At the lowest point in her life Dr. Brianna ‘Crash’ Ganson finds dentistry #IE40Under40

Uncertainty does not stop Dr. Brianna Ganson; in fact, she thrives when faced with obstacles and danger. The 39-year-old adrenaline enthusiast from Missouri has survived parachuting from planes, riding out a storm that inundated a Louisiana city and swimming with sharks off the coast of Hawaii.

The most challenging part of her career: “[The] desire to own my own business.” The determination to become an entrepreneur tested the Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 honoree’s perseverance and commitment to her goals.

Dr. Brianna Ganson after her first tandem-skydive.

The first time Dr. Ganson skydived unaccompanied (not in tandem), things did not go as planned. After jumping from a plane at around 13,000 feet, she free-fell for much longer than anticipated, missing the drop zone and earning her an appropriate nickname.

“Once you pull your chute, you are all alone. I was so mesmerized by my surroundings that I wasn’t paying attention to my altimeter (altitude gauge). I was expecting a voice to come over the radio when I needed to start heading towards the drop zone. By the time I realized no one was talking to me, I was too far away from the drop zone to get there in time. I “crashed” into the trees, hence the nickname: ‘Crash.'”

Dr. Brianna Ganson on her harrowing first time, solo skydive.

Ganson landed safely. That jump and crash landing took place near her alma mater, a school where she learned the inner-workings of the human mind at the University of San Diego.

Four years after “Crash” graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, she began her professional career as an underwriter for State Farm in Columbia, Missouri, in 2005. She planned to own a business like her father, who also worked for State Farm.

That same year, Dr. Ganson found a job over 700 miles away — a position that was accompanied by the pungent smell of Old Bay and the sounds of creole dialects. The city was New Orleans, a place where she knew no one. The Crescent City held what the doctor believed was a chance to start her own business.

“I ended up getting and accepting the position. I packed my bags in April and moved to a city I had never been to before. I continued dating the same guy long distance, and it was going well. I felt like I was on this amazing path, both professionally and personally. Then just like that, the switch flipped.”

Dr. Brianna Ganson on her long-awaited career opportunity with State Farm.

Stirring in the Gulf of Mexico was a threat to the livelihood and well-being of not only Dr. Ganson but to every person in New Orleans. One of the most deadly natural disasters in American history — Hurricane Katrina — made landfall in Southeastern Louisiana. Katrina, responsible for 1,833 fatalities, brought sustained winds and rain that pummeled the Bayou State. The hurricane blew away all sense of normalcy and left a city that resembled a dystopia.

Dr. Brianna Ganson saw devastation after Hurricane Katrina.

“My apartment was uninhabitable, so I had to stay with a couple in Baton Rouge and commute to New Orleans for work. Being in the insurance business, my job became a priority and was extremely stressful.”

Dr. Brianna Ganson, describing life after Hurricane Katrina.

After Katrina, insurance agents like Ganson were swamped with work. It did not take long for the two or sometimes three-hour commutes from Baton Rouge and tiresome workdays to grind and wash away Dr. Ganson’s happiness, leaving her in a state of perpetual stress.

She wanted a way out of post-Katrina, Louisiana, life. She found refuge where she began her career with State Farm in Columbia, MO, an agency that had the prospect of leading Ganson to entrepreneurship.

“I was so relieved to be out of New Orleans as well as to have what I thought was my dream job. My boyfriend proposed in December and I said yes. Even though Katrina totally upended my life, I felt like I was getting back on track.”

Dr. Brianna Ganson.
When driving through neighborhoods post-Katrina, Dr. Brianna Ganson saw x-codes. The left identifies the rescue squad; the top represents the date the team arrived; the right represents what hazards are inside; and the bottom lists the number of people found.

While training to become an agent, she worked in different State Farm agencies throughout Missouri. She soon discovered she was not in love with insurance. The five years she spent following the career path of her father, a trail adorned with car and home insurance policies, did not fulfill her. She wanted something else.

In October, 2006, nearly a year after Dr. Ganson was engaged, her fiancé broke off their engagement, bringing the insurance professional to the lowest point in her life. She was in a career she disliked, was separated from her longtime boyfriend and to make matters worse, the puppy she had adopted to bring her joy died due to health issues.

