Learn about Dr. Patel and Green Dentistry and the importance of whole body health (Podcast)
Sherry: So today I want to introduce someone who I have been working with the last year in a bit and talk a little bit about her back story and her why. One thing we really want to talk about was her practice. She started it back in 2005 in downtown San Francisco. She has a wealth of knowledge and she wants to share this with her patients. So let’s get into it.
Dr. Patel, I don’t know where to start. So I’m gonna list off just a few things we know about you. Number one, you’re a holistic dentist. You’re a Forbes book bestselling author, a wellness expert and you also founded a nonprofit in India. Is there anything you can’t do or am I missing anything else that you want to add in here?
Dr. Patel: Oh my gosh, you’re so sweet, Sherry. You know, dentistry has been my passion, my gift, and it will be my legacy. I really, really enjoy my approach to patient care. Mainly because it extends beyond just dentistry. We’re all about whole body health. What we do in our practice is mind blowing. It is really wonderful because dentistry’s been a stepchild of medicine for so long and in our practice, we integrate the rest of the body with the mouth because we’re a whole being. Secondly, we are able to look at nutrition. We’re able to look at sleep patterns. We’re able to see how we can optimize your body to live a long, healthy life so that you can look good, feel good, chew comfortably, and really enjoy the life of your dreams. And actually most importantly is to avoid disease because dentistry actually, believe it or not, is very important.
Dr. Patel: Two main reasons. The number one reason is because number one, in your mouth, you have a lot of different bacteria – over two to 300 species. So it’s your microbiome and your microbiome is really important because it’s part of your immune system and help protecting you. The second aspect is right above the mouth is actually, or the top palette is your sinus. The way that your upper arch is developed or your top teeth are developed, actually really influences how well you breathe. Also your tongue, the way your tongue is positioned, really determines how you breathe and breathing is the number one thing our body needs to survive and to thrive. We can live days and weeks without food. We can even live a long time without water, but without oxygen, our bodies only last eight minutes. Dentists are in charge of these organs that are responsible for breathing and the pathway to breath and it’s really important as a wellness expert, as a holistic dentist, as somebody who’s really interested in longevity, that we are able to bio hack our bodies into doing that.
Sherry: I love how you explain that so much in detail, because it is so important and a lot of people don’t realize that. It’s really important that they understand aren’t, aware of everything. So yeah, that was great. I loved hearing all of that. A little bit more though. I did want to go a little bit into this nonprofit that you started. So if you can kinda explain a little bit more your why and how and how everything kind of all came into place there.
Dr. Patel: It’s such a wonderful journey. My nonprofit is just, you know, I was born in my little village of eight houses in India and I knew that I was meant here for a purpose and I knew that I am meant to do something that’s gonna be magnificent. Then I came to the US, went to schooling. Never thought I’d go into dentistry but ended up in dentistry through nonprofit work. When I got out, I got into doing self-development and being spiritual and really understanding what my true purpose really is. And so I went through some training through Landmark Forum which is an organization that helps us reflect on ourselves, really find purpose and meaning and give us a way that we can direct our lives.
There was one project that was really wonderful and it was about community. In that project a vision formed. The vision was to have a dental health center that helps the people of the villages in India. And, you know, I mean, when I say I was born in a little village of eight houses, I literally mean it. There is trees in the front, trees in the back and trees to the side and probably the village has probably about 50 to 80 people or so and not a lot of access to care. And so I really wanted to make sure that I gave back to a community and gave back the gift that I have so well received, which is dentistry. And that how the dental nonprofit project actually started.
It took me 15 years actually to manifest it because the vision came about and then I started my practice and it was busy working and things like that.
I’ve tried a couple times to make it happen, it just didn’t work. Then a few years ago, actually it’s wonderful. We are year four into our nonprofit project. We have now served 60 villages and over 6,000 people. Even when we’ve had like the last two years it’s been COVID, but even through the times of COVID, we have been able to diagnose oral cancer, we have been able to do preventative care, we have been able to do fillings. We have been able to educate and empower the community on how to better take care of their teeth, how to better take care of themselves and why oral hygiene is so important to their whole wellbeing.
Sherry: Yeah, that is amazing. I was thinking too when you sent me that updated on your newsletter. I love that, it’s a great update. It shows how important it is that we find our why and things that we want to do outside of working in a dental office. So I have to ask then, did this have an impact when you wanted to start your own dental practice?
Dr. Patel: Yes, it absolutely did. I really wanted to start something. And two reasons, one was I definitely it to have a sense of community and I really wanted to give back. But in order to nonprofit, you have to have for profit. And I looked at myself and I said, what could I do differently? What is something that this world really needs right now? And when I looked around in dental school also getting outta school and going to all these different places, I looked at the amount of toxic waste that was being made. All this plastic with chairs and on all these things and formaldehyde being utilized to
sterilize instruments, I mean, it was just a hot mess. So when I looked at that and when I saw formaldehyde in a regular dental practice, I was really concerned because formaldehyde is utilized to preserve dead bodies. One thing I can tell you if something is being soaked in formaldehyde, I do not want it in my mouth. And when I looked at like what could I do or what would be something I can give back, I decided to start a green dentistry, which is eco-friendly holistic dentistry.
