Dr. Jesse Falk
’07 BS Biology, ’11 Doctor of Dental Medicine
Dr. Michael Moody
’07 BS Biology, ’12 Doctor of Dental Medicine
School of Dental Medicine Alumni of the Year
When the two first met as undergraduates at UNLV, Dr. Jesse Falk and Dr. Michael Moody soon discovered they shared the same goal: to become oral surgeons. Conversation during their numerous courses together often led to exploring the idea of one day being able to practice together and treat the people of Las Vegas.
With their respective biology degrees in hand, both Falk and Moody headed to UNLV’s School of Dental Medicine. They then pursued residency programs in oral and maxillofacial surgery, with Falk attending Loyola University Medical Center and Hines Veteran’s Hospital in Chicago and Moody attending the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
Falk moved back to Las Vegas immediately after residency and established Canyon Oral and Facial Surgery, which has two locations in Summerlin and Centennial Hills, with a third scheduled to open in Henderson in 2022. Moody initially began practicing in Scottsdale, Arizona but moved back to Las Vegas to join his former classmate’s practice in 2018. The two surgeons both provide the full scope of oral and maxillofacial surgery.
They also both serve as assistant professors in the UNLV School of Medicine’s department of plastic surgery and at the UNLV School of Dental Medicine.
Falk and Moody are trying to make their mark on Las Vegas by providing exceptional surgical experiences to their patients and are always seeking opportunities to help the Las Vegas community. They also both have a passion to help those who can’t afford to help themselves.
Both surgeons volunteer with the Tzu Chi USA organization, which reaches out to disadvantaged communities in the Las Vegas area (including the homeless population) multiple times annually. Their practice provides several free procedures each year, including a “Smile Again” program that focuses on advanced oral reconstruction and rehabilitation. When world travel permits, they enjoy providing oral and dental care in impoverished nations such as Guatemala and Mexico.
“I had so many experiences at UNLV and during my residency that helped shape my feelings about compassion,” Falk said. “Service is what helps us find fulfillment in our careers.”
Adds Moody: “As health care providers, we both feel that sense of obligation, but we also enjoy the feeling of lifting up those in need. It’s why we got into this profession.”
When did you both know you wanted to pursue dentistry as a career?
Falk: When I was 19, I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Dan Orr, an oral surgeon who inspired me to gain a postsecondary education. Previous to this, I had pursued a career as an electrician and was completing my Journeyman ticket. When I met my wife, we discussed returning to school, and she agreed to join me on a journey of becoming a doctor. After 13 years, the dream finally became a reality.
Moody: I had always entertained the idea of a career in medicine but wasn’t able to isolate one area of interest. It wasn’t until I shadowed an oral and maxillofacial surgeon that I finally knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I recognized it was a career that would allow me to make a difference in patients’ lives. That put me on the educational path in pursuit of that dream. It was a long road, but totally worth it.
How did your experiences at UNLV — both as undergraduates then as dental school students — shape you?
Moody: I feel very fortunate to have had many professors who instilled in me their passion of lifelong learning. I also had some fantastic advisers who guided me along the way and helped me achieve my goals. Two of those advisers were Dr. Marshall Brownstein and Dr. Joseph Nika, without whom I would not be where I am today. Throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies, I also had many opportunities to serve others, including volunteering for clinics that offered free dental services to children and veterans. Treating patients in that setting makes a real difference, and the gratitude from those patients makes it all worth it.
Falk: Studying biology at UNLV gave me a solid foundation, while providing numerous opportunities for research. I’m grateful to faculty who were approachable and helped guide and direct me. With their assistance, I felt much more confident and prepared for dental school. They are the reason that I’m a firm believer that a successful career often can be tied to having access to dedicated mentors and educators.
Over the years, you both have given back to the community in a variety of ways. What’s your message to current UNLV students about the importance of philanthropy?
Falk: Look for opportunities to share your talents and resources with our community, because those opportunities are available. There are so many people around us who need help and whose lives you can help improve — and trust me, once you see the difference you make, you’ll feel as good as they do.
Moody: I believe every health professional should have that inherent desire to help others in need, to want to make them feel better. So to current UNLV students, I would say this: Imagine a time when you needed help or were really struggling. How did you feel when someone came to your rescue?
Drawing from your experiences, what three attributes should every dental professional strive to have a boundless supply of?
Falk: Humility within yourself, compassion for others, and an intense passion for the profession.
Moody: A strong sense of ethics, a desire to work hard and overcome adversity, and an abundance of generosity.
If you could break your patients of one dental/oral habit, what would it be?
Falk: Tobacco use. Patients who use tobacco need to understand they have a high risk of head and neck cancer, and once diagnosed, the mortality rate is high.
Moody: I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Falk on this one. I have seen too many patients suffer from this horrible disease, so I would highly recommend that those who use tobacco products find a way to stop — and those who don’t, don’t ever start.