As if dentistry isn’t a consuming profession in and of itself, add world-traveler, new mother, and business entrepreneur for the impressive Dr. Wah Yung Tsang.
The 34-year-old is a member of the Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 Class of 2017.
In her youth, Dr. Tsang spent her time off away from school working as a dental assistant – a summer job that led her to her life’s profession.
“I love the combination of science and arts. I love having the ability to interact with different people and being able to immediately impact patient’s lives,” she says.
A Strong Commitment to Care
Upon graduation in 2009 from Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry at the University of Southern California, Dr. Tsang began her dental career commissioned as Captain in the United States Air Force. During five and a half years of service, she delivered dental care annually to over 20,000 military members and their families in the different parts of the world she was stationed: stateside in Texas, and overseas in Japan, South Korea and Germany.
The most gratifying part, to Dr. Tsang, was providing support to our nation’s dedicated service members.
“The Air Force has trained me to keep up to date and provide top of the line dentistry; not only by providing me numerous education opportunities to improve my dental and leadership skills, but by giving me great mentors willing to take the time to work with me, one-on-one, to help me hone my craft.”
The Hong Kong native who grew up there and in Los Angeles, has visited over 85 countries during her time with the Air Force. During her travels, she gained cultural insights and personal perspectives that helped with becoming a better clinician and forming solid connections with her patients.
“With this global perspective comes an understanding and empathy for people from all walks of life and is integral to how I practice dentistry,” she says.
From World Travel to Establishing Roots
Dr. Tsang moved to Colorado when her husband, a Prosthodontist with the Air Force, was assigned to Peterson AFB.
Her compassion and devotion to the geriatric population and passion for mobile dentistry led her to open a mobile dental branch in Colorado Springs, Caring Mobile Dental.
It was nerve-racking, at times, for two reasons: the company had to start from scratch, and she was used to having an abundance of patients to serve. On the contrary, Dr. Tsang found it reassuring to know that there is a large unmet dental demand for the city’s population. More people will become non-ambulatory because of the growing older adult population, making many unable to travel to a dentist.
Pursuing this endeavor, she says, required two qualities: flexibility and patience.
“Especially when [we were] waiting to hear back from facilities where we pitch our mission and service, and getting them to understand what we do and how important it is for these elderly residents to have regular oral health checkups,” Dr. Tsang says.
“I have learned a great deal, from analyzing the city’s needs for mobile geriatric care, to marketing at nursing facilities, to establishing rapport with the facilities, and to understanding the practice performance stats and professional laws,” she says.
She continues, “It is an exciting venture with times of uncertainty and challenges. I am glad to be working with a great team during the whole process.”
At the end of the day, the most important part to Dr. Tsang is providing quality care and making positive impacts to patients with unmet needs. She shares a quote by Mother Teresa, one which she lives by:
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
This quote resonates with Dr. Tsang since her visit to Mother Teresa’s Memorial House in Macedonia on an impromptu backpacking trip while stationed in Germany.
“I truly enjoy my patients; if we are not making others happy, we are really missing the point.”
Dentistry’s Challenges & Rewards Go Hand-in-Hand
Dr. Tsang considers serving the geriatric patients and those with diminished mental capacity as a true privilege.
“One of the most challenging parts is getting patients, their family members and caregivers/facilities to understand the big picture of their oral health— how there is a direct link between oral bacteria and Alzheimer’s disease.”
“They have worked hard all their lives, some fought in wars, some saved lives, and some were recognized in the entertainment industry. They have brought us to where we are now and I am honored to be the one caring for them. Being able to restore their teeth to function and health make a big difference in their well-being.”
“Treatment plans must also be understood and accepted by patients’ family members prior to care delivery. It’s difficult to not be allowed to relieve a patient in pain right away because of these obstacles. Though the biggest challenge, it is also one of my favorite parts of dentistry: being able to work together with the patients to get to their ideal treatment.”
Life Outside of Dentistry
Despite having lived around the world and trekked across six contients, Dr. Tsang describes her love for travel and being immersed in different cultures as unending.
“I embrace travel as a lifestyle and I do have goals to experience all 195 countries in the world.”
“When not away from home, I love home improvement and interior design, I’ve been building a real estate business on the side. It is quite satisfying when you transform a run-down place to a place people love to call home.”
Dr. Tsang is to face a new challenge outside of her practice – balancing work and motherhood. She and her husband Dr. Stephen Lambert are excited to have recently welcomed their first child, Bradford Marcus, who was born on April 17, 2018.
How To Creatively Schedule Time: One Simple Secret.
Dr. Tsang has a daily to-do list, which helps her get the most important tasks done first while the rest falls into place.
“During lunchtime, I usually do grocery shopping or run errands. After work, I check on the properties and real estate related matters. Before bedtime, I normally give myself some time to recharge by exploring my curiosity and research on those topics that fuel my brain like interior design, DIY home projects, travel destinations, or dental technology. It’s my way to replenish my creative energy,” she says.
For more on Dr. Tsang, see 2017 Incisal Edge 40 Under 40.