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Interview with PASHA

Most of you in Naperville know PASHA Orthodontics. We have known them for the past eight years. When my oldest got his braces, things were routine. He went for his appointments, heard the doctors tell him over and over again to brush his teeth, wear the retainers and the rubber bands, and like all teenagers never listened!

My youngest started on her ortho journey last year. And we got to see a different(pleasant side) of the PASHA team. We were to leave for an international trip last December and on the eve of our journey, our daughter had a broken bracket. The following day was Saturday and PASHA was closed. My daughter was uncomfortable, and I didn’t know what to do because as with most unfortunate things, my daughter had broken her bracket at 8PM, way past the closing time of the doctor’s office.

I still called them. The call went to the voicemail, and the voicemail had listed a number for emergencies (NOT 911). I called and texted the emergency number. Within a couple of minutes, I got a text from this number. Of course, you can imagine my happiness on a non-robot number. Dr. Tushar Shah was on the other end, and he offered to see my daughter at his home on Saturday morning. I have lived here for almost twenty years, and no doctor has offered to see me at their residence. This was admirable. 

We went to his house in the morning. Remember, I said when things go wrong, they don’t stop at a tiny thing. When Dr. Shah saw my daughter’s broken bracket, he said he would not be able to fix it with the limited tools he had at his home. So, we were heading to his office. And he fixed her bracket, and within hours we were on the flight for the vacation.

Dr. Shah’s kindness stayed with me. I have met Dr. Patel a number of times too, and his advice is precise and spot on. 

I wanted to know more about them and hence this interview, I enjoyed learning about them.

1. We know that PASHA stands for Patel+Shah; what other name options you had explored? 

“My partner, Dr. Patel opened his first office in Naperville in 1999, fresh out of school. Originally he opened the office as ‘Prestige Orthodontics’. He started in a small (1000 sqft), one man show and began to build his reputation. 

We met each other a few years later, knowing we got along well personally and professionally, we decided to join hands as Patel and Shah, PA-SHA, and open our first location halfway between both of our homes.  In 2005, Pasha Orthodontics was born and together we opened a larger office in Aurora. 

To be honest, we didn’t worry too much about the name, we just wanted it to be clear we were a doctor-owned and operated practice. We both live within a few minutes of our office that we opened together in Aurora. Our kids go to the same schools where all our patients go.  We strive to know our patients personally, to be involved in the community, we provide our personal cell phone to all patients and our entire team, and thus, having our names attached to the practice was always important to both of us. We also joked that if our wives ever ask, the name PASHA represented our wives Pareena and Shefali. :).”

2. Why did both of you choose orthodontist as the field and not dentistry?

 “I knew in high school when it was time to pick a career,  I planned to enter the dental field. Having not the best experience with my own orthodontist, I  was driven to see this dream through. I thought by obtaining my specialty degree, adding a little bit of kindness, and my passion for orthodontics I could possibly make a positive impact on patients.” —Dr.Patel

“I was never a great student all through high school and had no interest in dentistry. My undergraduate was in Biomedical Engineering, and I had plans to join my Dads shop after college. But things started to click once I was in college, and in an effort to impress my girlfriend, who is now my wife,  I hunkered down and managed to do well. Once I got into dental school, I knew I wanted to work with kids and loved how ortho transformed smiles (it also made it an easy decision cause I wasn’t very good at general dentistry, and it is way harder than Orthodontics :)). Also, I learned it is a dream career and a perfect fit for my personality.” —Dr. Shah

3. From the outside, the workplace that you have created looks like an incredible workplace. What are the steps you take to keep your employees happy? 

Over the years we have had to grow and learn what works and what doesn’t by trial and error, like anything in life.  We always knew that we wanted to create this culture of kindness, invest in a  warm and welcoming environment, spread positivity, and make beautiful smiles along the way. 

We have learned that we must surround ourselves with a team that shares our values both in and outside the workplace. 

Surround yourself with positivity : we know that spills over in abundance to our patients. 

We are a close practice, and we are always finding ways to promote teamwork & acknowledge the hard work from our team along the way. We have an amazing office manager and great team leaders. They share the same core values, and they help create a fun and happy environment. We are not a perfect group, and we have had our share of drama, but for the most part, we have more good days than bad, and we all feel like we make a difference.

We’ve come a long way from when Dr. Patel opened his door with one team member to now with three locations, four doctors and 25 team members. 

Our roots in our community are deep. We enjoy our work; and cherish the relationships we are making along the way. “

4. Do Americans over-correct their teeth?

We don’t want to generalize for an entire nation :). But we will concede that there does seem to be a pursuit for a ‘perfect smile’ in certain areas, and we recognize that. Sometimes over-correction can happen. We try to minimize it,  by listening to our patients,  and get as close as we can to meeting their expectations without over treating. 

We try to educate our patients and team, that there are physiological and biological limitations and chasing a perfect smile can do you more harm than good. We do our best along the smile correction journey to explain the most realistic possible outcomes and encourage patients to accept an ideal beautiful smile over the “perfect smile”.

5. PASHA is singularly one of the most successful dental practices here. What advice would you give to small business owners so that they can also become successful? 

First of all thank you!!  We think it’s all about how you make your customers feel. If they know you care about them and they know you are honest, you are halfway home. Make them smile, go the extra mile, listen to them, and acknowledge every person in some way.

The other key ingredient (just as important) is treating your team with the same respect and kindness you treat your ‘best’ customer. Listen to them, acknowledge them, and be as generous and flexible as you can. 

We are very blessed to be in Orthodontics, it’s not as competitive as many other businesses where there is a smaller barrier to entry. So I am not sure if we are qualified to give advice in other fields but how you treat people and what your values are will always show no matter what you say. People will see through the charades, if you don’t care enough, they will know. “

6. If you were to give advice to your twelve-year-old-self about teeth- what advice would you give yourself?

Haha. I was not very compliant so I’d be wasting my time talking to my 12 year old self… but I’d try to keep it simple…

Brush 2x/day

Never go to sleep without brushing..

You’re gonna need these teeth for another 80+ years. You don’t get another set.

Minimize or avoid sticky chewy candies. 

At least drink some water after every meal to slow down the caries process till you have a chance to brush. 

And when it comes time to have your braces removed, please don’t forget to wear your retainer. :)”


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