1. Hello Alla, you are quite a famous Dentist in Moscow with a great reputation. May I first ask about your background, your training and how long the US Dental Clinic has operated in Moscow
I went to school at Boston University Dental School and graduated in 2001 on a regular DMD program getting my General Dentistry Diploma with high honors. I came back to Moscow to work after graduating for my family reasons and since then I am working at US Dental Care. In 2005 I decided to extend my education and I went to NYC to get my postgraduate education in implantology. I flew every month to NYC for a year which was hard but it was totally worth it for me because it really changed my career and my interests in dentistry. Since then I am working as a General Dentist at US Dental Care plus I am placing implants and I am teaching American dentists in the States to place implants. US Dental Care is operating since 1994. I actually came to work for US Dental Care in 1995 while I was a student even before I went to the States and worked there as an assistant. And when I went to the States I was ready to work and ready to take all the exams necessary to get to the dental school because doctors we had at the US Dental Care were always on the highest level in the world. We always had an American standard of work. We used to have many American dentists when we just opened in 1994 since then rules and regulations in Russia became really strict. At this time we have a Canadian doctor and myself as an American dentist. The rest of our dentists are Russian trained and went through training on the basis of our clinic for at least one year each. And all them work with us for 15 years. We have a great and big team of doctors, assistants and administrative staff which includes about 40 employees. And we perform all of the services which are available in dentistry.
2. You are American trained, how does this training differ to a Russian dentist and what are the benefits to your patients
I went to Dental School originally in Russia and graduated with high honors from Russian Dental School in Moscow. But when I was accepted in the States I realized that the educational system in two countries differs a lot. Even though I was an “A” student in Moscow, it was a lot for me to learn again in the States. The biggest difference in education in Russia and in the USA is that in the USA starting from the third year all the students have practice dentistry in the clinic. It’s not that they start to work on people without knowing anything. Each step is controlled by a number of instructors that stand behind your back. And each step of the procedure has to be checked. You placing a filling, you administer anesthetic – you are checked. You prepare the cavity – it’s checked. If anything has to be done additionally, instructor helps to correct any mistake. And on that basis you learn the best. In Russia what I realize now a lot of students come out of school without any experience and they have to just jump into work. And it is not so easy because they have to work a number of years as assistants before they can start working as doctors. The other difference in the USA is that after going through Dental School you have to pass a license exam which is completely separate from the school. You can graduate from a top large school in the States but if you don’t pass the license exam you are not able to perform dentistry in any of the states. Each state has its own regulations and if you work in one state and then move to another, you have to take another exam to be able to work there.
3. One of the challenges that many expats and Diplomats have in Moscow is finding a Dentist who speaks good English. How do you overcome this?
We do have a challenge to find a good American trained dentist and to be able to provide them with work. It’s legally really hard and we used to have up to 5 American dentists before and now just two. But it’s not just that: over the years we developed training program for dentists which successfully started in 2000. Since then we trained several dentists and were able to keep them and they work for us till now. We also tried over the years to hire American dentists. But we face two problems: one is that officially they cannot work in Russia with the American diploma. They actually have to go through a license exam which is not hard but without learning a language is really not helpful. And on the top of it they have to obtain a work permit and other issues involved. Another issue we faced is that a good American dentist would not just get up and move to another country and start working there. There should be a reason for it. Usually, the good reasons are family moving or somebody is adventurous and wants to explore a new country. The bad reasons are that such a doctor is not very successful in the country. For that reason we had a bad experience when we started checking the doctors that wanted to work for us. And refused them to work with us.
4. Dentistry has become big business with many additional services being offered. In addition to regular check-ups and fillings what would you say that your specialties are?
Dentistry has become a big business, that’s true. And in our clinic we offer all the services which can be provided dentistry. We have specialists in small fields. For example, periodontics or orthodontics. But as far as the newest technologies we have right now, is whatever comes to the USA is not so easy to bring to Russia because it has to go through the certain procedures to be licensed. So not everything that is available in the USA is available in Russia. What we try to do is to help and bring the newest technologies to Russia. If possible we help the new products to be licensed in Russia and use them. So way we expose the newest things to the world.
5. Where is your Clinic located and how many staff do you have?
US Dental Care is located on Olimpiyskiy prospect, 16 build 5. We used to be at Bolshaya Dmitrovka for the past 15 years but during the crisis the landlord decided to change the building to apartments and we had to move. We think it is a good thing for our clinic not to be in the centre with problematic parking. We are still in the centre but right now it’s much easier to reach us and if you are driving to park as well. We have about 40 employees. It’s a big team but we are proud of it.
6. There is a lot of discussion about the prices for major dentistry around the world. How do you feel that your prices compare?
Our pricing policy is usually based on two factors. We check prices in the states of Massachusetts and New York (so basically the New England states) and we compare them to ours because I can practice in those states and I can actually save people their trip to go the USA and stay there for the duration of their treatment. That decision was made long ago and usually we compare with those prices. The other thing we compare to is the other foreign clinics in Moscow but mostly our prices are based on the US prices.
Unfortunately, during the crisis of 2-3 years ago we could not raise our prices according to the dollar-ruble exchange rate. So we actually had to lower our prices in comparison to the USA and until now we are actually lower. We actually save people money if they do their treatment here rather than in the USA.
As a service to our patients, our practice accepts most dental insurance programs.
7. I believe that you also offer additional services at your clinic. Could you give us more details.
About a year ago we added additional service to our clinic US Dental Care: cosmetology and facial massages. It’s something that is adjunctive to our services and we thought this is something that could be helpful. For example, to build a smile sometimes additional cosmetic treatments have to be done. As far as cosmetology, it’s all the injectables and minor procedure on the face. We don’t do any plastic surgeries. And also we recently added facial massages and people like it.
8. Finally on a personal not, we have hear that you do regular volunteer work abroad. Would you like to tell us a little about this?
I do volunteer work in Dominican Republic. I am proud of it and I love it. I used to go 4 times a year. This year I will go 2 times. What we do is we place implants for the local population for free. For me, on the top of doing charity work, it is the greatest experience because we put over a 1000 of implants in 3 days. I go as an instructor and I teach American general dentists who decide to explore implantology and start to place implants. I usually have 4 to 6 doctors per a trip to train so this is something that I truly enjoy. We write a lot of articles and books and publish them, these are world known books and articles. And we do a lot of research also because of such a big pool of patients who are really appreciative of what we provide to them.