Featured Articles

Stories about real people and real issues in our communities.

My Passion For Life, Dental Health, & Rejuvenation

05 September 2013 Written by  Jilia Lee, D.D.S
Published in July 2013 Articles

When I was a child growing up in South Korea I broke my front tooth. The dentist told me that I would have to wait until I grew up before the tooth could be replaced...leaving me to make my way through society continually embarrassed and self-conscious about my snaggletooth appearance.

We immigrated to America when I was about ten years old. A friend of the family was a dentist. I told him about my problem and he made an appointment for me to come to his office. An hour later I left with a new tooth and renewed self-confidence — proud to show to the world the beaming smile that had suddenly been given to me. In our family children were expected to enter some profession so I chose dentistry in order to be able to pass on to others the amazing gift that the dentist had given to me.

Into Dentistry All the Way
After graduating from the UCSF School of Dentistry, I began my internship and discovered a passion for the dental profession. I enjoy science and love the medicine side of the profession but I also enjoy the artistic side. Therefore, I was strongly attracted by the way in which dentistry combines opportunities for exercising artistic skills and talents together with medical knowledge and know-how.

I bought my dental practice about six years ago and grew it into a successful business. It was a little scary at first; the economy was slumping and we didn’t know how fast we could grow. But I worked hard and it had grown large enough by last June to make possible a life-long dream by moving the practice into a new state-of-theart spa-like facility.

I am a detail-oriented person to such an extent that I sometimes drive my husband nuts. However, dentists at the top of our profession tend to be obsessive-compulsive because excellence in dentistry requires compulsive attention to detail. For example, a crown requires both science and art to be brought to bear within the confining and hostile environment of a person’s mouth. Each step of the process calls for precision and accuracy, demanding careful preparation and implementation, plus an artist’s eye for aesthetics. I double-check and even triple-check everything in order to ensure that I have performed my work to the highest-level possible.

Patient safety is our #1 priority. Last year, Tom Terry Seminars, which specializes in matters having to do with patient safety, such as compliance issues, infection control techniques, and disaster survival — selected my clinic as one of the top dental offices for patient safety and infection control. We actually have two top-of-the-line Autoclave equipment sterilizers. Our dental equipment is state-of-the-art and ergonomically designed for the comfort of both patients and operators. We use low-power digital x-rays to cut down on exposure to radiation and have one of the county’s few Cone Beam 3D Imaging devices that provides visual perspectives of an implant target area from every angle, permitting more precise planning for implants than could be achieved by a dozen standard x-rays. Besides all that, we ensure the comfort of our patients and even offer a secluded room for those who wish privacy

My inbox often overflows with testimonials from delighted patients. Here are a few snippets:

• “Dr. Lee performed the surgery without any complications or post-surgery pain, while her follow-up care was very kind and professional. She is an excellent dentist!”

• “Dr. Lee called me in the evening to see how I was doing after a tooth extraction. The only dentist who ever took time to do that!

• “I was diagnosed with sleep apnea…. Dr. Lee helped me solve my problem of many years by making an appliance to fit my mouth while sleeping…. I am feeling much healthier and energetic.”

• “To say that Dr. Lee is the best I have yet seen, does not describe the extent of her amazing work. It is obvious that she really loves and enjoys what she does.

• “Dr. Lee is the best dentist I have ever been to.”

• “Dr. Lee is the most gentle and patient dentist I have ever known.”

• “…it was as great an experience as going to the dentist can be.”

• “Dr. Lee’s office is one of the best and most high-tech dental offices I had ever been to, and her clinical skills are second to none.”

• “I recently got eight veneers and Dr. Lee made me a partner in the process all the way. She guided me in making the best choices, but always listened to my needs and opinions. My veneers weren’t done until Dr. Lee was satisfied, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the beautiful results!”

 

I am in general practice, but because of my love for learning and for the dental profession, I took many advanced ¿ courses and have become a full-service clinic qualified to do braces, implants, extractions, gum grafts, and to provide sleep apnea devices and oral appliances. When appropriate, we provide oral sedation. My husband, Danny, is a dental anesthesiologist, and I call upon him for cases requiring IV sedation.

