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Excellent Dentists in Oakland/the East Bay
August 10, 2014 9:03 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for a general dentist in Oakland or the East Bay who does excellent work, focuses on overall health/tooth preservation rather than unnecessary cosmetic stuff, doesn't oversell, and who won't make me feel crappy for not having been to the dentist in a while. Also: what can I expect on a first visit?

I have some dental anxiety so I'd like someone who's decent with that, but my priority is knowing I can trust them. I'm not looking for sedation dentistry and I don't want or need a fancy place with a spa-like environment, just someone who is understanding and knows their shit. I would especially love recommendations from people who have been seeing their dentist for several years and can attest to their work holding up well.

Also: what should I expect if I haven't been to the dentist in a while and possibly need several things done? i.e. is it reasonable to expect them to give me a written treatment plan? Will they do a cleaning before doing any work?
posted by needs more cowbell to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
She's not East Bay or Oakland, but I'd argue, she's worth a trip down to the Montgomery Bart in San Francisco. Dr. Lea Shapiro is terrific. Yes, it's weird she only really keeps Wednesday hours, but she does teeth cleanings herself, has a great friendly chairside manner, is a perfectionist when it comes to her work (yes!!!), and is thoughtful about recommending a treatment series, e.g., these two cavities should get filled ASAP, but we'll watch out for these two. She also has a great admin, so you can book appointments over email!
posted by ellerhodes at 9:31 PM on August 10


Any idea why she only has Wednesday hours? (My childhood dentist only worked part-time and it seemed like she was less experienced because of it...)
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:50 PM on August 10


She has two little kids, so Wednesday hours is her way of being a mother for the other 6 days, while still getting to be a productive dentist the other 1 day. When she does have a rare Friday opening, those are booked a month or so ahead.
posted by ellerhodes at 10:16 PM on August 10


I've been seeing Dr. Amy Lee & her associate, Dr. Jessica Petzold, for the past ~5 years (Dr. Lee doesn't work Saturdays, so I actually end up seeing Dr. Petzold more often). They are both great about putting me at ease: they answer all my questions, work with me to figure out the best time to bill my insurance if it's something that can wait, and make am effort to alleviate any pain I'm experiencing. They definitely prioritize tooth health over cosmetics.

I can't imagine them being judgmental about your lapse in dentist visits--they'll just be happy you're taking care of it now! Their office is really accommodating and will probably be happy to give you a written treatment plan if you ask, and they can answer your question about the cleaning over the phone. They're on Solano Ave in Berkeley.
posted by kiripin at 12:43 AM on August 11


I can't believe I haven't recommended Daniel Nam on here before, but search says I haven't. He's amazing, empathetic, very conscious of holistic health and cost vs. need. I once overheard him recommend acupuncture, rather than his own services, to a new patient for treating TMJ. He's generous with the laughing gas, folks in his office speak about five languages between them and always remember your name, and he's super committed to community health projects. (He volunteers at the Berkeley Free Clinic and has been instrumental in turning it into a full-service dental clinic that does surgery and even [donated] implants in addition to the more common free services like cleanings and fillings. He also volunteers with Remote Area Medical.) Plus he has offices in San Francisco (near Montgomery BART) and Oakland (33rd and Webster on Pill Hill), and sometimes his receptionist gives me sugar-free cookies on my way out, made to look like all the folks in his office.
posted by tapir-whorf at 1:21 AM on August 11


I liked our East Bay dentist - Brian Hayes' office in Emeryville. My husband and I saw... um, the other dentists who weren't Dr. Hayes, and liked both of them. Definitely not upsell dentistry, and the oral surgeon they referred me to for wisdom tooth removal was OK (even if the actual experience felt like a pretty bad trip).
posted by deludingmyself at 8:08 AM on August 11


Hah! Someone already recommended my dentist, Dr. Nam. He's wicked nice, very low-key, and his office staff are great.
posted by suelac at 11:55 AM on August 11


Probably too far south for you, but BARTable if you don't mind a walk: Dr. Sablan at The Dental People in Fremont. I went to her after not having dental insurance for a long time. I just explained that to her in advance and also told her that I was nervous about the pick cleaning. She had her dental assistants use another tool (a few visits later, they asked if they could change, and by then I was totally OK with it). Also, I have ridiculously spaced teeth, and they didn't bring up braces or Invisalign until I asked about it.

They'll give you a cleaning before looking into what else might be going on, and they will discuss work with you before doing any (and you can see an estimate).

I've been seeing her for several years now. The first few times I got a filling, I had to go back to get it ground down, but I don't think this is their fault. I eventually realized that due to my big overbite, I was thrusting my jaw out when she checked my bite alignment. Now that I've stopped doing this, it's not a problem. (That said, she's always fixed everything that I found even a little bit annoying, with no charge or grumpiness.) Even though we've moved out to eastern Contra Costa County, we haven't had any desire to change dentists.

It's a simple office, but it IS right next to an all-day dim sum place...just so you know. ;)
posted by wintersweet at 2:46 PM on August 11


After seeing a different dentist who caused my dental anxiety with his callousness and disregard for my pain, I was reccomended to Dr. Hemanes in Hayward.

Dr. Hemanes is gentle, calm, and steady handed. He listened to my concerns, and when I have problems he is always patient. His Wife runs the front office, and the dental hygenist is a sweetheart. I have been seeing him for about 14 years. He is very conservative in his treatment (this is a good thing, he saved my tooth from a crown.) I couldn't reccommend him highly enough.

ETA: I live in Oakland and gladly drive the distance to see him.
posted by k8oglyph at 9:20 AM on August 12


Thank you for the answers so far everyone. I'd like to also reiterate that my priority is finding someone that I know will do excellent work, and secondarily is decent with anxiety. One of my big fears right now is about subpar dentistry (mistakes, incomplete removal of decay, etc) that will lead to more work needing to be done down the line.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:53 AM on August 12


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