It’s never too late to wake up and change

Take it from an engineer-turned-dentist who has made transformation his life’s blueprint.
Today, Jesse L. Jackson D.D.S. leads two successful dental practices in Missouri. Fifteen years ago as a newly married mechanical engineer, he did not envision himself in the profession that suits him perfectly today.

“I am someone who can see a problem, figure out how to fix it and make it happen.  Working in government and corporate worlds doesn’t quite work that way, so for me it was maddening.  I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur but always assumed it would be in engineering,”

said the 37-year-old Kansas City, Mo. resident.

Enter inspiration, in the form of Kristen Jackson, RDH, BS


Photo Courtesy Eric Larsen/Incisal Edge

“My wife, I love her. I love her passion for all that she does. … When I first met her, she was in dental hygiene school. I spent many hours with her while she completed lab work at the dental school.  Little did I know then that I, too, very soon would find myself in those same labs,”

said Dr. Jackson, recently honored as one of the 2017 Incisal Edge 40 Under 40, America’s Best Young Dentists.

“We were newly married, both working in our careers. Kristen noticed I lacked a spark about my career happiness.  She knew I had the hand skills of a dentist, but didn’t know if I would consider going back to school.  I finally decided to do some shadowing just to see if I would be interested. On the first day of shadowing, I fell in love with the dental field.”

In 2010, one month after earning a Doctorate of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry, Dr. Jackson started a practice from scratch, which he has expanded to include more than 1,600 active patients. Two acquisitions later, the owner of Jackson Family Dental has completed TMD training through the Pankey Institute, implant placement and restoration post-graduate training, and has successfully placed more than 100 implants each year.

When did Dr. Jesse L. Jackson realize he had the power to shift his future?

“I grew up an overweight, non-athletic adolescent. I was never successful in sports until I made a decision to change. I started running. Then I started working hard at sports, countless hours practicing on my own. Pretty soon I was no longer the last to be picked on teams. Looking back,  I think this is where my passion to learn, achieve and succeed started for me.”

With this track record of success, what would be a logical pastime for a person who didn’t grow up around boats or lakes?

Wake boarding, of course.

“Once I saw someone doing it, I knew I wanted to try it, and other water sports.”

Instructional videos, a few hours of training with a friend and an internal drive to learn and he’s been embracing the sport’s steep learning curve since 2013.

Image of Dr. Jackson wake boarding with son at Big Cedar.

“Eventually, I got up.  I am still honing my skills and trying new tricks.  I spend each summer trying to learn new moves for the water and trying to stay physically fit so that I get through it faster.  The more strength and balance you have, the shorter learning that curve is.”

thedailyfloss-dr-jackson-wake-boarding-family-2Additional incentive? Four diehard fans, in the form of his children, Spencer 10, Presley, 8, Ledger 7, and Beckett 5.

“It’s been super rewarding watching and helping all of our children learn the sport.  Some pick it up faster than others, but each year they really improve. Our 5-year-old Beckett should have it mastered this summer. He’s got the drive, just has a little trouble pulling himself out of the water,”

said Dr. Jackson, referring to riding over the surface of a body of water on a short surfboard.

“I’m glad I got involved because it gives me a chance to show my kids they can do anything they want as long as they prepare and work hard at trying to succeed. Most adults won’t try to learn new things or think that they are too old to do things like this.  Since I didn’t have opportunity for many things in life when I was young, I figure now is the time to try.”

The result: A ideal mix of fun, fitness and relaxation.

IMG_3095“One of our family traditions is to spend two weeks on Table Rock Lake at Big Cedar. It’s truly the most relaxing place on Earth for families.  The water conditions are perfect, the scenery is natural and beautiful and the amenities of Johnny Morris’ resort are second to none.”

Dr. Jackson described his first cable course, where the wake boarder is pulled around a lake by a cable and pulley system rather than a boat:

“The biggest advantage: lots of obstacles on the course like barrels, ramps and walls to practice tricks.  The constant speed allowed me to spend a lot of time trying new techniques and not have to worry about other boats or rogue waves.”

Dr. Jackson’s Mad Skillz and Mastered Tricks:

  • 180 heel-side
  • stalled 360
  • toe-side grind
  • wake-to-wake jump
  • ollie over a barrel

“My memorable moments are to see the kids get up and control the board for the first time. I love to see others succeed and develop the passion for something I am passionate about, too.  When they do it, I get the same feeling of accomplishment that I get when trying something new.”