Do you think of your dentist as an artist?
After chatting with Dr. Emily Cabana, you will begin to believe that just possibly, your dentist may be the Titian of Teeth.
Dr. Cabana explains, “Everything’s artistic in dentistry. It’s very visual. I think my perceptual abilities are very strong; when you think about a tooth, you can change the angles to get a different look. When you change the sides and bring them in more, you get a wider tooth or a shallower tooth. With colours, you can change the look of the tooth.”
When the News joked that Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger once had an emerald inserted into his upper right incisor, Dr. Cabana says that a recent patient at the Lillooet Dental Clinic had a diamond inserted into a crown. Diamond. Crown. Makes a certain amount of sense.
Dr. Cabana began working at the Dental Clinic in June and says she is enjoying every day on the job.
“Nobody could beat working for Dr. (Courtney) Warner. She’s the best. I haven’t met anybody as great to work for as her.”
After four years of study at UBC, she graduated with a Doctor of Medical Dentistry degree earlier this spring. She and her husband Matt moved to Lillooet in June and this is her first full-time position as a doctor after serving practicums in Fort Nelson and Vancouver.
Growing up in Fort St. John, Dr. Cabana did not aspire to be a dentist. No one in her family had a background in the profession and as a child she wasn’t exactly sure what a dentist did.
“When my mom asked me, I told her they put that nice-tasting stuff on your teeth and polished them. She said, ‘No, that’s not what a dentist does.’ I never had a cavity in my lifetime, so I didn’t know.”
Instead, she was a physics major in high school. When the job opportunities in that field didn’t look promising, she went to Simon Fraser University where she studied molecular biology and bio-chemistry and spent four-and-a-half years as an undergrad..
Part of her work for her Master’s degree focused on salmon genetics, including sex determination for the fish. She says that when salmon are exposed at a young age to different hormones or different temperatures, they can switch sexes.
But once she started learning more about the physiology of the human body, “I couldn’t go back to caring about salmon anymore.”
She considered nursing, she considered physiotherapy. “Timing-wise, dentistry worked out very well. I had all the courses lined up to get into it.”
How did she decide on Lillooet as the community to begin her career in dentistry?
“I applied around March,” she says. “A lot of people are in need of dentists throughout the province and all over Canada right now. Everyone wants to stay in Vancouver, but I knew I never wanted to stay there. My husband’s family is there, my family is in the north, so this seemed like a good central point.”
The scenery and the outdoor opportunities didn’t hurt, either.
“I love it – the mountains are so beautiful and every road you take, you get a different perspective.”
Her husband enjoys hiking and mountain biking, while she describes herself as a “little more laid back. I’m a more timid and so I like swimming and hiking. I can dirt bike but I don’t like going up steep, steep hills. My dad got me into hunting and now my husband is into that, too.”
She’s also impressed by people she’s met in the community.
“Everybody is really nice in Lillooet. There’s no traffic, no road rage. I love that it’s small and that I’m already running into people I know and talking to them.”
What does she want her prospective patients to know?
There’s a long pause as she ponders the question.
“I’m really meticulous. I may take my time but I want to do it really well. I want you to be happy. And I’ve been told I’m good with needles!”