The thought that business isn’t personal never crossed Dr. Katie To’s mind. Everything about her business is personal – right down to how it affected her own health.
Dr. To launched her biological and cosmetic dentistry practice, The Center for Integrated Wellness and Cosmetic Dentistry, in Katy, Texas, in 2015. She became a dentist to help people. But since opening her doors, she has found it goes so much deeper.
“Everyone has a story, either it’s related to their family, or they’re looking for a job, or growing a relationship; every patient has a story,” Dr. To said. “I’ve found you can really change a person’s confidence when you give them their smile back. They share they got a new job, got that promotion, they found a new love, or they’re just loving themselves again. It’s amazing to get to be a part of those stories.”
It’s that focus on her patients that stood out to Chris Peralta, a Regions Bank branch manager in Katy who met Dr. To through a networking group.
“Immediately we had a connection as far as the values that we have, the culture we incorporate within our professional environment — but also how important family is to us,” Peralta said.
Peralta would eventually earn Dr. To’s banking business. More importantly, Dr. To earned his trust with providing services to his own family. When his teenage daughter, who has special needs, needed a new dentist, he turned to Dr. To’s practice.
“That whole bedside manner terminology, especially when it comes to dentistry, that’s critical in her profession, and it really shined through when she was meeting with Olivia for the first time,” Peralta explained.
Bringing comfort to her patients is one of her biggest priorities.
I’ve found you can really change a person’s confidence when you give them their smile back.
“The vibe of the dental office is always kind of associated with pain and fear, but when you come here, everyone on our team is so happy to be here, and that is contagious,” Dr. To shared. “It also doesn’t smell like a dental office; it smells like a spa and looks and feels comfortable, and that gets people more relaxed.”
An important offering of her practice came from a somewhat harrowing experience of her own.
In 2018, just two years after giving birth to her son, Dr. To developed mysterious rashes and was very swollen. “And, at first, nobody really knew what was wrong,” she explained.
Her list of symptoms kept growing, but doctors couldn’t land on a diagnosis. It wasn’t until she saw a functional medicine doctor that she found an answer.
“The first thing they asked was if I was a dentist working with mercury fillings and metal. And I said, yes, I’ve been doing that for over a decade,” she said. “When the test result came back, I was 10 times over the limit for lead and five times over the limit for mercury.”
A lead and mercury toxicity diagnosis would change her own life and her practice. She transitioned into offering biological treatments from nutrition for teeth and gums, ozone dentistry with ozone therapy, preventative dentistry, and SMART Safe Mercury Removal.
“Biological dentistry looks at the material, the procedure, the things that are compatible to the body, and it’s much more friendly to the environment and to the patients,” she shared.
Now, she doesn’t just work with her patients on their wellness, but she shares with others in her profession about the impact lead and mercury can have on their own health and practices.
Dr. To takes her health – and that of her practice and its patients – very seriously. When doing a quarterly review of her accounts with Peralta, she shared she was interested in purchasing a large piece of medical equipment. He recommended a business line of credit to help with that and any other potential future needs. And it would come in handy sooner than she realized.
“I got that line of credit established, and then four months later, COVID hit. And so now everyone else was trying to get a line of credit, but it was harder,” Dr. To said. “I was so glad I already got it in place pre-COVID.”
“While some of her peers were consumed with anxiety over how their business was going to survive through this pandemic coupled with the anticipation of the Paycheck Protection Program, she was able to have peace of mind that she could lean on her line of credit to continue to positively run her company and keep her associates paid,” Peralta explained.
It’s the little things like that – keeping her associates happy – and the bigger things – keeping her patients healthy – that keep Dr. To invigorated and excited to go to work each day.
“If I won the lottery, I would just give out free smile transformations every day. Bringing that joy to others, knowing that my skill makes a difference and an impact, it means a lot,” she said. “When a patient looks in the mirror and sees the transformation, they just cannot stop smiling.
“People underestimate the power of the smile; everyone loves to see confidence in the mirror, but they cannot be confident if they’re hiding their smile, and as a dentist, I get to help bring that out, every day. That power is amazing.”