Being born in India and always knowing she wanted to become one of the world’s top dentists and help advance the industry forward, Saniya Setia set out on her journey to first learn the special dentistry traits of her own home country, before setting flight to the United States to fulfill her lifelong goals & dreams.
Starting first with her education and training at the Gian Sagar Dental College and Hospital in Chandigarh, India, Saniya quickly established herself as the top of her class. It was then after she graduated that she left her family and friends behind in India to pursue further studies at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine.
Now finally done with her training and receiving countless awards (receiving some of the highest honors attainable within the dental profession), Dr. Setia has become a top / one of the most sought-after dentists practicing at Austell Family Dental Care (austellfamilydentalcare.com) in Atlanta, Georgia, combing her knowledge from around the globe to give her patients the best care and service.
The Levity Ball sat down with Dr. Setia to find out more about her international journey that has taken her to a successful career thus far in the United States, and more about the ever-changing dental field and advances / tips we should all know about…
What made you first become interested in dentistry?
Growing up, I could not think of any other profession that would bring me more contentment and intangible pleasure of service than being a doctor like my dad. The turning point in my career goals was when I started an art class in the 8th grade. My teacher encouraged me to pursue a profession that would involve utilizing my hand skills such as sculpting and painting. This led me to explore my avenues and I decided I wanted to be a dentist. The coagulum of art and science that dentistry offered, intrigued me and allured me to follow my passion of using my talent along with serving the community.
You studied first at the Gian Sagar Dental College and Hospital in Chandigarh, India before completing your studies in the United States at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine… Why did you decide to come study in America, and how different is the education here in comparison to what you received in India?
As a Dental student in India, I gained invaluable experience and tremendous exposure of the practice of dentistry in the US by attending continuing education programs, externships and presenting posters for dental research here. I decided to come to the United States, as it is a flagship to dental technology and advances in the profession. As a contemporary dental provider, I wanted to be at cutting edge of latest and greatest. Though the basic procedures and techniques remain the same, dentistry in the US is different from India in its widespread awareness, insurance policies and support from dental auxiliaries such as the role of dental assistants and hygienists in dental practice.
As an international student when you first arrived, was it hard adjusting to various things in America?
When I decided to move to the US, I wasn’t sure what to pack and what to leave behind at the place I called my home. Having moved from a widely developed and multicultural city in India, I did not encounter many hardships in this country. Also, Denver as a city and everybody at the school—including my friends and colleagues in the dental program, faculty, staff and my patient, made me feel so appreciated and welcomed in this community that I consider myself truly blessed to have moved from one continent to another, across the seven oceans and to be amongst this amazing bunch. In the beginning, one of the hardest challenges remained in showing my passport for identification wherever I went, but today my biggest challenge lies in seeing my siblings grow and my parents getting older over FaceTime and Skype.
You are now a full-time dentist at Austell Family Dental Care in Atlanta, Georgia… why did you decide to move from Colorado to work here after your studies?
I moved to Atlanta for the warm weather and warm hearts. In my few trips to the city, I fell in love with the city and I thought it would be a great place to find some too.
What makes Austell different than other dental care facilities?
A unique aspect of our practice remains in the patient population remains to be the population we cater to. We see many kids and adult patients with multiple comorbidities and mental and physical disabilities unlike most dental practices. We at Austell Family Dental Care make our earnest endeavor every day to make the patient’s experience as comfortable and pleasant as possible starting with personal TV screens, headphones, blankets, pillows and adapted room temperatures. I find it a complement when the patients take a nap in my chair and wake up after the procedure feeling refreshed without any sedation. I use various behavior and pain management technique to deliver local anesthesia that changes their outlook towards dentistry. One of our biggest rewards is patient referral. My favorite review to date remains to be by one of our patients who said, “I feel like I just upgraded from my Honda Accord to a Rolls Royce”
What do you feel is the hardest part of your daily job?
One of hardest but most rewarding things I do every day is pain management including controlling the anxiety of the patient who comes in with pain or anticipating pain during a procedure. A short-term pleasure of getting patients out of pain is followed by a long-term satisfaction in knowing that I have modified their experience with the dental profession.
How many times a year do you recommend people (kids and adults) go see a dentist on average?
I recommend kids and adults to be seen at least every 6 months. Every child should have had a dental visit by their first birthday.
What are your specialties and why do you love performing these procedures?
I enjoy performing minor surgical procedures, Endodontics, restorative and rehabilitative procedures for patients who are medically compromised and patients with special needs. This gives me a sense of great content and accomplishment as it is always challenging me to get better at keeping up with all the latest modalities in not just dentistry but medicine as well. I believe that there is a dire need for dental care for patients with multiple comorbidities, especially who have specific diseases such as hepatitis and HIV and mental and physical disabilities. To be able to offer services to these patients with special techniques and behavior management is an extremely rewarding experience.
You were recently awarded last year to the Omicron Kappa Upsilon Dental Honor Society… what did this honor mean to you?
Since its inception, membership in Omicron Kappa Upsilon has come to represent one of the highest honors attainable within the dental profession. Consideration for nomination begins objectively with high scholarship and subjective factors such as character, potential for leadership, professionalism and ethics. It gives me immense pride to be recognized for my outstanding accomplishments that qualified me for the membership. More that the feeling of accomplishment, it brings me a sense of contentment that I am serving with the highest potential that I could have attained during my training and encourages me to reflect this in my patient care so that my patients can experience the best service.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
If you wanna go fast, go alone but if you wanna go far, go together!
What would you like to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered for my influence on someone’s quality of life. If I can make a positive impact on improving someone’s self-esteem, I would feel extremely accomplished. I would also like to be remembered for a major contribution to my profession, something that would revolutionize the specialty of dentistry and significantly improve patient care.
And final question since you are a dentist: What is your favorite junk food / snack?
I love pizza and Cadbury chocolate bars.