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Smile high

She is quietly massaging my feet, re-balancing my energy points with her magic hands and organic lotion. I am reclining and looking, through orange color-therapy glasses, at the wooden angel hanging below the skylight, hanging in mid flight. Soft contemporary lounge music plays in the background. The woman to the left covers me with a soft fleece blanket and tucks me in.  Colorful, moving mandalas hypnotize me on the screen above as I lay relaxed with my neck cradled by a soft crescent pillow. Is this what first class feels like on Singapore airlines?

The man with the protruding sci-fi glasses to my right sticks a metal instrument in my mouth and painlessly yanks my temp bridge out.  Yep, I’m at the office of the dentist — the Transcendentist, the “first dental office to be certified as a green business.”

I am offered Bose noise canceling headphones.  The Dr. uses a high-pitched instrument to shape my new bridge.

My journey to the green dentist
I am the neo-vegetarian who ate jawbreakers and pop rocks as a child, who found out too late that brushing plus flossing everyday is recommended. I had many visits to various serious, unsmiling dentists. Scenes from the film Little Shop of Horrors took over my brain preceding every visit. I often avoided going for years, even for a yearly check up (not recommended).

Last month, my bridge broke while I was eating a sticky turnip cake at the Slanted Door. I tried to put it into a napkin with subtlety in front of my date. For the rest of the meal, I attempted to be graceful as I tried to eat only on one side of my mouth. I realized that after four years it was time to find a new dentist. I also needed to replace worn-down fillings. Friends sent me some very good recommendations and I interrogated all of them and some holistic dentists with a set of questions about their customer service, costs and green practices.

Since there was extensive dentistry work to be done, I hoped for the best professional, empathetic, and gentle care. The sound of a dentist’s drill alone made me tense. I dreamed of a dentist’s office with a nice environment and “good production value” (perhaps this is because I have worked on film sets). Through research, Berkeley Parents Network, and an article in Yoga Journal, I found my new dentist.

What is a green dentist?
The past couple of times I mentioned my new, green dentist to friends, they all gave me funny looks. Yes, laugh all you want, but I get perks like a massage and herbal tea when I go to the dentist.  I too was skeptical before I went for my first visit, but wanted to at least try it out.  They asked me, what makes a dentist “green?” The office received green business certification from the government’s Bay Area Green Business program, and like other participating businesses following criteria set by the program. In fact, the website lists all kinds of green businesses and practitioners such as attorneys, chiropractors, economists, landscapers, real estate agents, and mannequin vendors.

“General Practices
1. Monitor and record rates of water and energy usage and solid and hazardous waste generation.
2. Provide three on-going incentives or training opportunities to encourage management and employee participation.
3. Inform your customers about your business’ efforts to meet the Green Business Standards.
4. Assist at least one other business in learning about the Green Business Program and encourage them to enroll.”

The program’s website lists these general practices for participants, and also gives specific instructions for these practices.

The doc is a member of the ADA, is a DDS, and uses conventional anesthesia. What is not conventional is that his practice has a “commitment to environmentally sound business practices.” The website lists eco-dentistry practices, including “digital imaging (not traditional x-rays), which means 75 to 90% less radiation for our clients.”

Moreover, the doc’s short biography reads like a movie:

“Dr. Fred fulfilled a life-long dream of studying with a meditation master in India and moved to the Himalayas. While there, he created a Western-style dental clinic and until late 2000, served as personal dentist to a renowned Indian guru and provided dental care to clients from around the world…” [excerpt]

One day, I’ll ask Dr. Fred jokingly if enlightenment improves teeth. (I really am curious.) Better yet, if he doesn’t mind me asking, how were the teeth of the guru?

It is the end  of the appointment. I still feel the masseuse’s hands on the energy points of my feet (though they are no longer there). It’s like the way they feel after a good acupuncture session. The masseuse has covered my feet with a soft blanket. The doctor is checking his work and asking me how I am feeling since he installed my new bridge. I still feel the discomfort when work is done close to nerves — like visits to any other dentist. However, at this office, I definitely feel pampered and more relaxed during and after each procedure. I rinse at the sink where I am provided with an herbal mouth rinse, homeopathic arnica, and a soothing hot towel on a bamboo plate to freshen up.

On my way out, I drink an elixir in the reception area. The reception area feels more like that of a CMT than a DDS. There are herbal tea offerings, natural light, soothing music, and reading selections such as the book Meditative Spaces. I wave goodbye to the yoga pants-wearing staff, and the Iron Goddess of Mercy statue behind them.

The Transcendentist can be found in Berkeley, CA near the Claremont hotel and spa.

To find a green business in the San Francisco bay area, visit the Bay Area Green Business program website
“Over 1,000 businesses and public agencies have been certified since 1997.”

If you have a green business program website and directory in your region, or green business shout-out, please share it in the comments section.  I have been unable to find a national or worldwide directory of green businesses on the web.

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