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Hidden Gems: Meet Dmitriy Ivanov

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dmitriy Ivanov.

Hi Dmitriy, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
While our life experiences shape who we are, some put us on our career path. My interest in dentistry was sparked at age twelve, the day my dad took me to see a dentist for my toothache. I had always been afraid of the dental office, especially shots; however, at that moment, no one other than a dentist could cure my pain. At the first sight of the needle, I refused the anesthetic. It took one touch of the burr for me to reconsider. Soon, my pain subsided. I noticed a mirror on the tool tray and asked permission to observe the procedure. By letting me observe three fillings and the dexterity used to do this work, my doctor transformed my fear into a learning experience. This was the first time I considered dentistry as a profession.

After I graduated from high school at the age of fifteen, my parents sent me to the U.S. to live with my sister. Within months of my arrival, I learned English and was able to get a job as a medical biller. I spent the next six years at this job, but it was not the career of my dreams. After many conversations with doctors, dentists, lawyers, businessmen, and IT engineers, I discovered that I had a passion – a desire to help people improve the quality of their lives. I re-examined dentistry as a career after meeting a dentist at a friend’s party. I was sitting at a table, shaping something small out of the warm candle wax. Dr. Butts came up to me and inquired if I wanted to be a sculptor. When I replied no, he told me that being a dentist required fine use of hands and that maybe I should consider dentistry as a career. This conversation evoked a flashback to my first dental experience, the time I observed my fillings being done in the mirror. Coupling this experience with thoughts of using my hands and showing off my artistic ability led me to consider dentistry seriously as my profession. Setting priorities, I began taking night classes at a local community college after work. In the blink of an eye, a year passed, and after three years apart from my parents, I got to see them again when they came to the U.S. permanently. Besides bringing me joy, their arrival brought an increased financial need because of their language barrier and inability to find jobs. To be able to support my parents, I got a second job, remaining focused on my academic and career aspirations as I continued taking classes in college.

Multitasking work, family, and school experiences allowed me to become a mature and independent person. Testing myself daily expanded my problem-solving capacities. Taking on the position of the billing department manager, I acquired leadership skills as I interacted with a variety of people, proving to me that I must be sensitive and flexible in approaching every person as an individual. To gain healthcare experience I volunteered at a nursing home, providing company and reassurance to elderly residents uncomfortable with their surroundings. This experience was rewarding – it gave me a deeper understanding of people and a greater sense of compassion for those in need.
Once my parents became financially stable, I was able to quit my jobs and attend the University of California Santa Barbara full time, in order to finish my degree. At UCSB, I became an active member in both the Pre-Dental Club and the Russian Club. I also taught Russian to students who were going to study abroad. On my weekends back home, Dr. Olshansky, a cosmetic dentist, gave me a chance to learn about dentistry in great depth. I assisted in the office while observing a variety of procedures, including checkups, tooth restorations, and root canals. I was fascinated by dental surgery, particularly dental implants.

My hard work and dedication to my studies were rewarded when I was able to graduate with Highest Honors, a distinction that demonstrates my ability to achieve a high level of academic success in a competitive major. From my experience with dentists and with other pre-dental students, I learned how demanding dental school is, and that perseverance is essential in mastering the rigors inherent in earning a degree in dental surgery. I plan to continue my shadowing experience and to enroll in the UCLA Dental Volunteer Program to gain even broader experience. Today, I am confident in my decision to pursue dentistry as a career, and I now understand the lifelong devotion which is crucial to fulfilling my personal and professional goals in becoming the most accomplished and the most compassionate dentist I can be.

As a young child raised outside the United States, oral health and preventive dental care were not regarded as a significant part of my family’s well-being. I grew up without the knowledge nor the encouragement to visit my dentist for routine checkups and cleanings. Unsurprisingly, caries and advanced periodontal disease were commonplace, as evidenced by my relatives and my own first experience with a dentist at the age of eleven, for three appointments and nine fillings. The implications of this lack of oral health awareness affected me most personally when I admitted my parents as my patients in the UCLA Dental Clinic. I was confronted with advanced periodontal issues and multiple hopeless teeth. During our recent appointment, I asked my father why he never tried improving his oral health. He answered, “I was never taught it was important; it just wasn’t in our culture”. This absence of knowledge about oral health care, especially related to the periodontium, is an issue I face daily as a dental provider.

