Have you ever been to the dentist and asked a question only to wonder if you are getting a completely honest answer? Questions like, “Do I really need those x-rays every single year if I have had 2 cavities my whole life?”, or, “Do I really need a cleaning every 6 months?” generally get answered in some generic way like, “yes, you do.”, or worse, “yes, because your insurance pays for it.”. After all, dentistry in the USA is not just about helping people, it is also about making money. Dentistry is one of the few medical professions where the person who recommends treatment directly profits from those recommendations. There is generally little or no oversight on day-to-day operations of a dental office and this creates a difficult balancing act. On the one hand, a dentist is there to tell you what you genuinely need and is obligated to do you no harm, but on the other hand, they also need to make a living paying their bills and going on vacations. If your dentist says you need 3 fillings, is it possible to know if you truly need them or if he just needs to make a payment on his boat? Usually, the best way to know is to seek out a second opinion. But I have always found that when a patient sees two dentists for opinions on the treatment they need, they almost always trust and believe the one that recommends the least amount of care. Of course, less care may not be the best-suited answer. So what is a conscientious patient to do?
Straightupdoc was created with these dilemmas in mind. I strive to answer many of the commonly asked questions honestly and thoroughly but with real science to back up a lot of my opinions. As with any medical advice website, it is important to note that any analysis and conclusions are based on my opinion alone and do not necessarily represent the views of other dentists. This may be considered a good thing! While my views do diverge from those of many dentists, I am by no means unconventional. My goal is to look critically at the most common recommendations made by dentists and to honestly evaluate whether those recommendations are necessary, cost-effective and beneficial. While I have faith in modern dentistry, I am also acutely aware of its short-comings: the main ones being that it is heavily profit-driven and there is little oversight on what dentists recommend and do. Short of that, I firmly believe that evidence-based Western dentistry is an important player in total health and it cannot be ignored or minimized. If you are looking for a site that claims dentistry is a hoax, you can cure all your cavities with herbs or oils and that fluoride is a government conspiracy to kill you, then this may not be the place for you.
Some will ask, “Why are you doing this? What’s in it for you?”. The answer is, there is a lot in it for me. As a former reserve police officer of 10 years, I feel a duty to expose liars, frauds and charlatans. As cliché as it sounds, I think it’s my obligation to protect the public from these things. I also get pretty mad when I see some of the shady things that go on even at seemingly reputable clinics, and this blog also serves as a place for me to vent my frustrations. Call it self-serving, but I just feel good knowing the truth will be told and this is a way to protect the reputation of my chosen field. Also, with my background and experience, I feel I “have something to say” and it certainly makes me happy to be able to share and interact with like-minded people. One thing’s for sure, I will never recommend anything on this site for financial gain, because 99% of the people reading it live far away and will never become my patients. I also have nothing to sell here and I don’t make any money from running this show. So rest assured, this is the real deal.
Now a little more about me: I graduated from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco in 2000 where I received my Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. I went on to complete a residency in Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) which gave me additional training in all aspects of dentistry. Ultimately, I became the clinic director of the school’s Union City AEGD clinic and was a full-time assistant professor at the University. In 2006, I opened up a brand-new practice in Sunnyvale, CA, where I now live and work. I have other passions including photography, astronomy and just about anything involving computers. Yes, I’m a bit of a geek too.
Please don’t hesitate to ask your questions, which I promise to dutifully and honestly answer. But like all sites of this nature, I really cannot come between you and your dentist and the information here is meant as a guide and to be educational. It cannot be considered medical advice. Lastly, any information you learn here should never be used as a “weapon” against a dentist you don’t trust or as an excuse to do no treatment at all. The vast majority of dentists are good people, they want to do right by their patients and they have the best of intentions. It’s important to remember that…