Dr. Heather Hong
BY CAMERON BARNARD
Dr. Heather Hong is a new periodontist at Altura Periodontics, specializing in patient care and treatment.
“There are a lot of dental situations where you kind of feel like you are going through the mill and no one is really listening to you, and that is just not how I want to live my life,” Hong said. “So, feeling out who our patients really are as people… that’s what I like.”
Hong arrives with a background in treating patients who may be either scared of dentists or have mental trauma from their past. In the San Francisco Bay area, she was the director of a community dental clinic, serving the homeless, abused victims and substance abusers.
“It’s different and it’s a lot more work to manage someone who may not be ready to get that stuff done,” Hong said.
For Hong, the recognition isn’t the goal.
“Not everyone likes to have work done, but it’s one of those things that you’ll feel a lot better when you’re healthy and you may not really remember what exactly was done for your teeth or even exactly the names of the people that helped you, but you’re always going to remember how you were treated and how those people made you feel,” Hong said. “You’re never going to forget that part of the experience, so that’s what’s important to me.”
Hong attended UCLA where she discovered periodontology. She also studied at Harvard for her three-year specialty degree in the field.
Now, Hong works at Altura Periodontics where she treats cases like gum disease and gum shrinkage, while also performing implants and plastic surgery for gums.
“The fun thing about what we do and what we specialize in is that it connects into the rest of the human body as a whole more than any other part of dentistry,” Hong said. “When you get a cavity it’s just a tooth problem, but when you have gum disease it affects your entire body. It makes all of you sluggish and tired. Your immune system is fighting the whole time.”
Working on a small, specialized team is new for Dr. Hong.
“I love it,” Hong said. “It means I get to focus on doing what I do really well, and the other stuff, the background stuff, is already taken care of.”
Originally from Pasadena, California, she’s spent the last 15 years moving from place to place every three or four years. She now plans to settle down in Denver with her husband and children.
“This is one of the friendliest places I’ve lived, and I love it,” Hong said.
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