Home 2024 Sleep Dentistry Issue Go “Outside the Op” for a Wellness Break with Dr. Susan Maples

Go “Outside the Op” for a Wellness Break with Dr. Susan Maples

by Susan Maples

Meet Dr. Susan Maples: A Dentist Who’s Mastered the Art of Balance

Dr. Susan Maples isn’t your ordinary dentist. Describing herself as a “Total Health Dentist,” she’s spent her career focusing not just on teeth, but on overall wellness. She’s an author, speaker, and a visionary in the pediatric oral health space. But beyond her impressive professional credentials, what really stands out is how she blends her work life with personal passions, maintaining a vibrant balance that many strive to achieve.  Let’s go “Outside the Op” and get to know Susan…

A Lifelong Learner Shaping Her Own Path

From her early days, inspired to pursue dentistry by personal health challenges and a knack for creativity, Dr. Maples has always been one to follow her own path. With degrees in dentistry and an MBA to boot, she views her education as merely the starting point of an ongoing journey of discovery. Whether she’s diving into new wellness methodologies or pioneering educational programs like the Total Health Academy, she’s a perpetual student at heart.

Navigating Today’s Professional Challenges with Grace

In the current climate where efficiency often trumps patient relationships, Dr. Maples stays committed to her vision of a wellness-oriented practice. This isn’t without its challenges, especially when it comes to finding like-minded team members amidst a competitive hiring landscape. Yet, she remains focused and optimistic, championing a preventive approach in her thriving dental practice.

Keeping All the Balls in the Air

How does she manage it all? Dr. Maples would be the first to tell you—it’s all about balance and a strong support system. From daily workouts with her lifelong exercise buddy to whipping up new recipes in the kitchen, she keeps her energy high and her stress levels low. Her secret? Mixing work with play and making sure every day has a bit of both.

A Personal Touch in Everything She Does

Whether she’s hosting her monthly Wellness and Prevention Study Club dinners or teaching her family’s next generation how to cook via Zoom, Dr. Maples brings a personal touch to everything she does. Her approach goes beyond maintaining professional and personal life balance; it’s about weaving them together so seamlessly that they enrich each other.

Dr. Maples’s story is a powerful reminder that personal well-being and professional success are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they’re more intertwined than we often think. She’s not just making a difference in the world of dentistry; she’s showing us all how to live a fuller, more balanced life. Whether you meet her at a conference, over dinner, or perhaps in her dental chair, you’re in for a dose of inspiration, sprinkled with a bit of fun—because according to Dr. Maples, having fun along the way isn’t just nice, it’s necessary.

Here’s her full story in Susan’s own words…

TPD:  Tell us about Susan Maples the dentist.
SM:  I am a Total Health Dentist, Author and International Speaker. I have a passion for helping all people achieve their desired wellness and a passion for teaching health care professionals learn how to do that as well. I have been instrumental in the oral systemic health and airway movement—especially in the area of pediatrics. Prior to this I was an influencer in “cor-ideology” of dental practices, teaching vision, mission, strategic planning, team building, facilitating health change behavior, and case acceptance. I am past president of American Academy for Oral &Systemic Health. I am the creator/founder/author of the following books: 
Total Health Dentistry: An insurance-independent wellness focused dental practice, serving people from ages zero to 100.
Total Health Academy: A robust on-line learning curriculum
Hands-Oh Learning Lab ™: an interactional science-based health education curriculum for pediatric and young adult patients
Brave Parent: Raising Healthy, Happy Kids (against all odds) in Today’s World
Blabbermouth! 77 Secrets Only Your Mouth Can Tell You to Have a Healthier, Happier and Sexier Life. 
Self-Screen.net: A collection of screening tools for early disease detection of several chronic systemic diseases.
The Wellness and Prevention Study Club: A league of like-valued health professionals in my community who enjoy collaborative and co-referral relationships.
TPD:  Talk a bit about your education and credentials…
SM:  I hold a Bachelor’s from Denison University 1982 and attended University of Michigan School of Dentistry, graduating in 1985.  I earned my MBA from Madonna University in 1994 and consider all of the above “a license to learn”. Ask me what I’ve done for learning after my formal degreed education, and I’ll show you who I really am!  I am a continual lifelong learner. If there is anything I’m addicted to…it’s learning! 
TPD:  How’d you become a dentist?  
SM:  I chose this profession at age nine because I liked working with my hands, enjoyed children, had overcome major health challenges of my own, wanted to help others, and wanted to have my own business. My parents thought it was a poor choice for me, at too young an age. They felt I was “too creative” to be a dentist. I am glad I persevered. Little did they know, dentistry would provide a VERY creative palette for me. 
TPD: What are your biggest challenges RIGHT NOW as a practice owner?
SM: There is a profession-wide growing emphasis on efficiency and profitability and culturally a shift away from relationship-based preventive/wellness practice. As well, there are fewer health care applicants to choose from, so it is more challenging finding committed partners to such a mission-driven project.
TPD:  Describe the stress that comes with being a dentist-practice owner and how you find ways to balance that outside of your practice.
SM:  My brother (and best friend) just said to me this morning – “You have a very complicated life. It’s impressive that you are able to keep so many balls in the air”. It is not always easy to keep my health, five business entities, loads of travel, a successful dental practice, and my personal life all in check. Fortunately, I have great support from team, family and friends and I was gifted with a lot of energy. I get a lot of my energy and balance through daily exercise. I have the same work-out partner for 39 years—and she is amazing. We mix up our workouts from running, strength training, pickleball, HIT classes, etc. Our collective positivity, gratitude and faith is a driving force for me. I also really like to relax in the kitchen—cooking almost nightly (when I’m not on the road). I teach a zoom cooking class for my family (son, nieces and nephews) as well—it’s so much fun! I also host my Wellness and Prevention Study Club for dinner monthly and get a kick out of entertaining and learning from such a powerful group of wellness-oriented health care professionals in my community. We are like family now and continually refer our lucky patients to one another. 
TPD:  What approach have you taken to work these things into your personal time/life? 
SM:  My mom was a relationship therapist, so I grew up with the language of emotion and the tools to work through challenges. I also have not been shy about asking for help from a therapist and coaches along the way. I am grateful for my team (including my dental partner) who has also invested personal time (and money) in retreats and coaching. We are, after all, growing up together. I have been quite successful in blurring the boundaries between work and play, between living and learning. I hope that people look at my life (no matter what I’m doing) and can hardly tell the difference. I also make a habit of taking personal inventory. I try to weed out the pieces that rob my joy and energy and lean into the pieces that feed my joy and energy. When it comes to learning and exploring, I am like a kid in a candy store. I will eventually run out of days long before I run out of exciting new adventures. Lastly, my early life health challenges have spurred me on to take great care of my body and to become a leader in the oral systemic health movement. I enjoy daily exercise, healthy food, great friends, a nice glass of wine and good sleep. I’m not sure I find good balance on a daily basis—but all in all I do. I take stretches on the water (beach, lake or boat) where I seriously unplug. And give a lot to my family, team and friendships. 
TPD:  Let’s end on a thoughtful note!  What’s your favorite quote and why…? 
SM: “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Meade
Why? Because I believe it’s true. And as a health educator and leader it keeps me believing that I can truly be part of the change I want to see in the world.   

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