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Alumna Profile: Dr. Susan Carron – Introducing children to excellent dental care and serving the profession of dentistry9 min read

May 10, 2023

Alumna Profile: Dr. Susan Carron – Introducing children to excellent dental care and serving the profession of dentistry9 min read


This profile is one in an ongoing series highlighting School of Dentistry alumni, donors and students.


Over the course of her career as a pediatric dentist, Dr. Susan Carron made the comfort of children and their parents a top priority. She also made supporting the profession of dentistry a priority, serving on an impressive list of local and state boards and organizations, often as the first woman to lead the groups.

After earning her DDS in 1977 and an MS in 1979 from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, Dr. Carron started her career in Farmington Hills, Michigan, but spent the majority in Novi, before retiring in 2019.

Thinking back over her career, she says it was a productive and rewarding time as she tried to make a difference in the lives of thousands of her young patients. “I wanted to give them a good start because so many people hated going to the dentist. I thought that if I could give them a very good start in dentistry that they would maintain their dental health throughout their life.”

Her strategy was all about making a visit to the dentist office comfortable. “I worked really hard to make the experience pain-free and to let them know what was going on,” she said. “I just tried to treat my patients and their parents with respect.”

Dr. Susan Carron

Beanie Babies and other lovable kid toys greeted patients throughout the office. Disney movies played on a TV in the waiting room. Dental chairs were sturdy enough to handle a parent or assistant sitting on the side if a child needed that. Popular music appropriate for children played on CD players in treatment rooms.

Carron said she was one of the first pediatric dentists in Michigan to routinely let parents in the room when children were being treated. She tried to explain to children what she was doing, to answer their questions and put them at ease as much as possible. She would show them dental instruments and let them touch ones that were safe for them to handle.

Carron would often have a second dental assistant in the room to hold hands with the child even if a parent was present. “I had the assistant hold their hands because they wouldn’t show their worries as much as a parent.” Occasionally a dental colleague would suggest she was “mothering” her patients too much. “I was just treating them the way I wanted to be treated,” she said.

When the appointment was over, everyone got a prize, even siblings who weren’t part of the appointment.

Carron’s child-centered philosophy inspired loyalty in kids and their parents. Some patients continued to see her into their college years, something she welcomed. “A lot of practices were graduating kids at 12. I didn’t want to graduate my kids at 12. I would miss them too much,” she said. Families, many with special needs children, traveled to Novi from as far away as Grass Lake and Grand Rapids for treatment.

The seeds of Carron’s dentistry career were sown in her youth in Ann Arbor. She had good childhood dental experiences with her dentist, Dr. Carl Gingles. He let her mother stay in the room with her during appointments. Later, when she got braces, it furthered her interest in dentistry.

Her father, Dean P. Carron, was a psychiatrist at the former Mercywood Hospital in Ann Arbor, while her mother, Mildred, was a teacher. They required that their four children take a set curriculum in high school that included foreign language, biology, chemistry, physics and four years of math, a regimen that would later be beneficial for the rigors of dental school. When it was time to apply to colleges, her father allowed his children to apply to only two – Michigan and Michigan State. The choice of attending Michigan State was easy for Susan. “I wanted to get out of town,” she said.

Though she liked science, she decided not to pursue a career as a medical doctor, having seen the long hours her father worked. Her mother suggested dentistry and it was a good fit given her positive experiences with her childhood dentist.

At MSU, Carron founded a predental club and served as its president for two years. That helped put her in touch with people in the profession, including Dr. Donald Strachan, assistant dean at the U-M School of Dentistry. During her admission interview, Strachan asked why the school should accept her since she had taken the dental admission test several times in order to get a competitive score. “I know I will do well,” she told him. “I just need to get in.” When her acceptance letter came, she proudly showed it to her neighbor across the street, a male U-M dental school student who had warned her in advance, “They don’t take women in dental school.”

