Building Bridges in Dentistry
by Chelsea Knorr, Associate Editor, Dentaltown Magazine
Dr. Miran Ho had a humble childhood. At the age of 12,
she started to pursue her dream of getting an education.
The now-practicing dentist first received her degree in
civil and environmental engineering and in management.
Herein she tells us her amazing story, what inspired the
career change to dentistry and gives us the inside scoop
on her practice in Mesa, Arizona.
Name: Miran Ho, MS, DDS
Graduate From: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor - DDS
Brigham Young University - MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering
Brigham Young University - MS in Management
Practice Name: Mesa Modern Dentistry and Orthodontics
Practice Location: Mesa, Arizona
Practice Size: 12 operatories
Staff: Six full-time staff
First off, what drew you to dentistry? What inspired
your career decision? And the career change?
Ho: It might sound funny but the movie "Patch Adams"
inspired me to be a health-care professional. The differences
Dr. Patch Adams made in the lives of people were fascinating
and limitless. It inspired me to help others using the talents I
was blessed with. Flexibility was another reason. Being an
engineer was rewarding and challenging. However, when I
had some life changes, I needed a flexible career in a field that
would allow me to raise my son.
What is your practice philosophy?
Ho: Our vision is "We will be the provider of choice in
our community by providing outstanding services and offering
the most advanced technology available in the most effective
and efficient manner." Mesa Modern Dentistry exists to
serve the community and make a difference in positive ways.
We will continue to promote oral health and improve smiles.
Do you have partners or associates?
Ho: I am a partner of a large group practice.
You have such an interesting life story. Tell me
about where and how you were raised.
Ho: I was raised in a middle-class family in Korea. Due
to a bankrupt family business, I became responsible for my
own education at age 12. From then on, I financed all of my
schooling including dental school through scholarships and
grants. I feel very blessed I was able to finish all of my education
without any debt. I also learned leadership and time
management skills by serving as a president of student council
during my adolescence and in college, which have benefited
me throughout all of my education, career and personal
Why do you have an engineering degree?
Ho: Dentistry is a second career for me.
I came to the U.S. during college and studied engineering
and management in graduate school. I worked as a civil engineer
in California and then started a small business in Michigan.
Throughout my life I have been involved in community services
which has helped me to be grateful in life and share the blessings
I have received abundantly.
My personal experience and community involvement led
me to dentistry, which offers an opportunity to serve others
every day with great compassion
in a very personal way. Dentistry
also fulfills my calling as a mother,
a family member and a friend.
How has having a degree in
management helped you run
Ho: I haven't had any "aha"
moments necessarily in which the
degree has helped me to run a
practice. I have seen, however, that my broad life experiences
have helped me connect with people and look at the bigger picture.
Management is a hard subject that they don't really teach
in dental school. Every day I get to practice is a better day.
What is it like to be involved in a group practice?
Ho: Pacific Dental Services is my partner and provides business
support services for my private practice. I couldn't ask for
a better partner as they manage daily business and red-tape concerns
while I set tone for the office and how we practice as a
clinical leader. Another advantage of working in a group practice
is the network of clinicians. I have easy access to a large
number of general practitioners and specialists, and business
experts who are there to form a collaborative environment for
the purpose of sharing best practices.
What is your experience with Dentaltown?
Ho: When I was in dental school, I was looking for something
that connects dentists from all over the world and I found
Dentaltown. Dentaltown is not just a dental magazine or website,
it is a place where thousands of dentists - young and old, experienced
and new - meet and share their enthusiasm and experiences.
When I have a question, I search in the message boards or
CE classes. I also learn new technologies and hot topics from
what other dentists talk about. My favorite feature is CE
courses. It is different from reading textbooks or research papers.
It is science that has been practiced and modified.
|Dr. Ho's Top Three
||Surgitel Loupes and Light
||Sirona Orthopos XG and Schick Intra-oral Camera
|When did you start using it?
|Why can you not live/work without it?
|I would like to provide the most advanced and
convenient technology available to patients.
Patients value same-day full porcelain crowns
without wearing temporary crowns.
||I would not feel comfortable doing any restoration
without loupes and a light.
||Digital X-rays are essential diagnostic tools. They
are my eyes and intra-oral photographs allow
patients to see what I see.
|When do you use it?
|Currently, I use it for posterior and anterior
crowns. In the near future, I would like to use it
for more of a variety of procedures such as
veneers and bridges.
||I use them for most restoration procedures so
that I deliver restorations with confidence.
Patients deserve it.
||I use them for every new and continuing patient,
and emergency patient exam. Many times I take
extra intra-oral pictures for patient education.
Pictures allow patients to participate in diagnosis
and make a sound decision about treatment.
|How do you market this item to your patients?
|Our team is great at telling patients about the
advantages of this technology. During the office
tour, patients are introduced to the CEREC unit.