My decision to pursue specialty training in periodontics is rooted in the philosophy that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The periodontium essentially serves as the first checkpoint in assessing an individual’s oral health status. For any given case, the periodontal structures provide a unique window into a patient’s restorative, endodontic, prosthodontic, and orthodontic prognoses. The opportunity to gain a more thorough understanding of the periodontium and its multi-disciplinary implications motivates me to become a periodontist. One of the most rewarding experiences in my dental career was when I successfully helped my patient return her periodontal state to health prior to initiation of her restorative treatment. I praised her every effort on gradually improving hygiene habits and continued coaching her with enthusiasm. At our last appointment she responded, “Thanks doc, my gums finally don’t hurt when I brush. First time in many years, and it’s only because of you!” This potential to affect my patients’ periodontal status and subsequently their overall health and quality of life is what genuinely excites me about my future career.

Being raised by two professors, I inherited a strong work ethic and a never-ending desire to learn. As a goal-oriented person, I never shy away from obstacles. I immigrated to the United States at the age of fifteen, adopted a new language and culture, and worked two jobs to provide for my parents while attending college. Though this was one of the most challenging periods of my life, it also remains one of my biggest achievements. I am proud knowing I was able to support my family and help them adapt as immigrants to their new lives. The need to support my family financially and culturally, my desire to take on challenging course work through night classes, and long hours of working and volunteering only strengthened my desire to continue learning. Overcoming these challenges also advanced my interpersonal skills and pushed my progression toward becoming the best dental professional I can be.

There are many other experiences in dental school that continue to inspire and prepares me to pursue the field of periodontics. As president of the UCLA Periodontal Study Club, I have been given a special opportunity to help my peers explore the scope of periodontics beyond the dental school curriculum. The knowledge I attain from extensive hours assisting in the periodontics clinic and directly from UCLA’s esteemed periodontics’ faculty and residents only increase my aspiration to learn more about this field. My meticulous nature and diligence in building the skill set needed to produce excellent clinical outcomes is evidenced by consistent recommendations by faculty members on my diagnostic and technical skills.

Whether addressing long-standing periodontal disease through surgery, preserving alveolar bone for future implant placement or using finesse microsurgical techniques for regeneration and augmentation of tissues, periodontics is the only specialty that motivates me to pursue post-doctoral training. By pursuing a career in periodontics, my passion for quality dentistry and patient care and thirst for knowledge can best be realized.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I had spent over 15 years in school to reach my final goal of becoming a board-certified periodontist and implant specialist.

Community college + full-time work: 2003-2007
UCSB undergrad college transfer: 2007-2009
1 year off
UCLA Dental school 2010-2014
UCLA Veterans Administration Residency program in periodontal surgery and implant

Lots of obstacles along the way, not an easy road to keep griding, working hard, and helping my family financially (parents didn’t have much when they moved to USA after me).

I had a solid goal and never quit, not once, no matter how tough and hard the process was.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
I am a periodontist and implant specialist. Check my IG to see what I do in daily life (perioimplant_la).

But I treat periodontal disease and save compromised teeth from disease. I remove unhealthy teeth, I can rebuild missing bone and gum tissue with various bone and gum grafting procedures. I replace missing teeth that were lost with dental implants. I maintain patients’ periodontal and systemic health.

I also provide many hands-on and live patient courses for doctors to learn or advance in dentistry by learning more advanced procedures that may help their patients.

My teaching brand is called Perio Amigos www.perioamigos.com IG @perio.amigos.

We provide courses on the west and east coast multiple times per year.

What are your plans for the future?
Big plan is to open up my own practice in the next few years in South Bay area. I am currently associating within many practices.

Contact Info:

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