Once at U-M, Carron found a first-class education in dentistry, though she and other women in the Class of 1977 often felt that they constantly had to prove themselves. In 1972, Congress passed Title IX legislation banning gender discrimination in education and the ‘70s became the decade when more and more women were admitted to professional schools. Carron’s graduating class included 14 women, which was more than double the number in any previous class. Yet it was only 14 among 135 male students. “They didn’t know what to do with women,” she said. She recalls a conversation when she was in a clinic with three other female students. “The professor said, ‘You girls are pretty good,’ and we all looked at him, and I said, ‘Yeah, because we have to work twice as hard.’”

Carron, who served as vice president of her class from sophomore year on, said one of the best things about her education at U-M was that it taught her to think. “You may not have seen this problem before, but you had the knowledge to think your way through treating the patient,” she said. She also appreciated the focus on research and evidence-based treatment. “There were five research centers in the United States and one of them was at Michigan,” she said. “So we were very fortunate.”

After completing her MS in 1979 (in what was then called pedodontics), she began practicing pediatric dentistry as an independent contractor in the office of Dr. David Weine, who had been one of her professors at U-M, and Dr. Arnold Golnick, in Farmington Hills. In 1990, she decided to establish her own practice and opened an office in Novi. Two years later, Dr. Claire Cullen joined her, and they worked together until she sold the practice in December 2012. She then worked as a locum tenens dentist taking temporary positions in southeast and south central Michigan for several years before retiring in 2019.

Besides building up her practice, Carron also taught pediatric dentistry part-time at the dental school from 1979 until 1994, teaching juniors, seniors and graduate students.

A tireless volunteer in the professional dentistry community, Carron was the first woman to hold several positions in Michigan dental organizations. She was the first woman to be president of the Michigan Dental Association Foundation, from 2014-18, and the first president of the organization who had not been president of the MDA. She was president emeritus from 2018-22 and on the board of directors from 1998-2018. She also ran a silent auction for the foundation for two years and a raffle for 13 years. The organization recently recognized her dedication with a 25-year service award.

For the MDA, she served many years in the House of Delegates and also worked on the dental health education committee. She worked on the annual session for 10 years, becoming the first woman to chair the meeting in 1998. She’s also been active in the western branch of the Detroit District, serving as its president from 1987-88.

She was on the board of directors of Delta Dental Fund of Michigan from 1991-97 and the corporate board of Delta Dental from 1998-2012. She’s also been active in Alpha Omega International Dental Society and served as president of the Detroit Alumni Chapter from 1987-88. She was president of the Michigan Academy of Pediatric Dentistry from 1993-94, the first woman to hold that position, and was chief examiner for the pediatric dentistry specialty examination in 1998 and an examiner in 1996 and 1997. She also worked on the committee to formulate and review questions for the examination from 1983-89 and 1998-2004.

At U-M, she was the first woman president of the K.A .Easlick Society, the graduate alumni society for Pediatric Dentistry, from 2013-15, and she will be the new executive secretary-treasurer of that organization starting in May. She also served on the Alumni Society Board of Governors for the dental school from 1999-2004.

Carron has devoted all those hours to the profession because she enjoys volunteering and expanding her network of colleagues over the years. Plus, being active in professional groups is the best way to know what’s going on in the profession. The importance of doing such work was a lesson she learned from her parents. “We were just taught that you participate. You get your name out there and get opportunities, so that’s what I did.”

Carron still lives in Farmington Hills, as she did throughout most of her career, with her husband, Howard R. Simon, a Certified Public Accountant. They have a daughter, Debra, also a CPA. Grateful for the education that launched her successful career, Carron has made it a priority to give back financially to the dental school every year since finishing her degree. She’s given various amounts over the years, including $15,000 for a cubicle in the preclinical laboratory. She has also planned an estate gift to the Pediatric Dentistry Department.

Carron said U-M gave her an opportunity at a time when not many women were admitted to dental schools, and she believes it’s her responsibility to support the school in return. “I was taught in my family that you give back. If you give back to your profession, you’ll gain so much more.”

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The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral healthcare education, research, patient care and community service.  General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the school to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan.  Classroom and clinic instruction prepare future dentists, dental specialists and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia and public agencies.  Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide.  For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at:  Contact: Lynn Monson, associate director of communications, at, or (734) 615-1971.