05Aug

I can not do this alone…

I certainly cannot do this alone. My staff has been selected for their expertise and health-centered values, and has chosen to continue the learning process along with me. They also see the potential for self-fulfillment through what we are able to offer our patients. They know that a health-centered practice offers the most opportunity for patients who value their own health, and each member of my team strives to optimize this process to allow for excellence in dental care. My staff “walks-the-talk,” having committed to their own dental and general health, which gives them a fuller realization of what we are able to offer our patients.

It is a sad fact that many people fear the dentist and suffer irreversible dental damage, not because of “poor genes,” but because they never had the opportunity to develop a quality relationship with a health-centered dentist. My hope is that in sharing a little about myself and by defining the three main modes of dentistry, it will help you understand the choices that you have. Like I said, it’s all out there…if you’re looking for the “drill and fill,” you can find it in the yellow pages. If you want just the “cleaning and whitening,” just pick up that flier that comes in the mail every week. But if you truly want a dentist who will take the time to get to know you, to listen to your needs and help you to make informed choices about your dental future, with a dedicated staff that provides excellent personal service (regardless of what the insurance company dictates), then our practice is the place for you.

29Jul

Another obstacle…

Another obstacle in the way of a health-centered approach is that of having been trained solely to repair mouths and as indicated, having no training in teaching. With this early mechanistic outlook, at first I stumbled in my efforts to teach patients who were used to only having things “done” to them. I found that I was rushing my patients into solutions to their dental problems that they had not yet owned. It was too one-sided, as they did not yet realize that the best chance for success depended upon our becoming partners as dentist and patient. It wasn’t the patent’s fault, as I too had a lot to learn. I persisted, as I noticed early on that those patients with whom I had developed good relationships experienced the best dental outcomes. Those with whom this type relationship did not exist continued to have dental problems. This realization compelled me to continue integrating teaching into my practice. This learning journey taught me a lot about myself. I discovered that to effectively create this partnership with my patients, I would have to change my way of thinking, which was based on my early dental school experiences. Since I discovered this need to involve my patients more in the process of treating their dental problems, I learned to value more the initial time with them during the first appointments to develop trust. In medicine this is known as a “therapeutic relationship.” I know that without it, the process won’t get off the ground.

However, as I mentioned before, to allot this time is another risk because insurance companies provide little or no paid benefits for education and diagnosis, that only further supports the mode of “fixing teeth” for many dentists. Most patients (probably including yourself if you can admit it) are used to paying to “have something done.” To pay the dentist to take the time needed to develop a trusting relationship, and to work through a “co-learning” process, seems foreign to most patients, and I understand this. I understand that I am asking for a lot of mutual trust up-front when I suggest to you that it would be in your best interests to take this time initially to learn. For example, if I would tell you that you would benefit from special self-care training that would allow you to have better dental and general health, or that your excessive teeth wear would require more extensive investigation, would you be willing to spend the time and monetary investment necessary to do this, even if your insurance company wouldn’t cover it?

A little insight into the dental insurance industry: Insurance companies see patients essentially as “units of work” in a “factory,” to be handled cost effectively as they move along through various dental treatments. They pay mostly for basic “repairs,” not listening and learning procedures that involve prevention and the promotion of health. This emphasis on repair rather than a learning process only helps to support the public’s already low value of taking the time to learn and diagnose by offering “fix it” benefits only. The whole language of dental insurance companies presents a view of dental health not so much as a service, but as “units of things being sold,” such as fillings, crowns, partials, dentures, and cleanings. Their benefit schedules list one fee for each procedure, with no flexibility for the differing needs of each mouth, tooth or patient. I find that this way of thinking has permeated most of dentistry as well as being the expectation of many dental patients. The insurance industry is influencing dentistry in much the same way that it has the medical profession with denial of benefits, limitations on treatment, and fee schedules that necessitate increased patient visits with little time for the all-important feature of interaction.

14Jul

PHILOSOPHY

 

It is my professional mission to offer you, my valued dental patient the finest Holistic dental care possible in the most comfortable, relaxing environment my staff and I can create. Here are a few words about my philosophy as a “health-centered” dentist and how I got there.

My primary aim is to live my life with full purpose, both personally and professionally. My home and family is what grounds and nourishes me. My innate curiosity and passion for life, together with my formal and informal learning experiences have shaped my values and viewpoint, and especially shaped who I am as a dentist. My curiosity as a youngster of 10 or so got me in trouble for taking apart my parent’s nice clock. I believe it was this inquisitiveness and need to know how things function that eventually led me to entering dental school.

After graduation, I remained insatiably curious. My continuing post graduate studies while practicing dentistry gave me a realization of the complexity of the human body and how it interrelates with the health of the teeth and mouth. I soon realized that dental school, although extremely important, was merely a primer to the more broad, overall knowledge necessary to realize this intimate relationship between one’s oral and general health and self-esteem. I discovered things I had not learned in dental school, such as how pain in the jaw joint, head and neck can be directly caused by the way the teeth and surrounding structures of the mouth function, or how people who have gum disease are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack as those with healthy gums.

Realizations such as these compelled me to integrate teaching into my dental practice, so that my patients could understand the basis of their dental problems and their potential implications. Then we could treat the problem and what’s more, teach them how to prevent future problems. I have truly come to understand why the word “doctor” means “teacher” in several languages.