From Geology to Dentistry: Dr. Stevan Dumas, Class of 1980
Pivoting to dentistry after undergraduate degree brought joy and fulfillment
Dr. Stevan Dumas, Class of 1980, didn’t start out wanting to pursue a career in dentistry when he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in geology from UCLA in 1976. An additional four-plus years of training felt like a lifetime, and he enjoyed working outdoors. But the timing was terrible, as the oil embargo hit shortly before he graduated and his job prospects were poor. Around that time, he had a toothache and went to visit his family dentist who after listening to his complaint of limited job prospects asked, “why not consider dentistry?”
Shortly after that, Dr. Dumas attended an open house at the UCLA School of Dentistry, and from there joined the Class of 1980. He met several lifelong friends, and was able to squeeze in some fun while he studied and trained. Over the years, dentistry has brought purpose into his life, and being able to improve the dental health of his patients continues to provide fulfillment. “I find the most joy in being considered a part of their families and watching the kids I’ve treated grow up.”
Dr. Dumas celebrated his 40th reunion year in 2020, and while some aspects of dental practice have remained the same, there have been numerous advancements. “The materials that we have now were only dreamt about while in school. The composites we use to restore a tooth and today’s dental implants didn’t exist when I was starting out. We’re able to deliver a higher quality of care today than we did in the past.”
Following graduation from the UCLA School of Dentistry, Dr. Dumas completed a general practice residency program at Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital, and then worked for a few years in Inglewood and Harbor City. But he was intent on owning his own practice and saw a “For Lease” sign in a window in Culver City and landed there.
Over the years, Dr. Dumas has branched out beyond the confines of his practice. He has been involved in many levels of organized dentistry. He was an examiner for the California Dental Board’s Examining Committee and recently completed his service as a member of the California Dental Association’s Council of Peer Review. All these opportunities brought with them a network of like-minded dentists who dedicate their time to improving the profession. He has also found happiness in mentoring aspiring dental students.
“UCLA Dentistry has had a huge impact on my career. I did not always appreciate the amount of information that the instructors imparted on us as students,” said Dr. Dumas. “I believe the caliber of a UCLA education sets the standard.”
Dr. Dumas has made a point of giving back to his alma mater and has made several gifts over the years, including a bench in the restorative lab in honor of his parents and supporting the School's scholarship programs. “An advanced degree in the health sciences is a costly endeavor, and this is why I support programs that provide a path for young students who want to enter dentistry.”
Most years, he attends extra continuing education courses — more than is required by the dental board to maintain his license —because he enjoys expanding and refining his knowledge of the field. He sees these courses as a chance to improve the quality of care he provides his patients and to reconnect with friends. To reflect his commitment to professional development, he added the title of Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry to his credentials.
When asked what his motto is in life, he said with a smile, “I know what I know, but more importantly, I know what I don’t know. And that’s how to keep out of trouble.”
In the first year of my deanship, I found myself surrounded by faculty, students, staff, and fellow academic leaders wanting to introduce me to the beauty of this campus, this city, and this outstanding dental school – UCLA Dentistry. I have been warmly welcomed by the entire community to what has now become my home.
Making Saliva a Serious Business
“Most people are surprised when I tell them that saliva can reveal as much, if not more, than blood or urine can. We have made it our mission to make saliva testing a clinical reality to detect for serious diseases. And we’re getting very, very close.”
Decoding Oral Health: Diana Wang, Class of 2017
“I believe there’s a little bit of pathologist in all of us,” said Diana Wang, Class of 2017. “Patients always want to know why something happened to them, and pathology helps answer those difficult questions.”