In 2020, a Google search for Loudoun dentists turns up dozens of offices from Leesburg to the southeastern corner of the county. While many of those practices offer similar services, one sticks out in the way it’s going to use a portion of its revenue—donate it to cancer research.
Vogtle Ninh, an eight-year dentist, will open Dental 32 Fresh Smiles—named for the mouth’s 32 adult teeth, including wisdom teeth—in Ashbrook Commons Plaza in Ashburn on March 6, National Dentist’s Day. Aside from offering all types of dental procedures that many dentists commonly outsource and striving to keep his patients relaxed, Ninh plans to donate $5 to the Sarcoma Foundation of America each time a new patient walks in. Ninh, 34, said his goal is to get 2,000 patients by the end of the year. If he achieves that, he’ll be donating $10,000 to the foundation in 2020.
Ninh’s plans to open his own practice began two years ago, when his fiancée, Jenika Javier, suggested it after he spent six years working at close to a dozen other dental offices across Maryland and Virginia. Javier, a nurse at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, said she told Ninh he should become his own boss so he could provide the quality care and make patients feel at home.
“Not every dentist does that,” Javier said, noting that a lot of dentists are constantly on the hunt for more patients to grow their practices. “[Ninh] wants something different.”
Ninh said personable care is what he’ll provide and he’s been told by numerous patients that he’s helped to calm their fear of dentists.
“I’m aiming to provide quality, quality dental service and not compromise care anymore than I need to,” he said. “No one wants to go to the dentist, I get it—my goal is to take down some of those barriers that keep people from wanting to come in.”
To do that, he’s going to purchase some of the quietest drills on the market to keep sound levels at a minimum, install televisions in each of his six operatories so his patients can “Netflix and Drill,” and alleviate his patients’ anxiety with nitrous oxide during procedures because, Ninh said, the gas wears off much quicker than other pain numbing drugs, allowing his patients to more quickly return to their normal schedules.
Ninh said the idea to do donate money to the Sarcoma Foundationcame from the relationship he had with a longtime friend, Ian, who died from Sarcoma last March.
“I’m doing this more in memory of him and to get some awareness out there,” he said.
In fact, Ninh said it was Ian who initially planted the seed of becoming a dentist in Ninh’s mind, since that was Ian’s chosen career path. Ninh said Ian used to tell him in seventh-grade Spanish class that he needed to get his teeth fixed.
At first, Ninh said he thought being a dentist would be the worst job in the world. But when he got his teeth fixed later in life, he realized he could help others get the same new smile he did. In college, Ninh shadowed a dentist and began giving a career in dentistry more thought.
“That’s where that seed that was planted in seventh grade started getting bigger and bigger,” he said.
Ninh and Ian both eventually became dentists, but Ian’s career was cut short by his Sarcoma diagnosis and death in 2019.
A year later, Ninh is ready to start supporting efforts to find a cure and is busy recruiting patients. He said he’ll eventually increase the donations from $5 to $10 per new patient once he knows his finances are in order. Aside from those donations, his patients will also have the chance to donate by going to dental32freshsmiles.com.
Ninh also hopes to spread awareness for Sarcoma by posting about it on his social media accounts, providing information in his office, hosting a Q&A session with a Sarcoma researcher at the University of Maryland and sponsoring a race at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.
In addition to providing personable care and helping to fund cancer research, Ninh also is going to help patients who can’t afford dental care—whether that’s because they don’t have insurance or because they can’t afford the co-payments their insurance companies offer.
He’ll offer an in-house plan in which patients can sign up for a year membership and receive a 30-percent discount on services, sort of like a season pass, Ninh said, adding that he’ll also always provide free second opinions.
Ninh plans to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony when he opens Dental 32 Fresh Smiles in March.