By that, I mean that we are the first lead certified practice in the state of California. So leaders in energy and environmental design. 90% of our construction waste was reused which is wonderful. And there were wonderful alternatives out there that I could have utilized in order to have a sustained practice. Meaning that I was completely digital when I started. We don’t use paper. We use digital charting. We use digital x-rays. We are able to even for insulation, our walls are actually made with recycled denim instead of the asbestos containing material. So the air you breathe is really wonderful. Also we have ionic filtration. So that means that the air is just not pushed in, it’s actually sucked up.
For example, during COVID times, it was really great for us and because we were already ahead of the curve, you know, I didn’t invent green dentistry 15 years ago and COVID happened like last year, 2020 or so. And I realized being eco-conscious was really important in several ways. Not just that I have a space that’s eco-friendly, but most important, it was
also the way patients were treated. Dentistry is so notorious for drill and fill, drill and fill, drill and fill, drill and fill. It’s like they’re unconscious about this whole drilling and filling cycle. And I wanted to do things differently. I wanted to say, I don’t want to be robotic. I don’t want to be unconscious. I want to break that cycle of drill and fill and drill and fill. I wanted to empower my patients to see what we can do to be preventative.
Like one of my most important thing that I recommend to all patients is come in for cleanings three to four times a year. It is the best way to preserve your dental work if you had some and if you didn’t, it’s the best way to make sure you don’t have any work because we remove the bacteria or the root source of the decay and disease. So, you know, just things like that. I really reinvented the way we approach dentistry. Instead of looking at it as like, oh, you know, if there’s a cavity, let me fill it. Let’s start going a step further and saying like, why don’t we just prevent this? What could we do? What foods can I eat? What kind of toothbrush can I use? What can I do to make sure that I am keep my teeth for a lifetime because that’s when we actually save resources, is that we are breaking that cycle of do over, do over, do over.
Sherry: Yeah. I agree with you. And I feel like especially now people are looking for dentists and ones that are eco-conscious and everything they do because we do want to make an impact and a difference in everything we do, including dentistry. And it’s so important. There was one thing that you
had mentioned to me and I loved how you said it and it was about what is important and I just thought before we end this, if you can just go back and kind of repeat what you had told me, because I want others to hear this. I feel it is something that should be shared.
Dr. Patel: Yes, absolutely. So the whole point with what I say with wellness and what we should be looking at anytime you’re selecting a dentist, anytime you are looking at anything, you know, whether it be a multivitamin or even if you’re going to your medical doctor, the first thing is instead of looking at the symptoms because a symptom is like a headache, right? And so when we look at a headache, we want to know where is that headache coming from? Is it because I didn’t eat enough today? Is it because I didn’t sleep enough today? Is it because I didn’t have enough water? So if we get to that root cause of that headache, we can make sure that, for example, if it’s that you didn’t drink enough water, you’re gonna make sure you drink water every day to avoid those headaches. That’s what I really mean is that breaking that cycle and getting to that root cause of the issues so that you’re better able to take care of yourself. And you are a better able to take care of your teeth and life and the people you love because you’re taking good care of yourself.
The whole point with this is really, we want to look at you as a whole person. Your mouth is not separate from your body. Your limbs are not separate from your body. And it’s really interesting because people are
used to thinking linear – A plus B equals C and that’s not who we are. We’re quantum beings because there might be something that happens. You could get a crown that has metal in it and can impact your knee or your jaw joint, or it can impact your hip or it can impact the way you can think clearly. And so we are a quantum design.
God has made us in a way, source, or universe, whatever you want to call it, has made us to be quantum beings, meaning that we are not linear. We are united. We are one piece the entire body from head to toe is one piece. And it’s really important that we look at that as a whole being or you as a whole person, because we want your health to be there, number one. Number two, I want you to be smiling. I want beautiful long lasting healthy smile. And that’s really my goal, is to help individual understand the connection between whole body health, between their teeth and the rest of their bodies, so that they can be very happy and can really spend quality time with the people that they love.
Sherry: I love it all. You say it perfectly and it’s so important. You know, Dr. Patel, I want to thank you for talking about this. It’s so important that we share this and share it with our patients as well, we want to speak to you about your smile needs. So, you know, we are here for your patients and if anyone has any questions you may have please call us to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Patel’s practice. Two important things. If you want to write down is to visit SFgreendentist.com/implants and SFgreen.com/totalhealth. Or you can reach us at 1-415-761-3521 and we hope everyone has a great day. Thanks again.
Dr. Patel: Thanks Sherry.