Karin Hilsabeck

Written by Kevin Barry Category: Profiles Issue: October 2016
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General Dentistry
Dental School: University of Maryland
Years in Practice: 17

How do you overcome patients’ dentist fears?
I believe communication is the foundation of building trust with our patients. I take time to talk with them to understand the nature of their fears. Gaining a patient’s trust helps to alleviate their fears.

What are some good ways to treat teeth grinding (bruxism)?
Bruxism is a very common, involuntary habit driven by stress. It occurs most often when we sleep. This habit results in damage to tooth structure as well as to the jaw muscles. Therefore, one of the most effective ways to treat bruxism is to fabricate a custom bite splint for patients to wear while they sleep or whenever they find themselves grinding their teeth.

What brought your practice to Phoenix after your residency at Louisiana State University?
My husband Charlie, a Phoenix native, was my reason for moving to Phoenix after my residency at LSU. We had gotten engaged while I was completing my residency in New Orleans.  

What are the benefits of completing an Advanced General Dentistry residency, as you did?
An AGD residency provides an excellent opportunity to hone your clinical skills. In dental school, you learn the basics. In a residency program, you treat patients with complicated medical histories and dental problems. I believe it strengthened my clinical skills to be more effective when I entered  private practice.

The other DDS in your practice looks quite young. Is it a Doogie Howser medical prodigy situation?
My associate, Dr. Tyler Block, joined our practice, Phoenix Dental Design, in 2014. He is an excellent clinician with a great sense of humor. He brings a youthful vibe to the office and we are lucky to have him on our team.

What are your hobbies and passions outside dentistry?
I enjoy cooking and exercise, but most of all, I love to spend time with my family. We have two daughters, Ava (11) and Ellie (9). As a family, we enjoy spending time in the outdoors, attending music festivals and [playing] board games on the weekends.

What’s the funniest thing a patient has said to you on nitrous oxide?  
I mainly use nitrous oxide when treating children to eliminate their anxiety. Kids are the funniest because they either giggle a lot or tell me that the nitrous smells like chocolate.

“If I wasn’t a dentist, I’d be...”    
I knew from a young age that I wanted to become a dentist. My father was a dentist, so I grew up around the profession. I feel very fortunate to love what I do, so I have never really thought about other career paths.