Interview with Dr. Natasha Yashar

I come from a family of dental specialists. More specifically, periodontists. My sister was my true inspiration. She was in her specialty residency at UCLA, when she encouraged me to begin volunteering at the dental school.

Simi Valley Periodontics

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Natasha Yashar, a periodontist in Simi Valley, California

What sets you apart from other offices in your field?

“That’s a great question. I would have to say many things, but most importantly our sense of compassion. The concept of working-hard was instilled by my parents for as long as I can remember. I started working on the weekends at the age of 13. I have worked my whole life since and I believe that with compassion, success will follow. When I joined the practice twelve years ago, I felt that Dr. Kaminsky had the same philosophy as I did in both our approach to treatment planning as well as patient management. Our practice has grown immensely in those years, but compassion for our patients is the one concept that has been constant.”

How did you first get involved in the field of Periodontics?

“I come from a family of dental specialists. More specifically, periodontists. My sister was my true inspiration. She was in her specialty residency at UCLA, when she encouraged me to begin volunteering at the dental school. The first day I volunteered in the Periodontal Clinic, I fell in love with gum surgery. She was surrounded by very highly trained and educated instructors and my interest in the field started with the first procedure I assisted. I ended up volunteering every Friday for a whole year in the periodontal department. That experience motivated me to pursue my interest in the field of dentistry. Throughout my four years of dental school, I knew periodontics was my calling and the right specialty for me.”


How much schooling did you go through to become a periodontist?

“A total of 13 years after high school. Four years to obtain my bachelor's degree. Dental school is 4 more years on its own. Followed by residency in Periodontics, which is an additional 3 years. The residency was very demanding, but the job has been highly rewarding. It sounds like a very long journey, but it actually goes by pretty quickly.” 


How does periodontics differ from other specialties?

“In many ways, periodontics is the foundation in dentistry. Without a solid foundation, any beautiful smile will fall apart sooner or later. Oral inflammation, periodontal disease and peri-implantitis are all important conditions that can affect the rest of the body. To many people, a dental visit is only about teeth. It’s important to understand that what goes on in the rest of your body affects your mouth and vise versa. The connection between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease, diabetes and pulmonary diseases have been well established in studies over the years and should not be taken lightly.”


What would you say is the most important part of your job?

“Our practice is purely patient oriented and my main focus has always been on education. I am a firm believer that by educating my patients, they will have the tools to make the best decision that will fit their individual situation. I believe that information can show them the consequences of their actions. In the case with oral health, their inactions. The whole concept of the mouth-body connection is often overlooked by many patients. Once patients understand this connection, their whole perspective on their dental care takes a significant shift” 


I understand that outside of running the practice, you have your own family with three children. Can a working mom have both a successful career and a happy family life?


“Absolutely. In today’s modern world, it’s very difficult to have it all. I won’t lie, it's hard and I work on it everyday. Yet, I do feel it is possible to have both if you allow it happen. I have always been grateful for everything that has come my way. Both the good and the bad. The hard workdays, the sleepless nights with my baby are among all of the things that I have learned to own and embrace. They all contribute to the journey of practice management and motherhood. It comes down to your perception of the situation.”


So then how do you juggle working, running the practice, and the kids?

“Working moms have it tough. If you are a working mother, you are very familiar with the concept of mother’s guilt. At the end of the day, I feel it is all about finding a balance that works for my lifestyle. My kids are very little (6,4 and 1). I am blessed to have a lot of help at home. My husband is extremely helpful, involved and understanding. I try to be organized, plan ahead as much as possible so that nothing is left for last minute.”

In what ways has the practice grown over the years?

“To be an innovative leader in the field, we have made sure to keep up with the latest advances in materials and techniques, in addition to new technology. Keep in mind that our practice originally started about 40 years ago. As you can imagine, so much has changed over the years in technology. Radiology has taken the biggest leap over the years. We can now take a CT scan in a matter of minutes in the office and immediately read the image.  Allowing us to avoid surgically reflecting the area to understand the patient’s specific situation. In the past, we would have to send the patient to an imaging center and wait for at least a week to get a copy of the scan. Digital radiography by itself has immensely reduced the amount of radiation. Laser therapy has increased surgical healing times and so on.”

In your opinion, how can patients best prevent periodontal disease?

“You need to keep in mind that most periodontal disease has little or no pain associated with it. So it is not beneficial to wait until it hurts to see your dentist or periodontist. Routine dental cleanings and exams are the best way to prevent or minimize periodontal issues.”

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