I'm a dentist based in Glyndon, Maryland. My goal is to provide my patients with the best possible treatment and bridge the gap between oral and whole body health.
I was born and raised on a farm – first in Tennessee, then in Pennsylvania. My dad raises Angus cattle and grows typical field crops like soybeans and corn. I came from an average middle class family – no long lineage of doctors or medical professionals like many of my dental classmates. My parents pushed me to work hard in school, but also allowed me to follow my passions and I’m very thankful for that.
An important part of who I am is that I love making things. I’ve got my kitchen tools, but I also have my cordless power drills and saws for DIY projects, plus my dental drills – I think you can see the connection! Both my parents are really handy and helped me learn many skills from a young age. Because of this, I became very hands-on, crafty, and inventive. I was that kid who made elaborate crafts, sewed clothing, and watched the Food Network (I loved Alton Brown) to learn how to make the perfect recipe. I also spent summers helping my dad frame out walls, refinishing furniture, and who knows what else.
My mom is a very good cook and always took the time to make homemade meals, teaching and inspiring me to do the same. My first ventures into the cooking world were through baking, as I admittedly had a major sweet tooth. For many years, I was the baker of the family and I would make all sorts of sweet concoctions. It helped lay the foundation for where I am now from a culinary standpoint, as I really love learning new techniques and understanding how flavors work together.
Being the artsy crafty person that I was, I was considering studying fine arts or fashion design. My mom took me to visit some art schools and I even spent the day in NYC shadowing at a textile company. What I realized was that although I liked the idea of it, I just wasn’t sure if a career in art was right for me. I really loved my science classes in school, and I would miss that aspect. I also knew that my duty is to help people, but at that point, I wasn’t sure how. My mom suggested I shadow my orthodontist and dentist since I like working with my hands.
While shadowing, I realized that dentistry is very hands-on, which I loved. I also saw the impact these professionals made in the lives of their patients every day. I was really enlightened by all of the good that dentistry does and concluded it was the perfect way for me to help people while also using my creativity and hand skills at the same time. Although many patients complain that they “don’t like the dentist”, (and I try not to take it personally…) it cannot be denied that dentistry can transform people’s health and wellbeing. I am very passionate about treating my patients as whole people and l focus on overall wellness.
It all began way back in high school.
There's more to come!
Once I started dental school in Baltimore, I didn’t have much free time, but I still had the desire to be creative and had to find a new outlet. So I put that creative energy into cooking healthy meals to sustain me through all of the studying and coursework. I started trying out new recipes, making lots of things from scratch, like bread, and packed my lunch every day. But I also struggled with sweets as I was constantly stressed. By the end of the day, I would have eaten multiple chocolates at lunch and ice cream after dinner. I literally could not go a day without at least having dessert. I knew it wasn’t good, but it was like I was addicted.
I also knew from my education how diet and nutrition plays an instrumental role in our overall health and wellbeing. From the strength of our immune system to our mood and emotional health – diet is critical. I always thought I was pretty healthy, as I loved to eat salad and gave up drinking soda and juices since I was in middle school, on my own accord.
Admittedly I wasn’t terrible, but I wasn’t great either. I was known to bring baby carrots with me as a snack, yet I could eat a whole pint of ice cream in one sitting. Not exactly healthy. In dental school, I was cooking my own food and learned to make a lot more healthy food, but I still was eating a ton of sweets and dairy. Up until recently, I could still pack away the sweets and was eating out at restaurants all the time. It wasn’t until one year late in 2018 that I really asked – what does it mean to be healthy? I had to take a hard look at myself and make some real changes.
I have read so much on the topic of nutrition and frankly, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. From fad diets to cleanses, how is anyone supposed to know what’s right?
On his own accord and research, he decided to eat a mostly plant based diet. I really thought this was nuts for three reasons. The first is that my dad always complained if there wasn’t meat in a meal. The second is that my dad literally raises beef cattle. And the third is that in my single nutrition class in dental school, I learned that if you are vegan, you have to take B12 supplement. If you have to take B12, I thought, then obviously veganism is not the correct diet for humans.
