Dennis Hartlieb

Interview with Dr. Grace Yum: Encore

Do you struggle with juggling all of the aspects of your professional and personal life?  

Are you a mom and a dentist, or do you have other roles that you have trouble integrating? Listen in as Dr. Grace Yum shares tips and tricks she has learned about how finding community support can really make a difference for dentists. 

Dr. Hartlieb and Dr. Yum discuss the unique challenges that dentists who are also moms face, and Dr. Yum shares about how Mommy Dentists in Business began and why it's so powerful for the participants.

More about Dr. Grace Yum

To connect with Dr. Grace Yum and Mommy Dentists in Business, check out, find them on Instagram @mommydentistsinbusiness, or join the private Facebook group

From her website, Mommy Dentists in Business

"Dr. Grace Yum grew up in Glenview, Illinois and now lives in sunny California. She is a mother and a certified pediatric dentist, a certification achieved by only 5% of all dentists in the U.S. Dr. Yum is the former founder and practice owner of Yummy Dental & Orthodontics for Kids and she is also the founder and CEO of Mommy Dentists in Business.

"Mommy Dentists in Business was started June of 2017 by Dr. Grace Yum, while on a business trip with her husband. She noticed how lawyers connected and networked with one another and felt that dentistry was missing that component of camaraderie. The Facebook group was a way to connect dentists from all over the world, especially dentists like herself, moms that are business owners.

"In addition to managing the MDIB community, Dr. Yum hosts her own podcast, Mommy Dentists in Business Podcast. With 17 complete seasons, Dr. Yum’s podcast has been in the iTunes top 100, was ranked #3 of 15 of the top dental podcasts by Patterson Dental’s “Off the Cusp” publication and has been downloaded nearly 80,000 times.

"She has quietly become nationally recognized in her field. Dr. Yum has appeared and was featured on TODAY Show on NBC nationally, NBC Chicago as a repeat guest, Parents Magazine, Parenting Magazine, Chicago Parent Magazine. She has also appeared on many podcasts, with topics covering dentistry, work/life balance and business tips for the working mom.

"During her spare time, Dr. Yum enjoys spending time with her two kids and husband in Newport Coast, California." 
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Check Out the Interview Highlights Below

Highlights from the Interview

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Here are a few of the fascinating topics Dennis and Grace discuss in this interview.

Keep reading to learn more about each topic.

  • Developing a Passion for Pediatric Dentistry
  • Getting Noticed as a Dental Student and Finding Mentors
  • Learning New Dental Skills
  • The Challenges of Pediatric Dentistry
  • The Founding of Mommy Dentists in Business
  • The Juggle of Being a Dentist and a Mom
  • Getting Help and Establishing Healthy Boundaries
  • Finding Community - Mommy Dentists in Business
I think there's a little bit of luck and a little bit of hard work. And you've got to make your own magic.
Dr. Grace Yum

Developing a Passion for Pediatric Dentistry

Dr. Yum shares about how she got into dentistry and more specifically how she became a pediatric dentist. Grace Yum had other plans - she wanted to be a newscaster on TV! She was majoring in communications and had her own plans, but some opportunities early in her life opened up the doorway to dentistry.

As a child, Grace's family was friends with the family of Dr. Sam Yoon. And as Dr. Yoon's own children grew up, they also went into dentistry. This led the way for Grace to become the dental assistant to Cecile, Dr. Yoon's daughter.

Grace shares, "So, I went everywhere Cecile went, basically. She worked in different offices. And even though I was in undergrad, I had to go help her because she's like my older sister. So that's how I was introduced, really hands on. I mean, my only exposure before then was just to see her dad for cleanings and fillings. And when I went with her, I knew nothing. She had to train me from scratch. And she was a young new dentist as well." 

Cecile became Grace's very first mentor, and over time, Grace began helping out in the pediatric wing of a practice.

Dr. Yum shares, "I was introduced to pediatric dentistry through that journey. And they were saying, 'You are good with your hands! You should consider dental school.' And I said, 'I am not good at science! My major is Communications. I want to be on the news. I want to be a news anchor!"

But Cecile encouraged Grace to take the dental prerequisites just in case she changed her mind, and that set the stage for her later pathway into dental school. Dr. Yum took a gap year and was no longer a dental assistant, and that was when she discovered that she really missed dentistry. 
What I really loved most was the relationship with the patient and the parent and feeling good about the work I was doing and making a difference in someone's life. 
Dr. Grace Yum

Getting Noticed as a Dental Student and Finding Mentors

Dr. Yum shares about how she felt as she prepared for dental school and about how she approached the application and interview process.

