Meet Your Team

Maria Miller-Rinaldi

Dr. Maria Miller-Rinaldi, an Iowa native, was raised by an energetic Ecuadorian mother and a calm American farm boy who instilled in her a love for tennis. Her passion for the sport led her to compete at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, where she met her husband, Dr. Joseph Rinaldi. With almost 20 years of marriage, they lovingly manage a bustling household with their four boys: Joseph, Rasmus, Vedder, and Enzo. Embracing adventure and the wonders of nature, the family enjoys traveling the world, embarking on family road trips, savoring vinyl records, karaoke sessions, biking, playing basketball in their driveway, and watching their boys play volleyball and basketball. Adding to their joy, they welcomed Emry, a cute female Lhasa Bichon, to their family.

Since graduating in 2004, Dr. Miller-Rinaldi’s dental journey has been marked by diverse and fulfilling opportunities. She has served in the United States Air Force, worked for a large corporate company, practiced in a small private group, and eventually found her place at Dr. Susan Gross’s practice.

Over the past five years, Dr. Miller-Rinaldi has undergone a transformative shift in her practice philosophy. She delved deep into understanding the “why” behind patients’ declining oral and systemic health, a quest spurred by her four boys. Unsatisfied with the answers provided by experts, she sought a better way to practice dentistry. Exploring the influence of muscle habits, TMJ position, and bite rehabilitation, she began to question the underlying causes of misaligned bites. Through extensive research, continuing education courses, travel, and comprehensive reading, she became an airway-centric focused dentist. Applying her newfound knowledge to her own children, she pursued an in-depth understanding of human evolution, epigenetics, and nasal breathing. This journey culminated in her realization of the interconnectedness between the body and our daily lifestyles.

Dr. Miller-Rinaldi now offers a unique approach to dentistry, providing treatment options that address root causes and promote optimal health and wellbeing for patients of all ages. Her aim is to empower individuals to thrive and enjoy fulfilling lives by considering the holistic connections within the body.

Professional training and certificates:

University of Iowa: College of Dentistry (Iowa) 2004
United States Air Force AEGD (Scott AF base, Illinois) 2004-2005
Intravenous Sedation certificate (2005)
United State Air Force (Mountain Home, Idaho) 2005-2007
The Dawson Academy Core Curriculum 2014-2106
The International Airway Symposium 2019
Orthotropic Early Intervention 2020
The Breathe Institute Core Curriculum 2021
Certified in Orthotropics® 2019-2023
Right Sleep Curriculum 2022


The American Association of Oral and Systemic Health (AAOSH) member
The American Academy of Physiological Medicine and Dentistry (AAPMD) member
The Dawson Academy Scholar
The Breathe Institute Ambassador
Academy of Airway and Gnathologic Orthopedics member
North American Association of Facial Orthotropics®️

Susan Gross

Dr. Gross has been an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry for the past 16 years and has had the opportunity to participate in dental materials research. She is driven by her passion for lifelong learning and understanding the oral health connection to overall health in order to guide her patients on a journey toward improved well-being.
Residing in Minneapolis with her husband, Peter, Susan finds joy in exploring the city’s lakes, discovering new restaurants, and attending concerts and plays. Family is also a priority, leading her and Peter to travel frequently to spend cherished moments with their three children and their families, residing in California, Ohio, and Georgia.
Furthermore, Susan actively volunteers her time and expertise, providing dental care to those with limited access and contributing to food insecurity services.

Professional training and certificates:

University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, 1982
The L.D. Pankey Institute Core Curriculum
The Spear Institute Core Curriculum
The International Airway Symposium, 2019
The Breathe Institute Core Curriculum, 2019
The Airway Collaborative Core Curriculum, 2019-present
Bioclear Core Curriculum, 2016-2019


American Dental Association and Minnesota Dental Association, 1980-present
American Association of Oral Systemic Health
American Association of Physiological Medicine and Dentistry
The Breathe Institute Ambassador
Bioclear Certified Dental Practitioner

Rollie Stein

Rollie Stein, a graduate of the University of Minnesota Dental Hygiene Program in 1978, has dedicated most of her career to pediatric dentistry, where she passionately educated parents and children about the importance of oral health.
In 2011, an exciting opportunity arose for Rollie when she joined Dr. Susan Gross: Smiles for Life as the front desk administrator. This role was a perfect fit for her as she thrives on forming personal connections with patients as they enter the practice.

Rollie has played a vital role in ensuring a smooth transition for patients as Dr. Gross handed over the practice to Dr. Miller-Rinaldi. She has been instrumental in maintaining continuity of care and embracing the integrative dental medicine philosophy that both doctors share.

Beyond her professional life, Rollie finds immense joy in spending quality time with her family, friends, and her cat, Gypsy. She embraces new adventures through travel, takes on home projects, cherishes outdoor activities, attends music events, and indulges in the pleasure of reading on her Kindle.

Ruthy Thao

Ruthy Thao, a graduate of the University of Minnesota in 2014, holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology with a focus on public health. With a strong scientific background and a passion for exploring various healthcare fields, she has gained valuable experience in diverse healthcare settings. Ruthy has worked with patients across all stages of life, ranging from mental health and chronic pain to hospice care and the surgical room. In 2021, seeking a new path and eager to broaden her horizons, she joined the clinic. The guidance and mentorship of Dr. Miller-Rinaldi and Dr. Gross have been invaluable, and Ruthy takes great pride in being part of a team that consistently strives for excellence. This transition in her career has not only broadened her perspective but also deepened her understanding of oral systemic care and the significance of dentistry.

Outside of the office, Ruthy finds joy in the company of her beloved puppy, Bear, and her kittens, Winston and Chester. An avid soccer enthusiast, she enjoys following international leagues and passionately supports our local team, MN United. Ruthy also loves engaging in discussions about her favorite TV shows and is always eager to try out new restaurants.

Kari Kuempel

Kari Kuempel is a licensed dental hygienist with over 22 years of experience, dedicated to providing exceptional care. She joined our practice in 2008 and has been an integral part of our team ever since.
Kari holds a Bachelor of Science and Dental Hygiene Degrees from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. She furthered her education at the University of Minnesota, where she earned a Master of Science in Dental Hygiene.
With a diverse background, Kari has worked in various dental settings, including specialization in periodontics. She also served as faculty at The University of Minnesota Division of Dental Hygiene and gained valuable experience in educational marketing with 3M Oral Care.
As a Co-provider, Kari’s approach to oral health emphasizes collaboration with patients, aiming to help them achieve optimal well-being in a comfortable setting. As a member of the Root Cause team, she thrives on exploring the “why” behind oral health issues and takes a comprehensive view of the mouth as a reflection of overall health.
In her pursuit of knowledge, Kari continually engages in reading literature, online studies, and dental courses. Outside of her professional endeavors, she cherishes quality time with her loved ones, including her two Weimaraners, George and Tillman.