Dr. Ike Rahimi is a dentist in Placerville, near Lake Tahoe and Sacramento in California. His practice, Mallard Lane Dental, offers full service dentistry from general check-ups to oral surgery and braces. In addition to looking after general mouth health and tooth alignment, he also performs cosmetic procedures.
Ike, what made you decide to become a dentist?
I was really good with my hands. Growing up, I took woodworking classes in school, made a lot of home improvements, and worked for two years as an automotive mechanic when I was 18. I had taken classes from accounting to electrical engineering. From all the optional majors out there, dentistry stood out the most for several reasons. One, a large part of treatment is mechanical and I’m good with that. Another part is helping solve a person’s problem: bad toothache, dental infections, getting a better smile, and the list is endless.
Another reason is that most dentists own their offices, so they can design their business the way they want it to. For example, I love dental implants and braces. So, a good portion of my business is treating patients who need dental implants or braces. Some need both. One such example, we had an 80-year-old patient with a snaggle tooth, or at least she called it that. It bothered her as she got older. Finally, she told me that she wanted it fixed. So, we put her on braces and did some dental implants on her. After we finished, her smile was amazing.
What does the pathway to becoming a dentist look like?
The normal pathway involves going to college and earning a bachelor’s degree with the necessary prerequisites. The prerequisites are mostly sciences classes and thus most student major in sciences degrees: biochemistry, chemistry, and so forth. Then there is the dental admission test which is a national standard test and we have to do a dental internship. Then we apply to dental schools with those results and our GPA, along with the applications and so forth. Most dental schools are 4 years. After the dental school, there is another test: dental board examination. After then time to get a job and work away.
Why did you decide you wanted to start your own practice?
I worked for a non-profit dental organization for almost two years. We were giving the patients basic dental services and I felt I was not growing by learning and applying new and exciting methods of doing dentistry. I worked for a few other offices then it was time for me to have my own office. It is every dentist’s dream to own and operate their own dental office. Running a dental practice is challenging and at times very rewarding. We see families and see their families. I remember one patient who, when she was a little child, she busted her tooth on a trampoline. We fixed her up and 15 years later, she is a beautiful adult who is engaged and working as a nurse in town.
This is very rewarding. Or the little girl who we helped straighten her teeth with braces. Now she is studying theatre arts at a prestigious university. We are not a big corporation caring only about profits or have to answer to the board because our stocks are down. It’s a one doctor dental office: owner and operator. We don’t pressure sale on patients but rather help them with their dental needs.
What brought you to Placerville?
I grew up in Yuba City and lived in the Sacramento Valley. When I was looking for an office, I wanted to be in the same regions but not in a busy part of town. Placerville is the perfect location. Situated between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, at an elevation of 1,200 feet, the surrounding area is full of rivers, lakes, mountains, and much, much more. Once someone lives in the mountains for a little bit, they love it and don’t want to go anywhere else.
What are some of the more common procedures you perform?
We are a full family dental office and we provide all the services for everyone. There are the basic bread and butter of dentistry that almost every dental office provides: Dental fillings, Crowns and Bridges, teeth whitening, custom mouth guards, and gum disease treatment. We also provide specialty services for our patients: dental implants. Dental implants are the next best thing to having your own natural teeth. If you are missing a tooth or two, dental implants are the best solution. We do orthodontics for kids as well as adults. For kids we can do traditional braces and for the adults we offer both traditional braces as well as Invisalign. For nervous patients, we have numerous sedation options. From some to heavy sedation, we make sure that you are feeling comfortable before we start working on you.
Here is a quick video showing some before and after photos of patients who have had crown restorations:
What would you say are the most important things to do to maintain good oral hygiene?
It’s a very simple way of keeping our oral health in a tip top shape but most people don’t do it: floss and brush. If we floss and brush regularly, our oral health would be so much better. When I talk with patients about doing more in-home care, they tell me “I know I’m supposed to brush and floss more doc but I’m just too lazy.” Another activity that we are doing is our sugar intake has gotten much higher. Sugar in sweets, sugar in Starbuck drinks and energy drinks, and everything from cereals to Thai food. It seems that we love sugar. There is nothing wrong with eating foods/drinks with sugar, but we need to do it in moderation. Furthermore, after those sugary yummies, flossing and brushing our teeth.
Has anything surprised you about dentistry in Placerville, or about running your own practice?
The say that “when you are the boss, you have all the free time in the world” is far from the truth. Running any business is challenging and dentistry is no exception. There is never a dull moment because the business of dentistry is always changing. Staff members leave for various reasons: going back to school, found love, or other reasons. Patients leave, come back, new patients come in for many reasons: insurances changes, moved in or out of the area, job relocation, etc. Dental insurances keep changing every year and they are many of them. Other factors like storms and power outages that cause us to close the doors for a short time. It’s not all bad news. There are good times too. I took planned vacations to rejuvenate and feel better. I give my team ample time to take vacations. We attend dental conferences together to learn and grow.
What is the best part of your work?
Like most people, I want to make my patients happy and smile. For example, we get patients to come in with broken teeth, gum disease, and other mouth problems that they feel cannot be fixed. After working in your mouths, educating them, and helping them get that pretty smile, you can see how their whole outlook in life changes. With their amazing smile, they are able to eat better, smile better, and enjoy life like they used to when they had teeth. I remember one of our patients, just turned 85. Many years ago, he came to me and said “doc, I want to be able to eat steak again.” He was wearing dentures and those things were flopping all over the place when he was eating. After looking at everything and talking about our options, he decided that we wanted dental implants. After we finished everything, we was happy. We saw him 6 months later and he said he loves his teeth so much because they work very well. He actually gained 10 pounds because he was eating all of his favorite foods. When I saw that I helped change someone’s life for the better, that puts a smile on my face.