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Dr. Wayne Ozaki
June 24, 2021

CRANIOFACIAL SURGEON, DR. WAYNE OZAKI, MAY BE NEW TO THE UCLA SCHOOL OF DENTISTRY, but he’s been a UCLA Health surgeon and professor for almost a decade. In January, he joined the dental school as the new chair for oral and maxillofacial surgery and also became the chief of dental services for the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge about the crossover between medical surgical services and dental services, and the dental school welcomes his outside perspective.

When asked why he chose such a complex medical specialty, Dr. Ozaki replied that, “beyond being able to profoundly impact a patient’s quality of life, craniofacial cases allow me to establish a bond with my young patients and their families. I may perform an operation on an infant, see them throughout adolescence, and then see them through their final procedures while in high school. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

Dr. Ozaki decided to become a dentist after watching his uncle, who was also his dentist, perform dental procedures. He noticed that he lived a relatively stress-free life and made a comfortable living, and from then on becoming a dentist became a personal goal. “You could say I was a very mature 8-year-old,” he laughed.

Following his undergraduate years at USC and while in dental school at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, Dr. Ozaki explored a few different specialties, and it was oral surgery that sparked his interest. After dental school, he sought out programs that combined an oral surgery certificate with a medical degree, and landed at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. It was following a rotation in craniofacial surgery where he saw his future come together. 

“I’ll never forget my first cleft lip repair case; it was in that moment when I made the decision to become a craniofacial surgeon. The decision required an additional six years of training beyond oral surgery, but I’ve never looked back,” said Dr. Ozaki. “I love my job and it’s not work, it’s my passion.” 

After some time in the Pacific Northwest where he held faculty and leadership positions at the Oregon Health and Sciences University, the California sunshine and professional opportunities brought him back to Los Angeles. He was recruited to join the UCLA Health System in 2014 in the Section of Plastic Surgery.

Having tried private practice during his career, Dr. Ozaki enjoys academic environments and the act of sharing a craft with a student or resident is what he finds most fulfilling. “I feel obligated to help others achieve their dreams. I had some great mentors and it’s only right for me to do the same for my trainees,” he said.

Dr. Ozaki is looking forward to improving areas of an already reputable specialty at the UCLA Dental Clinics. The Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery clinic is one of the dental school’s most popular clinics, as patients can access costly procedures at reduced fees compared to private practice. “My goal is for our patients to have a top-notch patient experience, which comes down to communication, efficiency, and quality care,” he said. “We’ll do this by attracting the best and brightest trainees out of dental school and by implementing operational changes that you may see in private practice. Changes don’t happen overnight, but I see this as a team approach towards overall progress.”

When asked how he manages to maintain such a busy schedule, which include his UCLA appointments and additional outside affiliations with several oral surgery centers across the county, he replies “they say that if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. I couldn’t agree more.”

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