The Articulate Dentist - A Blog by the Metro Denver Dental Society

Career Path Interview: Arthur Yagudayev, DDS, MSD

Arthur Yagudayev, DDS, MSD
PerioArts of Colorado

On the surface, the dental profession does not seem like it would offer a variety of career paths but in reality, there’s much more than just what’s on the surface. Recently the team at the Articulator sat down and discussed the diversity the profession has to offer. From private practice and DSO to academics and public health, even entrepreneurship and innovation, there are countless options for dental school graduates or career dentists looking to make a change and find their passion within the industry. But don’t just take our word, we sat down with seven dentists from different journeys in the industry to learn about how they found their way within the profession. Despite their differences, at the heart of the interviews were two common denominators: the importance of not settling until you find a position that truly makes you happy and taking time away to reset whether through education, family, exercise or a hobby. Hear more from Dr. Amisha Singh, Dr. Geebellue Mensah, Dr. Nicole Furuta, Dr. Arthur Yagudayev, Dr. Amy Rosinsky, Dr. Jack Nguyen and Dr. Brett Kessler in the pages to come.

After beginning your dental training overseas, what influenced you to move to the United States?

I came to the United States after halting my dental school training in Russia. I had a chance to see what life is like in the US and learn more about the practice of dentistry here. I was living between the two countries for some time to decide whether I would want to return to Russia or to change my life and career by moving to the US. I was thinking of applying to medical school to become an MD, instead of a DDS. It was only after I worked in various dental practices in New York City, assisting different doctors and specialists, and working with CAD/CAM, that I cemented my goals and realized how much I love dentistry with all of its science vs. art nuances.

What influenced your decision to specialize in periodontics?

I was always interested in surgical aspects of dentistry and was doing some minor surgical work, but found myself questioning if I was doing things correctly. “Am I using the right drilling sequence, should I irrigate and how much, what bone to place and how to secure it? Is membrane placement good enough or I can add a collagen plug? What sutures to use and when to remove them? Should I give antibiotics or not? Can I save the tooth or take it out?” To further my knowledge, I tried to answer them myself, reading magazines, participating in conferences and checking Dental Town forums. Thankfully, I realized early on I needed a proper and more fundamental education to do things right, even though I was finding answers with those extra resources. Just like anything in science, there are more questions than answers and entering a specialty training in periodontics helped me realize my professional goals and dreams.

You are also on faculty at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. How do you split your time between private practice and working with students?

I never thought I would be a part of the education community. Having English as a second language sometimes creates a hurdle for me, but I appreciate that my students and residents don’t make a big deal out of it. When I see them learn, grasp and create what is expected in their objectives, I realize that no matter what language you speak or how you interact, the beauty is in the final result. Teaching is a big part of my life now and I love it. If you ask my team at the private practice, I always choose students over them because I know they are the future of our field.

I love when students come to shadow at the office and show interest in periodontal practice and treatments. In essence, we learn from our teachers, we copy their treatment, philosophies and practices before we eventually create our own. At the same time, I also believe teaching helps the teacher develop and enforce skills as well. Teaching forces the teacher to view the subject from a new perspective and students’ questions bring forth new ideas. The better clinical instructors we have, the more for our students to learn from, the better clinicians will graduate to do their own great work.

What is one piece of advice you regularly give your students?

Spend an extra five minutes with the patient. This is the difference between a good dentist and a very good dentist. It can make a difference in making a finish line better, meaning a better impression, better occlusion for your restoration, making a patient feel more comfortable, etc. The “devil is in details” and these five minutes can make a huge impact.

What would you say to anyone thinking about specializing?

I haven’t seen anyone who regretted that they specialized. If you are thinking about it, go for it. If you believe you are good at something specific, find what drives you and make it happen. The main goal is to do what makes you happy first because if it gets your heart pumping, your patients will be the greatest beneficiaries of your love for what you do every day. I know some doctors who decided to specialize after long successful careers as GPs. If you can’t join any residencies, take more courses. It is worth it.

You have participated in several dental missions to provide oral health care to underserved populations in other countries. Can you provide some details on this and why you choose to give back in this way?

Anything you can do to help underserved people is a good “mitzvah.” From participating in the Colorado Mission of Mercy (COMOM) and Give Kids a Smile days, to creating your own version of dental care days or traveling abroad. It is just the right thing to do. Share your skills to help those who need it.

This year I am returning to the Syrian Refugee Camp in Jordan as a part of a Syrian American Medical Society with my former classmates Samer Hejlawy and Mujibunnisa Shaik and a group of medical and dental professionals. We will provide care to refugees who’ve been detached from their homeland for more than 10 years and are still unable to go back, raising kids in the camp with no end in sight. We are planning to give classes to local doctors for free in exchange for their help to refugees in need of dental care. I’m excited to be taking my daughter to assist me on this trip as well.

The Articulate Dentist is a blog by the Metro Denver Dental Society, providing members with insight into the dental industry, practice management tips, tech trends and best practices as well as Society news and updates.