Thursday, December 24, 2015

 Keeping it all in perspective as I wish you  Happy Holidays...

As we see the last few patients of the year today, I am humbled by the gift we receive every day- Which is to have the opportunity to help our patient’s lead healthier lives and to relieve them of pain.

We are privileged to be a part of our patient’s lives and to receive the gift of their trust. It all leads to a tremendous sense of satisfaction for which we are so grateful.

Thank you!

I would like to end by mentioning all those in the world that have suffered this year. 

There is great need for us to focus our attention, resources and energy on making this world a more peaceful and loving place. 

I salute all those around the world that have sacrificed to help others affected by violence, hatred, ignorance, loneliness and everything else that is dark and afflicts us as humans.

We at 229 Charles Street stand together with you.

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


As I look forward to the upcoming holidays, I also think about the pitfalls of the season. I want to finish off 2015 strong and start 2016 fresh, healthy and with a big dose of optimism.

So I have made a list of the top 5 things to do to have a stress free holiday.

I share them with you and invite you to join me in enjoying the holidays in a healthy and happy way.

1- Exercise a little more than you usually do and watch what you eat
The added minutes or hours will boost your immune system and mood. It will also motivate you to eat healthy and avoid the high calorie/salt/fat/sugar/alcohol holiday foods and drinks.
Of course, in moderation, a cocktail or a slice of Aunt Mildred's fruit cake won't be harmful.
Find your balance of indulgence and healthy habits and stick to it. There is no reason to pass out on the couch after Thanksgiving Dinner.

2- Be mindful of what you say 'yes' to
Years ago, I realized that I just could not do everything I wanted to or make everyone happy. I had to make a conscious decision of what all I could say yes to. I had to align my YES to my highest values. So now, I carefully plan my free time around what is important to me and once I do, I devote myself wholeheartedly to it. It has been liberating because I no longer suffer from guilt or rush around doing things in a frenzy because I said yes to too much.

3- Be extra nice to others
This one works every time for me. The rush that comes from making someone else happy is amazing. Going out of your way to help a total stranger or buying gifts for someone who may receive very little if anything, far outweighs the joy of receiving. Asking others how they are doing during the holidays with sincerity may bring forth a conversation that is genuine and authentic. That connection is what life is all about. It is estimated that a large percentage of our population is lonely, alone or depressed during the holidays. Reach out and touch someone.

4- Make your own traditions
What do the holidays mean to you? We are all free to decide how we want to spend this precious time. Tradition is wonderful but is your family tradition weighing you down? Well, go ahead and create your own ways to be joyous and connected. Do you want to retreat and reflect? Well, go ahead and book yourself a weekend off. Do you want to see everyone you know in one place? Then go ahead and plan a blowout party. Just make sure it's what you want to do and brings you happiness. Don't let others expectations do the talking for you

5- Practice Self love through Self care
Take the time to make sure you have focused on your own health and wellbeing. Are you up to date with your primary care physician's and dentist visits? Did you get the rest you needed to start the day. Have you found the time (even if it's a sliver of time) to do something you deeply enjoy?
The mind is connected to the body in more ways than we are even aware so it is essential to be still and hear yourself. What is the message you are receiving? Listen to your self.

It does not take much to do simple things for yourself.
Buy flowers for your room- Read a book- Go for a movie- get a massage- meet a friend for a drink-

Here's to a happy and healthy Holiday Season
Be well, Do well, Live well,
Until next time,

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Art of Loving, Self love, Self care and your dental appointment

I find that my biggest challenge as a dentist has also been the greatest opportunity for me to grow as a professional and individual. Because dental disease is in most cases painless, many patients seek care only when they have pain. By then, the condition is usually serious and non reversible, for which only definitive treatment is the answer.  

As I enter my third decade of providing health care to my patients, I still believe that it's critically important to educate my patients about the importance of preventive care and educating and inspiring them to adopt a culture of wellness instead of just treating disease. 

That takes time and a relationship of trust. The benefits, however, far outweigh the time it takes to create this trusting relationship. When I see a patient come in with bleeding gums and broken down teeth, it becomes a personal mission to not just 'fix' them but also teach them how to prevent such situations. Knowing what I do about the oral systemic link, I can't afford to be lax about stressing the importance of regular dental visits, the role of proper diet and healthy nutritional habits, exercise, awareness of susceptibility to dental disease and prevention of  inflammation in the body. As your dentist, I am at a tremendous advantage to be able to help you understand these links and not only treat cavities and periodontal disease but screen for oral and head and neck cancer, sleep apnea and snoring and reduce the inflammatory burden on your immune system, thereby reducing your risk of getting many diseases.

So at 229 Charles Street, our entire team takes educating our patients as an extremely important job.

