S1 E1: Meet Dental Sound Bites

Welcome to the ADA’s flagship podcast for dentists, by dentists, offering advice and support for every stage of your career.

Dental Sound Bites - Meet Dental Sound Bites - Guest: Dr. Graham Naasz

Listen + Subscribe

Amazon Music icon Apple Podcasts icon YouTube Music Icon iHeart Radio icon Spotify icon Audible icon YouTube icon

You can also listen on the ADA Member App and enjoy exclusive bonus content.

Episode notes

In this first episode of Dental Sound Bites, Drs. MaryJane “MJ” Hanlon and ArNelle Wright share their paths to dentistry and their intentions as hosts of the show. They interview Dr. Graham Naasz, a general practice dentist from Kansas City who helped the ADA create the concept of the podcast, which offers “real talk,” advice and support for all dentists, from early career to the most seasoned doctors in the profession.

As Dr. Naasz explains: “Dentistry [is] kind of an isolating profession. A lot of times it's just you in the moment. So [it's nice] being able to have someone to turn to … two friendly voices in your ear in your drive in, to talk you through some of the difficult stuff and really take the burden off of your own back.”

Dr. Graham Naasz head shot
Dr. Graham Naasz 

Show notes

  • In this episode, listeners get to know the hosts of Dental Sound Bites, a podcast created for dentists by dentists that offers real talk on dentistry's daily wins and sticky situations.
    Hosts Drs. Hanlon and Wright share their paths to dentistry. Both took a few detours in their careers before entering dental school.
  • Hanlon knew she wanted to be a dentist from age 14 but didn’t start dental school right away. She entered the profession first as a dental assistant and then went to dental hygiene school. Finally, she started dental school the same year her daughter started kindergarten and went on to own her own practice and become a dental school faculty member.
  • Wright didn’t receive dental care during her childhood. But her first trip to the dentist was a positive one, with a compassionate doctor who ultimately inspired her to look into the profession. As a first-generation college student, she was unsure of how to gain admission to dental school and took a few different detours before graduating from the University of Florida College of Dentistry. She is now working for a dental support organization in Orlando, Florida.
  • Hanlon and Wright welcome Dr. Graham Naasz to the show. Naasz is an early career dentist who practices in Kansas. He was part of the podcast co-creation team that helped the ADA develop the Dental Sound Bites.
  • Dr. Naasz explains why he and other members of the co-creation team wanted to help the ADA launch a podcast. He says many dental students and early career dentists have questions about the profession that are not addressed in school.
  • He hopes the podcast will address issues related to all aspects of the profession, from clinical or financial topics to how to maintain wellness.
  • One mistake some early career dentists may make is “going too big too early” and living a lifestyle they cannot afford, Naasz says.
  • Wright explains that she is still driving a used car despite being out of school for five years because she knows waiting to make a big car purchase will help her reach her current goals.
  • Because there is no “checklist” a dentist needs to complete before practicing, Hanlon says a lot of new dentists struggle to understand the rules and regulations that come with filing for a license in their own state. She hopes to address some of those issues on the podcast.
  • As they prepare for the first season of the show, the hosts say their overall goal is to create episodes that serve as answers to questions some dentists may be too afraid to ask and to share their own stories and pearls of wisdom along the way.


View episode transcript


Dr. Hanlon [00:00:00] Hey, everyone, welcome to our very first episode. This is Dental Sound Bites.

Announcer [00:00:07] From the American Dental Association. This is Dental Sound Bites. Created for dentists by dentists. Ready? Let's dive right into real talk on dentistry's daily wins and sticky situations.

Dr. Hanlon [00:00:22] Hi. I'm Dr. MJ Hanlon.

Dr. Wright [00:00:24] And I'm Dr. ArNelle Wright. And we're your hosts for this season of dental sound bites. Today we're going to be talking about how this podcast came to life, and we're going to give you guys a sneak peek into the season here in episode one. So, we have Dr. Graham Naasz joining us today as our very first guest on the Dental Sound Bites podcast. He was instrumental in helping bring this podcast to life with our ADA team members. But first, we are going to give you a little bit of introduction about ourselves and how we got into dentistry.

