Monday, August 23, 2010

Inaugural Post

My name is Sunita Merriman and it is my privilege to welcome you to the inaugural entry to my blog.

The title of this blog is Dental Chronicles. I am dentist by profession and am one of the blessed people that understand what Confucius meant when he said,
“Look for an occupation that you like, and you will not labor for a single day in your life.” To me dentistry is not just about ‘fixing teeth’ but about the health and well being of my patients. I strongly believe that my goal of helping my patients keep their teeth looking and feeling great for the rest of their life is realistic and within the reach of the average person in America. Smile makeovers are not just for celebrities and the rich. They can be had by anyone who feels that they would improve their self esteem, social engagement, job opportunities and sense of esthetics. A well trained dentist can actually make a significant improvement in a patients smile by not necessarily doing a total ‘reconstruction’ of their teeth but by performing a minimal amount of dentistry that makes a subtle but pleasing changes to the overall effect of their smile.

Being a good dentist to me also means to be able to detect conditions that would become a more complex problem later on. Something that gets diagnosed early on would mean that my patients would avoid needing to undergo more procedures, spend more money and have a compromised or even hopeless result later on when the issue has compounded. That is not what I want for my patients.

I practice Complete Dentistry which simply put means that I take into consideration my patient’s entire masticatory system when examining them and determining their treatment needs. This allows me to be able to prescribe the minimum amount of dental procedures they will need over their life time and is truly the most conservative way to practice dentistry. It is only when the Temporomandibular joints, the muscles that attach the upper and lower jaws to the adjoining structures and the teeth work together as a harmonious system that there is good oral health. It is no surprise to me when I see patients with TMJ symptoms and worn teeth in my practice on a daily basis. It is not normal and the pain, suffering and irreversible destruction of teeth could have been avoided if diagnosed early on.

If I could have a dime for every time I’ve had a patient say, “Dr. Merriman, it’s not you. Don’t take it personally, but I hate coming to the dentist.” I would be donating a good amount of money to my favorite charity.

Here at my practice, we do take it personally! Dentistry is not just about teeth. It is about our patients feeling comfortable in our skills and knowledge and trusting our intentions to help them. This takes time and patience and an atmosphere and environment that are designed to allow our patients to be heard while they express their fears and concerns. We want our patients to be our partners in their care and to be excited about the fact that they have decided to invest in their health and well being. That is a powerful feeling...

Everyone is different and will take a unique approach to their care. The beauty of helping individuals reach their goals with a customized approach based on their need is what makes our job exciting and fulfilling!

The practice of dentistry is dynamic. There is much to learn and keep up with at a pretty fast pace. In this ever changing world of dental materials and technologies, some basic values remain constant. Integrity, honesty, compassion, quality, learning, sharing and most of all humility are on the top of my list.
No one ever gets anywhere by themselves. I am the poster child of this reality.

I would like to conclude this entry by making special mention of some of my mentors and champions:

-My mother Shan Merriman who told me to always dream Big and In Color and made me believe that I could achieve all those dreams.
-My family that likes me even when I don’t find myself amusing.
-Biji and Aunt Phyll who inspired me with their generosity of spirit and unconditional love
-Dr. Frank Spear who early on in the development of my practice validated a lot of what I ’ knew’ inherently as my path by having a 3 day lecture around it which made me feel that I could practice successfully with excellence and passion.
-Dr. Peter Dawson who taught me about Complete Dentistry but more importantly exemplifies what it means to be uncommonly gracious and giving, brilliant yet approachable, strong and unyielding in the face of challenges and most of all, passionate about mentoring others so we can all raise the bar beyond ‘usual and customary’
-My friends who inspire me to be worthy of their love and support.
-My team at work who inspire me to work hard to earn their commitment and respect.
-My patients who inspire me to improve daily so I may earn their trust.
-My daughters Nina and Simrin who give me purpose.
-My husband Tim who lovingly colors in the big dreams!

I look forward to having you with me on this journey of sharing information about dentistry, your well being , and optimal health and life lessons that I learn every day about living with passion!

Martha’s Vineyard July 2010

'til next time,
Be well,
Live well,
Do well.