Fun At The Dentist

Posted On November 5, 2021

By Jackie Perrone

Dr. Richard Cross started something lasting when he founded Palmetto Smiles four decades ago. Now, from his comfortable retirement couch, he enjoys seeing this dental practice thrive under the guidance of his daughter and two of his former patients, along with a fourth dentist completing the team.    

Dr. Kevin Raines, Dr. Jamie Cross Gomez, Dr. Rob Nieders, and Dr. Heather Hopkins are dedicated to continuing the tradition Palmetto Smiles has been known for, comfort and ease instead of dread during a visit to the dentist.

“Our mission is to provide all members of our community with preventive, restorative, and orthodontic dental care in a gentle, caring, professional environment that sets dental excellence and patient care as its highest goal.

 “Our vision is to be an icon for providing excellent dental care and to develop into a pillar of respect and support for all members of our community.”


Some patients have added “fun” and “pleasure” into the mix when describing their experience at Palmetto Smiles. Patients have expressed satisfaction at the system of checking children in, then having them wait in cars outside until called in. Just an extra layer of protection during the Covid-19 crisis. “When a child asks if he can have his birthday party at our office, I figure we are doing something right,” said Dr. Nieders. “I love working with kids,” said Dr. Raines.

Three of these professionals are lifelong friends, with the connection of having Dr. Richard Cross as their dentist during childhood. The fourth, Dr. Heather Hopkins, migrated to Lexington after a varied background which included education in Kentucky and Louisiana and professional experience in Hollywood, which connected her with some celebrities. She has appeared on national TV and often gives talks on her specialty of orthodonture. She has found her niche amidst the home-grown team at Palmetto Smiles.

The daughter of the founder, Dr. Jamie Cross Gomez, literally grew up in this office. She explored other medical fields before deciding that dentistry suited her best, and in 2002 she joined her father and Dr. Kevin Raines in the practice. She has been Invisalign-certified since 2004 and added computer-aided dentistry to the practice in 2011. A general-practice dentist, “I enjoy serving patients of all ages,” she says. “I’m the only general dentist and have enjoyed seeing generations of patients. I’ve been practicing dentistry for almost 20 years. We love transforming smiles and promoting oral health. I have a wonderful team, and we pride ourselves on having a great group of employees who have been with me since the beginning of my career. We treat each other like family and treat our patients the same!”

Dr. Kevin Raines did not wait to become an adult before affiliating with Palmetto Smiles. “I started life in Winnsboro but moved to Chapin for high school. I worked in Dr. Cross’ office during summers while a student at Newberry College, and then after completing dental school at MUSC and my pediatric residency at The College of Dental Medicine in Augusta, I came back to join Dr. Cross in practice. I am one of the pediatric specialists here.”

Dr. Rob Nieders graduated from Wofford College and then Dental School at MUSC on a Navy scholarship. During his Navy service, he was stationed at Rota, Spain, then returned home to specialize in pediatric dentistry. “My absolute favorite thing is to help coach a nervous child through what can be a stressful visit and have them finish with a smile and to be excited about coming back for their next visit.”

All these enthusiastic Lexingtonians have spouses and children and unanimously express their satisfaction in the privilege of living in a wonderful family-oriented place. Dr. Raines is a long-time youth sports coach and is actively involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Dr. Hopkins has a brother who is autistic and has given much time and energy to the causes of children with special needs. She also has run more than 25 Marathons. Dr. Gomez volunteers at the Children’s Dental Health Clinic. Dr. Nieder is an Affiliate Assistant Professor of Pediatric Dentistry at MUSC and a Board Examiner for the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry.

As Dr. Raines put it, “We are very blessed to live in such a great community with great families we get to see and care for each day at the office. We love that we are locally owned, and each of us is involved in our community.”


Palmetto Smiles

139 Whiteford Way

Lexington SC 29072

803 – 951 - 9100