Friday, August 18, 2017


As my husband Tim and I get ready to send our older daughter back to college, we are, like countless parents across the country, trying to cram in as much advice to her in the next week as we possibly can. But if I could only pick just a few critical things to talk about with her, I would put Drowsy Driving on that short list.

Teenagers have been shown to be a significant part of the population that suffers fatalities and physical injury due to drowsy driving. Many of them do not know that drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. Young adults also do not traditionally place sleep at the top of their priorities yet have a higher requirement for sleep than adults. On an average, they need 8-9 hours of restful sleep a night to function well.

If you haven’t already, please talk to your children that are driving about the importance of getting enough sleep and about the dangers of drowsy driving. We as parents must be role models by practicing what we preach. So this may be a reminder to ourselves to look at our own sleep habits and not get behind the wheel if we feel fatigued or excessively tired.

We all deserve to live an optimal life. 

Sleep is a fundamental pillar that supports that endevour.

Putting our sleep needs first is an act of self love and self care.

Until next time,

Be well, Do well, Live well


Monday, June 19, 2017

If you are a Parent or Caregiver- the Top 5 things that Must be on your To Do List

I'm committed to Self Love and Self Care First

Having just celebrated Father’s Day this weekend and still fresh from the recent sweet memories of Mother’s Day, I felt this is a good time to share these truths.

Our children learn from us by observing what we do rather than what we say.

If we want them to grow up as healthy adults that have lives that are fulfilling, successful and of service to their families, communities and the world, then we must teach them about Self Love and Self Care First.

There is a big difference between recognizing self love to be a form of healthy living as opposed to selfish living. Self love means focusing on paying attention to nurturing and caring for ourselves in a proactive and compassionate manner.

Only from this place of fullness and joy are we able to take care of others without burning out or building up resentment. There is nothing better for our children to see us do things for ourselves that fuel our highest and most meaningful existence. It is the best lesson we can teach them so they may grow up as adults that know themselves, take care of themselves and are able to listen to their own voice over the noise that surrounds them.

So here is my Top 5 list of
Self Love and Self Care First
Easy and simple steps to get started

1.     Body Health
Prioritize scheduling your own health care appointments before you schedule your children’s appointments
(As a doctor I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a patient say- “Let me get the kids in first. They are more important” What ends up happening is that the parent may not find the time to schedule themselves for their care until they are in an emergency situation. As a mother, I want my children to know that they are very important but so are other members in our family. I believe that helps them develop consideration for others)

2.     Sleep
Keep a sleep diary to see if you are getting enough sleep and if you are waking up refreshed.

3.     Diet
Reduce or eliminate sugar from your diet and drink more water
Sugar causes inflammation in your body and tooth decay. Inflammation is the starting point of many diseases in the body that have far reaching effects on our health and well being.

4.     Exercise
Carve out 30 minutes or more to exercise every day.
The benefits to you are amazing! Consistent daily exercise has been well documented to benefit physical, mental and emotional health. If you can’t do 30 minutes, do less. Once you start, you will be motivated to find the time in your busy day.

5.     Well being , Connection and Joy
Schedule time in advance for activities that bring joy and meaning to you just like you would make time for anything else that is pressing and urgent.
Something as simple as talking to a friend, pursuing a passion or a hobby or quiet time to be still can have a dramatic impact on your mood and well being.

I refer to this list whenever I feel that I am not integrated and balanced within myself. Usually, it's because I am not doing one of these 5 things. I am then able to do a self correction and get back into the Zone that helps me be my best and ultimately give my best.
Until next time,
Be well Do well Live well

Monday, April 3, 2017

WORLD HEALTH DAY- April 7, 2017 - Depression and My Commitment to Mind Health and Optimal Living

APRIL 7TH, 2017


Depression affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries. It causes mental anguish and impacts on people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends and the ability to earn a living. At worst, depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds.
Yet, depression can be prevented and treated. A better understanding of what depression is, and how it can be prevented and treated, will help reduce the stigma associated with the condition, and lead to more people seeking help

What is depression?

