Dr. Daniel Boehne
Dr. Daniel Boehne helped brighten smiles while on a humanitarian dental mission in Indonesia with the Sumba Foundation. T. Van Mourick

Dentists have all kinds of ways to relax their patients, from music to medication, but UC Irvine alumnus Dr. Daniel J. Boehne ’99 has a different tactic: He gets their minds on surfing.

Boehne not only makes crowns, he makes surfboards. His parents, Steve and Barrie, are world-champion tandem surfers, and his family has manufactured surfboards for decades under the Infinity Surfboards label. So when surfers find out their dentist is that Boehne (pronounced BAY’-knee), they chill.

Boehne graduated from UCLA’s School of Dentistry in 2004 and is now a resident endodontist, specializing in root canals, at the VA Long Beach Medical Center. He also practices dentistry in San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente. In 2005, he visited the island of Sumba, Indonesia – a popular surf destination – to volunteer at a dental clinic run by the Sumba Foundation.

“There’d be a long line of islanders waiting outside the clinic – most of whom had never seen a Westerner, let alone a dentist,” Boehne says. “They’d come in, set their swords down and point to a tooth. They needed a lot of dental care, but there were so many we could only extract the worst offenders.”

He plans to return to Mexico with the Flying Samaritans and to Sumba, this time equipped to save infected teeth with root canal therapy. Boehne earned UCI’s 2009 Lauds & Laurels Distinguished Alumnus Award for helping others.

Through it all, he never stopped surfing; he even competed twice in the Teahupoo trials in Tahiti, considered the toughest test on pro surfing’s World Championship Tour.

“Dan’s surfing keeps him focused on his real ride – a better ride – of serving others with a kindness and humility that’s contagious,” wrote Chris Mauro, global editor of Surfer, in his Lauds & Laurels nomination letter. “He’s the best kind of leader and … one of the best surfers I know.”

Boehne still makes boards, working weekends and nights at his parents’ factory in San Clemente.

“Hand-shaping surfboards is a dying art,” he says. “I’m grateful that my father passed it on to me. It will always be part of my life.”