For the last two years, Dr. Perry Stamatiades with Zöe Dental Care has sponsored Dentistry from the Heart events that provide patients with free dental care. The event, scheduled on Saturday, April 25, was for those who may not be able to pay for dental care, he says. “This event is about the community, and we want to give back. To have a strong community, we need to find ways to reach out to others,” says Stamatiades.
Last year, patients started lining up as early as the evening before to ensure their visit, he reports. This year’s event took place at Zöe Dental Care, 10A Yorkshire St., South Asheville, Saturday, April 25, starting at 7:30 a.m. The first 75 patients were guaranteed free dental care. Patients were able to choose one free service, including teeth cleaning, filling or extraction.
Despite the rainy day, Zoe Dental and 43 volunteers provided over $29,000 worth of dental services to 95 patients. Volunteers consisted of dentists, dental professionals, students, and Zoe Dental patients. The Dentistry from the Heart 2015 event can be viewed here:
Mountain Xpress: Asheville is often regarded as a sort of wellness mecca. How does your practice modality fit in with the larger wellness community?
Dentists and medical professionals have never really intertwined. Our practice looks at the overall health of the patient and how to make their overall lives healthier. We are a traditional practice with more of a medical scope, or what I would call a progressive approach. Everything works together and is very symbiotic. Your oral health can directly affect other parts of the body. There have even been links found with bacteria in the mouth to arterial plaques. We often see patients who have a good grasp of oral health. This event is more for those who don’t have the access to health or haven’t been educated about the importance of caring for your teeth. Although more physicians are becoming in tune with the oral-body connection, there may still be patients that don’t understand the importance of oral health.
There are many approaches and ideas out there about healing. What does healing mean to you?
If you don’t floss your teeth, the area around the teeth will petrify and harden with bacteria. It’s basically a coral reef of bacteria. The oral rinses can make the gums feel better, but the bacteria will still be present. We carry an essential oil product that helps the gums, but it doesn’t cure gum disease. For example, until you physically remove the rock from your shoe, it’s never going to get better. We are able to remove the bacteria that are causing the infection. We try to educate our patients about what they have so they are a better advocate for their own health care. Thy body can repair itself, but sometimes the body needs help in dentistry. If the body could cure itself, then people would have their teeth the rest of their life.
What is it about Asheville that made you want to pursue your practice/business here?
I’m a native of Asheville. I graduated from Asheville High in 1990. I told my parents I wasn’t coming back to this town. It was barren and like a ghost town. For a young teenager wanting more excitement, it wasn’t working at the time. [But] after my residency, I decided to return. My family is here, and what I wanted from life was a lot different than in my younger years. I saw the growth in the area, already had roots here and saw the potential to have a successful practice here.
What drew you to pursue a career in dentistry?
I figured it out later in life. The body always fascinated me. I enjoy helping people. I pursued some internships and followed some medical mentors around. I’ve found medicine is fairly abstract. With dentistry, there are so many different aspects that go into it. There’s a medical basis, hands-on approach and the cosmetic piece.
When I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I watched a dentist do some removal work on a patient needing to remove her four front teeth. You could tell she was getting really worried as he was removing the teeth. She slowly started feeling where her teeth were and her eyes started to well up. He put a partial denture in that was very cosmetic. He gave her the mirror, and the joy she had was incredible. She was disfigured from gum disease, and she could still walk out of there and keep her smile. I realized then that’s what I wanted to do to help someone. Dentistry is very challenging, as there is always more to learn and emerging technologies. It’s a lot of work, but very rewarding.
Would you like to share any memorable patient stories that have impacted you in some way?
I work a lot with patients who have eating disorders. One patient had found cancer in her jaw and had to have a major surgery. She had such gratitude for being alive and [had] a drive to live. She was amazing! Another patient was bulimic for many years. She had such positivity and gratitude. It’s not really what I’ve done, but what they’ve taught me about adversity and moving forward in life. That’s why I named my practice Zöe Dental. It means “life” in Greek and rests in my heritage. The most moving part of my job is actually not fixing teeth.
Anything else you would like to share?
I don’t want to make this about me. This is about the event, the community. We’ve been very successful and therefore want to give back to the community. There’s a big need for it. It’s really about serving others. I’ve had some success, but I don’t let it get to my head. I didn’t do this by myself, and the community helped. I believe we don’t deserve anything we receive in life, and once we realize this, we have to give back if we were blessed and fortunate enough to receive. In order to be a strong community, we need to find ways to reach out to others.
I’ve been getting more out of the event because it’s so rewarding and in some ways more than the patients themselves. I’ve found more of a purpose, and this event has grounded me. Sometimes we tend to get lost in the practice, and this event brings us back to the purpose of what we’re doing. Giving back becomes infectious. We had restaurants donating food and other volunteers show up. If they could just multiply this more during the year, that would be incredible. People have really motivated me over the years, and I want to give back.
What do you envision for future Dentistry of the Heart events?
I want to continue Dentistry from the Heart. I would like to maximize this event every year in order that we can inspire other practices do the same. It does take a lot of logistics, and my team has been helpful in making this event happen. We can even help others to have the same event and would like to spark change in others. If there are others that want to donate coupons, free food for people standing in line, raffle off items from their businesses, or if they want to offset some of the costs, that would be helpful. The cost is around $3,500 per event. That may be a drawback for some practices, because you’re using your own materials. We will have a DJ playing music for everyone, some games and other new additions to the event.