Depression is an illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks. In addition, people with depression normally have several of the following symptoms: a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide. 
Source- WHO
I am entering my 23rd year of treating patients. During this period, I have had the privilege of a having a front row seat in their lives. In the relationships created with them, I am often humbled by what they share with me.
I practice with the belief that our mind-body and spirit are connected. There is no way for me to be able to provide good dental care to my patients without taking this fundamental integration and connection into account.
In addition to my commitment to continuous learning in the field of dentistry and dental sleep medicine, I believe that it is also my responsibility to make sure that I grow and remain open to listening to what my patients are saying to me. But even more importantly, to be curious of what they are not saying and try to read between the lines of their silence.
I would like to share what I have found to be a pattern in my practice that has revealed itself over the last many years.
1.     More patients seem stressed out today than when I started in 1994
2.     More patients seem to be on medications for depression and anxiety, including young teens and adults
3.     Many admit to suffering from depression and anxiety when asked that question during a routine medical history review.
4.     More however, do not admit to being depressed or anxious , despite obvious presenting  signs and symptoms of the condition
5.     This is true of all age groups that I see in my general practice, including very young children, teens and young adults
6.     Many patients feel that depression is an un-treatable disease and have accepted that they will never feel whole again. Others don’t even remember the last time they felt energized, hopeful and experienced any joy
Reports indicate that more people in the US see their dentist at least once a year than those visiting a primary care physician. They may not even have a PCP of record. So in addition to the implications listed below, our responsibility to screen for depression and the state of a patients mind health is critically important as we may be the only health care professional they see during the year.
1.     More patients are overwhelmed and find it challenging to find time for their appointments due to very hectic schedules. Missed or unscheduled appointments compromise their health and well being.
2.     Delayed or postponed treatment ends up potentially costing patients more time, money and energy in the long run in addition to being the number one reason for patients experiencing painful or life threatening emergencies
3.     Patients exhibit poor conditions orally due to lack of focused effort in their home care when depressed or anxious
4.     Poor oral hygiene leads to bleeding gums. Bleeding gums are a sign of inflammation as healthy gums don’t bleed
5.     Oral inflammation enters the systemic system. Inflammation has been validated as the starting point of many systemic diseases.
6.     Depression itself has been shown to cause inflammation in the body.
7.     Medications for depression may cause higher occurrence of bruxism (tooth grinding causing wear, broken teeth, sensitivity, etc. ) and a dry mouth (leading to decay)
8.     Depression is associated with many sleep disorders
9.     Lack of sleep due to a sleep disorder may cause depression
So at 229 Charles Street, we discuss depression as we do hypertension, cancer, diabetes or any other disease of the body that affects our patients.
It is part of our medical history review. We raise awareness of the prevalence of this disorder that is the leading cause of disability in the world. We educate our patients about the many ways that depression and anxiety affect our health and well being and how we are robbed of an optimal life when we suffer in silence.
I invite you to join me in celebrating World Health Day this Friday and work together to support the millions of people suffering from this disease.
Let’s talk!
Go onto the WHO website and learn more about Depression. Find out how you can help.
If you suspect you may be affected by anxiety and depression, get help.
Ask the 5 most important people in your life how they are feeling. 
Encourage them to seek help if they exhibit signs of depression and anxiety.
Allow your conversations with others to go beyond monologues taking turns to be heard. Listen with your heart. Be present. Be supportive and encouraging.
I know that all pillars of health stand on the foundation of mind health so am committed to doing whatever I can do bring attention to the importance of this foundation being sound and integrated .The price that we pay when it’s not is unacceptable to me- for myself, my family, my patients and the rest of humanity.
Until next time,
Be well, Do well, Live well
Treating disease- Promoting well being -Inspiring Optimal Living

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Statue of Responsibility, Victor Frankl and your Dental visit at 229 Charles Street

I had the pleasure of meeting the very talented sculptor Gary Lee Price this month at the annual AADPA meeting in St. Petersberg, Florida where he was one of the speakers. He is holding a marble replica of the Statue of Responsibility in this picture with me.
Gary was asked to design this monument by Stephen Covey in honor of the work of Dr. Victor Frankl.

You may be wondering what this has to do with your dental visit.

After 25 years of practicing dentistry, I am starting to find patterns that are common in patients that succeed in taking care of their health. That is different than never having any health issues or disease. I am talking about their motivation to do whatever it takes to be healthy, not the state of being disease free. These actions may range from keeping their preventive care appointments with us, being proactive with a toothache or infection and following through with recommended treatment for identified problems.
These patients have a strong sense of responsibility for themselves so they can fulfill their obligations to their families, work, community and society as a whole. They come in eager to know about the state of their health and willingly and readily partner with us to take care of little problems before they become bigger problems. They are able to relate to the reality of their condition and even though it's never enjoyable going through a necessary procedure or process, they take it as a sign of what must be done to be free of emergencies and pain. This proactive approach is their way of being in all avenues of life. 

We have the freedom to choose and decide our attitude. No one exemplified that better and more poignantly than Dr. Victor Frankl. When we accept responsibility for what we can do about a situation, we are empowered with being able to change our condition.

At  229 Charles Street we are extremely empathetic to patients that are nervous about coming to the dentist but are limited in  what we can do for a patient by what they choose to do for themselves. We always encouragingly tell our patients that we will do everything in our power to make their experience with us a positive one but can only meet them half way. True healing happens in a partnership. And that is what we aim to achieve with every patient of ours.

Until next time,
Be well, Do well, Live well

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Why your cardiologist, PCP and sleep specialist should have your dentist's number on their speed dial

Drs. Amy Doneen and Bradley Bale have been on the leading edge of research for heart attack and stroke prevention. Their Bale Doneen Method of prevention is a validated medical approach to the prevention and treatment of vascular disease. It focuses on the causal role of inflammation in atherosclerosis. The BD method is proven to identify, stabilize and regress atherosclerosis, preventing ischemic strokes and heart attacks.

