Because a dental office is a fun place!
Tara Aghaloo enjoys every day of her work life
Dr. Tara Aghaloo is a Professor in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the UCLA School of Dentistry. She completed her dental training at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, and an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery residency and M.D. at UCLA. Subsequently, she completed a PhD in oral biology at UCLA. She is a diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Her clinical practice focuses on bone and soft tissue regeneration for dental implants. She is also active in professional organizations, where she is a board member of the Academy of Osseointegration, member of the Osteo Science Foundation Scientific Review Committee, fellow of the ITI, member of the AAOMS CRPTA and Research Committees, and section editor of IJOMI. Tara Aghaloo lectures nationally and internationally on dental implant surgery and tissue regeneration, including alveolar ridge augmentation, sinus grafting, growth factors, full arch rehabilitation, and peri-implantitis.
What is the Women’s Implantology Network (WIN)?
Although the number of women dentists graduating today is higher than men, statistics show that women are under-represented in implant dentistry. This applies to all areas and at all levels ( surgeons, speakers, key opinion leaders (KOLs), practice owners and leadership positions). This imbalance needs to be addressed and it starts with building a strong community of women who are active and successful in implant dentistry. Supported by Straumann's commitment to playing an active role in assisting this, WIN was formed in October 2016. The aim of this network is to connect international women with different involvement and responsibilities (across the dental specialties, academia/private practice, with/without family, part-timers/full-timers etc.) who are willing to share their experience and knowledge. The hope is to inspire fellow women colleagues to enter implant dentistry and expand their skills. The diversity of energetic and successful women in WIN will enable it to address the imbalance in implant dentistry of men and women in the future. Go to www.straumann.com/win
Growing up, she was told by her father that she was going to be a physician or dentist one day and, when it was time to decide, she chose dentistry because a dental office was a fun and welcoming place (especially because as a child she had never had any cavities). Looking back, it was the right choice because Tara enjoys every day of her work life.
Mentorships paved the way to implantology
Many people have influenced her career thus far, but three most significant mentors have helped make her who she is today.
In her early years of dentistry, Dr. Peter Moy, who has been involved in implant dentistry since it arrived in the U.S. in the 1980s, guided her towards implantology as she was finishing her OMS residency. The range of patients, procedures, collaboration and multidisciplinary approaches got her hooked. As Tara Aghaloo became more involved in the field, the mesh of patient care, research, industry innovation, patient advocacy and community service that was possible through implant dentistry made it more and more exciting.
Her researches have been mentored by Dr. Sotirios Tetradis, DDS, PhD (an Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist and Bone Biologist and now Senior Associate Dean at UCLA). As her PhD thesis advisor, he taught her how to think like a scientist, design experiments with appropriate controls, and evaluate the data without bias – even when having a strong hypothesis.
A special mentorship has been established with Dr. Earl Freymiller DMD, MD (current Chair of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at UCLA), who she can ask for advice about surgical procedures, clinical research ideas, University politics, career goals and leadership.
“To have a chair who supports you and gives you the freedom to grow and develop, is the most amazing thing. I will be forever grateful to him!”
First female president of the ITI?
Today, Tara Aghaloo is involved in teaching students, postgraduates and practicing clinicians, as well as being active in the Academy of Osseointegration which has resulted in many publications, implant and tissue regeneration papers, and countless lectures to dentists around the world.
Besides maybe one day to become the first female president of a prestigious association like the AO or ITI, Tara’s ultimate goal and definition of success is to find the right balance between science and clinical practice in the ever-changing field of implantology, resulting in a happy and well-taken care of patient who has been treated in the safest but also most effective way possible.
Today, as a leader herself, Tara defines effective leadership as mentoring and supporting those who look up to her, and helping them to become even more successful than she is. The experience and perspectives of the continuously increasing number of women in dental schools, postgraduate training, and practicing clinicians, will only enhance what can be done in leadership positions in the field.
“Whether it is in clinical practice, research, service, or professional organizations, we must foster our junior colleagues.”
Being a mother and a role-model
Tara is lucky to have a very supportive family network. With her two daughters Olivia (13) and Isabella (11), she shares the passion of traveling and volunteering with the Thousand Smiles Foundation as well as the SAGE association, a non-profit dental organization for underserved children and adults. She involves her daughters in community service work, and they have traveled together to Mexico to help children with cleft lip/palate. By giving her daughters an insight into her work, she can count on their support for her professional involvement, but she also serves as a role model for these future young women.