When your dedication to your patients drives you to grow your capabilities and evolve your practice continuously, your patients benefit tremendously. Such is the case of Dr. David A. Woodruff, DDS, who practices general and cosmetic dentistry in Modesto, California.
“I chose dentistry because I noticed that most dentists have a personal relationship with their patients in a professional way, and that was attractive to me. Also, I like to work with my hands. I like to build things, and I enjoy solving problems,” Dr. Woodruff shared.
Committed to providing the best possible solutions for his patients, Dr. Woodruff thinks beyond the world of dentistry by incorporating concepts and practices from other medical disciplines. This holistic, multidisciplinary approach often yields complete, individualized solutions for each patient.
“I have a passion for connecting with my patients. I strive to be the type of dentist I would want to see as a patient. By offering painless care that’s tailored to each person’s goals and needs, I make sure each person has a great experience and even better results,” Dr. Woodruff added.
Science and Continuous Learning
“Using science and your imagination as tools to help your patients is really rewarding. I was originally drawn to the field out of a love of biology and science. I’m intrigued by how the body functions and the physics and engineering of dental materials and structures. As a dentist, I bring together the science and technical knowledge, along with my passion for connecting with my patients,” Dr. Woodruff shared.
This broader perspective led Dr. Woodruff to an extended range of possibilities.
“It isn’t that I have to have all the answers. If I don’t, let me see what I can learn about it. That’s how I found out about things like light laser therapy, platelet-rich fibrin, electromagnetic field therapy, and other technologies that don’t always come through the dental societies,” he explained.
With new technology always on the horizon, such as artificial intelligence, smart toothbrushes, teledentistry, Intra-oral cameras, regenerative dentistry and CAD/CAM, Dr. Woodruff will never run out of new things to learn and bring to his patients.
Physiologic dentistry connects symptoms such as headaches and migraines, neck pain and tinnitus to pathologic occlusion (a “bad bite”). Affected areas and functions include problems with posture, airway obstruction and sleep apnea.
Dr. Woodruff describes physiological dentistry as “a way to practice using objective tools and measurements. It looks at the physiology of the patient. And so when a physiologic dentist looks at the airway, for example, they’re going to look at the patient’s muscle activity. They’re going to look at how they speak.”
Another example is sleep apnea, which Dr. Woodruff screens for in his practice. In addition to losing weight, stopping smoking, and other recommendations from primary care physicians, dentists can provide oral devices that prevent throat blockage.
“I offer a screening test and look for snoring. For a lot of patients, just helping them get their sleep cycles right is hugely beneficial,” he added.
Dr. Woodruff credits a fellowship with the Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dental Esthetics and Neuromuscular Science for his specialized training.
“I’m a fellow, and I’m working towards a mastership with them, which few dentists achieve,” Dr. Woodruff explained.
Links to Other Conditions
Let’s expand on the previous section a bit. The mouth is part of the human body, so it should be no surprise that its ailments affect or are affected by the conditions of other body parts. It’s all connected.
The Mayo Clinic describes oral health as “a window to your overall health.” It can contribute to such conditions as cardiovascular disease, complications in pregnancy and pneumonia. Also, other conditions affect oral health, such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
“Most oral health problems are linked to airway issues and anything from migraine headaches to mouth breathing dependency. So even having a lot of cavities isn’t necessarily because a patient has bad teeth. It’s because of other issues in their body that they’re dealing with. And so dentists can work with other healthcare professionals or address those airway issues or other problems,” Dr. Woodruff said.
This airway disorder, and the mouth breathing it causes, leads to complications such as enlarged tonsils, tooth erosion, periodontal disease and sleep disorders. But dentists can collaborate with other medical providers to detect the disorder early, examine facial and dental bones and tissues and provide a complete, effective treatment.
Dr. Woodruff offers an example: “A woman came to me with some abscesses, and her mouth hurt. Looking at her, I could tell that she had an airway issue and neck posture problems related to her bite. Being a physiologically trained dentist, I used technologies like EMGs and electromyography and was able to establish a new bite for her. She later became a huge referrer for my practice.”
Dr. Woodruff’s ongoing pursuit of his knowledge, skills and professional network beyond dentistry is his key to providing solutions and building fulfilling personal connections with each patient.
“It’s really rewarding when a patient sends you a text on Christmas day to say, ‘Hey, Dave, you know, this is the first Christmas in over 10 years I have not had a migraine!’ Something like that makes your heart melt and just makes your day,” Dr. Woodruff joyfully shared.
Dr. Woodruff’s journey of knowledge is ongoing, and he continues to be open to new ideas. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he learned new technologies to continue to operate without his usual staff in the office, who did not return back to work until June 2020. As for the future, “a lot of what we’re going to see is the incorporation of lasers with our therapies, platelet-rich fibrin (for healing wounds) in combination with a lot of our surgical procedures and bone grafting.”
Through his unshakable dedication to his patients and continuous pursuit of education, Dr. Woodruff is ready for what the future of dentistry has to offer. And his many loyal and appreciative patients’ lives will be healthier and happier because he went the extra mile for them.