A new dentist in town who wants to become a community partner put her money where her mouth is Thursday morning when she invited 75 kindergartners from nearby Caswell Elementary to tour her office.
The goal of Ceres dentist Gurminder Uppal, DDS, was to stress the importance of good dental hygiene and not be afraid of visiting the dentist for regular checkups.
The tour of K3 Dental must have worked. After students watched a short demonstration of a dental cleaning on their respective teachers or class moms, they were asked how many like going to a dentist. A majority of hands shot up, defying the age-old misconception that people fear going to a dentist.
Dr. Uppal bought out the dental practice of Kay Kucera last year and renamed it K3 Dental since three members of the family - husband and business manager Konark Uppal and children Kuber and Kiara - have names starting with K. In moving to Ceres, she closed down her practice in Dublin which had operated three years and has not regretted the move.
"It's been great so far," said Uppal. "I really like the patients and everything about the Central Valley compared to the Bay area. I think it's a better place. I think most of my patients here are very laid back and they value the treatment they're receiving and it's more of a very valid community type feeling. It's very close and everyone knows everyone. I have patients who have been coming to this dental practice for the last 30 years. In the Bay Area they want things quick, they want it today - actually wanted it yesterday."
She said she loves her dental team.
"I think they're very good. They've stayed here for a very long time and that says something about the practice and how committed the team members are."
The practice - which boasts 2,200 active patients - has introduced more technology and branched beyond general dentistry to include implants and Invisaline braces.
"It has really taken a new turn," said Konark Uppal.
The eight-person staff participated in the tour and tooth health care session and stressed for children to brushes twice a day for two minutes at a time. They were each given a free toothbrush and tube of toothpaste tucked inside a tooth fairy pillow. Dr. Uppal stressed the importance of the habit of flossing so that it carries through life.
"I've tried to get people flossing like when they're in their late 30s and early 40s and they don't do a good job," said Dr. Uppal.
Uppal is planning to work toward a program to offer free dental care as a community service.
"I would like to do something small, so we can start and grow bigger."
While teaching at the University of Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco, Dr. Uppal worked on a Project Homeless with other dentists to tend to the pressing dental needs - chiefly extractions - of the poor on the streets.
This week the dentist will be visiting a high school in Ceres to promote dentistry as a career. She also invites high school students interested in studying dentistry to drop in for observation.
Dr. Uppal received her D.D.S. degree from the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, San Francisco. She graduated in the top 10 percent of her class. She also holds a Masters in Science degree in Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology from the University Of Iowa College Of Dentistry.
Dr. Uppal has been awarded Diplomate status with the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology. She is a member of numerous national and international dental organizations. She served as Section Head of Radiology and an assistant professor in the Department of Dental Practice at University of the Pacific School of Dentistry, San Francisco for four years. She has published many articles and lectured extensively to medical and dental organizations both nationally and internationally.