Lack of urgency to seek dental care due to the painless nature of dental disease is only one of the barriers that patients face when it comes to making regular dental appointments. Many times it is serious financial constraints, lack of awareness of the importance of oral health, limited availability of dental services, etc.

But after many years of practicing, I have now identified another major factor. A misunderstanding of what Self love and self care really means. I recognize this as a philosophical factor but see the negative effects of a patients belief that self love is selfish love. Nothing is further from the truth.

'My turn will come after the kids are done' 'I'm too old for Invisalign anyway' I just don't have time to come in for an appointment for myself after I'm done driving the kids places'  'My work is just crazy' 
There is an element of truth in all of these reasons to be challenged to find time for ourselves. But just a small element. When we take care of ourselves, we are able to function optimally for others.

Erich Fromm's book the 'Art Of Loving ' is one of my favorite books. It describes Self Love so eloquently.

At our practice, we aim to go beyond educating and inspiring you but truly seeing you for the unique individual that you are and encouraging you to express your self love by taking care of your health.

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

Sunita Merriman, DDS

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Top 10 Tips to Overcome Your Fear of a Dental Visit

Top 10 Tips to Overcome Your Fear of a Dental Visit

1. Recognize your fear
That is the start to being able to take steps to overcome your fear
2. Trace your fear
Try to discover why you have a fear of going to the dentist. Was it a negative previous experience at a dentist's? Is it a general fear of medical treatment?
3. Know you are not alone.
Numbers of what percentage of the US population is afraid of going to the dentist varies but it is significant.
4. Know that Dentistry has come a long way.
 Now, visits are virtually painless due to improved technology, early diagnosis of conditions and decades of emphasis of preventive care and regular 6 month checkups.
5. Research dentists
Ask friends and family about their dentist and find out if the office sounds like it could work with you to create a positive and comfortable experience.
6. Spend time talking to the staff
When you call an office, see how much time the staff spends listening to you. Get a sense of how compassionate they sound.
7. Make an appointment to visit the office
Instead of scheduling a treatment visit, ask to come in to meet with the dentist and the team. That will give you an opportunity to ask questions and help you get familiar with the office and their protocols. This will reduce stress at subsequent visits
8. Start slow
Go for short appointments/preventive care/minor procedures in the beginning. It will help build trust and tolerance; both these factors will decrease anxiety
9. Take your headphones with you
If you have a playlist that helps you relax, take your head phones with you so you can 'just let go' while in the chair
10. Consider anti anxiety medication
After a thorough discussion with your dentist, she/he may suggest prescribing a low dose of an anti anxiety medication for your first few visits so you can get comfortable with being in the office and dental chair. This will in many cases be enough to get past your fears and take you to the point where it is not necessary.

The most important thing to do is communicate honestly and openly about your fear and anxiety about dental visits with your dentist. A competent and compassionate team is well equipped to help you through the process of receiving oral health care and actually get you excited about your visits with them.

We have seen that happen first hand with many of our patients and it gives us a sense of great accomplishment when we see them smile and enjoy all the benefits that go along with a healthy life style.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us. It would be our pleasure to help you receive the care you deserve.

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

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The world's most famous smile

Leonardo da Vinci probably had no idea that his painting La Gioconda or the Mona Lisa would be the topic of so much discussion, debate and intrigue in regards to the subject's smile. It is without doubt the world's most famous smile.

But is it the world's most important smile?

I have enjoyed the Mona Lisa immensely but feel that the most important smile in the world is your own.

In my many years of being a dentist, I have discovered that every single patient of mine has a distinct outlook on their smile. Their feelings about their smile are unique to them. But the fact remains that the most important smile in the world is our own.

Our smile is our calling card and one of the most powerful ways with which we engage with others. When we feel great about our smile, we are quick to share it and connect with another human being or with a group of people. The benefits of that connection go well beyond the social aspect of life. Research is showing how smiling positively affects the brain's capacity to heal itself through the property of neuroplasticity.

Smiling- what a great way to create new pathways in our brain!

So go ahead and try this today - smile at someone. Someone you love, a random stranger, someone who looks like they are down on their luck, someone who did you a favor. It doesn't matter who you smile at. The result will be the same. You will feel happy and your brain will thank you for it.

And guess what, so will the recipient of your sweet gesture.

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

Monday, June 22, 2015

Father's Day, A time to Lean In


Dave Goldberg, Mo Merriman, Tim Carlsen and millions of men have something in common...

This Father’s Day, I pay tribute to Dave Goldberg...

