Dr. Martha Rich’s 40-Year Legacy of Excellence in Portland, Oregon

Dr. Martha Rich

Nestled within a small shopping center in downtown Portland lies a 6-operatory dental office that has served the community for over four decades.

The practice, owned and managed by Dr. Martha Rich, has been a consistent presence in the area, and her dedication to her craft is evident in the generations of loyal patients she has cared for and the staff members who have worked alongside her for almost 30 years.

Exterior of Dr. Rich’s Practice in Portland, OR

“We’ve been through a process of learning, listening skills, learning to ask questions about the patients. And I think it’s those relationships that have that have made us successful.”

From 1984 to 1991, Dr. Rich served as an associate professor at the OHSU School of Dentistry, specializing in Fixed Prosthodontics. In addition, she treated complex occlusion cases for her colleagues and newer generations. It was here that Dr. Rich’s interest in orthodontics began. As she dove deeper into the world of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders and the science of occlusion, she was intrigued by the possibility that adjusting a patient’s bite could improve the functionality of the entire system.

Reception and Waiting Area in Dr. Rich’s Practice


This spurred her to embark on her next adventure – several hundred hours of study in functional orthodontics, specifically TMD, TMJ, and other jaw disorders.

In addition to her memberships in the ADA and ODC, Dr. Rich is highly active in AGD and the Oregon Academy of General Dentistry. She also belongs to the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain, the American Academy of Oral Systemic Health, and the American Academy of Physiological Medicine and Dentistry. She belongs to several study clubs and is a past member of the International College of Cranio-mandibular Orthopedics, International Association of Orthodontics, and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.




Operatory at Dr. Martha Rich’s Practice


Dr. Rich is interested in preventing a variety of dental diseases and performs airway screenings for kids in order to prevent systemic diseases and sleep apnea issues later in life. She often fabricates sleep apnea appliances for kids if necessary.

“The interesting thing now that we know about sleep apnea is a lot of times, it starts in childhood. So we’re trying to pick out kids that are having breathing problems early on and try to nip that in the bud and get them to breathing well. ”


“And now we’re working with a whole new field of therapists called myofunctional therapists that are teaching people to swallow correctly, chew correctly, breathe correctly,” she explains.


A private consult room to discuss treatment plan options with patients.


Dr. Rich became interested in TMD in dental school but felt like she didn’t get any information on it. She said the patients were coming in and being told to just “stop chewing’, which she thought was terrible advice.

After her years of research, she diagnoses and treats TMD with a multi-disciplinary approach, starting with a thorough evaluation in the office and the careful use of splints for accessing and healing the joints, if necessary. “We participate in care with physical therapists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, naturopaths, myofunctional therapists, and craniosacral therapists. We use TENS units in the office to promote relaxation, along with infrared therapy, heat, ice, and lasers.”


“In short, we try to do anything we can to get folks better!”


She notes that this does sometimes lead to functional orthodontics or occlusal reconstruction.

Burkhart Account Manager Matt Milligan has worked with Dr. Rich and her practice since 2016 and recognizes that dentistry is more than just a job for her. “I think that’s the difference in someone like her… it’s not a skill that she found out she was good at… it’s a passion for taking care of people and being involved.”

Panoramic X-ray unit with cephalometric imaging


Her commitment to learning and providing the best service to her patients has earned her the respect and admiration of her staff and patients alike. Dr. Rich not only invests in her own training but also ensures her staff receives the same Continuing Education credits by training alongside her. “She has done a great job and is still creating a great atmosphere where they feel like they are part of the team,” Milligan says.

“I feel health care organizations need to be learning organizations. I promote all kinds of CE, including reading books together, such as “Kitchen Table Wisdom” by Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen. We watch webinars, attend the ODC, and other classes through the Oregon Academy of General Dentistry”, she says.


Sterilization center


Rich was recently awarded the Oregon AGD General Dentist of the Year, which is given annually to individuals who exemplify qualities such as service to dentistry and the community, excellence in clinical skills, and contributions to and participation in continuing education. She credits her involvement in the recent opening of a new Continuing Education Center at the bottom of the iHeart Radio building downtown as a big part of the reason for the award.


“Dentistry is a fabulous profession. We have the ability to spend a lot of time with people and get to know them better than their physicians typically know them. And I think that’s an honor, but it’s also a challenge to us to keep learning and keep trying to help them.”


Dr. Sam Wells


Recently, Dr. Rich has taken on a partner in the practice, Dr. Sam Wells, who shares her values and will help allow her to shape the future of her practice. “I am stepping back from clinical dentistry a little bit. But I also do a lot of TMD, chronic pain, patient treatment, and treatment for sleep apnea with oral appliances. And so, I will keep on with that as long as I can.”

To learn more about Dr. Martha Rich, visit DrMarthaRich.com

Written by Dawn Kahl

Published in CatalystQ2 2024.

Category: Office Planning & Design

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