Dr. Glenn Okihiro, DDS

Dr. Glenn Okihiro has been a tenant of the Pearl City Shopping Center since June of 1983. He recently moved from his original office under Leeward Bowl to a brand new office a few doors down that offers him the luxury of much needed space in his growing practice.

As an Aiea resident and a Pearl City businessman, Dr. Okihiro is rooted in both communities. With the services he offers in his dental practice, and as a dedicated community volunteer and leader, Dr. Okihiro has touched many lives through the years in our neighboring communities.

MyPearlCity.com would like to thank Dr. Okihiro for taking the time out of his busy schedule to sit down for the following interview. Also, thank you to office manager, Judy Sasamura for her help in coordinating the interview with Dr. Okihiro

Photo by Barry Villamil | barry@mypearlcity.com

Dr. Glenn Okihiro, DDS pictured holding grandson Tanner.

Q: How’s your new office space working out at the Pearl City Shopping Center?

A: I like the new location, it’s much bigger and a little more space. We renovated from scratch. We did all the walls, ceilings and floors so it’s just nice to have a nice bright feeling to it.

Q: Working in Pearl City at the PCSC since 1983, you must have seen a lot of your clientele grow up through the years?

A: “Yes, quite a bit. It’s kind of interesting seeing the little kids all taller than me, much   taller than me.

Q: When did you graduate from dental school?

A: I graduated in 1979. I had a Navy scholarship so I went directly into the Navy for three full years and then I went into the reserves later.

Q: Where did you attend dental school?

A: I had a scholarship to Creighton University in Nebraska.

Q: Upon graduation, where did you set up your first practice?

A: It was three years with the Navy, and then I came out and I associated with a group practice in Waianae for maybe a year. I decided rather to run my own business and set up my own policies.

Q: What was your experience like being on active duty in the Navy?

A: The Navy actually was pretty good. You know, when you’re young and real enthusiastic and you like the military life. I was always stationed on Marine Bases during my career. It was an extremely good learning experience because the commanding officer that I had set up rotations in different departments so it was great to have experienced mentors showing me the ropes in oral surgery and prosthetics.

Q: What is your practice specialty?

A: I do General Dentistry. I do a little bit of everything, almost everything.

Q: How long has your staff been a part of your dental practice team?

A: Quite a while. My hygienist Kris has been with me since the 80’s. I had her twin sister before that. It’s almost like from day one that I’ve had one of the two. My office manager Judy has been with me for over ten years. Kim is relatively new. She’s my dental assistant and has been with me for about a year and half, going on two years. Jaylyn is my receptionist.

Q: How has your experience been being a part of both the Aiea (as a resident) and Pearl City (business) communities?

A: It’s nice out here. I like the people. I’ve been involved with the community as president of the Aiea Little League and we always had a good competition and rapport with Pearl City. I always enjoyed the people; I guess more the country side. Honolulu is just too noisy for me.

Q: How busy is your practice and does your schedule allow for activities outside of the office?

A: It’s a little bit hectic, but we put in thirteen hour days, three times a week so it gives me a little more time for meetings because I do a lot of volunteer work with the Hawaii Dental Association.

Q: What type of volunteer work do you do with the Hawaii Dental Association?

A: I’ve been president, vice president and chair of several committees. I’ve also been a delegate or alternate delegate to the national organization.

Q: What are your responsibilities as a delegate?

A: With the Dental Association as a delegate we go and formulate policy on a national level and try and resolve problems, public health awareness. On the local level, I’m usually assigned now with legislative duties and just trying to make sure that dentistry is not forgotten especially finding it’s a key connection to person’s general health.

Q: Your thoughts with regards to the latest studies on the negative affects of gum disease?

A: Actually, to me it was a little bit of a surprise. I think it was in the 90’s that the studies starting coming out that gum disease can have a huge affect on our health such as heart attacks, strokes, and they’re also thinking about premature birth, low weigh birth. Going back and looking at the literature, it’s probably related to the fact that in any kind of gum infection, the bacteria gets seeded directly into the blood stream very easily. Certain medications like nitroglycerin tablets we just have patients put it underneath the tongue and it gets absorbed directly in the blood stream. So it’s an easy access for bacteria.

Q: Do you see a better awareness in the dental industry today on the topic of prevention?

A: You would thinkthere would be better preventive,but it seemsto be somewhat steady. It’s improved quite a bit since the 80’s but dentistry is not something that people always look forward to. But, the prevention part for people who follow up on the literature began to understand it. In fact, some of the medical insurance companies are actually beginning to pay for more dental cleanings because they’re finding out that it helps with their costs. Diabetes medication can drop like $700 to a $1000 a year just by getting the gums in better shape. Their diabetes improves dramatically.

Q: How has the cost of insurance premiums affected your bottom line?

A: I’m actually kind of amazed at how much the insurance premiums keep going up. It actually became the biggest expense in my practice paying insurance premiums. We’re hoping that the medical side will follow the dentistry model because we’ve been pretty good about prevention. Also, in terms of specialists verses generalists, we’re 20% specialists and 80% generalists so we can get a lot of things taken care of earlier and at fewer costs. Medicine tends to be flip flopped. It might be 90% specialists because generalists are pretty much dying out.

Q: How has the dental field changed for graduates today compared to when you entered the industry back in 1979?

A: I feel sorry, it’s much harder. The cost to start a practice has skyrocketed. The equipment, the cost of the construction, and then they’re coming out with a lot more debt than we’ve ever seen in our history. It probably wouldn’t be unusual to see $300,000 to $400,000 in debt. You spend eight years of school, and if didn’t have any kind of scholarship, that’s an unbelievable amount of tuition.

A lot of them actually now are not starting their own practice. They’re associating or are trying to find some other venue such as a group practice. It might be good for the military. Probably more are looking towards the military too.

Q: How do you see your practice growing in the near future?

A: We’re still growing. It’s kind of exciting because the focus of the practice is changing a little more towards cosmetic and prevention verses when I first started it was more pain orientated, trying to take care of emergencies. In fact, it’s been a big change since the 80’s in the practice that way.

Q: Who would you say helped guide you in becoming a successful dentist and dental industry leader?

A: Of course my parents were the big guiding force. I grew up in the military and so values were instilled especially by my dad. Looking back, what got me interested in dentistry was Toru Endo. He was our family dentist and my dad’s classmate. I always enjoyed his outlook on life. He appeared to have a nice balance in lifestyle and work. He’s actually still practicing part time.

                                                       Photo by Barry Villamil | barry@mypearlcity.com

(Left to right) Judy Sasamura (Office Manager), Kris Gabriel (Hygienist), Jaylyn Perry (Receptionist), Kimberly Shimonishi (Dental Assistant) and Dr. Glenn Okihiro.

Dr. Glenn Okihiro, DDS is located at:

Pearl City Shopping Center

850 Kamehameha Highway  Suite 116

Pearl City, Hawaii 96782

Tel: (808) 455-4173