Laurel Bush Family Dentistry
Only 16, Mary Teddy Wray boarded a plane for the USA, leaving behind her family and Uganda for a country where she knew no one.
Starting with that trip, Dr. Wray’s grit would get her through financial hardship and school to her dental practice in Bel Air. Once in the United States, Wray attended boarding school on scholarship and graduated cum laude.
At 18, Wray was on her own when she headed for New York City where she delayed her education to work two jobs: days at McDonald’s and nights at Burger King. After a year of hard work, she enrolled at New York University and started a 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. cashier’s job in a food market.
She was promoted to manager of produce. Wray claims that her African background was the reason for her promotion; she was the only employee who recognized the exotic produce. To label the produce, an employee would hold up an exotic; Wray would call out its name. Wray worked there until she graduated from NYU.
Laurel Bush Family Dentistry
Wray vowed to continue an education in neuroscience. To learn and accumulate money, Wray took a job assisting an NYU neuroscientist. Wray says, “My research work was intricate, and the neuroscientist noticed that I was good with my hands.” When the neuroscientist’s grant money depleted, he encouraged Wray to go to dental school because of her digital dexterity.
Her next move was Washington, D.C., a city she had never visited. She had no car and knew no one, but Georgetown University Dental School had accepted her. Wray laughs, “I just went.”
Wray searched for a night job where she could work and study at the same time. Georgetown’s Financial Aid denied her money, and they warned, “No one works and goes to dental school.”
They didn’t know Wray’s grit. She says, “I didn’t give up.”
She tried the employment office; they turned her down. They called her back about a job that “no one wants.” Here Wray’s grit and grace converge. Dr. Wray says, “It wasn’t a pretty job, but I loved it.” For four years, Wray worked 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. as a caregiver for Lucy Garfield, a descendent of President Garfield who suffered from Alzheimer’s.
Wray graduated from dental school, and her journey brought her to Harford County where she opened Laurel Bush Family Dentistry in 2001. In 15 years, her practice has expanded to three associates, a staff of 22, seven treatment rooms and thousands of patients.
Wray credits her success to her team’s services, her employees’ professionalism and her patients’ loyalty.
Her team offers general dentistry services and cosmetic dentistry, and, for patient convenience, they also offer pediatric and orthodontic specialties. Some of their more unique services include a sedation option for patients who dread the drill or have to endure a long treatment, implant restorations for the look of natural teeth, and “same-day” emergency care.
Wray describes her employees as experienced and informed, and “they want to please the patient.” She attributes their professionalism to continuing education. All employees, including Wray, take classes in their specialties, business and customer service.
Wray’s patients are loyal because she imbues her business philosophy with grace. She guides her employees to treat every patient with respect. Her office accepts all patients, regardless of their insurance or ability to pay. Wray admits that occasionally someone can’t pay for service, but “the help my team renders is priceless.”
As a female from Africa, Wray says, ”I didn’t know what to expect opening an office in Harford County, but from the start, I always felt welcomed.” Her “community-oriented dental office” gives free dental care to abused women, the elderly, some foreign student athletes, and discounts to ARC and homeless shelter residents. Wray’s is the first dental office to enroll in the Maryland Long Term Care Mini-Residency program to serve the elderly.
Wray gives back with grace as she volunteers and philanthropically supports many organizations, including the Center for the Arts, Friends School of Harford and SARC. Wray is recipient of the 2014 ATHENA Award, 2011 Daily Record Healthcare Hero Award, 2014 Maryland Top 100 Women, The 2016 Lucy Hobbs Humanitarian Award, The US Chamber of Commerce Dream Big 2016 Blue Ribbon Award, 2015 Brava Female CEO Award, 2014 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser and 2010 Top Fundraiser by Center for the Arts. I95