Student Academy: Dr. Zadeh

This is your one time to just go find a practice. Or find multiple practices. Do any and all cases, and don’t be afraid to find the practice where you feel most at home.

Turning Challenges into Success

Sometimes you plan a career path, and sometimes you find one. Dr. Pearl Zadeh shares how her practice journey has been a little of both, and why its important to be open to all possibilities.


When Pearl Zadeh, DDS, decided to buy her practice less than a year after graduating from the NYU College of Dentistry, her family—which includes several dentists—said “don’t do it.”


“They said, ‘Work for someone else for at least 5 years before you go into your own practice,’” she recalls. “And I didn’t listen to them. I went right into opening my own practice. And it was 2008, right when the recession had hit, and the economy was crashing.”


“It was during one of the best times ever,” she says wryly.

Don't Take "No" for an Answer

Originally, Dr. Zadeh didn’t plan on being a dentist at all. “I wanted to be a little bit rebellious and not go into the family business,” she admits. “I wanted to do medicine.” In the end, however, the appeal of a better work-life balance won. “Once I looked at what it entailed in terms of having a family and being able to do all the things I wanted to do for myself later in life, I realized that dentistry would be what would allow me to have all of that,” she says.


Dr. Zadeh acknowledges that it’s not a simple balancing act, especially as a woman in a profession that has historically been dominated by male practice owners. “The struggle is real,” she admits. “But it’s a matter of being able to plan things out in a proper way. I think women do two times the work just to prove ourselves, but we really can do a lot and we’re very powerful. We just don’t let anybody say ‘no’ to us.”

Keep Learning to Succeed

Dr. Zadeh faced the odds of launching her career during the Great Recession with the same determination. As it turned out, the general practice she purchased in Woodland Hills, CA, had an established base of patients who preferred a holistic approach to dental care, including replacing amalgam fillings and avoiding root canals. To save her investment, she began to learn about holistic dentistry.


“It actually opened my eyes,” she says. “It’s basically a traditional style of bonded dentistry where they don’t like root canals. But then again, who does? We try to do minimally invasive dentistry, which everyone traditionally likes. We don’t want to put bad materials in the mouth, and we want to try to be BPA free, which is fantastic for everyone. So, being healthier and more focused on what’s good for the whole body ended up being something that I kind of fell into, and now it’s almost 15 years later.”

Communicate on All Channels

Of course, in a general practice, not all cases can be handled with a nontraditional approach. “I have a lot of patients who don’t like anesthetic,” says Dr. Zadeh. “It’s very interesting that they can undergo some procedures by getting into an alternate state of mind with homeopathic remedies. But creating hemostasis is a big challenge. Because I do bonded dentistry, I have toexplain that I require anesthetic for certain procedures to achieve homeostasis. And that takes a lot of education, but they understand it after I educate them.”


Dr. Zadeh also embraces the power of today’s technology to help patients understand their diagnosis. “My absolute favorite gadget is the new iTero,” she says enthusiastically of the intraoral scanner. “Communication with patients has become so much simpler. I have them touch the screen, manipulate the screen, turn it around in 3D. I want them to interact with it. That’s what makes it real for them. I tell them to take pictures of it to send to their significant other so they can talk about it at dinnertime. If we do a scan for Invisalign, we send them a video of what their 3D rendering will look like. When they see that, it makes closing a case so simple."

“For dentists who are starting out today, the technology that is in front of them is amazing,” she says. “If I had this technology when I first started, it would make my initial consults so simple.”

Embrace the Unknown

Perhaps it comes as no surprise that when asked what’s the most important advice she would give a new dentist, Dr. Zadeh says immediately, “Not to be afraid of anything.”


“This is your one time to just go find a practice,” she goes on. “Or find multiple practices. Do any and all cases, and don’t be afraid to find the practice where you feel most at home. And find a mentor. Find someone who you feel comfortable to show your mistakes to and ask questions of and emulate and ask them how to do things. Because that that one mentor can really change your life. I think that’s the most valuable thing.”