However, after a mere 6 months, my dad lost at least 20 pounds and amazingly no longer had to take his blood pressure medicine or cholesterol medication. His blood pressure reading became that of a teenager, all naturally. Prior to this lifestyle change, he was told that his hypertension was hereditary. Turns out diet was a much a bigger factor for him (and for most people). On top of it all, he felt like his energy levels were better than ever. He went for multiple scans to locate any cancerous tumors, but none could be located.
Because of this incredible transformation, I thought there must be some merit to plant based nutrition. I began to read as much scientific literature as I could on the topic and have found that many studies show that vegetarians are healthier across multiple health markers.
I realized that the Western lifestyle, particularly the dietary habits of the Standard American Diet and the sedentary ways, is resulting in the increased incidence of disease in my family, my patients, and myself. I’ve taken a long and hard look at myself and realized that what I considered to be healthy in the past, was not correct. I realized that meat is not essential for life. I also realized that dairy was causing a lot of issues for me and perhaps humans are not meant to drink the milk of another animal. I also realized that there are so many healing qualities in plants that we cannot live without.
All of these factors motivated me more than ever to make serious changes in the way I live, which is why I made a major lifestyle change to a whole food plant based and committed to a regular exercise routine. I want to share these lessons and experiences so that diseases can be prevented and reversed.
When my dad, 13 years post-prostatectomy, realized that his PSA levels were rapidly rising, things turned a bit upside down.
Currently in my dental practice, I see people every day who have cavities and dental problems, but also serious, chronic diseases that have taken such tolls on them. Although I have many patients that have beautiful teeth, I have many more that do not. It makes me incredibly sad to see children and teenagers with fillings on every single tooth because of diet and lack of oral hygiene because I know what it will mean for them in adulthood. I wish every person could have perfect teeth, because we only have one set. Our teeth dictate how we interact with others, how we smile (if at all), and how our food is masticated for digestion and nutrient absorption (which literally keeps us alive). The bacteria harbored in unhealthy mouths is associated with heart disease, diabetes, and other medical issues.
My goal in my dental practice is to help people have healthy mouths as well as help patients learn about whole body health. I see my patients’ struggles with diseases and their manifestations in the mouth. Most people are not happy about taking pills every day to survive. Most also don’t feel like they have the energy or vitality they once did. It is my duty to educate patients and I take the time every day to have discussions with my patients because I truly want everyone to be as healthy as possible! My practice is centered on whole-patient care, not just about teeth. I want every patient that sees me to know that I care about them and their health!
What if I told you that you have the ability to be healthy and that you deserve to be healthy? In fact, your body wants to be healthy. What if I told you it all starts with food?
Food is our sustenance. It gives us nutrition to live. Without food, we will die. Yet many of the foods that we eat every day should not even be considered foods. Processed things like fast food, white flour, white sugar, margarine, calorie dense nutrition poor snacks, and strange by-products and additives – these are keeping us from the health we all deserve.
If you look at the communities and people that are the healthiest in the world, namely people in the Blue Zones, there is something profoundly similar among them all. They avoid processed, refined foods, they eat mostly plants, and they value family time, community, and taking care of their wellbeing. It’s no secret and there is much published data coming from these areas. Yet this is not well known amongst most Americans, or perhaps it is ignored. In fact, we are often our own worst enemies.
I want to change that. I want people to know that a lot of health is in your control and no, we are not destined to take a list of 10 medications by the time we are old, nor are we destined to have periodontitis or dentures in old age. I find so much hope and joy in knowing that by taking responsibility for my health and eating mostly whole food plant based foods, I am doing everything I can to live a healthy life. I try to spread this knowledge and aim to help others do the same because there is so much illness in the world.
To some this may seem radical, but I think Dean Ornish, MD says it best:
There are so many facets to healthy living that for many people, myself included, it can be completely overwhelming at times. I totally get that. I try my very best to make decisions based upon actual scientific research and data and I will be the first to admit when I am wrong about something. I spend hours reading scientific literature and read both sides of the argument. I really want to help people and I would never post something that I don’t believe in.
My mission here on this blog is to help you learn how easy it is to eat more plants and take charge of your health. In dentistry, my mission is to treat the underlying causes of dental problems by treating my patients as a whole person, not just a tooth.
I created this website for you – a resource to give you my guidance, ideas, and inspirations. I am still on my journey, and am far from perfect. I hope that together we can lead healthier, happier lives!