They have been long time passionate advocates of highlighting the numerous diseases that can produce vascular inflammation, including periodontal disease and obstructive sleep apnea.

At 229 Charles Street, we are committed to a comprehensive and holistic approach to your health and understand the systemic links to your oral health and how your oral health impacts your general health and well being. 

Every patient treated in our dental practice is assessed, diagnosed and then treated for periodontal and endodontic disease. A complementary blood pressure screening and BMI calculation is offered to patients in addition to the customary review and discussion of their medical and dental history. 

Patients that raise a red flag upon screening for Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) are referred to a sleep specialist for an evaluation and sleep testing. 

We are also trained to treat patients that are medically prescribed Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) for primary snoring, mild and moderate OSA, severe OSA, if they refuse CPAP, or are CPAP intolerant / non compliant and patients that require combination therapy (using both CPAP and OAT).

According to the 2014 update from the American Heart Association, Stroke is still the number one cause of disability. Someone has a stroke every 40 seconds and someone dies from a stroke every 4 minutes.

Diabetes and Coronary Heart Disease top the list for health care dollars spent in the US. Among the aggregated condition categories, cardiovascular disease was the most expensive. The reason for this situation is the attention given to treating end stage disease, risk for an event being based on risk factors alone and treatment still being focused mainly on cholesterol, not on inflammation.

The Bale Doneen approach of preventing Stroke and Heart attacks focuses on utilizing silent technology to find silent arterial disease and assessing for vascular inflammation.

Arterial wellness can be achieved by assessing for which particular inflammatory issues is driving their disease. These conditions can be managed effectively enough to extinguish the inflammation. The underlying atherosclerosis will stabilize and remain quiescent.

So you see how a general dentist and dentist with training to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea can have a critical impact on lowering the inflammatory burden on your system, which will result in a reduction of your risk of stroke and heart attack in addition to numerous other health benefits.

Be well, Do well, Live well
Until next time,


Improving the Lives of our Patients 

Monday, January 2, 2017


Happy New Year Everyone!

As 2017 brings us fresh promise, I reflect on what I want to do more of this year in order to be better , more fulfilled and happier in every role and responsibility I have in my life.

We are daily bombarded by the millions of messages and demands that are now an inescapable part of our lives. 

Technology is wonderful and so is progress but the human mind is wired for connection- not lists and tasks.

So I commit to trying to be the best individual, wife, mother, doctor, friend, stranger, neighbor  or family member possible by paying attention to the person I am with at any moment.

I commit to being present to the highest level possible.

I commit to growing every day so my level of presence continues to expand.

I invite you to join me in this challenge of connecting more to each other.

Be well, Do well, Live well
Until next time,
Sunita Merriman, DDS

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Practicing Dental Sleep Medicine- My Why

With Dr. Mayoor Patel and Dr. Terry Bennet

I like to know why I do things. 

Understanding my motivation to pursue a passion results in me being at peace with what I give up to accomplish my goals. Nothing is achieved without a cost and I want to make sure that I am not paying too high a price to gain something.

When it comes to practicing Dental Sleep Medicine, I am clear about why I do it- To improve the lives of our patients.

The lack of restful sleep is an epidemic in our society.

We have been geared and encouraged to achieve ‘success’ at any cost. It has traditionally been a boast to have ‘pulled an all nighter’ in high school and college. Putting in extra hours at work has been considered an employee’s strength in many professions. Well, it has all come at a great detriment to our health and well being.

Society is waking up to the serious consequences of not getting enough sleep. There is no system in the body that goes unpunished by breathing disorders but the heart deserves special mention. The effects on this critical organ can be life threatening. At the very least, the impact is life altering- and not in a good way.

As a dentist, I am in a unique position to help patients. 

The area that I treat on a daily basis is full of physical clues that alert me to the possibility that my patient may have a high risk of having a sleep disorder. That allows me to start a discussion with them and send them to be further evaluated and possibly tested for sleep apnea.
As a dentist, I  work with sleep physicians when it comes to treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Oral Sleep Appliances are one of the treatment modalities available to help a patient breathe through the night. I work as part of a team that collaborates to get results for the patient.

Sleep Medicine is still in its infancy. There is a wealth of new information coming from sleep research being done in many disciplines. For me, the opportunity to continuously learn and grow so I can be my personal best and bring optimal care to our patients is another WHY I practice Dental Sleep Medicine.

Pictured above are 2 Dental Sleep Medicine educators that I have had the pleasure of learning from- Dr. Mayoor Patel and Dr. Terry Bennett. Hats off to great teachers that pay it forward!

It has been a while since I have blogged. I have missed writing and sharing with you but was focused and devoted to setting up the NEW JERSEY DENTAL SLEEP MEDICINE CENTER at 229 Charles Street during those months.
But I promise to be in touch regularly now. There’s a lot to talk about!
Be well, Do well, Live well