Meet Dr. Kathlyn Nelson


As a dentist, I feel on a personal mission to change the way people feel about “The Dentist.” It is extremely exciting to me when, through dentistry, we can change the way a person feels about him or herself. It can be something as little as smoothing a chipped tooth or as complex as a full mouth restoration. But it makes a person feel happier, and I really enjoy that. Both personally and professionally, I like to make things better: work better, feel better, and look better. 

I feel very privileged to work with such well-trained and genuinely nice people. We all get along and we like being around each other. It is not uncommon to hear laughter from the treatment area or in the reception area. And although we do not always take ourselves seriously, we always take our professional responsibilities seriously as well.

My Education and Experience

I graduated from Middletown High School after moving here from California in the middle of eighth grade. I then attended Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts where I graduated cum laude with my Bachelor of Science degree Psychology. While employed by Emerson College in Boston, I took the science and math courses needed for dental school at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. I obtained my Doctorate of Dental Medicine from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1987.

I began practicing right out of dental school as an associate with Dr. Daniel J. Sullivan at this location in 1987. Dr. Sullivan had been in practice at this location since the sixties. As time went on, Dr. Sullivan and I became full partners, then in 2000 I bought out Dr. Sullivan and became sole owner.

Continuing Education and Affiliations

My goal in choosing continuing education courses is to improve my skills and knowledge so that our patients receive the best and most up-to-date care possible. Although most patients do not realize it, the materials and technologies in dentistry are constantly evolving—sometimes on a weekly basis! I feel that it is my responsibility to keep pace with the newest materials, techniques, and technologies, so that my team and I can deliver truly Milestone Dental Care.

In addition to continuing my education, I belong to the Newport County Dental Association, Rhode Island Dental Association, American Dental Association, and the American Academy of Facial Esthetics.

Outside the Office

My father was in the Navy, so I grew up in several different areas of the country. I was born in Orlando, Florida while my father was out to sea. Our family maintained our southern roots even though we moved around the country, finally settling in Middletown in 1969. My childhood home was a perfect example of southern hospitality, and I like to think that I have retained that air of hospitality in my office’s environment.

Although I went to college outside Boston, I moved back to Middletown to marry Paul, my husband. Paul and I had our first son Brett between my third and fourth year of dental school. Our second son Conor was born two years after I began practicing dentistry. Brett is currently a Staff Sargent in the Marines and stationed with his beautiful wife Desiree and our two grand dogs in Okinawa, Japan. Brett has served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Conor graduated from Norwich University in Vermont and is a Captain in the Marine Corps. Reserve. He is currently contemplating graduate school.

When I am not in the office, you can find me in the garden. Paul and I have a vegetable garden at home and I keep flowerbeds at home and at the office. If the weather is not suitable for gardening, I take the opportunity to redecorate the house or sometimes the office. I like to paint, paper, and refinish. I love to work with different colors and create new environments. My head is full of ideas that I have not yet had the time to create.

In the Community

This past summer I donated my skills to the first Rhode Island Mission of Mercy, a two-day free dental clinic for the state. The event was sponsored by the Rhode Island Oral Health Foundation, which is already planning for the next event, at which I will be donating my time this coming summer.

Our office frequently makes donations for local causes, including Child and Family Services, the Potter League (our local animal rescue shelter), and the Middletown Youth Soccer Club. We even have our own team!

Milestone Dental Care