Celebrating 10 Years of the Graduate Orthodontics Program

It’s the 10th anniversary of three UBC Dentistry graduate programs—orthodontics, pediatrics and prosthodontics! To celebrate, we are highlighting some of our amazing alumni as part of an “in conversation with” feature to learn more about their time at UBC Dentistry and where they are today. Our third connection is with orthodontist Dr. Asef Karim, MSc, Dip Ortho 2013, who was part of the first orthodontics graduating class.

Can you walk us through your career journey?

I graduated from UBC with my DMD in 1999 and went into private practice for a few years. During that time, I did some volunteer dentistry overseas which got me interested in public health. I decided to do my Master of Public Health at Boston University and moved back to Vancouver after.

I found myself missing the clinic and learned that UBC was launching an orthodontics graduate program which sparked my interest because it was an area of dentistry I wanted to explore.

Just before graduation, one of my instructors introduced me to an orthodontist looking to sell his well-established orthodontics practice in Richmond, and I took it over shortly after graduating. I also opened a new practice in Pitt Meadows with my classmate Dr. Reza Aran, and I currently split my time between both practices.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love interacting with patients and seeing them gain self-confidence from having the smile they’ve always wanted.

I also love how orthodontics is very artistic. When I was applying to dental school, I also applied to architecture school. I ultimately chose dentistry because it felt like the perfect combination of arts and healthcare. Orthodontics takes the artistic element to the next level because our focus is on designing a great smile.

What was your experience like being the first UBC class to graduate with a specialty in orthodontics?

I always say my experience was first class! The program was very well run, and our instructors treated us like colleagues rather than students, which felt very special. It was the first graduate orthodontic program in North America to have students successfully pass both the Canadian and American Board Exams. I am very proud to be an alum of this program.

What advice would you give students who are interested in pursuing a career in orthodontics?

In my opinion, it’s the most exciting specialty that dentistry offers. A lot of what we do is diagnostic and involves figuring out how to create a beautiful smile. I would tell any student who likes using their mind as much as their hands and seeing smile transformations that orthodontics is a great choice.

Tell us about the graduate award you spearheaded.

Together with some alumni we raised over $50,000* to establish the UBC Dentistry Graduate Orthodontics Alumni Award. The award is for students excelling in the graduate orthodontics program who demonstrate leadership skills, and we’re hoping to raise even more money going forward. I know every little bit helps students, and I felt this was a great way to recognize their hard work and give back to the program.

*$50,000 was seed money to establish this endowed award. Each year, a student receives the award which is worth up to a few thousand dollars.

What is your idea of a perfect Sunday afternoon?

Going on a sunset bike ride with my wife and three kids.