What’s a Health-Centered Dentist?


Health is a choice and it’s a function of participation.

Many have asked me what I mean by Health-centered Dentist. The standard medical and dental model in this country is one that I refer to as “Disease Control.” In this model, the emphasis isn’t on helping people take an active role in a preventive health program, one that is designed to empower them with both education and sound strategies to reduce their disease risk over the course of their lives. Most healthcare in this country is reactive, treating diseases that already exist and often, in the case of the medical model, passively treating with a prescription drug. While there’s definitely a place in medicine for pharmaceuticals, often those drugs are being prescribed after a short visit with a rushed medical provider and there’s no conversation about more organic options to avoid the need for the drug in the first place. I don’t know about you, but I would rather choose a healthy, sustainable lifestyle than succumb to a regimen of prescriptions if I could avoid it.

The fact is there are a lot of people, especially those over 65 that are taking several prescriptions. Some older folks just assume that these pharmaceutical regimens just naturally come with the aging process. Many of them are very sick and many of them aren’t focused on preventive strategies (i.e., behavior modifications) to get out of this disease control cycle. Statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) are the most heavily prescribed drugs in the U.S. Many non-traditional or alternative health providers would argue that they are a detriment to your health because they interfere with basic human physiology. Many folks have a genetic predisposition for high cholesterol and the drug serves a definite benefit. However, there are many people that have high cholesterol simply due to dietary choices. I view the justification for such a prescription as a RED FLAG, an indicator that if my behaviors have led me to systemic imbalance, I should consider modifying those behaviors to reverse the trend. Clearly, the types of behaviors that might reverse the trend of higher cholesterol (healthier diet, routine exercise, stress reduction) are clearly going to help me prevent the need for other medications, ones used to treat heart disease, type II diabetes, etc.

The undeniable fact is, as a nation, we spend more money than any other country in the world on disease care, and yet, we are statistically the sickest nation in the world.

Let me illustrate the parallel scenario with dentistry. For over 15 years, I have made it a habit to interview all of my new patients at my Los Altos Dental Practice. I want to understand their dental concerns, their values and work with them on an effective strategy to deliver them what they have communicated are their long-term goals. All patients tend to want similar things – a lifetime of reduced dental burden, to work on preventive strategies to avoid the need for treatment, and to preserve their natural teeth. Unfortunately, dentistry is generally moving in much the same direction as the medical model: overscheduled providers with very large practices, offering short-term/quick fix treatment plans with little to no emphasis in prevention. I see many frustrated patients that are trying to break out of this disease control environment.

Dr. Ken Schweifler’s Health-Centered Approach in Los Altos

So, what’s required? Well, first it takes an intentionally different practice model, one that isn’t rushed, one that is focused at least as much on understanding the causes of dental diseases than just treating the manifestations of those diseases. For this model to be successful, patients need to be active participants, seeking preventive education and articulating long-term goals for health. Of course, not everyone wants to set goals and be an active participant regarding their own health and that’s their right. The patients in my practice that prefer more of a Disease Control approach, get just that and we love them just the same, with zero judgment. I have found that many new patients may feel skeptical about this health-minded approach in the beginning. Set health goals? Be an active participant in their own healthcare? These concepts seem quite foreign to some people. With education and support, I have seen many of those folks shift to a health-centered mindset and gain empowerment. As long as I’m practicing dentistry in Los Altos, I will continue to offer patients a more healthful, positive dental future. Health is a choice and it’s a function of participation.

Contact Us Today!
Dr. Schweifler and our Los Altos Dentistry team are committed to providing exceptional care and empowering our patients with information about their dental health. If you have any questions about services, or would like to schedule an appointment, we invite you to give us a call at 650-941-2166 for a complimentary consultation. The outstanding experience of our Los Altos Dentist Dr. Schweifler, and the skills of our staff have helped us in successfully treating oral problems in our patients who visit us from different parts of Los Altos, Palo Alto, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Saratoga, and Mountain View.