“It was like a country music song: ‘I went through a hurricane, got dumped by my man. Had to put my dog to sleep, got hit by a van.’ OK, the last one didn’t happen, but you get my point. I needed a serious change. As strange as it sounds, the lowest point in my life led me to dentistry. While helping others rebuild their lives in New Orleans, I was also learning the steps I would need to rebuild my own life.”

Dr. Brianna Ganson depicting her low.

Inspired by the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT) that searched through desolate neighborhoods after Katrina, Dr. Ganson found a new career path, a new interest that she then did not yet understand. Using dental forensics, the team of doctors and pathologists helped identify bodies in the days and weeks after the hurricane.

Another X-Code somewhere in the devastated suburbs of New Orleans.

After a breakup and unfulfilling career, the girl from Missouri was driven by a new-found enthusiasm.

“I quit my job, moved back home, and worked for a whole year to get into dental school. In 2008, I started over on a new path, the right path, to become a dentist.”

Dr. Brianna Ganson realizing her new role.

Ganson spent four years at the University of Missouri School of Dentistry and earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) in 2012. Shortly after, she accepted a position as a general dentist at Rhoades Family Dentistry.

She married Troy Ganson while in dental school. In her first year as a dentist, she experienced challenges in her personal life: she had her first child, Knox, and, unexpectedly, her father was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident.

Dr. Ganson juggled the responsibilities of caring for her newborn, helping her parents adjust to her father’s disability and maintaining her new dental role. The vision of owning her own business never left her sight.

When the first opportunity arose to buy her own business, Dr. Ganson turned-down the chance to buy an established dental practice and instead began to work for a non-profit organization called Miles of Smiles.

“This organization is a portable dental clinic that goes into schools to help children who may otherwise not receive dental care. I loved every minute of it and discovered my passion to be a pediatric dentist.”

Dr. Brianna Ganson describing how she discovered her dental specialty.

She discovered her dental niche and her devotion to help children, but the final ingredient of her career continued to elude her. The last element Dr. Ganson needed was her own practice. A colleague of hers knew just the place, but when they presented the doctor with the opportunity of business ownership, fear struck her.

Dr. Brianna Ganson cave diving off the Hawaiian coast.

She made a list of pros and cons, discussed her options with her husband and family, to no avail. Although, one conversation that she will never forget gave her the nudge she needed to follow her bliss. That advice came from her father, who inspired her entrepreneurial spirit.

When her father began his business working with State Farm, “he worked tirelessly to start his agency from scratch. He was driving home from work one night after a daunting day in the office. He was so frustrated and scared that he wouldn’t succeed,” Dr. Ganson explained. “He needed to vent, so he rolled his window down and screamed as loud as he could at these poor cows. Then he told me, ‘Brianna, if owning your own business was easy, everyone would do it.'”

That conversation with her father was the last bit of advice the doctor needed. She bought the pediatric dental practice and turned it into Happy Teeth Dentistry.

Happy Teeth Dentistry is named in memory of her father. While recovering from his accident he went to therapy three times a week. “I always wanted him to walk again, no matter how impossible that may have seemed. I decided to name the practice Happy Teeth as a spin-off of the movie ‘Happy Feet.’ I wanted him to have happy feet. I wanted him to walk,” she explained.

(Shown, from left) Dental Assistant Dominique Fisher, Office Administrator Lacee Jordan, Office Manager Ann Roehl, Dr. Brianna Ganson, Dental Assistant Lauren Harris, and Dental Assistant Jaclyn York.

Today, the woman who survived hurricane Katrina helps children maintain and restore their smiles at her office in Leawood, Kansas.

“My most favorite part of dentistry is when I get a child out of pain. A child may have been having trouble eating, talking, drinking, embarrassed to smile, and I get the opportunity to make them happy and healthy again. When a parent says they are so relieved because their child is acting like him or herself again, I have done my job. I love that.”

Dr. Brianna Ganson on the joys of dentistry.