Grace shares: "I really wanted to be the clinician. I was like, I know I can do that. I know I have the skill sets to be an amazing clinician, if I'm trained correctly.

"And when I went to the school, I walked in, and I just knew I had to be there. It was that feeling of this is where I'm supposed to come. And I did my interviews.

"And the squeaky wheel kind of gets the oil. That's just the way my parents raised me. So I would call the admissions office. I was like, 'Did you see my chart yet?'"

Grace and Dennis discuss how important it is to stand out as a dental school candidate and as a dental student.

Dr. Yum and Dr. Hartlieb also talk about how to handle the early days right out of dental school. When you're asked by a patient about whether you've done a procedure, Dr. Hartlieb shares this advice: What I used to tell my students was when people ask you that, you say, 'I've done a number of these.' Now the number could be zero! You know, you don't have to tell the whole truth: 'I've done a number of these.' And if you've done two, then you laugh. You say, 'Well, I've done more than one of these.' And you've only done two, but that's okay!" 

How to Stand Out in Dental School

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Dr. Grace Yum shares how she made sure she stood out as she applied for dental school.

Learning New Dental Skills

Dr. Yum shares about trying out new procedures and practicing skills, and she emphasizes the importance of trying things out while you have the support of your dental program. 

Grace shares an experience she had of helping with oral surgery to remove teeth. She says that she wanted to help the main doctor, and she completed a teeth removal procedure on her own. Grace knew those days when the surgeries were scheduled were very busy for the doctor.

Grace shares, "One day he came in... I was with my attending. And I said, 'I'm going to take these teeth out!' 

"He said, 'Are you sure?'

"I said, 'Yes, I can do it!'

"He said, 'Go ahead, go do it!'

"Later, he walks in ready to help, and I'm like, 'I'm done!'

"And he said, 'What do you mean, you're done?'

"And I said, 'I just did it.'
"He was so excited. I said that I didn't go to dental school not to learn how to pull teeth. And I'm not here to not learn either. And if I was in the middle of pulling a tooth, and something went wrong, I knew you were here. I knew you would be here to help me.

"But I'm not going to say no and shy away and back off, because I'm afraid. And I tell residents all the time. This is when you are supposed to make your mistakes. And this is when you're supposed to learn."

Dr. Yum talks about how important it is to find mentors and to develop your skills in a supportive environment.

Grace shares: "And I encourage you to find that mentor, that teacher, that you click with. You don't click with everyone; that's okay. There's millions of personalities out there. But find the couple of doctors in your school or in your residency that you click with. And you ask them a bajillion questions. That's why they are there."

On Being Bold to Learn New Clinical Skills

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Grace shares about how she learned to hone her skills while still having the support and mentorship of more experienced dentists.

The Challenges of Pediatric Dentistry

Dr. Hartlieb asks Dr. Yum about the relationship between the pediatric dentist and the caregiver and what other dentists should know about those dynamics. 

Dr. Yum shares, "Having practiced now for a very long time in treating patients, from a dental assistant standpoint and a doctor standpoint, it really depends on the generation and the parenting styles. There are many parenting styles."

Dr. Yum talks about how in the past, many parents were more hands-off when it came to dental work for their children, whereas today, some parents are very involved in the child's dental experience. 

Dr. Yum advises: "What I have learned, and what I tell my associates, is you have to train the parent how to treat you!"

She says that she takes this approach with caregivers. Her advice is that "you have to lay down the law in a gentle and firm way. Like 'this is how I do things. And if you aren't comfortable, then I have to refer you to a different pediatric dentist. So if you can't do it the way I want it done and the way I do it safely for your child, then you need to go somewhere else. And that's okay.' Oftentimes a child's behavior will be skewed when a parent is in the room."

She tells parents: "[Your child is] only with me for 30 minutes. You can have that separation, but you need to trust me. I'm not going to force your child or do anything that they don't want to do. And if we need you, we will come get you."

Grace ultimately shares, "I think getting the parent to separate to allow you to be able to have the one on one relationship that you need to be able to do the dentistry at your highest level is so critical. But boy, it's such a challenge."

Managing Parents as a Pediatric Dentist

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Don't miss this clip where Dr. Yum shares what she's learned about how to best work with parents as a pediatric dentist!

The Founding of Mommy Dentists in Business

Dr. Grace Yum identified a void in the dental community world - a safe space for moms who are also dentists to find solutions, commiserate, lift each other up, and celebrate.

Thus began the pathway that led Dr. Yum to create Mommy Dentists in Business. 

