Dr Soheila Etemadi merges her mastery and passion for dentistry to build a practice of care that is life-changing and transformational.
She chose to specialise in prosthodontics which she considers one of the most difficult branches of dentistry but also ultimately the most fulfilling for both dentist and patient.
Educated in some of the well-known universities in the world and with a global practice spanning from Australia, the U.S. and back, Dr Soheila is a teacher by heart and profession. She thrives in handling the most complex cases and earning patients’ trust through education.
Dr Soheila qualified as a general dentist in 1990. She worked in general practice for a few years before she commenced her specialist training at the School of Dentistry at the University of Adelaide. She obtained her master’s degree in prosthodontics in 1997.
She has been practising as a specialist prosthodontist overseas and in Australia since 1997. In 2004, she established her own private referral practice, eventually moving to the U.S. in 2005. Since her graduation, she has published several articles in well-known dental journals.
Dr Soheila was a senior lecturer at one of the dental schools in Tehran, Iran for 8 years. She eventually served as an associate professor at the University of Western Australia Dental School, coordinating removable and fixed prosthodontics for dental students.
She considers teaching at The UWA Dental School as one of the highest points of her career. “I've felt very privileged; teaching is such a beautiful experience. Building a relationship with students and sharing your knowledge was very rewarding,” she says.
As a specialist prosthodontist, Dr Soheila is trusted to handle the most delicate cases. As such, her philosophy of care combines a high level of both critical thinking and compassion. This approach is crucial for determining the best treatment options for each individual case, and for arming patients with information that can help them feel secure about their treatment plan.
“Majority of my patients are complex cases. There are procedures involving long hours of sitting on a dental chair,” she says. “Once patients understand why a treatment is necessary for them, they trust me at a higher level. And that trust is the most valuable thing for me.”
After listening to her patient’s symptoms and issues, Dr Soheila begins with the task of explaining the case in detail. “I take their hands and walk them through everything - what they are experiencing, what is the reason for it, and what can be done about it,” she says.
Dr Soheila then lays out the entire spectrum of options that can be available for each patient, from the very basic treatment to the most complex procedures. Her patients very much appreciate the time and effort she makes to help them understand their dental health issues.
To reach such a level of expertise, Dr Soheila invested in specialist education, hands-on practice and continuous training through the years. “As a prosthodontist, you need to know so many things in dentistry. My postgraduate studies, examinations, writing my thesis and taking theory to practice were all very difficult. But it’s part of learning - you learn through challenges and difficulties,” she says.
As a child, Dr Soheila wanted to be a teacher and a doctor. “I've always wanted to help people, give them care, and just solve their problems. Then in high school, I realized that hospital setting wasn't for me,” she says, revealing a level of self-awareness early in life.
“I became attracted to dentistry because of the art and dedication it takes to do it. It's really a very delicate and, at the same time, stressful job. You have to be very patient and passionate, and you need to love what you are doing,” She says.
But her journey didn’t stop there. “I wanted to do more, so I decided to specialise in prosthodontics. Then, through this speciality, I became a teacher as well. Moreover, I’ve always wanted to do surgery, and now, I conduct implant surgery. In the end, all my dreams did come true in just one career! I’m very happy.”
A huge part of Dr Soheila’s sense of fulfilment comes from finding long-term, sustainable solutions to complex dental issues through prosthodontics.
A classic example would be patients with missing teeth who inevitably suffer from functional impairment. Her task then goes beyond replacing the patient's teeth, to restoring their chewing function and facial support, and at the same time making the teeth look aesthetically pleasing.
“Prosthodontics allows you to accomplish several things under one umbrella. That makes it so interesting for me. I got attracted to this speciality and I love it until now,” she says.
Patients with severely worn dentition also require the individualised, bespoke solutions that Dr Soheila is known for.
“Patients are referred to me with only half of the length of the teeth left, damaged due to a lifetime of severe clenching and grinding. Most of them have missing back teeth, so they have been functioning with only 4-5 upper and lower pairs of teeth. They've been chewing using just those teeth that have been worn down severely or broken down, chipped, cracked and fractured.”
Treating complex cases combined with dental phobia is the most challenging part of her practice. How is she able to get a terrified person to sit for hours on the dental chair? “I tell them I understand. It's not logical. It's phobia. It's fear, and I understand it. Tell me what you're worried about, and I’ll give you options to address it. We have oral sedation, IV sedation, we have procedures under general anaesthesia.”
This approach has worked wonders even for the most extreme cases. One lady who came to her for the first time with a severe phobia of dentistry is now a loyal patient. “Even during the examination she was jumping off the chair. But in the end I was able to do one tooth implant surgery for her with no IV sedation. She was awake, and she trusted me so much.”
She added: “Every time she comes to me, I tell her you should be proud of yourself; you’ve come a long way. So getting rid of the fear of dentistry is honestly possible and I'm not exaggerating. It is challenging, but it is possible. I've done it.”
Dr Soheila balances her highly dynamic, high-stakes practice with downtime for activities and people she loves.
Every day, she makes time for her physical and mental well-being: walking, meditation, going to the gym and doing Pilates.
She basks in the presence of her loving family, taking delight in bonding moments such as walking the dog and breakfast dates with her daughter (now a young adult) and spending quality time with her husband.
She also enjoys get-togethers and wine nights with friends, toasting to a life well-spent.