. Not with McKinney • Graham. “With the CEREC technology, we can prepare the tooth, do a digital scan, and mill the crown all in the same appointment right here in our office,” said Bryan. “It saves a lot of time for our patients, and they get a very predictable outcome when it goes straight from the computer to the mouth. The materials that we use are strong and very esthetic.”
“Similarly with implants, 3-D imaging software streamlines the process for doctor and patient,” Kyle said. “Using 3-D planning we can virtually place a dental implant prior to the date of the patient’s surgery. We use that technology to create a custom implant guide that then allows us to precisely place the implant where we have planned it in the software. While some patients are anxious about the procedure,” he said, “with the 3-D planning, they end up pleasantly surprised with how little stress and time is involved.”
Another advantage of the 3-D X-rays is early detection and diagnosis of underly- ing issues that might otherwise pass un- noticed. “There could be a tooth in the early stages of an abscess that the patient isn’t aware of,” Kyle said. “But we can isolate that on our 3-D X-ray before it’s an emergency and get treatment started.”
In addition to Bryan and Kyle, dentists at the practice include Dr. MacKenzie LeCroy who had joined Bryan’s practice in 2020 and Dr. George Clay who continues to see patients a few days a week. Dr. Lena Eldridge, whose practice Kyle had purchased, has regular hours every other Friday, and she also fills in. Dr. Gunter still sees patients occasionally. With that deep bench, the practice is able to have extended hours and is regularly open from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday.
McKinney • Graham Dental Arts has adopted the very Hickory motto of “Smiles well crafted.” Although Kyle is from Greensboro, and Bryan grew up in Asheville, both moved here for family reasons and are well established in the city. “Both our practices have deep Hickory roots,” said Bryan. “My father-in-law, Coke Gunter started his practice in 1974 and gained a reputation as an excellent dentist and even better person. Lena Eldridge began practicing dentistry in 1982, and was known for excellent care and the way she treated patients. Kyle and I are lucky to continue their legacy.”
Kyle’s wife, Caroline, grew up in Hickory, the daughter and granddaughter of local physicians. Her father, Dr. Ben Goodman, is a physician here, and his father, also Benjamin Goodman, was a family doctor in the area and team physician for all of Lenoir-Rhyne’s sports teams for many years.
“A lot of patients I have now were actually either seen by my grand- father-in-law or my father-in-law,” said Kyle. “Our twins were born in 2014, and wanting to raise our family in Hickory where Caroline grew up sparked our move in 2015. We both love the area and the thought that she could raise our kids with her parents nearby was always really attractive.” The couple has four children: twins Harper and Connor, Sawyer, age five, and two-year-old Hunter. The family are members of First Presbyterian Church, where Kyle serves on the preschool board. Caroline is active in the Service League of Hickory.
Bryan came to Hickory in 2007 to join his father-in-law’s practice. He and his wife, Jennifer, have a 21-year- old son at Chapel Hill and a 16-year- old daughter at Hickory High School. Bryan grew up in Asheville and went to Chapel Hill for his undergraduate degree and dental school. There was a substantial gap between those years at UNC, because he first graduated from Vanderbilt Law School and practiced law in Raleigh for five years. “Then he saw the light,” Kyle jokes, noting that the legal detour did make Bryan a “very smart guy who is great to partner with because he loves reading legal documents that I don’t even want to try to understand.” Bryan has served with various community organizations and is currently chair- person of the Board of Education for Hickory Public Schools.
An addition to the doctors, there are lots of other smiling faces at McKinney • Graham. “We have a tremendous team surrounding us, some of whom have been with our offices for over 40 years,” said Bryan. The partners have put a lot of effort into creating a vibrant office culture, and bringing the earlier practices together as one team. Kyle said, “Our practice culture and our team, who love work- ing together, has been important to both of our practices. We believe in taking care of the team and treating them well. In dentistry, we literally work shoulder to shoulder, and we’re only as good as the collective whole.” Even before setting up the new office, they organized many social events and outings for team members. Kyle and Bryan believe that creating a strong family feeling for the practice helps everyone provide the best possible care for patients. They look forward to greeting new and familiar faces at McKinney • Graham and helping all with…Smiles well crafted.
Our mission is to provide comprehensive dental care to our community.
We’re proud to be part of this amazing Hickory community! Our mission is to help you thrive in our town. Whether you have a troubled tooth that needs help or want to get that smile you’ve always dreamed about, we are here to serve. We will work with you to create a plan to achieve the best oral health possible. Let’s take the journey together.
“Our goal here is to create the finest dental practice in the area. Our vision together, as McKinney-Graham Dental Arts, is to be the best that we can be.”
Here at McKinney-Graham Dental Arts, we are proud to be a trusted cosmetic dentist office in the Hickory and surrounding areas. We look forward to walking with you on your transformation journey!