Aside from her career, Dr. Ganson is most passionate about her family. She husband raise two children together, son, Knox, 7, and daughter, Brinkley, 5. She and her family love adrenaline activities. Dr. Ganson and her husband swam with sharks on her recent trip to Hawaii for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry annual session.

“I have been scuba diving many times and have seen sharks before, but I wanted to get up close and personal.  I knew this would be my chance. We were in a cage and were so close to the sharks. I could have reached out and touched them. Sharks do not want to eat humans, but I didn’t want to take the chance since I need my hands to work.”

Dr. Brianna Ganson.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Brianna Ganson and her practice, visit https://happyteethbyganson.com/.

Read more about her in Incisal Edge here: Incisal Edge

From East to West: Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad exemplifies determination #IE40Under40

What would you do to protect your family in a country plagued by war, poverty, labor camps and the very real possibility of execution? Would you escape?

That’s what Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad’s parents did to flee post-war Vietnam, although it wasn’t as easy as hopping on a plane. In fact, the government declared leaving the country illegal.

“We were so poor, and living in that state of poverty was no way to live. We didn’t have much food. My parents’ jobs didn’t provide for a hopeful future for our family.”

Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad said, recalling the stories her parents told of Vietnam.

The only way many Vietnamese people could escape communist oppression was by boat, a risky attempt some refugees did not survive. Those who were brave enough to flee, an estimated 1.5 million of them from 1975 to 1995, were known as “Boat People.”

This is the same type of boat Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad and her family spent 38 days in as they drifted in the South China Sea. (Photo Courtesy Dr. Tori-Thuy Conrad)

In 1980, when Dr. Conrad was just six weeks old, she and her family boarded her father’s fishing boat, a vessel not designed for the open ocean, and were joined by seven other siblings and cousins.

They sailed into the South China Sea from Hue City, not knowing where, when and if they would make landfall. They sailed for days, weeks, over a month, not knowing where the tides would take them.

“We spent over 38 days at sea without a definitive destination. We arrived at a refugee camp in Hong Kong, where we resided for months until we were brought to a brighter future by the sponsorship of a United States family.”

Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad, recalling the stories her parents told of Vietnam.
Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad, held by her mother. Her brother and father to the right. Photo taken shortly after their arrival in the U.S. (Photo Courtesy Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad.)

Dr. Conrad ended up in Denver, Colorado, a stark difference from the tropical climate of central Vietnam, and began to live an American life.

Finding her dentistry destiny

Dr. Conrad attended Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry, but the atomic mass of atoms was not all she found. She also met her husband there, and a burning desire to help people.

“I’ve always known I wanted to be in the health care field, helping others heal through medicine, especially children.”

After graduation from Coe, she moved to Minneapolis to study dental hygiene at the University of Minnesota, but she wanted more, and continued her education to earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree.

Today, the 2019 Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 honoree owns and practices at Tweet Pediatric Dentistry in Chanhassen, Minnesota, and is a mom of three. She juggles the responsibilities of a full-time dentist and a mother, an act that has its challenges.

“I think the most challenging aspects of dentistry is not the dentistry, it’s running a business. I had to learn as I went along and made a lot of mistakes. My mentors have guided me along the way.”

Although it’s difficult to run a business, Dr. Conrad loves her patients. She believes she makes a difference in their lives, and they return the favor to her.

“I am so grateful I get to do this and make such a difference in these children’s lives. The high-fives and hugs that I’m left with when my little patients leave their appointments leave me beaming with happiness.”

Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad

When not in her operatory, Dr. Conrad is in the kitchen experimenting. She loves to cook for her family — and with them. Her favorite cuisine is Italian, without the pasta. She likes to stray from her cookbooks and allow her creativity to take over.

“I love using the fresh herbs and flavors, and pairing them with more proteins and vegetables in place of pasta. I try to create dishes without a recipe. I find it most rewarding when I have someone who eats my creation and provides raving remarks on a recipe that does not exist. It’s the best compliment.”

Dr. Conrad’s dreams never end. She wants to improve her culinary skills and one day compete on the Food Network show Chopped, a challenging competition where three chefs battle for supremacy. She also wishes to pilot a plane.

