Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, and author of the bestselling book, Age With Style— A Guide to a Youthful Smile and Healthy Living, discusses general dentistry dental exams.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with doctor Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, helping patients recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health and author of the bestselling book, Age with Style, Guide to a Youthful Smile and Healthy Living. Today, our topic is general dentistry and dental exams. Welcome doctor Nammy.

Dr. Nammy: Hi John, thank you for having me.

Types of Dental Services

John: Sure. So, doctor Nammy, what types of dental services are a part of your general dentistry practice?

Dr. Nammy: So John, we are a dental office that does a variety of works. So when we say general dentistry, we do anything from small chip tooth to deep cleanings, to crowns, orthodontics, to pinole surgery, to even doing implants and doing All-on-4s if somebody is missing all of their teeth. So we are a general dentistry office, meaning we do all of dentistry and we also coordinate with specialists if there is something that needs to be done with a specialist, we actually coordinate with them, so that way you’re getting the best experience.

Holistic Dentistry

John: And you practice holistic dentistry, what does that mean and what’s included in your holistic dental exam?

Dr. Nammy: So holistic dentistry really means that we’re looking at the entire body, the entire system. So, when we have you come in, there are several things that we do. The first thing is we figure out your values, what is important for you, why are you here, so I can meet your needs. And we also look at the underlying issues. So a lot of times patients have a lot of cavities are actually due to acid reflux or sleep apnea or gum disease that’s related to vaping. So, we really look at the underlying conditions that are contributing to the problems. And in addition, a lot of patients will have systemic concerns, including Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome. And we look at how they’re interrelated with the mouth. We do a diet analysis to see what your diet is like, to see if there’s any foods that are contributing to things like irritable bowel syndrome or acid reflux or anything like that.

We also look at your TMJ, we look at your jaw joints, we look at how they’re functioning or not functioning. Is there pain? What is your sleep like? How are you feeling? How are your hormones on a regular basis? Are you able to have a night of sleep or are you waking up at 3:00 AM with hot flashes? Are you able to not sleep? So, we look at a lot of things that are underneath just your teeth.

John: Very interesting. When I do come in for a dental exam, do you screen for cavities and gum disease and even things like cancer in my mouth?

Dr. Nammy: Absolutely. We have a special light called the Identify and it actually identifies any irregular tissues in the mouth. So, we definitely do an oral cancer screening. We look at the jaw joints, at gums and the teeth for cavities, for sure.

3D X-Rays

John: What are 3D digital x-rays and how do you use those in your exams?

Dr. Nammy: So 3D digital x-rays show the entire mouth and the vascularity, so it shows us where the nerves are, it allows us to get a better idea of how the teeth and the entire facial structural looks. And typically I tend to use the 3D digital x-rays in specific situations, when we’re looking for cavitations, when we’re looking for any infections or any jaw joint dysfunction, any sinus issues, those would be the time that we would be using the 3D digital x-rays.

Pain-Free Dentistry

John: Some people shy away from going to the dentist, or maybe they haven’t been to the dentist in a long time, because they associate it with being scared and being in pain and things like that and nobody likes those things. But what types of treatments and amenities do you offer at your practice to help make my visit calm and pain-free?

Dr. Nammy: Well, John, we have this fancy thing called a comfort menu, and that comfort menu has a wide array of things that would make your visit more comfortable. As simple as a blanket, we have hot tea, we have aromatherapy, we have warm neck wraps that are just so lovely. We also have nitrous, we have numbing gels to help the gums get numb, so you feel very comfortable. We also have anything you desire like even headphones, noise canceling headphones, so you’re not listening to the loud drilling noise. But the most important thing that I find that really makes patients feel comfortable is really the interaction that they have between us. Because we really slowed down to go through what is important for you, why are you here? Have you ever had a bad experience? How can we go back to the bad experience you had and reframe it?

A lot of times patients come in because they’ve had a bad dental experience as a child, and as children, we really don’t have the ability to protect ourselves or to be able to voice what’s going on with us. And we use techniques like NLP to be able to go back to our child self and to realize that we are safe now and we can absolutely express our discomfort in whatever we need in order to get comfortable. And that really makes a big difference. And what I find is that patients look forward to their next visit because we have gotten to the root cause of the fear and reframed it and help their minds and bodies feel emotionally safe.

John: Yeah, that’s great. And it’s very different from what a lot of people may experience when they go to the dentist and they’re just told, “Okay, sit in the chairs, sit back, open your mouth,” and then immediately just get to work. So it sounds like you really walk the patient through this whole procedure where you’re talking to them and finding out all about their history and things they might’ve had to deal with when they were younger or what problems that they’re having now and figure out together how you can work to make a great experience for them.

Dr. Nammy: Absolutely. And it’s really that slowing down because the majority of the dentistry just rushes people in and out like a mill. And what we really like to do is slow down, work with one person at a time, figure out their needs. Dentistry is easy for me, I’ve been doing it for 15 years. So the dentistry is day in and day out, but what makes my job most rewarding is really working with the patients, really getting to know them, really building those relationships, helping build safety and making them feel safe and comfortable and a place where they enjoy coming, where they can be themselves.

And it’s okay to shed a tear, it’s okay to take extra time. And for them to know that it’s absolutely okay to take a little bit extra longer if they need to, to get comfortable. We’re wanting to slow down, we’re wanting to do what they need. So it’s patient centric, so what does a patient need? What do you need in order to feel safe and comfortable?

John: Absolutely. All right, that’s great information, doctor Nammy, thanks again for speaking with me today.

Dr. Nammy: My pleasure, John, always.

John: And for more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website at sfgreendentist.com or call 415-433-0119.