One of my professional goals is to pass on to others the information, wisdom, and skills that I have learned. I’m a perpetual student, myself, and have come to believe that one doesn’t completely learn a skill until he/she is able to teach it to others. We began an implant teaching center at my dental office last year, sponsored by the Hiossen Corporation. We are currently conducting monthly hands-on implant study clubs where we teach other dentists the fine points in the art and science of placing implants.

Besides Dentistry
My mom has always been a best friend to me. I feel that I couldn’t live without her. From early childhood I was always committed to work and study, which meant that I had limited social life as a young woman. I was working six days a week and getting old enough to make my mom concerned. One day she said to me, “I will have to step in or you will die an old maid.”

I trusted my mother’s judgment so I told her, “Ok. Go ahead.” She set me up with a guy named Danny. He phoned me. He seemed friendly so the two of us planned to rendezvous at a restaurant. I dragged my parents along in case I needed rescuing. They dropped me off and then went for dinner somewhere else. I had no need of rescuing; from our first moments together I felt so comfortable with the guy that it was like meeting an old friend. And he was a dentist!

 

On her first try, Mom had hit a homerun. On Wednesday after our first date, a florist came by with 50 roses. The first time it happened, I thought, “This is it!” However, every subsequent Wednesday the roses came again. After a month, I told Danny, “You do not have to waste money on roses. I know how you feel; I get the point.” Not only was it a lot of money, but it was a tough job cutting all those roses and putting them in water. Danny began giving me one rose following each date together with a card containing a love note about our previous date. I really fell hard for that!

Danny was living two hours away and each week on two occasions he would make the four hour round-trip to take me to dinner or a show. We met late September, were engaged by Christmas, and married in April. He was Danny Lee so I didn’t have to change my name. We had two sons. Tylor is nine years old and Teddy is seven. Danny thought that two children was the right number of kids, but I was really praying for a daughter. “We have to have a girl,” I said. Danny resisted. “We should be happy with two sons,” he said, and then pointed out that we might have a third son. I finally prevailed and nine months ago Elizabeth (Ellie) was born. It turned out that Danny fell in love with his little daughter. He won’t use a stroller because he doesn’t want to put her down.

We are all living together with my parents — a situation that is wonderful for me because during times when Danny and I are at work our children are in the nurture and care of my amazing mother. Motherin- law problems are a source of some coarse American humor, but anybody would love to have my mom as a motherin- law. Anyway, my husband wouldn’t have any problems with her even if she were difficult. Danny is like a Buddha; he never complains. If you ask him about living with his in-laws, or about anything else, he will always say, “It’s good.” It’s always good because Danny himself is good. He’s just a great guy!

I believe in giving back for the good things that have come to me. I am a volunteer with the Give Back A Smile foundation, which is sponsored by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. We assist battered women who cannot afford dentistry by repairing broken or missing teeth. We’ve done both implants and veneers. In 2011, I participated in a Mission trip to Mexico where we performed dental services for children and adults in one of the country’s impoverished areas. During three days, working from morning to night, we assisted more than 50 patients. We also provide community services and outreach as members of San Ramon’s Contra Costa Korean Presbyterian Church. All of these are part of my goal to make other people happy; to be a resource, and to make somebody’s life a little bit better on a day-to-day basis by parenting, teaching, motivating, and especially by caring for my patients and helping them to achieve their treatment goals. I plan to live so that I will be able to look back with a smile from some vantage point in the distant future, and know that I did my best.

My dental practice is immensely satisfying, and I continue to take great delight in offering the healing and cosmetic services that make the same kind of difference in a patient’s life as that dentist did so many years ago when he repaired my broken tooth and changed my life for ever.

Read 2280 times Last modified on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 02:54
Rate this item
(0 votes)
More in this category: « Local Sports Hero

Subscribe to our virtual magazine

Email:

View our Walnut Creek sister magazine