We listen, and we care: It’s a philosophy Dr. Michael Okano adopted from his father, a now retired Ewa Beach dentist whose practice Michael joined after he completed dental school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
It has become one of the guiding principles of his own practice. “I realized over the years that there are a lot of reasons people come to the dentist,” he says. “The fun part is figuring out the reason. Sometimes it’s up to me to listen to an underlying message.”
Michael opened his practice in the growing community of Kapolei 10 years ago, modeling himself after his father and championing the values he earned at home. “My parents were my mentors,” he says. “They inspired me throughout my life and instilled in me the values of listening, caring and helping my fellow man.”
He has built a modern practice, one with a computer in every operatory, digital x-rays that cut exposure to radiation, educational videos and an intra-oral camera that allows the dentist to take a snapshot of a patient’s mouth and pull it up on a screen as an educational tool.
Michael works hard to develop a personal rapport with his patients and to provide a comfortable environment for their dental visits. “I try to make it as pleasant as possible and not something they need to fear, whether it’s replacing a simple filling or doing full-mouth rehabilitation,” he says.
Earning his clients’ trust is an important part of the job. “It’s rewarding when patients recognize what you do and refer their family and friends,” he says.
He continues to study dentistry through study clubs that help him stay up-to-date on new procedures and technologies, and he also is a member of the Hawaii Dental Association and the Honolulu County Dental Society.
He follows his father’s example in his career and also at home. “I looked up to my father as a child the same way
I do now,” Michael says. “He was hard-working, honorable,and he sacrificed a lot of himself to provide for us.” He credits his wife, Penny, and children, Mika and James, with inspiring him to keep striving.
He is humbled and grateful to be recognized by his peers as one of the best dentists in the state.