HUNTINGTON — Dr. Gayatri Raina recently celebrated the second anniversary of her practice at Huntington Family Dental after having spent 10 years as an associate for various dental offices across the country.
“Dentistry is very subjective, and as I’ve gotten older, I realized I wanted to do what I see fit,” she said.
She is currently a Canadian citizen but will officially be a naturalized American citizen on Wednesday. It was while living in Canada that she decided she wanted to be a dentist, she said.
She’d been dating a guy who was going into a dentistry program and after a rough breakup she decided the best payback would be to be a better dentist than he was, she said.
“I was angry, but I put that anger in the right thing and it has brought me to everything in life,” she said. “I thank that guy every day now for where I am.”
She said the support her mother gave her in her journey through dental school also was a big help. When she first started, she didn’t know what she was doing or why, but found her purpose and hopes to help her children utilize their feelings in the same way.
Raina and her husband moved to Lufkin after he finished his residency because he wanted to move back to Texas, she said. They brought their two children, Ayanna, who is 6 years old, and Arrav who is 3 years old, and their dog Capri, who is 10 years old.
Raina has wanted to have her own practice for a long time now, but the timing wasn’t right until they decided they wanted to settle in East Texas. She found her current office two years ago and has enjoyed the ability to care for her children while running her own practice.
“I had been an associate for 10 years and I didn’t buy a practice because I was scared,” she said. “Owning a business is completely different from just doing dentistry.”
But she has also enjoyed the opportunity to make her practice what she wanted it to be, she said. She makes sure to treat her employees as equals, as family, rather than as staff or just employees, she said.
“Everyone wants to say they treat everyone the same way, but I truly do,” she said. “I treat all patients — whether you’re the president or a person begging outside — the same.”
She wants to provide comprehensive care for all her patients, which means looking at their overall health and how that impacts their dental health, she said. She hopes that by encouraging better behaviors she can help to prevent more costly procedures in her patients.
They also offer screening for oral cancer, which is phenomenal for a small Huntington practice, she said. It’s a point of pride because the equipment is so cutting edge for such a small practice.
“We want our customers to know that we’re not insurance-driven,” she said. “We take insurance, but we don’t want to be dictated on what we can do based on what insurance covers. We’re based on what the patient needs. Insurance is just a benefit.”