With many years of dentistry behind her, she has advice for those who dream to be who she is—a successful, practicing dentist.

“Utilize all resources and mentors out there. There are so many people willing to lend advice, reach out often and be willing to extend the same as you gain experience and knowledge. I give many thanks to my mentors for helping me reach my dreams, but also to alleviate and get me through the challenges I face.”

If anyone doubts their dreams, they need to speak with Dr. Conrad, whose tenacity and motivation is the stuff of inspiration.

Learn more about Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad and the #IE40Under40 experience.
Nominate an inspirational dentist at Incisal Edge today.

Dr. Tori Thuy-Conrad (front left) during the 2019 Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 photo session in NYC. (Photo courtesy Incisal Edge/Macrae Marran)

Dr. Lavasani Shares Her Dentistry Philosophy

Dr. Setareh Lavasani has been dubbed the “Queen of Radiology” and “The Selfie Queen,” by her students and colleagues. Events in her life, though, were not always ones to smile about.

The 2019 Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 honoree recently spoke with TheDailyFloss.com about her early career and the battle she raged with life-threatening illnesses in her 20s. The selfie-slinging (shown above, at far left), chihuahua-loving board-certified radiologist discussed how she persevered to become the professional she is today. 

Shown in NYC at the Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 photo session, clockwise from bottom left: Drs. Setareh Lavasani, Valerie Okehie, Corey Brick, Jeffrey T. Moon and Rebecca Pounds.
Courtesy Incisal Edge/Macrae Marran

The Pomona, California Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist comes from a long line of dentists; as she says, “[It] runs in my family.” Her sister is an endodontist, her cousins and aunt, dentists. Dr. Lavasani jokes, “We have a mini dental convention of our own when we get together!”

Originally from Iran, she attended Ajman University of Science and Technology, earning her a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. Her education did not stop there.

Dr. Lavasani moved to San Antonio, Texas to attend a radiology residency program at the University of Texas Health Science Center. There she would be given the most critical test of her life to date. She was diagnosed with breast cancer as soon as she received her admission to the radiology residency, a disease that affects 3.5 million people every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This caused an interruption in her studies, but she did not give up.

After her treatments, Dr. Lavasani returned to her studies in San Antonio. Within a year, she was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia, a progressive and rare illness. Leukemias are cancers that start in cells, typically in bone marrow, and then quickly spread to other parts of the body, according to the American Cancer Society.

Thanks to the generosity of a donor, Dr. Lavasani received a life-saving bone marrow transplant, beating the 4 out of 5 mortality rate, and giving her a second chance at attaining her dreams. She had battled — and won — a fight for her life on two occasions.

Earlier this year, Dr. Setareh Lavasani celebrated her 10th cancer-free year.

“I learned to never lose hope and always try to look on the bright side, even when there is barely a single ray of light,” she said.

Dr. Setareh Lavasani

Determined not to let her health lower her spirits, Dr. Lavasani continued her radiology studies in San Antonio and graduated with a certificate in Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology and a Master’s in Dental Diagnostic Sciences. 

“I saw firsthand that the generous donation of a bone marrow saved my life, so I promised myself to focus on this cause (dentistry) and hopefully make a difference. I learned that this is what real life is about! I also realized that our time is so short, so I try to say more ‘thank yous’ and more ‘I love yous’ to people who matter to me and have shown me unconditional support all along.”

Dr. Setareh Lavasani

Dr. Lavasani received most of her support from her parents, family members and close friends who inspired her during treatment in school and throughout her career. Her mother was a star role model who raised two kids, earned a Ph.D. and became a well-known editor-in-chief in Iran.

Today, Dr. Lavasani is an associate professor and the Director of Oral Radiology & Advanced Imaging at Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Dental Medicine in Pomona, California.

Often, she travels for speaking engagements. Dr. Lavasani is an internationally recognized lecturer. She frequently speaks at California Dental Association (CDA), UCLA School of Dentistry Advanced Education in General Dentistry program and the American and International Academies of Oral Radiology. She is a fellow and speaker for the southern California Oral Pathology Society and the Global Dental Implant Academy (FGDIA).