Before founding the group and creating this safe space, Dr. Yum shares her experience participating in a larger dental online community. She says, "One time I threw out a question in the forum, and I said something about how do you handle your schedule, if you've got to pick up your kids... You're missing all their sports activities and games and everything like that. And the women were chiming in trying to help answer the question, but the men would chime in and say, 'Oh, gosh, I'm so glad I don't have to deal with that. My wife deals with that.'"

Dr. Yum also shares that she noticed the withdrawal of other mom dentists who would no longer ask questions that they needed answered because they recognized that the answers would not be productive. Grace shares, "I felt that, again, some of the questions other women asked, our male colleagues would start to be condescending, and answer in kind of mean way or an aggressive way. And I noticed that more and more women were backing out of asking questions."

These experiences fueled Dr. Yum's drive to create MDiB as a solution to this problem.

Mom Guilt and the Pressure Mom Dentists Feel

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Dr. Yum talks about the stress and guilt that dentists who are mothers feel as they struggle to be strong in their profession and also do everything in their kids' lives at school.

The Juggle of Being a Dentist and a Mom

Dr. Yum shares about the challenges that moms who are dentists face when it comes to things like managing family schedules, responding to urgent needs like a sick child, and countless other daily and weekly tasks that come with balancing those two roles. 

Grace shares, "People ask all the time, how do you balance? I call it the Juggle. And I say to people, 'It's never quite balanced.' Balanced means you're at equilibrium! You can't forever be there. You're either up or you're down or you're teetering or you're in the wobble.

"And for me, my perspective is, it's a juggling act. And if you think about a circus act, and the people that spin the plates on those little poles... As a mom, I am spinning 10 plates in the air and one will eventually drop. And that's okay. It'll shatter. But the show must go on. You still have to go on. So it is an act, you know?"

Dr. Yum emphasizes how important it is for dentists who are moms to know that they don't have to be perfect. 

The Juggle for Mom Dentists

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Dr. Yum talks about the way that mom dentists can find a way to juggle all of the different areas of their lives.

Getting Help and Establishing Healthy Boundaries

As part of the juggle that moms who are dentists must do, Dr. Yum recommends getting help and emphasizes the importance of recognizing the need to have support to keep going. Grace shares about how dentistry is both physically and emotionally draining, and she talks about how vital it is to recharge in order to carry on with all of the responsibilities.

Dr. Yum shares, "If you can't be in optimal condition for yourself, you can't help somebody else. And like everyone says... You know, the airplane thing with an oxygen mask -- you have to put it on for yourself, before you can put on somebody else. It's the same concept.

"So my thing is, women in your 30s, or 40s, or 50s, focus on your health, your physical health! Because if you are not in good physical, optimal health, you cannot practice dentistry. You cannot run around with your kids. And your health in your 40s is the gateway to your health in the 50s and 60s. So if you're not mindful, and you wreck your body now, what are you going to look like in 10 years?"

Dr. Yum acknowledges that most moms feel like they don't have enough time to prioritize their own health. To make this focus on health possible, Grace encourages moms to schedule their health time just like they schedule procedures in their practice. 

Grace examines this scheduling from a practical standpoint. She says, "It's about mindset."

Dr. Yum shares this example: "If you do the math, let's say you have someone on your street, maybe a teenager, who's like 14 or 15 years old, come over after school, help with the homework if your kids are little, maybe help with meal prep, or do the laundry... All the things that you don't really have to do. You think you have to do it, but you don't have to do it. And that's what, maybe $200 a week? But guess what? That saves five hours of your week!
"You could be going on a walk; you could be going on a jog. You could be doing yoga at your house. That $200 a week extra that you're spending... That's like compared to a one service or two service filling.

"All you have to do is one filling a week! One one extra filling a week! That's all that it costs for you to have some healthy boundaries in your life."

Getting Help and Setting Boundaries

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Grace shares about how important it is to prioritize your own health and wellness and the way that getting some help can make it possible to find time for self care.

Finding Community - Mommy Dentists in Business

Dr. Yum shares about how MDiB, Mommy Dentists in Business came to be, and about what members get: access to lots of trainings, opportunities to earn CE credits, discounts on dental supplies and also lifestyle items, and access to a thriving community built around moms who are dentists. 

Additionally, there are regional Facebook groups within the community, and there are events throughout the year that members can choose to participate in based on their region and their interests.

Dr. Yum talks about the importance of finding a professional community as a way to support yourself as a mom and a dentist with so many things to juggle. 

Grace shares, "We all help each other. And that's what it's about is rather than competing, we're collaborating! Because of the mindset of there's enough for everybody." 
To learn more about Mommy Dentists in Business, check out the website

Dennis Hartlieb, DDS, AAACD

DOT Founder

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