How we got into dentistry

Dr. Hanlon [00:00:56] So, my journey into dentistry started when I was 14 years old. I knew my entire life almost that I wanted to be a dentist. It just took me a long time to get there. My path took me into dental assisting and then I went to hygiene school and spent 15 years being a hygienist and then went back to school to become a dentist. My first day of dental school was my daughter's first day of kindergarten, so it's kind of one of those things that I'll always remember. And the years flew by. One of the best benefits of being an older student and understanding the dental profession is that it made it a little bit easier for me in school. But I also had the ability to show my daughter what it was like to become a professional.

Dr. Wright [00:01:41] Absolutely. I actually did not know that I wanted to be a dentist until I was a junior in undergrad. I went to the University of Florida for my bachelor's, and then I ended up getting a master's degree as well, because at the time when I was applying to dental school, I didn't really have a clear understanding of all of the steps that I needed to take in order to get in. I am a first generation college student and I just did not have that guidance, so I kind of had to wing it on my own and figure things out as I went. But here I am. I ended up getting into dental school at the University of Florida College of Dentistry, so I am a triple gator. And from there, I started working at what's called a DSO or a dental support or dental service organization. And I am still in the DSO area, here in Orlando, Florida, and the rest is history.

Dr. Hanlon [00:02:35] That's awesome. Did you like it right away or was it something that you had to grow to like?

Dr. Wright [00:02:40] So what happened was once I ended up, like, shadowing and I found a dentist who really, like, took me under their wing. It's something that I really had a passion for because growing up I didn't have much dental care. So once I did, I found a dentist who was so compassionate and I really loved the impact that she made on me. She was so understanding of my situation, not having had much dental care growing up, and I just want it to be that same light in someone else's life.

Dr. Hanlon [00:03:10] That is awesome. I remember the first time I walked into an orthodontist office at 14 years old and I was immediately in love. I knew right then and there that this is what I'm going to do for the rest of my life. I don't think there's a day in my practice, in all the years that I have my private practice, that I said, I don't want to do this. I loved putting the key in the door every day, and I loved going in and determining what was going to happen. And even if I didn't know exactly what was going to happen, I loved problem solving. I think that was one of the things that dentistry has taught me the most is that there is no problem that we can't solve. I mean, we don't know what's coming in in our office every day, but we can solve the problem because we have been doing that for a long period of time.

Dr. Wright [00:03:56] Yep.

Announcer [00:03:58] Announcing the new... Wait. This calls for a drum roll. Perfect. Announcing the newly reimagined. ADA member app designed for dentists by dentists. It puts ADA membership in the palm of your hands with features like a personalized news feed, member chat groups, personal documents, storage, even episode exclusives from Dental Sound Bites, the new ADA podcast. Tap into all the possibilities by searching for the ADA member app in your App Store.

Introducing Dr. Naasz and how the ‘Dental Sound Bites’ podcast started

Dr. Wright [00:04:34] Today we have our very first guest, Dr. Graham Naasz, who practices in Kansas City. He was on the team who helped the ADA develop the Dental Sound Bites podcast and we are super excited to have him with us today. Welcome, Graham.

Dr. Naasz [00:04:49] Thank you very much. Very much appreciate being on here. It's definitely an honor to speak with two incredible women in the dental field.

Dr. Hanlon [00:04:56] Tell us a little bit about your career journey. We just mentioned a little bit about ours. We'd love to hear a little bit about you.

Dr. Naasz [00:05:02] Absolutely. So I am from Kansas, grew up in a suburb right outside of Kansas City, went to University of Kansas for my undergrad, then University of Missouri, Kansas City for School of Dentistry, and then headed down to Texas, where I did an AEGD residency at the VA in San Antonio. Moved back to Kansas City, and now I'm practicing in a suburb right outside on the Kansas side.

Dr. Hanlon [00:05:26] So how did you get roped into this project?

Dr. Naasz [00:05:28] So I got roped in, by, kind of answering, honestly, a kind of a call to arms. ADA was really looking for diverse backgrounds, as well as a lot of new career dentists input on ways that they could best help along that journey. So one of those ideas was a podcast in order to kind of talk about all topics dental, whether it be transitioning in from going from a dental student to residency life for a dental student to a new practice, or even helping out those new career dentists with kind of things that they really wish they would have had and really kind of starting off early. So, I saw that and my whole philosophy has always been, I can't complain about anything if I'm not actually doing anything actively to fix it or help out the situation. So, I jumped at the opportunity to be able to help out.

Dr. Wright [00:06:23] That is wonderful. Let's tell everybody, what's this podcast all about?