Though amid her prestigious positions, she takes particular pride in her role as the “The Selfie Queen.” She smiles for her past, present and future. Now, she takes the philosophy gained through her experiences and expresses it with every student she meets.

“I find that I’m happiest when I’m teaching and sharing ideas with students and fellow colleagues. So, inside and outside of school, I try to focus and grow.”

Dr. Setareh Lavasani
At the Global Dental Implant Academy (GDIA) USA symposium 2018, Dr. Setareh Lavasani presented, received the exclusive #GDIA fellowship recognition, and won the first place prize for scientific poster presentation. (Photo courtesy Dr. Setareh Lavasani)

Dr. Lavasani is at a pinnacle of her career, ascending from the uncertainty of disease she fought. She teaches and encourages future dentists while following and sharing her virtue:

“Give back in any way you can and as small or large as you can. I think each of us, in one way or another, have a cause that is close to our hearts for any personal reason. I think giving in any way that is possible makes a huge difference in our sense of happiness and fulfillment.”

Dr. Setareh Lavasani

Dr. Arash Hakhamian’s dental app delivers care at a hospital room, home — even poolside #IE40Under40

Searching for a more relaxed atmosphere for oral health care with vetted expert dentists? Dentulu offers fully mobile dental units that can pop up in any standard 10 by 10 room, where an electrical outlet is the only necessity for the Dentulu team. This includes the living room, bedroom, hospital room, senior living center, or even poolside (shown at top).

“I have been performing mobile dental services for the rich and famous here in Beverly Hills for almost a decade and an excited about providing access to this incredible service for all Americans alike,” said Dr. Arash Hakhamian, founder and CEO of Dentulu.

Meet the founder, CEO of Dentulu

Dr. Arash Hakhamian, chosen as one of the 2018 Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 award winners, is the founder and CEO of Dentulu, Dentistry on Demand, platform. According to Dr. Hakhamian, Dentulu is the world’s first and only on demand mobile app that allows patients anywhere in the United States to connect to a dentist, on demand and from the comfort of their own home, within a few minutes. Dentulu’s multiple features allow for increased access to dentists both virtually and through mobile dentists who are able to provide dental care in the comfort of the patient’s home or workplace.

“My hope and dream for the future of dentistry is to bring our profession up to date with the technological advancements we currently see in other sectors. The Uberization of different sectors has helped give the user more control of their experience and Dentistry has unfortunately lagged behind other fields.

The public can now schedule doctors, haircuts, massages and a myriad of other services to their home and there is no reason basic dental services should not be available as well.”

Dr. Arash Hakhamian, founder and CEO of Dentulu, Dentistry on Demand platform
Dr. Arash Hakhamian worked with companies, including Google, to set up the Dentulu platform.

Need to connect with a licensed dentist within 5 minutes?

With the help of recent legislation that has passed by Congress and the American Dental Association, Dentulu is now able to bridge the access to dental care for millions of Americans through the use of mobile and teledentistry.

“Patients who are having an emergency no longer have to take a trip to the Urgent Care or Emergency Department to address their concerns, only to wait for hours and sometimes walk away with opioids and recommendations to find a dentist. Patients can now simply download the Dentulu app and connect with a licensed dentist within five minutes and receive immediate care through a real time virtual consultation and have a prescription sent to a pharmacy and simultaneously connect with a dentist that can see them in his or her dental office.”

Dr. Arash Hakhamian, founder and CEO of Dentulu, Dentistry on Demand platform

This service is not only for emergencies. Patients who are interested in a consultation or a second opinion on various treatments such as cosmetic dentistry, braces, implants or wisdom teeth can also schedule a virtual consultation from the comfort of their own home with a trained dental expert for less than $10. The patient simply picks the type of dental professional they want to consult with on the Dentulu Network and can schedule a 10 minute consultation to meet and doctor and have all of their questions answered before making a trip to the dental office.

Dentulu also provides mobile dental services to almost any location of the patients choosing. Busy patients along with elderly or disabled patients no longer have to waste hours of time and deal with the logistic nightmares of sitting in traffic or the waiting room for simple checkups and cleanings. By downloading the Dentulu application, patients are able to schedule basic cleanings, whitenings, Invisalign and other basic dental services to their home or workplace, saving them time and money, with or without the use of dental insurance.

