A day’s work: Dentist

Syed Masihuddin, DDS of Highland Dental (photo by Lauren Thomas)

It’s all about excellence in what you do and having compassion for the patients, says Dr. Syed Masihuddin, who opened Highland Dental, PLLC, on Grove Street in Highland a year ago this spring. He also maintains dental practices in Warwick, New York and Matamoras, Pennsylvania. “Always go for excellence and be a pioneer in what you do,” he says. “And always think about the patients’ lives and how you can make them better.”

A graduate of New York University’s College of Dentistry (2002), Masihuddin has been in practice for 16 years. His three offices offer all aspects of dentistry with an emphasis on cosmetic dentistry and dental implant care, specializing in All-on-4® implants, a graft-less dental implant solution that works well for many implant candidates. He is a fellow of the American Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) and employs state-of-the-art technology in his practices.

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Born in the city of Hyderabad in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, Masihuddin moved to the U.S. in 1998. He and his wife, Siddiqui live in Orange County, where they raise their four children, ages eight to 19.

Recently we sat down with Dr. Masihuddin in his Highland office to find out what a day’s work involves for a dentist and implant surgeon.

What do you find most challenging about your line of work?

The most challenging thing is managing patient care. People can be very apprehensive coming to a dentist, and it has to be painless. Then their insurance comes into play; you need to satisfy their financial needs. It can also be challenging when you have patients with unrealistic expectations: many people, for example, have heard about this [dental implant] procedure called “teeth in a day” and they don’t understand there’s a little more to it. Managing patient care is actually more challenging than any procedure is.

What do you enjoy the most about your work?

If I make people smile after any procedure, from a small filling to a full mouth reconstruction, I feel like my hard work has paid off. For me, that’s very satisfying, feeling that I did something productive. And I like to make my patients aware of how important it is to keep the mouth clean, that a clean mouth prevents all kinds of systemic conditions, even heart disease. My team and I constantly upgrade our knowledge and it’s satisfying to help our patients this way.

What personal qualities does a person in your line of work have to have?

First of all, you have to be a good human being, regardless of what line of work you choose. Second of all, I believe in karma — what goes around comes around — so you have to believe in good deeds. When I think about my patients, I realize that I’m a patient for some other doctor, right? So I have to treat my patients as if I am getting treated. And third, you have to be excellent in what you do. Then the patient respects you, you get good word-of-mouth and everything falls in the right place.

Have you seen a lot of changes in your line of work since you began?

Of course. Dentistry has come a long way, and technology is a big part of that. Everything is digitized nowadays. Sometimes people still have it in their head that radiation from x-rays is dangerous, but we have radiographic sensors now, which are digital. The amount of radiation to the patient is very, very little. We have digital devices now to find oral cancers in the early stages, and digital scanners to take impressions; no more of the old messy way of taking impressions with putty. We also have internal cameras that detect early stages of cavities. And medications have improved, giving the patient painless dentistry.

Do you find that people are less afraid of going to the dentist these days?

On the whole. Many people ask my staff, when they call to make an appointment, if we have certain technologies they know of to make things less painful. And yes, we have all those technologies; we want to make the patient pain-free.

What do you think you’d be doing if you hadn’t gone into this field?

Cinema, I think. A filmmaker, maybe… I applied to the New York Film Academy for a six-month course at one time, just as a hobby, but that is too much time to take off from my practices.

Do you have other hobbies?

My number one hobby is photography. I like to be outdoors, taking pictures. I hike a bit, at Mohonk, or a place in Matamoras near my office there, overlooking the Delaware River, where there are a lot of bald eagles. In my work I have a lot of people asking questions, both patients and staff, and I like the peace and quiet of nature, taking a little time on the mountain just for myself.

Why do you have three offices?

I have passion for what I do. I have the expertise in challenging work and I like to focus on the specialist procedures. My goal is to utilize my knowledge and expertise on complex cases, to serve as a specialist in my own offices; offer everything under one roof and make things easier for the patient that way.

What advice would you give someone contemplating going into your line of work?

My son is looking into dentistry, and he’s been asking me questions just like that. He’s in college right now and has been shadowing me while he’s off for the summer. I told him, ‘If you pick dentistry, choose it because you would like to do it, and think about how you would improve your patients’ care, and make procedures more pain-free. And always go for excellence and be a pioneer in what you do. Don’t think about money, because if you’re excellent in your field, money will follow. It’s not the other way around.’

Highland Dental PLLC is located at 8 Grove Street in Highland, adjacent to the Town of Lloyd justice court parking lot. Call (845) 691-8251 or visit http://www.highlanddentalpllc.com/. ++

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