When dentistry is a family affair, work-life balance is more important than ever. For married dentists Dr. Eric Huynh and Dr. Saranya Viyapon, staying busy is a virtue, but so is taking time to focus on themselves and their family. Not only does the Texas twosome owns and operates Oasis Dental in Keller and Confi-Dental in Fort Worth, they also find time to run multiple other businesses and tend to their three daughters. The busy couple works hard, plays hard and enjoys every minute of it.
How and when did you two meet?
Dr. Eric Huynh: I owned three offices back then. Sara came in for an interview and we didn’t hire her because she was out of our budget. She was going to school in Philadelphia back then but was moving back to Texas to be closer to her family. I told her if she ever wanted to come out with me and my friends, she was welcome to join us. That’s what really happened. Even though we didn’t hire her, she went out with us, we became friends and the next thing you know, we were married. It all worked out. We’ve been together 18 years now. It goes by faster than anyone could imagine.
When did you each decide that you wanted to be a dentist and why?
Dr. Saranya Viyapon: I’m originally from Thailand and we believe in taking care of people, so I always knew I wanted to be in the medical field. I like my schedule to be 9 to 5 but as a doctor, you need to be on call. I knew that wasn’t going to be a good fit for me, so I decided to study dentistry.
I love being a dentist. We’re very busy, but we’re very lucky!
Dr. Huynh: I was pre-med and studying quite a bit, but, to be honest, my score was only a little above average and I wanted to excel at whatever I did. I liked dentistry, also, so at the last minute I switched. It was such a blessing and it worked out quite well. I love being a dentist so much!
What do you love about being dentists?
Dr. Huynh: Well, I talk a lot, and I love my patients. Most of them have been with me since 1997, when I graduated and was just starting out. We have three or four generations working in my office and everyone feels like family. It doesn’t feel like work anymore. It’s really fun. We’re very blessed. People come here and they stay here. My staff has been with me for 20 years. We’re growing old together.
Dr. Viyapon: Being a dentist, I just love checking in with my patients. Once in a while, we get patients who are uncomfortable with the dentist and after a while they feel better about it. That’s very rewarding to me. Sometimes we’ll see patients and they’re excited to see you and tell you that they love the way their teeth feel after a cleaning. It’s the little stuff! Plus, it’s great to help people get out of pain.
What are the best and worst parts of being married to another dentist?
Dr. Viyapon: It’s so nice being married to another dentist because we understand each other’s work. We can talk about our days so easily.
Dr. Huynh: We don’t work together in the same office, so the good thing is that we can refer patients to each other if they have certain preferences about their dentist. We can also consult with each other for different cases, which is really nice. But worst? We don’t really have many issues. We have three kids, and that’s enough!
What does quality patient care mean to you?
Dr. Viyapon: Taking care of a patient as a whole and the best that we can. If something is out of our comfort zone, we’ll refer them to a specialist.
Dr. Huynh: For me, it’s taking care of whatever they need to the best of your ability. My patients are almost family to me. I give all of them my cellphone number, but they’re so respectful about it. They only call when they really need to. I try to think of my patients like they’re my mom, my dad, my sister. I want them to feel comfortable expressing themselves. If they have hesitation and don’t trust you, there’s a problem.
I think that’s why we don’t have many issues. If there’s a problem, we want them to know that we’ll take care of it. Basically, if they’re happy, I’m happy.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to yourself when you were first starting out?
Dr. Huynh: You don’t need to do everything. I was trying so hard to do it all when I started and I had to learn to delegate more. Don’t let everything stress you out because it will work out.
I think dental school can be a rough time for a lot of people. Instructors could be really hard on us and I think they’re much tougher on you than the patients are. Nothing can faze you after that. It made us better people now.
Dr. Viyapon: I’d say, don’t take it too personally. When I started out, nobody told me that, and I’d get patients who just didn’t like going to the dentist. Sometimes it’s nothing personal and we just need to be more understanding with the patient.
Some patients have a hard time opening up because they think we’re just trying to make money and doing unnecessary work. That’s hard for younger people to learn, because when you’re starting out you think everything will be so ideal.
What do you do in your free time? Any hobbies?
Dr. Huynh: I am quite busy, besides dentistry. We have three daughters. After the first one, I decided to not work so much because I wanted to spend time with her. We’re very hands on with the kids. As I got older, I got into other businesses. I do real estate outside of this, and it’s tremendously fun. We also own an event center. Dentistry is our 9 to 5, but after that everything is very different.
If I wasn’t a dentist, I’d be an event planner. I love the creative side of it. We really love it, and the kids get involved, too. It’s great for learning business but also brings us closer. We’re always bouncing ideas off each other and working together. It was never supposed to be like this, but I’m very grateful that it is.
Dr. Viyapon: We have three jobs, but we enjoy all of them! On top of that, our oldest daughter just became the president of the drill team this year, so now I’m president of the dance moms!
To relax, I do yoga and we always take breaks from work. We take long weekends and we go out with friends — especially on Friday nights! During the week, Dr. Huynh does all the cooking, but on the weekends the kitchen is closed, and we always go out to eat. We like to take vacations when the kids are out of school. When we go out or take a break, we only focus on that.