2021 Excellence in Healthcare Honoree: Leslie A. Haller, DMD
Meet Leslie A. Haller, DMD, Tongue tie and airway specialty dentist at Dental Solutions of South Florida
Dr. Leslie Haller graduated from Harvard Dental School and practiced general dentistry in Boston for 20 years before she and her husband moved to Miami. In Florida, she became board certified in laser dentistry and became a pioneer in tongue tie and sleep dentistry. She built a specialty practice releasing tongue ties and using dental appliance therapy to remodel faces and airways for sleep and breathing disorders.
Favorite Quote: “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Teddy Roosevelt
Fun Fact: I have a Sphinx cat.
What challenges have you faced in your career, and how did you overcome them? It is a challenge to work with new techniques and solutions that most traditionally trained people do not know about. To work in an area that has not yet become mainstream means facing resistance from many people, including many respected and influential people. This has been the case for me with both tongue ties and airway remodeling. I overcome this resistance with patience and education, persistence and results.
What has been the most monumental moment of your career thus far? My husband wanted to move to Miami where I did not have a dental license. During the year or so before I was able to obtain a license, I had a chance to assist at the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Department, where I met my mentor Dr. Richard Souviron who has been a pioneer in both general and forensic dentistry. His example showed me that being a pioneer can be hard but also exciting and satisfying. I am now a pioneer in tongue tie and sleep dentistry, thanks in part to his influence.
How is the healthcare industry important to you personally? I was my own patient. I had moderate sleep apnea and was miserable. I was tired all the time, had brain fog and couldn’t concentrate. I got a CPAP machine which helped enormously. I could finally get a good night’s sleep and started to feel so much better. However, after a few months of feeling better, I got tired of being tied to the machine, so I began dental appliance therapy to expand and remodel my own face and airway. Two years later, my CPAP machine went in the trash. That’s life-changing. Now I do this for others.
How did the pandemic disrupt your specific role in the healthcare industry, and how did you adapt? Well, of course we were shut down for a couple of months. That was not painful. Dentistry is not something that can be done through Zoom. On the other hand, we started doing as much as we could over the phone. I can do post-op appointments via FaceTime. My front desk person has started calling and scheduling people from home. Even now that we are back open, we continue to do more things remotely. It forced us to become more streamlined, so there was a silver lining.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten? Find the best mentors you can. Listen to them. Then do what you think is best.
What do you love most about working in healthcare? Nothing is more important than health. Having the opportunity to make a huge difference in people’s health changes their lives forever. It is so satisfying to watch a newborn feed normally for the first time after a tongue-tie release. And what a great feeling to hear an adult tell me they have never been able to breathe through their nose before and now they can finally sleep through the night. Helping just feels good!