Witt’s Life Journey

My life journey has been one I never would have dreamed of happening. Out of personal loss has come a life much better than I could have ever imagined, with many remarkable experiences along the path!

Witt’s Life Journey

My life journey has been one I never would have dreamed of happening. Out of personal loss has come a life much better than I could have ever imagined, with many remarkable experiences along the path!

I was raised in a wonderful home by two very in love and loving parents. I have two older sisters, who also took great care of their little brother. My parents and I played very serious competitive golf which I started at age 6. We spent many hours each week on the course, honing our skills together. It was a beautiful childhood.

But suddenly, at age 16, everything dramatically changed. My Dad, my strong hero, was diagnosed with acute leukemia, and within 9 months passed away, one month before my high school graduation. Everything in my idyllic world would change forever. Little did I know it would be for the better. During his illness we spent many months living at the hospital. The culture of medicine and helping others penetrated deeply into my heart. I began to think seriously about the meaning of my life, especially the spiritual side of my future. Pretty profound stuff at 16-17 years old. But I grew up many more years than my chronological age that impressionable and invaluable year. I would never be the same - I would become a much better person because of my Dad’s illness and death.

I was deeply affected by the confident faith my parents both exhibited during that crushing ordeal. My Dad always taught me how live as a man of genuine faith, and ultimately showed me, firsthand, how to die as a man of genuine and confident faith. This was his greatest gift to his young son. I would never be the same. I’m so thankful for that very painful experience that awakened my soul to much more meaningful desires and goals. I wanted to live in a way that would reflect my Dad’s values. I wanted my life to count for God and for others. I wanted to do something significant with my life, which I began to realize was very precious and never to be taken for granted.


Following a year at Capernwray Bible School in North Lancashire, England, a year playing on the golf team at the University of Florida, and a Biology/Pre-Med degree from Emory University, I was accepted to the University of Florida College of Dentistry (UFCD).

The Spring before entering UFCD, I ran into a casual family friend named Pete Dawson. He asked me what I was up to and I told him I was getting ready to start dental school. He seemed very excited. I didn’t know he was a dentist. He invited me to spend a day with him in his office, which I did the next week. At the end of the day he handed me a dental textbook, which he had written, entitled, “Evaluation, Diagnosis and Treatment of Occlusal Problems”. He wrote on the front page, “With warmest best wishes to Witt and a special hope that you will be as happy in dentistry as I have been.” I was very impressed but had no idea what “occlusal problems” meant or how important Pete was in the profession. I would soon learn!

That summer, before starting dental school, Pete invited me as his guest to attend his 3 seminars which were 3 days each. I’ll never forget arriving at the Don Cesar Hotel in St. Petersburg Beach and walking into the ballroom packed with 300+ Dentists from around the world all very excited to hear the very famous Dr. Dawson teach. I heard attendees say he was the most famous dentist and educator in the world. Wow! What an honor for me to know him personally and for him to take me under his wing. I knew the least of anyone in those 3 courses but I soaked up every word that I could possibly understand and read the book from cover to cover that summer. What a privilege. Little did I know this was just the beginning of an amazing career, mentored by the #1 dentist in the world who just happened to live in my hometown, St. Petersburg, Florida, and who just happened to be a family friend. That’s no coincidence.

In November of my first year at UFCD in Gainesville, Florida, I ran into a high school friend at the grocery store. She invited me to a 21st birthday party for her close friend and to meet some new people (I had been spending all my “social time” in the gross anatomy lab!). Little did I know that birthday party was in honor of a beautiful co-ed named Pat Trumbull, who I married the next year!

Since 1980, Pat has inspired me through her tremendous love for God, for me, for our 3 children and for all whose lives she touches daily. Upon graduation in 1982, Pete Dawson invited me to join his private practice in St. Petersburg. When people ask Pete Dawson how he’s doing, his standard reply has always been, “Better than I deserve!” That’s exactly how I feel every day I walk into our office! Through Pete’s tremendous influence, we have had over 40,000 dental professionals train under the teaching of the Dawson Academy. I’ve been privileged to work with many of those students. I’ve also been able to travel throughout the United States and abroad spreading the message of Complete Dentistry, teaching how to understand and resolve problems of dental occlusion, TMD, and restorative dentistry.

Witt Wilkerson speaking to a dental audience

In recent years, we’ve been thinking about the next great frontier in dentistry. Considering the ever- increasing health crisis in the western world, it seems only natural that dentistry should have a role, not only in oral health but in complete health concerns, too.

Studying the field of Integrative Medicine, with an approach to look beyond a chief complaint to the whole person, we have found exciting new frontiers to explore for “Integrative Dental Medicine”. This is my great passion for the future, as we elevate dentistry to become a highly respected specialty of oral medicine and oral systemic health. My life’s journey has been filled with many special people, experiences, learning and countless blessings from above. All in all, definitely, much better than I deserve. I can’t wait to see what will come next!

I hope we can share the future journey together.