We also let them know we donate a portion from
each crown we mill to charitywater to build wells
||I say, "With these glasses, your tooth is the size
of your fist and I might be able to see some bacteria
hanging on for dear life."
||Digital X-rays reduce exposure to radiation by as
much as 80 percent and provide doctors instant
images with accuracy for diagnosis. Intra-oral pictures
give patients visual access to their entire
|If you could change anything about this item, what would it be?
|I would like it to be more user-friendly and less
bulky. I would also like to see it improve in collecting
data and speed.
||hope for them to be lighter in weight.
||Less bulky sensors and better resolution are
always desirable. I would like to see an X-ray
machine that can produce accurate BWs and PAs
without being so cumbersome.
What is a typical day in your practice like?
Ho: Our day starts with a 15-minute morning huddle. It
helps us learn from the previous day and prepare everyone for
the present day. For new patients, I meet and greet the patients
in my office and prescribe X-rays and introduce my dental assistants
to them. After X-rays are done, I meet the patient again in
an operatory for an exam. When the exam and treatment plan is
complete, our benefits coordinator puts the treatment plan
together to present to the patient. My days are filled with a variety
of treatment with both existing and new patients. This
includes direct and indirect restorations, removable prosthetics,
oral surgery, straight RCT and SRPs. Most indirect restorations
are done using CAD/CAM technology.
What do you think is the biggest problem dentistry
Ho: I think it is lack of true professionalism. The message
many dentists send out to the world is that dentistry is a sales
profession instead of health-care profession due to the fall of the
economy and large educational debt. I feel bad when I see ads
advertising buy-one-get-one-free implants or crowns, severely
reduced prices on any major treatment, free this and that.
Dentistry is definitely not a retail store or car dealership but a
place where patients' concerns are addressed and oral health is
promoted based on mutual trust and respect.
What are your concerns for new dentists?
Ho: Dentistry consists of clinical excellence, business acumen
and behavior. There is not enough exposure to the business and
the behavior or people side of dentistry during dental school. New
dentists need to prepare themselves by visiting local dental offices,
talking to senior dentists and reading many books before working
to avoid unexpected surprises and stress, and enjoy dentistry while
upholding and delivering the highest standards of care.
I think everyone should be involved in community service.
Dental students are often overwhelmed with schoolwork and
life. But from my own experience in dental school, offering service
to the community provided me with the
gratification of serving others during a
stressful time in my life. As a practicing
dentist, I am still busy perfecting clinical
skills and improving my practice; however,
I have continued to include service into my
life. There are so many people who need
our hands and hearts. If we can take a few
hours to volunteer at homeless shelters,
underserved communities, local schools, or
overseas missions, the world will be a better
place for all of us.
Looking ahead, what would you like to see dentistry
do in terms of the way it operates as a profession in
the next five to 10 years?
Ho: I would like to see a cooperative approach. Success follows
cooperative efforts, not necessarily confrontation or competition.
I hope we remind each other of the values and oaths we
hold, and uplift each other.
Who are some of your mentors?
Ho: Dr. C. Collin Fairchild, Dr. Jonathan D. Ritchsteig,
and Dr. Kenneth W. Stoffers (life-long mentor).
What are your favorite marketing
techniques? How do you get the
word out about your practice?
Ho: Internal referrals are my favorite
marketing technique. A referred patient's
first visit is smooth because he or she has a
built-in trust relationship and is ready for
treatment. I follow up with all of my
patients within 24 hours of their visits and
during the follow-up call I enhance the relationship
and trust. Numerous patients
express that the doctor and our wonderful team members actually
cared about them and enjoyed the happy environment. Patients
become life-long patients who refer us to their families and friends.
What is your favorite procedure or part of dentistry?
Ho: Anything that creates a smile on a patient's face.
Whether that be to eliminate pain through RCTs and extractions,
an improvement of aesthetics and function such as veneers, bridges or whitening, or simply an adjustment or polishing
of an existing prosthetics and enamelplasty.
Another favorite part of my day is to listen to my team
members laugh out loud. It resonates throughout the clinic and
my heart. I am so lucky to have such happy team members who
Describe your most successful or rewarding experience
in your professional life.
Ho: Since I have been on board, our practice has
grown significantly. Staff members are happier and
patients have very positive experiences with dentistry.
One patient came in with severe anxiety and fear and
we weren't able to finish the initial exam at the first
visit before she broke down into tears because of her
fear of dentistry. With extra care and assurance, we
eased her into starting treatment. We started slow
with simple procedures and within a couple of months, we were
able to fabricate anterior crowns without nitrous gas. She is now
a patient for life and refers her family and co-workers.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
Ho: I like spending time with my 10-year-old son. We
travel, watch musicals and movies, hike and bike. I am taking
advantage of this time while he still enjoys hanging out with his
mom. We also like to get involved in community service and