Dr. Ruth K. Kawakami received her Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the University of Southern California Herman Ostrow School Of Dentistry in 1990. Upon graduation she practiced general dentistry for two years, with her father (Tadashi Ochiai) and older brother (Kent Ochiai) in Santa Ana, CA. Dr. Kawakami returned to USC in 1992 to complete the 3-year dual degree orthodontic program where she earned her specialty certificate in Orthodontics and a Masters of Science (MS) degree in Craniofacial Biology.
Dr. Kawakami is very involved in her chosen profession. She has been a member of the American Dental Association and the California Dental Association since 1990 and the Harbor Dental Society since 1995. In March 2008, Dr. Kawakami became a diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) and maintains the non-time limited certificate. The ABO is the only orthodontic specialty board that is recognized by the American Dental Association and is in affiliation with the American Association of Orthodontists. She also is a member of the College of Diplomates of the American Board of Orthodontics (since 2008), California Association of Orthodontists, Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists (PCSO) and the Edward H. Angle Society of Orthodontists.
In November 2015, Dr. Kawakami became an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Graduate Orthodontic Department at USC. She has also served as membership chairman of the USC Orthodontic Alumni Association Board and as President of the Alumni Board from 2005-07.
Dr. Kawakami has been practicing in San Pedro since July 1997, when she transitioned into the practice of Dr. Stuart Bisk, who had been treating generations of families in the San Pedro area since 1968. Dr. Kawakami’s practice also reaches out to many patients in the surrounding areas of Palos Verdes, Harbor City, Torrance, Wilmington, Lomita and Long Beach. She has been involved with Luminaries, a volunteer organization affiliated with Torrance Memorial Medical Center since 2016 and the Assistance League Dental Center (San Pedro Peninsula chapter) since 2010.
The family lives in Palos Verdes, where Dr. Kawakami and her husband Tom have raised their four children, Nicole, Conner, Erin and Justin. They have spent much time enjoying their children’s high school, recreational, and club sports endeavors on the sidelines. They are enthusiastic about skiing, fishing, and hiking, particularly as a family.