Dr. Mark Gustavson, DDS, Affiliated Dentists SC

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Dr. Mark Gustavson, DDS, majority partner, Affiliated Dentists SC.

What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

There were two days in particular over six years ago that were the most challenging, and both days happened to include a gentleman in his 80s biting me. Yes, two in the same week! I don’t think they knew each other nor conspired against me, but now I can answer YES when people ask me if a patient has ever bitten me.

The most rewarding aspect as a leader in my practice is being able to model a positive attitude each and every day. I reject the standard definition of a problem. I simply look at problems as opportunities.

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

My children’s teachers. When I see them in action — the way they problem solve, engage students, and bring the attitude that anything is possible — what a gift they have!

What has been the high point of your career so far?

Giving someone a completely new smile is a very rewarding experience, both for the patient and me. The vision and skill required to perform a full-mouth reconstruction is not something I even considered being able to do way back in dental school. Reaching the level of clinical awareness to be able to see the final product before doing any dental work is something that makes me very proud.

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

That’s easy — stay the course and don’t worry, this journey is going to be fun!

In dental school we learned how each little decision can have an impact on the patient's wellbeing. As I’ve grown, I’ve learned to do things better, with my hands and also with my heart. When a patient feels the genuine empathy and care that you put into their wellbeing, they will always come back for you to serve them again. And with great customer care comes business success.

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What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

Madison has so much to offer with the seasons, the lakes, the arts, and the sports. My wife, Katie, and I moved to Madison as a place to raise our kids. We’ve never second-guessed our decision and have actually convinced several of our family members to relocate to Madison, too.

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

I enjoy using my hands and building stuff. I attribute this to my high school and college summers working with a small, family-owned construction company. I’ve built a rain garden, a trellis to train our trees to espalier, and an arrangement of garden boxes for my wife and children to grow flowers and food. Most recently, using my mom’s former ’70s Colnago bike frame, I built my first “fixie” bike just for fun.

What are your guilty pleasures?

Over the last few years I have grown to enjoy days on the lake with a couple beers, a couple friends, and some wakesurfing. I am hoping that my kids will get into it more, so I won't have the guilt part associated with doing it without them!

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