5 Questions With … Dr. Hiroe Ohyama

Hiroe Ohyama
Hiroe Ohyama, D.D.S., M.M.Sc., Ph.D., D.M.D.
Assistant Professor and Director of Operative Dentistry
Department of Restorative Dentistry and Biomaterials Sciences
Harvard School of Dental Medicine

1. Why did you decide to enter the field of dentistry?

I had an accident when I was a teenager. My left lateral incisor became displaced. You can imagine how scared I was at the time. I thought, “I am going to lose my front tooth?!” My dentist accepted me as an emergency patient and bonded the tooth to the adjacent tooth. I was extremely impressed with him and what he was able to do as a dentist. This experience led me to become a dentist.

2. What’s the biggest challenge facing dental education today?

High tuitions for dental schools, which have been and continue to influence the future plans of dental graduates. As I have graduated from two dental schools—one in the United States and the other in Japan—I can see the vast difference on influences of tuition. There may be more graduates who want to stay in academia; however, the burden of student loans may make this unrealistic.

3. What gives you the most satisfaction professionally?

The satisfaction and smiles of patients from the care I provide as well as seeing my students’ and colleagues’ accomplishments. For instance, when I attended the ADEA award ceremony last year as an awardee, I saw my former and current students also receive awards. I was much prouder and happier about their recognitions. I believe most educators agree with me that this is such a great feeling!

4. Who is your go-to person when you need advice?

My parents. Coming from a family of educators, I learned from my father how rewarding being an educator is by watching him with his students. My mother always encouraged and supported me to fulfill my goals as a female student and dentist. Of course, I have my friends, mentors, colleagues, students and, last but not least, my daughters.

5. What’s your favorite vacation spot—and why?

My first favorite vacation spot is Tokyo, Japan. It is always great to see my family there. My second spot is Hawaii. I was able to do many challenging activities, such as scuba diving as well as my first and last sky diving trip!