She Will Take the Time to Get to Know You as a Person, Friend & Family Member Meet Family Dentist, Dr. Asha Madhavan DDS
Q: At what age did you realize you would become a dentist?
AM: I realized around age 9 and still remember the exact moment I decided I wanted to be a doctor. Two things influenced my decision- being in nature and the sense of empathy that brings and reading and listening to stories about doctors and their lives made me feel at a young age that this will be a good profession.
Q: How long have you been in practice and what is your treatment approach?
AM: I started practice in 2009. I believe at this time in the co-discovery model. The patient and me sit down and chat about their mouth. We celebrate the great things and talk about teeth with issues and any other concerns I have. Then we talk about treatment options and most importantly what is going to happen if nothing is done about the issues seen. The reason I say " at this time" is that as I grow as a professional, I believe the way I see and explain things also grows and this is my core philosophy, but as I gain experience this is something that will keep evolving.
Q: What kind of problems develop with bad Oral health?
AM: Many people have poor self-esteem related to the way teeth are positioned and due to bad breath. Gum disease can cause early tooth loss, if left untreated and is now shown to be linked to systemic diseases. Tooth loss due to untreated cavities can result in bite changes and can cause inability to chew properly over a period. Oral cancers and screening can of course save lives, and this is something done during routine check-ups. So, it is super important to get regular evaluations, check-ups, and care for your oral health. This also starts at a very young age - as early as within the first six months of a baby getting their first tooth.
Q: How do you work with patients to prevent oral and dental diseases?
AM: I have a great team in my office. Starting with scheduling and taking patients through a new patient journey and helping them co-discover and learn more about dental concerns and how we can help them. Technology like 3 D imaging, same day crowns, microscopes for endodontics have been game changers and I offer them in my office to provide excellent care. The most powerful impact is the ability to take great photographs as a tool to help patients see what they may not normally be able to see.
Staying up to date with latest in dental education helps my team and me take care of our patients and hopefully help them become dental patients who seek regular dental care. The two most common reasons for people not seeking care is fear and finances. We as a team strive to help patients with both these concerns and help bridge the gap that prevents patients from getting help.
Q: What was your first job and how did it shape and impact you?
AM: My first job out of school was in a community dental center in Central California (it took me about 5 months to find that job during the beginning of the recession in 2008 and that in itself was learning).
What struck me was that America is an amazing country - as an immigrant myself, I saw the power that social benefits can provide in the way of dental services for patients who are below poverty line. This also meant that I had the ability to make a difference in the lives of many people and I truly cherish the two years I spent working in the center. I also worked with foster kids and they left a mark in my mind.
Whenever I have a rough day, I always think of the faces of the kids I saw during that time who probably learnt grit and resilience at a very young age. This helps me think of my issues as fairly relative and I always say a silent prayer for their wellbeing wherever they are!
Q: Were there moments in your career that were pivotal to getting where you are today?
AM: Getting accepted to dentistry in India was a big moment. But when I was accepted to dental school In UCLA, it changed everything about the way I viewed the profession. That was huge. I also valued experience over remuneration, at least earlier in my career, and this approach helped me gain valuable experience working with a broad range of dentists and environments. This really helped me shape the direction that I needed to head toward.
Q: What Is your advice for women in Male dominated fields?
AM: Get good mentors – male or female, who are in the position today, the way you view yourself 5-10 years from now. Take on jobs not just for the pay, but to gain experience working for senior people in your field, even volunteer, especially when starting out. Don’t hesitate to work hard. Don’t let your gender come in the way of anything. If you feel it is then changing the environment, you work in.
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
AM: My mother. At an early age I watched her get up around 5-6 AM, set our food, head to work as a teacher. I always came back to a neat home and good food. She was very organized. This was despite not having many facilities and modes of transportation that we sometimes take for granted. All this done without much grumbling and fanfare. She made it very clear from as early as I can remember that education is priority. I remember her telling me that someday my profession will be very valuable not just as a source of income but also a source of meaning and engagement that will help you feel fulfilled. She could not have been more correct!
Q: What are some of the challenge’s women face?
AM: Growing up in social media pressure is something I don’t know much about; I feel that is something the kids face these days. Making sure social media is not given more value than it really deserves is very important. Being kind to one another, especially women to women. These days I find it is OK to step on top of each other to get ahead and I feel that is not necessary. We all can have our place in the sun and helping each other out helps us not just get to our destination but feel great when we get there too.
Investing in education and sports and not dropping off when it matters the most- during early adulthood. Most importantly finding good mentors and reaching out to them when you feel things are getting rough.
Q: What advice would you give women who want to pursue a dental career?
AM: Study well and if you falter get right back up. Consistent grades are important, and everyone goofs up occasionally, so be kind to yourself and don’t give up. Find mentors and create a plan and roadmap. Spend time every morning with a ritual – that includes exercise, self-development and reading up to improve technical skills. That way every day you are a better person than the day before. Don’t stop learning. Make sure you shadow dentists and you like being a dentist and the work that involves in being one.
Five things about Dr. Asha Madhavan
1. If you could talk to one famous person past or present who would it be and why?
Mr. Bill Gates and Amitabh Bachan – What motivates them; how do they reinvent themselves self and stay relevant in today’s world? How do they find purpose in life- after having achieved what they have?
I picked them because they are very accomplished- one in the tech world and one in the world of entertainment. Both have managed to achieve huge success, have made impact across the world, yet stay relevant in today’s world and have not faded away and still inspire and motivate millions of people in this generation.
2. What behavior do you attribute to your success?
I feel I have a long way to go to be really called a success! But I feel I have a fair amount of determination that helps me. My family jokes that the best way to get me to do something is to tell me that I cannot do it. Then they are confident that it will be done.
3. Who had the most influence on you growing up?
I pick three, My dad and my brother and my husband.
My dad taught me to do the right thing always. The way he chats with people and puts everyone at ease around him is something I adore and try to emulate.
My brother took me along for all games and events and even if I failed, he always cheered me on! Huge for a young girl to boost sense of self.
Today my husband plays the role very ably. He is a pretty quiet guy, unlike me. Over the years together he has become a great sounding board for me to voice my fears, goals, and dreams.
4. What App can’t you live without?
My yoga teacher – workout
YouTube and Facebook and WhatsApp – entertainment and catching up with friends and family across the world
5. Any hobbies?
To be honest none currently. But I have a routine I have followed for a long time. Since I was a dental student in India. I have refined it over the years, and it looks a bit like this … I like to wake up and follow a routine of yoga, walking the dogs and reading, this helps me feel centered and more prepared for the day.