Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, discusses painless dentistry. Dr. Nammy is the author of the bestselling book, Age with Style: Guide to a Youthful Smile and Healthy Living.

John Maher: Hi. I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Dr. 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 painless dentistry. Welcome, Dr. Nammy.

Dr. Nammy Patel: Hi, John. Thanks for having me.

What Is Painless Dentistry?

John: Sure. Dr. Nammy, we think of trips to the dentist as being potentially painful and people try to put them off and avoid them. What is painless dentistry?

Dr. Nammy: Painless dentistry is when you feel comfortable going to the dentist. Painless dentistry is when you feel comfortable getting the procedures done, you’re feeling safe and comfortable, you’re getting the work you need to get done, but you’re getting it done in a way that is very comfortable and you’re at ease.

How Does Painless Dentistry Work?

John: What types of tools or procedures are used to make the dentistry painless?

Dr. Nammy: We have a number of things in our practice. The first one I always say is… which is really getting to know our patients. The one thing that I noticed many times is it’s really important for there to be a lot of trust between a patient and a doctor to feel they’re heard, their questions are answered, whether it’s a financial question, whether it’s an insurance question, whether it’s just really the treatment and really feeling like all the homework is done in advance, so when they actually come to the procedure, the procedure is just done with excellent care and a lot of detail. It’s quick, easy, efficient, comfortable. You’re able to just come out of there feeling like, “Oh my gosh, that was so easy.”

John: Are there some actual procedures that you do differently than, say, in a regular dentist that would help to make the dentistry painless?

Dr. Nammy: Absolutely. We do. We avoid shots at all costs. We have something called Oraqix, which actually numbs the gums without taking a shot. We also have lasers that take out decay. That way, we don’t have to numb you up. We do a lot of different procedures that makes dentistry super comfortable. We have topical agents that can numb the gums even for a basic cleaning if you needed That. It just really makes things very comfortable.

The other things that we have are things to kind of lower… When we’re in our fight or flight response, we tend to be hyperactive with anything that we see, we feel, or anything along those lines. From even the time that you walk in through the door, there’s aromatherapy, the music is different, there’s warm neck wraps that go on your neck to make you relaxed, and really lower those fear or also those pain receptors. You can really go away feeling very comfortable. The majority of my patients say, I would say 80 to 90% will say, “Hey, it’s like going to the spa.”

Dental Office Design for Painless Dentistry

John: Right. Have you actually designed your office around this idea to try to make people more relaxed and comfortable?

Dr. Nammy: Absolutely. My practice is designed and we use the word patient-centric, so we anticipate the patient’s needs. What is a person in the chair going to feel? What is the person in a chair going to think? What is it that they’re going to need in order to make this as easy as possible? Because, again, they’re trusting us, being vulnerable. They’re trusting us with their time, their energy. They’re trusting us to look after them. We take a lot of pride in that and we want to over-deliver and give the best care possible. We want to hear that, “Hey, I was really scared about coming in, but I’m really glad I did because this was way easier than I thought. I’m looking forward to my next visit,” which is what I hear time and time again.

John: Right. I would imagine that that’s really important because I think one of the most important things with dentistry is just getting to those regular appointments, going every six months or every few months, whatever it is that you recommend. If people are afraid to go, then they’re going to be calling you and making excuses. “Oh, I’m busy today. I can’t come. I need to change my appointment and put it off another month.” Then that starts to affect your health, right?

Dr. Nammy: Yeah, it does. To be honest, from a woman perspective, it’s kind of like going to the OBGYN. I kind of avoid it as much as I can because it’s uncomfortable. When you can have a place that really does dots all their I’s, crosses all their T’s to make it easy, and it’s convenient, it’s comfortable, you’re in and out, it really just works really well. We’ve also added even sedation for our patients. Sometimes if the fear is really, really, really high and they’re needing a little additional help to be more comfortable, or if there’s a large procedure or something along those lines that’s going to take a lot longer, maybe four to six hours, we can actually give patients a small pill that they can take and it just gets them relaxed. It’s like having two glasses of wine. The dentistry is just really comfortable and you get in and out. The next day, we see you for postop. Everyone’s feeling great because they finally got the sleep that they needed and it works really well.

John: It sounds great to me. Is painless dentistry the right option for everybody?

Dr. Nammy: I would say yes. I would start with that first. Again, it’s kind of like the shots. If you can avoid them, let’s do that. If you can make dentistry painless, absolutely. I would want that for me and I would want that for everyone.

John: All right, Dr. Nammy. That’s great to speak about painless dentistry with you. Thank you.

Dr. Nammy: My pleasure.

John: For more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website at sfgreendentist.com or call (415) 578-9347.