Receive care at home, a hospital room, senior living center … even poolside

Dentulu offers fully mobile dental units that can pop up in any standard 10 by 10 room, including the living room (shown above), bedroom, hospital room, senior living center, or even poolside where an electrical outlet is the only necessity for the Dentulu team. This service has been proven to save patients time and also provide a comfortable and relaxed environment where the patient and family can get individualized and person attention with vetted expert dentists in their area.

“I have helped implement the protocols for proper infection control and logistics in providing mobile dental care for various organizations including NGO’s in third world countries, where access to dental care is limited.”

Dr. Arash Hakhamian, founder and CEO of Dentulu, Dentistry on Demand platform

According to Dr. Hakhamian, Dentulu also provides numerous features including: Virtual Reality (VR) glasses, aromatherapy, and audio/visual software that patients can utilize to improve the user experience. By changing the environment of the dental services, Dentulu provides an opportunity to reduce the anxiety and fear of the dental office and enhances the patients comfort during dental procedures.

“We have worked diligently with great organizations, including Google and Amazon, in setting up our platform, and will continuously improve our capabilities to provide a great user experience while working with local dentists in increasing their patient acquisition and generating new patients seeking their services to their office.

Please visit the Dentulu website at www.dentulu.com or visit our social media pages for more information. We are currently enrolling clinicians coming to a city near you! There is also an investor page for those interested in investing with our company. “

Dr. Arash Hakhamian, founder and CEO of Dentulu, Dentistry on Demand platform
Dr. Arash Hakhamian worked with companies, including Google, to set up the Dentulu platform.

Dentulu is currently launching in Los Angeles and is actively seeking investors for expansion to the remainder of the United States.

“I have been performing mobile dental services for the rich and famous here in Beverly Hills for almost a decade and an excited about providing access to this incredible service for all Americans alike,” added Dr. Hakhamian.

Want to learn more?

Find details about Dentulu at ww.dentulu.com

Spring fashion meets dentistry in 6 days in NYC #IE40Under40

Modified sophistication.
Technically-advanced fabric with high-octane color.
Beautiful dresses and suits designed with comfort in mind.

To get a glimpse of these freshest fashion trends, don’t miss the colorful moments and non-stop coverage of next week’s Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 photo session in New York City. There, on June 6 and 7, America’s Best Young Dentists will gather for a celebration of their honor at The James Hotel.

Who’s bringing the style?

(Aside from the incredible honorees themselves, of course. )

Renowned style director Joseph DeAcetis collaborates annually with the Incisal Edge team to create the centerpiece of the fall issue.

Between working with Forbes cover models and jetting off to Milan for Fall Fashion Week, Stylist Joseph DeAcetis (in blue, at top) delivers a pop of color to every Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 photo session.

Here he discusses a recent #IE40Under40 event:

Want to join in the excitement next week?

Read more about this year’s honorees: https://thedailyfloss.com/2019/05/20/incisal-edge-to-honor-2019-40-under-40/

Instagram: @incisaledgemagazine

Facebook: @BencoIncisalEdge

Twitter: @TheIncisalEdge

Snapchat: @bencodental

#ie40Under40 From teeth to chickens — how Dr. Wenfei Wang’s art skills benefit patients, kids … and her mother-in-law!

At her Endodontics practice in Chicago, Dr. Wenfei Wang uses her clinical skills to relieve patients from pain and her artistic abilities to ease their mind. Sometimes she’ll just pick up a notepad and create a quick sketch to illustrate how a procedure will benefit their oral health or to help them better understand the […]

Though she doesn’t wear a cape, this San Diego dentist is a H.E.R.O to many. #ie40under40

Earning a degree is expensive. Total student loan debt in the U.S. today amounts to $1.52 trillion, according to Forbes. With a financial burden weighing on her shoulders, Dr. Malieka Johnson, DDS, is uncomfortably acquainted with the student loan debt struggle — and that’s why she’s putting a stop to it. Dr. Johnson, raised by […]