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Immigrant expands Manteca dental practice
Manteca Dentist Rick Van Tran recently opened a new practice on South Main Street. A Vietnamese immigrant, Van Tran knows what its like not to have proper dental care, and takes pride in being able to share his expertise with his patients. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

Not all medical professionals know what they want to pursue when they’re undergrads.

Some aren’t even sure that they want to pursue a medical career at all.

But Rick Van Tran didn’t have that problem when he arrived on the campus of UCLA.

A Vietnamese immigrant, Van Tran never had the access to dental care that most typical American kids have. His smile wasn’t perfect, and it wouldn’t be until he finally decided that he wanted to pursue a dental career that he would get the dental coverage that would allow him to fix his own teeth.

But that only motivated him further.

A graduate of the New York University School of Dentistry, Van Tran already knew that there were people out there in the world that didn’t have access to the benefit of a dentist. He saw them in his own family members when he went back to visit Vietnam.

So when he finally graduated, and had the chance to set out on his own, he already knew what kind of practice it was that he wanted to create – one where he helped people and catered and families and kids.

That’s exactly what he did.

He started out serving patients in the Bay Area. When it came time to start a family, moved to the Central Valley and opened a practice in Manteca that continues to this day. Just recently he expanded to a new office on South Main Street, and had no plans on going anywhere anytime soon.

“I enjoy the family atmosphere of the Central Valley. Everybody is friendly, and it’s so much different from the city – there’s a rush and everybody is always on the go,” Van Tran said. “It’s more relaxing here, and you get to pass that on to your patients and the people that you work with.

“It’s a family-oriented community, and I’m glad that I get to be a part of that.”

His recent move allows him to focus on better patient care and services and offer a better overall experience to those that visit his practice – especially to those that are in fear of going to the dentist.

With an emphasis on kids and families, Van Tran says that he wants to focus on education – getting kids off on the right foot – to help prevent further problems down the road.

The Bulletin sat down with Van Tran to find out what it is he loves about Manteca, and what his future goals are for his practice:

You just recently moved into a new facility. What prompted the move?

“We’ve got eight chairs now with plumbing for 10 chairs, and we’re using all of them. It’s a much more relaxing atmosphere for our customers, and it was a chance to create a more modern office environment.”

What prompted you to want to go into dentistry?

“I knew when I got to UCLA that this was something that I wanted to do. When I was younger, as an immigrant, there was no access to dental care. So I geared my studies towards that. I volunteered in the hospital and the clinic because I always kind of felt like, even when I was growing up, this was something that I was going to do. It wasn’t until I got to dental school that I got my own teeth fixed and that was such a blessing. It was an experience that I’ll never forget.”

Why was a career in dentistry so important to you?

“Because I can relate to that first experience as a child, and I know what it is that they go through. Whether it’s getting a cavity filled or braces, I know the stress that goes along with that and I want to be able to walk them through that. Somebody’s smile is the first thing that people notice and it’s the longest lasting, and it affects how you look at yourself.”

What is it like to be able to fix somebody’s smile – to give them that confidence?

“I feel proud and very happy for them when they’re all finished. To be able to provide sealings that will help them in the future. I had a teenaged patient that came here from Mexico, and one of their first experiences in America was coming to the dentist and I could relate to that – access to dental care isn’t prevalent down there. It was great to be able to play a part in that person’s life.”

Is there something that motivates you?

“It’s seeing everybody smile: The staff, the patients, the parents. It’s bringing something special to the whole office, and I can feel happy about that.”

When you’re not at work, what is it that you like to do? Any special places you like to go with your family?

“I like to take weekend trips – places like Monterey. Go for clam chowder. I like to work in my backyard on my koi pond, or go camping. I always enjoy going camping.”

What’s your overall outlook? How do you view the world?

“I always try to have an eye open and remind myself that not everybody has, or has had, access to a dentist. I’ve been blessed in this world, and realize everyday that I’m blessed as a dentist. I want to share that with the people that come to me. That’s important.”

To contact Jason Campbell, email or call (209) 249-3544.