Kevin Cabugao, Encore Dental

Kevin Cabugao of Encore Dental.

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Kevin Cabugao, DDS, admitted that starting a new dental practice from scratch in 2010 — during the Great Recession — was a challenge.

“But I already knew that if I was going to do the type of dentistry, I wanted to do I was going to have to do it myself,” said the dentist.

Cabugao said he opened his American Canyon business, Encore Dental, to be the kind of dentist that “takes my time with each and every patient.” Treating his patients like family “and not making them feel like a number,” is key.

1. What was your first job?

Marine World in Vallejo.

2. What job would you like to try/not try?

Try: Bartender at a Las Vegas nightclub.

Not try: Homicide crime scene technician in Las Vegas.

3. How did you get into this business/industry?

My brother (who is a dentist, as well) encouraged me to try dentistry.

After years of crucial conversation and schooling, I graduated from dental school and haven’t looked back since.

4. Some people are afraid of the dentist. How do you help them overcome that fear?

You have to help lead them through it. I just tell them you are 100 percent in control of the situation. If you feel any anxiety, just raise your hand and we’ll pause. We’re just going to take our time.

The biggest step is walking through the door. Every time they walk through those doors, it’s a win.

5. What’s your favorite thing about being a dentist?

Seeing the smiles on people’s faces after everything is done. Being a positive role model for other minorities.

6. What is the biggest challenge the dental industry has faced?

The increasing cost of quality dental care and decreasing benefits associated with dental insurance leave too many with inadequate dental care because they cannot afford treatment.

This challenge has spurred the controversial rise of large corporate dentistry models where results have been arguably mixed, at best.

7. If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?

Creating a sustainable system that addresses the lack of quality need-based dental care for the millions of those less fortunate here in the United States.

8. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?

I was a troublemaker and terrible student who didn’t do well until high school. I went to Hogan High School in Vallejo.

9. What’s on your to-do list?

Spend more time with loved ones, focus more on my health and care for my personal community with comfort and ease.

10. What was your childhood ambition?

I wanted to be an elite ninja assassin. I’m pretty happy that didn’t work out.

Cabugao can be reached at 707-562-4090.

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Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.