Surya Joseph likes a challenge. As a new business owner and mother of two children under the age of 3, she has a few hurdles ahead of her.
She plans to tackle them all with a smile.
Joseph has called the United States home for nearly two decades. She left her dental practice in India behind to attain her master’s in Healthcare Administration and Operations Management from DePaul University. She put her degree to good use as the executive manager for a multi-specialty dental practice, where she was responsible for all operations — hiring, payroll, training and staff management — for the clinic.
It was work she enjoyed, but her love of dentistry kept calling to her.
“I love the business side of things, but I also love the dental side of things,” Joseph said. “I always wanted to be an orthodontist. That has always been my dream.”
In order to make that dream a reality, Joseph had to go back to school. Her certifications from India didn’t transfer to the U.S., meaning she had to repeat much of what she had learned back home before becoming a doctor of dental medicine.
“I love challenges. It was a challenge for me to go back to school again, learning the same things that I learned and practiced (in India), but you always learn. You kind of keep looking for what you can add to each experience,” Joseph said. “That is how I view life. Life is a learning experience, an adventure, it’s exciting and I am so grateful.”
Dentistry in the U.S. isn’t all that different from dentistry in India, Joseph said, and returning to school allowed her the chance to perfect what she calls her art.
“I would consider myself an artist,” Joseph said. “Orthodontics and dentistry in general is very artistic.”
Once she completed her DMD degree, Joseph attended the University of Maryland for her specialization in orthodontics. While there, she received the American Association of Orthodontics’ (AAO) Charles J. Burstone Research Aid Award grant to test a less invasive and risky alternative to ridge preservation surgery. She also got the opportunity to work with Johns Hopkins Cleft and Craniofacial teams to help patients with cleft lips and palates.
Joseph and her husband and fellow dentist, Shashank Joshi, moved to Roseburg about a year ago. They had two reasons for moving: an established dental practice that was for sale and the opportunity to be closer to nature. Growing up in Mumbai, Joseph didn’t have a lot of opportunity to explore the outdoors. She discovered a love of the outdoors while exploring Virginia’s blue ridge mountains and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to live so close to nature.
“I like the small town feel. I wanted to be apart of a community and know the people around me. I’ve always been in a big city and in a big city, you don’t even know your neighbor,” Joseph said. “Having a small community also helps you make a difference. I want to be a part of something that is meaningful and I think a small town gives you that option.”
Joshi opened his practice, Umpqua Periodontics & Implants, last year. The Smile Station, Joseph’s orthodontic clinic opened in July. She is the only female orthodontist in Douglas County.
Along with traditional braces and Invisalign treatment, Joseph also uses a frictionless alignment method known as Damon braces, which require less office visits and cuts down treatment time. She also incorporates advanced technology, such as 3D X-ray imaging which allows for a deeper look for any underlying problems.
“People are not aware that they need somethings done. A little work. It doesn’t have to be two years of treatment, but if we can make small changes to your teeth — to the way you bite — you might be able to function much better,” Joseph said.
While most of her work revolves around cosmetics, orthodontics also helps with ailments such as sleep apnea and headaches. Joseph says her goal over the next few years is to help spread awareness about the benefits of orthodontic treatment, especially in children.
“It’s been a fun ride. It’s been a crazy ride, but looking back I think it’s all worth it,” Joseph said. “I am really excited to see Roseburg and what my life here will be like, what I will be able to explore and contribute.”