…a conversation with Dr. Christina Matrangolo, Associate with dentalcorp
Today we shine the spotlight on Dr. Christina Matrangolo, who shares with us her thoughts on the larger role that dentists can play in the lives of their patients, and the importance of continuing education. Dr. Matrangolo has been practicing at Today’s Dental in Alberta for 15 years.
Tell me a bit about your background and how you got into dentistry?
I always knew I wanted to do something in healthcare and coming out of high school, you’re really in the dark about what the options are. So, in my first year of university, I started exploring different avenues – I started volunteering at the local hospital as well as at my dental office. I had a great relationship with my childhood dentist, and from our conversations and from my own observations of the practice, it seemed like dentistry would be the right fit for me.
I was born and raised in Edmonton and was really fortunate that when it came time to apply for dental school, I was accepted at the University of Alberta right away. I started practicing dentistry in 2006 at Today’s Dental and have been there for about 15 years now. I’ve been able to start my family and watch them grow all while working with this amazing team.
What do you find most rewarding about practicing dentistry?
Honestly, it’s the relationships I build with my patients. I’m definitely a “people person”, and do you know I have never woken up and felt like I didn’t want to go to work. I just love it. Whether it’s forming new relationships or deepening and strengthening new ones – there is an intimacy that comes from the role we play in the lives of our patients. They put their trust in us to care for their health and well-being and that inspires a real connection.
What sort of challenges do you currently face as an Associate? Is there anything that you’re trying to overcome?
I have always felt that my priority has been being a mom first, and a dentist second. But my kids are in school now, they’re a little older, and a lot more independent. So what I’m experiencing now is this feeling of pent-up energy, like I’m ready for my career to really take off now that I have the opportunity. So, for me, the challenge is figuring out the first step forward in this next phase of my career – because I love what I do. I see myself taking on a more senior role in the practice, working towards eventually stepping into the role of the managing Partner.
Of all your accomplishments, what are you most proud of?
I have found a niche in injectables, and I do a lot of botox and filler – in fact I’m the only dentist in my city who does the dermafiller. There are a lot of dentists doing the neuromodulators but I’m the only one who’s pursued it and is actively doing it in practice. I really love it – I think because I have the patience of a mosquito and with the dermafiller, I get instant results, instant gratification.
Can you tell me a bit more about the changes you’ve experienced firsthand with dentalcorp?
Having been with Today’s Dental for 15 years, I was there before we partnered with dentalcorp so there has definitely been a lot of change. You know, as dentists we’re trained to be dentists – not to be small business owners – and a dental practice is in fact a small business. So, through our partnership with dentalcorp, I feel like that feeling of risk has been completely lifted off our shoulders. We have a Compliance team, we have an HR department, we have a Legal team, we have all the systems in place to ensure we’re doing things right, and that’s something that is difficult to get right without any business training. We can now focus on patient care and that is how it should be.
What does excellence in patient care mean to you?
As doctors of course our first mandate is to do no harm. So, at the most basic level, patients need to be in a healthier state when they leave their appointment than when they arrived. But I think beyond that we need to be looking at patient care as a whole, rather than thinking of dentistry as being just about teeth. We are so much more, and we’re educated to be so much more. Do a thorough medical history, review the medications, take your patient’s blood pressure when they come in, do a very thorough head and neck oral cancer screen. Talk to the patient about their health. We can be used as a pre-screen if there are overall health issues. If you think about it, a patient sees their dentist far more often than they would see any other doctor. We definitely have an opportunity to play a larger role than we do, in terms of treating the whole patient.
What advice do you have for emerging dentists?
Take a ton of continuing education courses. Dental school provides you with the framework of what you need to know to be able to practice, but you have to invest your time in order to become an excellent clinician. The time spent in school really isn’t enough to learn everything there is to know, fluently, to be proficient. Spent the time, spend the money, and really focus on those continuing education courses because it will completely change the way you practice. We want to provide our patients with the gold standard in treatment, and how you do that is by staying on top of technology. Learn what’s new, find out what the latest research says about the best course of treatment. Pretty much anyone can drill a hole in a tooth and fill it – but what materials are you using? Continue learning for your benefit as a professional but also for the benefit of your patients.
Is there anything you are passionate about that you’d like to share, something we haven’t touched on?
Well, I’d like to share my passion for education, especially for women. You know we’ve just celebrated International Women’s Day. Life throws us curveballs, and I feel like as women we need to be able to stand on our own. Education is key. It is the ticket out of any situation – it’s something that once we have, can never be taken away.