Working together to create the podcast

Meet Dental Sound Bites [00:06:28] So, we had a really strong team of people from all the way in, current dental students, all the way up to people that have been practicing for about seven years. So, we're really spanned the gamut and being able to pick everyone's brain about what they really wanted to see out of a good podcast, what topics to be created or we talked about, but also what issues we have today that they kind of wish they knew earlier. And that was my mindset going in and kind of what I wanted to lend to it is what I honestly would have liked to know earlier on in my career and even to this very day. Topics ranging from how to look at profit loss statements for the financial side of businesses, navigating different, either residency interviews or even reaching out and knowing how to ask for help from different specialists. Just really across the board being able to kind of ask that help and get that guidance. Because, like you very much, Dr. Wright, I didn't have any family that was in the dental field, so not much kind of like hand-holding or guidance through it. So, it would have been nice to have a place to turn to for some great topics on advice.

Dr. Wright [00:07:45] That's awesome. So, a lot of the dentists who were a part of the co-creation group, they basically wanted those pearls of wisdom, things that they didn't know earlier on.

Dr. Naasz [00:07:54] Exactly, whether it be clinical or financial, anything across the board or even just wellness. Dentistry, kind of an isolating profession. A lot of times it's just you in the moment. So, being able to have someone to turn to, whether it be two friendly voices in your ear and your drive in to talk you through some of the difficult stuff and really take the burden off of your own back that, Hey, it's not just you out there. There are some people out there that are willing to listen and learn some hands and get some great advice.

Dr. Hanlon [00:08:27] It's so true. And quite honestly, you know, everybody's practice is so different. You got to create your own way. I'm curious next about the name and how did it all come about?

Creating the name of the show

Dr. Naasz [00:08:40] The name was a hot topic. I think we came across maybe 50 different things and luckily we had a good group of people that are pretty avid podcast listeners, so we definitely had some great puns out there. But I think Dental Sound Bites really does encapsulate what really the goal of it is. Provide very good, succinct information that is easily accessible for everybody.

Dr. Hanlon [00:09:05] Perfect.

Dr. Wright [00:09:05] I love it.

Dr. Hanlon [00:09:06] Yeah, I do too.

Learnings from dentists to dentists

Dr. Wright [00:09:07] So can you tell us, Graham? What's the importance of us having these conversations?

Dr. Naasz [00:09:13] I think the importance really kind of comes down to if there's no resource out there or it's not talked about, then there's not much to be done to kind of help out the situation for anybody or there's not anywhere for someone to turn to to even kind of start the conversation or get information on it.

Dr. Wright [00:09:32] Absolutely.

Dr. Hanlon [00:09:33] You know, I think you're absolutely on point, Graham, Because one of the things that I have noticed even about myself personally is when I hear somebody talk and they give me an idea, I can't put it down. I have to get the research done. I have to look up ways to expand on it. And it's just because of somebody mentioning a concept or an idea that it just brings all this, this, this motivation forward to go and research what you need to know. I love the fact that you brought up the business side, because as a former educator, I know that firsthand that's one of the weaknesses in our dental school education, not that we can fit anything else in the format, but that we are not teaching dentists to be great businesspeople. And that's a shortfall for all of us, right?

Dr. Naasz [00:10:24] Absolutely. I mean, dental schools have great foundation and building blocks…

Dr. Hanlon [00:10:29] Absolutely.

Dr. Naasz [00:10:30] For dentistry. But there's so much that everyone's just trying to pack in there that it's just not enough time necessarily. So, unfortunately, that does kind of fall by the wayside where even if you enter into public health, but also any type of DSOs, having that kind of business understanding of a few things definitely prepares you a little bit better of how to read contracts and understand that a little bit more. So I completely agree with you, dr. Hanlon.

Financial conversations in season one

Dr. Hanlon [00:10:55] So what do you expect to get out of the podcast this season?

Dr. Naasz [00:10:58] Oh, that's a fantastic question. I would go back to what Mary Jane was talking about earlier as well, is the kind of the financial side of things and which touches on a little bit of contracts as well. Just understanding, not necessarily the financial side of a practice, but managing loans. If you have those, how better to budget, how not to make the new dentist mistake running out there and buying a new car.

Dr. Wright [00:11:24] Yes,.

Dr. Naasz [00:11:26] Getting in and over your head and living outside of the lifestyle that you can afford at the moment. Just kind of a bigger picture of the financial side of life. We've been in school for so long that a lot of those times and those big financial decisions were kind of delayed for a lot of us.

