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Dentists Focus On Familys Whole Health
Dr. Rafael Cardenas, left, takes a look at teeth with the dental mirror while Dr. Mary Richmond, right, observes at their practice, Whole Health Dental in Oakdale. - photo by Dawn M. Henley

Husband and wife dentists, Drs. Rafael Cardenas and Mary Richmond opened Whole Health Dental at the corner of F Street and Lee Avenue in 2009. Dr. Richmond reported that they had a practice in Manteca for 25 years that was “too busy, too hectic” and they opened their practice in Oakdale to provide more one-on-one patient care.

“…In some respects, I feel dentistry has pulled away from the health aspect,” Dr. Richmond said, adding that there seems to be a heavier focus on beauty and the cosmetic aspect.

“A smile is beautiful when it’s healthy. It doesn’t have to be a Hollywood-type smile,” she said.

Dr. Richmond explained that healthy gums, like an orange peel, are firm and stippled – but also pink. She added that gum disease, if left untreated, creates other health problems and said that preventative dentistry is the key. She noted that studies have shown that poor dental health can be related to heart attack, stroke, premature births, and more.

Doctors Richmond and Cardenas pride themselves on the personal service they’re able to provide to their patients and the focus on a healthy smile.

“We are a very small practice,” Richmond said, adding that they only book about one patient per hour. “We love it that way.”

Dr. Richmond noted that when dealing with patients who are nervous or afraid of dental treatments, she and her husband have found that the atmosphere in their office and the non-rushed, non-judgmental way that they deal with patients makes a difference. They take their time with the patient, explain things to them and help them to feel comfortable, and, Richmond said, she hasn’t had to sedate anyone.

Drs. Richmond and Cardenas treat the whole family’s dental needs. They also do extractions, root canals, crowns, and bridges and also refer their patients to specialists when there are larger dental issues.

The doctors will also do more aesthetic dentistry, including veneers, but it’s not the cornerstone of their practice and Richmond said that they don’t steer their patients toward dental treatments that have to do more with beauty than health. However, they do offer those services when their patients want them and at times, she said, there are situations where congenital dental problems exist and a patient can benefit from some cosmetic dentistry. One such type of cosmetic dentistry is veneers. While the pricey facings may change the smile aesthetically, Dr. Richmond cautioned that veneers are like false fingernails in that they’re fragile, they stain, and require expensive long-term maintenance.

For as long as they’ve been in practice together, the personalities of this husband and wife dental team complement each other in not only treating their patients, but also in running their business.

“He’s mechanical, so if any (equipment) breaks down, he fixes it. I’m a paper person. I’m an organized person,” said Dr. Richmond, adding that she deals with billing, insurance, industry regulations and so on.

Dr. Richmond said that she and Dr. Cardenas have enjoyed coming to Oakdale with their practice, noting that it’s a “wonderful community” and how people will sometimes just stop in to talk.

Whole Health Dental is accepting new patients and may be contacted at 847-4400.