Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Dr. Vani Takiar
Thank you to Dr. Vani Takiar, owner of Tooth Clues PLLC – The Dental Detective for Kids, for answering a few of our questions! Learn more about the Chamber’s DEIA Committee and get involved here.
Where were you born and raised and, if it was someplace else, when and why did you come to Loudoun?
My journey to make Loudoun County the home for my business and personal residence was never something that I had anticipated! I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. My parents first emigrated from India to the United States in the late 1970s and settled in New Jersey where my sister was born. And then my parents moved to Maryland in the early 1980s when my father got a new job. Baltimore was my home through college as I attended Johns Hopkins University for my undergraduate education. And I then continued my schooling up the east coast – dental school at The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and residency in pediatric dentistry at The Boston University School of Dental Medicine. My parents still live in Maryland so when it became time to find a job once all my schooling was done, I returned back to Maryland and joined a practice with locations in Frederick and Hagerstown. However since I entered dental school, I always had the desire to open my own pediatric dental practice. And once I became board-certified in 2018, I started the process to find myself the perfect practice location. And that journey was not easy! There were so many hiccups and interruptions in the process, including covid! But I do believe that things have a way of working out and at the end of 2020, I found the perfect practice location for my pediatric dental practice in downtown Leesburg.
When did you launch your first business or begin in the field of Dentistry, and how did you get into your current line of work?
I entered dental school in 2009 at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. I originally thought orthodontia would be my specialty but then when I did not get accepted to a residency program, I entered the “real world” as a general dentist when I graduated in 2013. Soon enough though, I realized that I enjoyed working with children – there was an instant connection I found with each one of the children I saw. Each patient had different needs; as children grow, their teeth change, their faces change and their intellectual and emotional skills develop. It was amazing to see the growth and transformation in my patients; I realized the value of important positive experiences during these changes, and specifically in regards to our smile. I went back to school for my residency program at Boston University’s School of Dental Medicine in 2015 and completed the program with a strong foundation to help children of all kinds just have a better day, feel better and have a great smile. And as I reflect, I think I was meant to be a pediatric dentist.
Have you had any special mentors or inspirations that influenced your career?
There have been numerous individuals who have influenced my upbringing and career. First and foremost, my parents and older sister. My parents came to the United States with nothing and became the first generation in their respective families to settle down in a foreign country and educate their children. My parents worked very hard and raised me to not only understand my Indian heritage and culture but also be well versed as an independent and confident woman. My father started his own engineering company in the 1990s and I remember the challenges he went through. However he always said, and still does even till this day, that hard work and effort never go in vain. And here I stand as a female entrepreneur, the first in our family! But my career as a dentist is actually all because of my mom. She recommended dental school when medical school did not seem right to me and through all these years, she has stood in support of all the challenges and hurdles I have faced. And of course my sister, she set the standard very high being a radiation oncologist for head and neck cancer. But she has always been my biggest cheerleader and supportive of all the decisions I have made. Having a strong family support network like I have had has been a fortunate blessing. Additionally throughout all these years of education, there have been numerous peers, colleagues faculty and attendings (too many to name but who all deserve the credit!) who have educated, trained and guided me to become the best clinician I can be; they shaped me into the pediatric dentist and human that I have become.
What is the best part of your job and why?
The most rewarding and satisfying result of being a pediatric dentist is seeing a child smile while saying he/she cannot wait to come back and see me again! Throughout my years as a pedodontist, I have realized that children fear the dentist because they fear the unknown. But if the unknown is taken away, and the known is explained to a child in the most basic manner, a child will never be fearful of the dentist. Dental anxiety is very common – we as dentists work in the mouth, a very finite area invading our patient’s personal space. And any pain or discomfort felt in the mouth has an immediate and high impact on our body – the transmission of pain or discomfort is instantaneous and the consequences affect our day-to-day life including eating, smiling, sleeping, etc. Hence when I have a patient who understands that my goal is to help rather than hurt, I see a drastic change in my patient’s response to me and to receiving dental treatment. And such a change, such a transformation, truly makes me realize the impact I have each day on my young patients and their dental journey’s for life.
What is it like owning/running a business in Loudoun?
I opened Tooth Clues, PLLC – The Dental Detective for Kids in November 2021. And although there have been numerous hurdles during the past six months, I am so grateful that Loudoun County and the Town of Leesburg welcomed me as a new pediatric dental provider. The Town of Leesburg has been accessible for any and all issues with prompt communications as has been Loudoun County, including the Chamber of Commerce. But moreso, the families and patients that I have had the opportunity to meet and interact with have reassured me and validated my decision to open my pediatric dental practice in Loudoun County. Many new patients and families have made Tooth Clues, PLLC their dental home and I could not be more grateful for their confidence and support.
What does AAPI Month mean to you?
Each day we wake up in pursuit of our daily activities and responsibilities. But rarely do we have, make or even take the time to reflect on who we are and the successes we have achieved. Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) month similarly to other heritage months just allows us to take that moment to recognize the successes and progresses that culturally we have achieved. Being of Indian heritage, but having been born in the United States, I have been imbibed with an understanding of my Indian culture. And being able to celebrate, bringing Indian and all other Asian heritages to the forefront of our community is inspirational. Like my parents, there are many other immigrants who came and continue to come to the United States to take advantage of the many opportunities and provide the same for their children. And in circumstances such as myself, to see the personal and professional growth that can be obtained through hard work and determination, we have the opportunity to be thankful for what we can pursue and achieve as humans. It is humbling to acknowledge the amazing small and large successes we can achieve, including reflecting on the numerous hurdles and challenges we surpass to excel. And by appreciating such diversity we can only become stronger and grow as a community.