Dr. Wright [00:11:42] Yep. I tell some of my mentees this all the time about how even right now, like, I haven't bought like, the brand new car. I'm five years out and they are always surprised they drop their jaw. They're just like, Oh my gosh, Dr. Wright. And I'm like, Yeah, you have to wait. Sometimes you have to wait. And there's something called delayed gratification. And so I really believe in that. And I'm excited that we get to have this platform and use it to just educate and to teach and to share. Use our experiences and kind of just do some direct mentorship right here through podcasting.

Dr. Naasz [00:12:17] Absolutely. I mean, I'm sure you remember getting out of school and there's unfortunately not much of a roadmap. It's more, hey, congratulations. Here's your diploma. Here's your state board's license. Figure it out.

Dr. Hanlon [00:12:30] Well, that's a big thing right there, too, is there's no list of items that you have to complete before you start practicing. At least that I've never seen one. And I think it's important that young dentists understand all the things that they need to be aware of before they file for their license. In fact, I do a lot of remediations across the country. And I got to tell you, one of the biggest things that I see on a regular basis is docs just don't read the rules and regulations for their own state. They are daunting. I understand that. But this is your profession and it's important to understand and know those things.

Hopes for the podcast

Dr. Naasz [00:13:07] What are you two envisioning from this podcast? What are your hopes out of it?

Dr. Wright [00:13:12] I'm hoping that my voice would encourage more students as they take their journeys into the field. I'm hoping that I would give them confidence as they enter into dentistry and know that again, they're not alone. Mentorship is something that I'm super, super passionate about because I really feel that if I didn't have good mentors along the way throughout this journey and even now as a practicing dentist, like, I wouldn't be as successful in my opinion as I currently am. And one of the things about mentorship to me is you have to be willing to let someone know that you don't know. But then it also takes a level of awareness within yourself. And so it kind of requires you to continue those self assessing exercises that we learned in dental school that we hate so much, to give ourselves a grade on certain things because then we point out certain things to others, but there's so much value in it. So, for me, I really just hope that some of the topics that we cover here, they serve as answers to questions that someone may be too afraid to ask, but they're also getting their questions answered in some way, shape or form.

Dr. Hanlon [00:14:30] I think when I'd love to be able to offer the audience. Even though I'm much older than both of you, that my experience in being in the profession for such a long time can be helpful, you know, just understanding what it's like to be in the field and how to become successful in that field. I know I have a few tidbits I can pass on here in there.

Dr. Wright [00:14:55] MJ, you're probably going to help me all the way throughout this podcast anyway, so you're going to be mentoring me as we're helping everybody else.

Dr. Hanlon [00:15:04] It would be my pleasure.

Dr. Naasz [00:15:05] I'm excited to see what you all create here just because, as ever advancing as a field as dentistry is, where you close your eyes for 5 minutes and something new hits it. So, I'm excited to see what you all come up with here.

Dr. Wright [00:15:18] Dr. Naasz, it was such a pleasure having you on the podcast today. We are so grateful for all of the work that you have helped put into this project, and we thank you so much for your time. Thank you so much for being here with us today.

Dr. Hanlon [00:15:33] Dr. Naasz, it has been a pleasure to meet you and thank you for all the work that you're doing on behalf of the young dentists and the ADA.

Dr. Naasz [00:15:40] Thank you so much for having me on here and thank you two specifically for really taking up this helm and leading the charge to help out young professionals in the dental side of things. Because without the guidance and mentorship of people that have done it and are willing to also help carve the path of other people, we would be lost. So, thank you very much for all your effort.

Announcer [00:16:03] On the next dental sound bites.

Dr. Wright [00:16:05] Every business has their tales of difficult, confusing or downright weird situations that happened in the operatory. We're going to be sharing our stories of some of the stickiest situations and the solutions that got us through them.

Dr. Hanlon [00:16:20] So, everyone, if you liked what you heard today, please subscribe to the podcast wherever you are listening so you can get our latest episode.

Dr. Wright [00:16:27] You guys can also rate and write a review and follow us on social media. And don't forget, the conversation will continue in our member app, so please join us there.

Announcer [00:16:39] Thank you for joining us. Dental Sound Bites is an American Dental Association podcast. You can also find this show, resources and more on the ADA member app and online at ada.org/podcast.