Dental School: University of Southern California, class of 2001
Years in Practice: 13
You spent your formative years enjoying the sun and surf in Southern California. What’s your favorite beach to catch a wave?
I grew up in Ventura, an hour north of Los Angeles. Ventura Rivermouth is as good as it gets on a big south swell.
You majored in English and chemistry as an undergrad. What’s your favorite book and favorite element?
I really enjoyed my Shakespeare courses. And (at USC Dental School), we prided ourselves in gold restoration, so gold it is. Au.
How would you describe a root canal to a patient who’s never had one?
I’ve completed two root canals on my wife and she says she would rather have a root canal than a crown. When done correctly, it should be painless and it is a procedure designed to save a tooth that is developing infection. Teeth have “pipes,” and so it is really a good pipe cleaning job.
What is “dental pulp” and why is it important?
The dental pulp is a blood and nerve bundle that is inside the tooth. It connects to the bone at the bottom of the tooth. The main reason we have “pulp” is that it formed the tooth when we were babies. We don’t necessarily need it as adults.
When did it first occur to a dentist to remove the nerve of a dead tooth, fill the space and let the patient keep it? That’s a pretty far-out concept.
That’s an interesting question because they have recovered skulls from ancient Rome that have metal nails driven into the nerve space. I think we have improved the procedure today.
What’s the best way to avoid root disease? Is it hereditary for some people?
The vast majority of root canal problems are caused by decay. The way to avoid decay is to brush and floss and see your general dentist regularly. “Root disease” itself is not likely hereditary, but there are some genetic factors that influence how easily people get [decay], so if you are susceptible to more decay then you are likely to have more “root” problems.