Dave tragically passed away recently at the young age of 47. A brilliant man in his own right, Dave was proud of being the husband of Sheryl Sandberg, the author of  'Lean In'.  For those of you who have read this book, you already know the eloquence with which Sheryl describes her husband’s partnership. She credits his encouragement and active support in creating a lifestyle which enabled her to pursue her career with the comfort of knowing that he ‘had it covered’ at home with their children when she was at work. He was not patronizing her but truly believed in her talent and wanted her to take advantage of all the opportunities that came her way so she could fulfill her potential. He set an example for their children to see how two people that loved each other fully could work together to bring out the best in each other. He also recognized the fact that despite all the advancements of the cause of equal rights for women, it still is not a fair fight out there. So he did something that only a man who is evolved, supremely confident and truly in love with his wife can do- he encouraged his wife to go into the spotlight while he stood strongly in the wings taking no credit for her success. How do you think this impacted their children? I can only imagine the amazingly powerful ripple effect of such selfless love and gift of empowerment. Alas, they do not have him in their lives the way every child deserves to have their father but they have a legacy of his goodness, leadership, innovative partnership with his wife and his definition of what he considered a strong and well balanced family that made a difference in this world.

This Father’s Day I pay tribute to my dad, Mo Merriman...
I hold his love in my heart. I move forward in my life with a deep appreciation of the qualities that defined him. His intelligence, his warmth and his kindness are embedded in my mind. His curiosity about people and this world is something that I have proudly inherited. The safety and security I felt when he held me are still imprinted on my psyche. His calm voice relaxed me and although I cannot remember the stories that he told me, I am still comforted by the memory of him reading to me at bedtime. All of this has shaped who I am and guides me as I make my way in this world and work towards the legacy that I want to leave behind. I am amazed at the scope of his influence on my development and on how I view myself .
The everlasting and profound depth of his impact on me is truly amazing considering the fact that he died when I was only 6 years old…

This father’s Day I pay tribute to my husband, Tim Carlsen...
Tim, Simrin and Nina
Tim and I are raising 2 daughters, Nina and Simrin. Both girls are smart, strong and may I truthfully add, a bit sassy. I have no doubt that having a father that is there for them at all times and under all circumstances has had a positive effect on their self-confidence and self-image. In this day and age, it is a challenge to raise good kids and our family is no different than most in sometimes struggling to find a way to reach our children with the message that we want them to hear. Today I celebrate Tim as a dad who influences his daughters by living a life of integrity, hard work and devotion to his family. Sometimes the only language that is effective is that of silent but active support. Tim speaks that language well. He does it by encouraging our girls to push through when they are failing, he does it by cheering them on when they are winning, he does it by enforcing the rules even though he really wants to make them happy by giving in, he does it by being available to them at all times, he does it by accommodating late night trips to craft stores so they can finish a project that they forgot to tell him about, he does it by telling them how beautiful they are when they complain to him about their acne, he does it when he teaches them how to use power tools, he does it when he tells them silly, punny jokes and then enjoys their ‘eye rolls’, he does it when he comforts them when their hearts are broken, he does it infinite ways, day in, day out.

As I shared today, I know the importance of a father’s love, involvement and commitment. It is far reaching and trans generational. The Dave Goldberg’s and Mo Merriman’s of the world may not be with us any longer, but their legacy lives on.

This Father’s Day I pay tribute to all those fathers that make their children feel loved and special...
Thank you!
Be well, Do well, Live well,
Until next time,
Sunita Merriman, DDS

Monday, June 8, 2015

The bigger picture

We bring who we are to what we do in this world. 

It leaves a mark on every interaction we have with others, every decision we make and every thought that drives us.

At this stage of my life, after much time and effort spent on self-reflection and growth, I have a better understanding of who I am. I no longer spend countless hours second guessing my instincts and judgment. It is a joy to fully and successfully integrate my inner values into my personal life and my professional life. I operate with the same goals, objectives and game plan in every arena of my life.  

You would think that by becoming more certain of who I am and what I stand for I would miss out on becoming more open and vulnerable to people and life situations. The opposite has occurred. The consistency and merge of my inner and outer life has given me the freedom to follow my natural curiosity with confidence and excitement and allows me to learn and grow from the experience, wisdom and knowledge of others. It has also increased my patience and desire to understand another person's point of view

I recently led a team exercise at my practice. The question asked around the table was,


We all got only 10 minutes to answer this question and had a maximum of 15 words that we could use to describe ourselves. Here is what I wrote,

I am a powerful, insightful, brilliant, beautiful, positive and ambitious human being who cares deeply about growing and helping others grow.

At our dental practice in Westfield, NJ, my passion and commitment to help others grow manifests itself in many ways that makes being a member of the 229 Charles Street family a very special thing.

For my patients- Nothing less than your optimal health and wellness is an acceptable result for us

For my team- Nothing less than providing the best environment and opportunity for you to continue to grow as compassionate and competent professionals is an acceptable goal for me

For myself- Nothing less than a daily effort to live by my values, philosophy and mission to the best of my abilities is acceptable to me

At the end of the day, I take comfort and counsel in George Orwell's words-

The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.

At 229 Charles Street, it is our endeavor to be the best of who we can be.

That is the big picture...

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