Your smile says a lot about you and your overall health. Dr. Nishita Ondhia and her team at Bloor West Dental have become a cornerstone business within the Bloor West Village family-focused community. With a paperless, environmentally friendly practice, and a commitment to continued education, the staff at Bloor West Dental provides exceptional dental care that focuses on a holistic approach to your overall health. The team at Bloor West Dental focuses on how one's oral health works together with the entire body with an emphasis on prevention and overall wellness. This is the new paradigm for oral health care providers.
Dr. Ondhia holds a B.Sc. Honours in Life Sciences from Queen's University, a Master's in Anatomy and Cell Biology from the University of Toronto, and a Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She continually builds on her professional knowledge with hundreds of hours of continuing education and is working towards becoming a fellow of the Spear Centre for Dental Excellence.
When did you discover that you wanted to become a dentist? What made you choose this career path?
There is a long-standing Harvard study (done to) measure happiness over one's lifetime. The results highlighted the connection between people and their positive relationships to be the key to happiness. I am a people person and have always known I wanted to make an impact on people's lives. I love math/sciences, being creative, artistic and working with my hands. Dentistry is a great profession as it allows for all of this and being a cornerstone of a neighbourhood, there is a great sense of community and connection which is the most satisfying part of my work. Over the years, the focus has become more about having a higher purpose when serving people. There is a desire to provide balance and health to people's lives, so keeping people healthy by doing our part as health care providers is our focus, we serve via prevention and optimal oral health.
What inspired you to open your own practice?
I have always wanted to practice dentistry on a different level, on a personal and wellness level. Everyone talks about a mind/body connection, and there is incredible evidence showing how the state of our oral health affects our overall health, like inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, nutrition, hydration, stress and even spirituality. I wanted to open my own practice because Bloor West Dental has a brand, a philosophy which caters to the whole person, not just the teeth. When you come to our office, you are a member of our family and your best interests are always considered.
Why did you decide to open your practice in Bloor West Village?
I live in the area and wanted to be close to home. We live here because there is such a village feel within the city. It feels like a lovely and tight community. People genuinely care and stop to say hello. The practice is authentically an extension of my family.
What is the most challenging thing about running your own practice? What is the most rewarding?
The biggest challenge is separating work from my personal life. I have a great practice; my team is incredible, we have the best patients, modern dentistry is really exciting, and the technology is changing every day. But when we are so immersed and passionate about our work, it is sometimes tricky to have balance.
The most rewarding aspect of owning my own practice is the impact my team has on our patients, the community and general health as a whole. We are always so happy when patients leave feeling well, this is important to us.
What do you wish you knew before starting Dental School?
I wish someone had told me about what a large business component there is in being a dentist. Being an entrepreneur and leader, managing people, or even being a mom and balancing priorities - there is no end to learning and growing to be better.
What is the biggest misconception about being a dentist?
That a dentist office is an uncomfortable place. My team and I do our best to go above and beyond to ensure you are comfortable and your needs are met. We choose not to be a "fire department" practice where you go when something is broken. We are genuinely interested in long term relationships, a connection and maintain ideal oral health. You can be sick and have a healthy mouth, however, you cannot be healthy with a sick mouth.
Also, the practice of dentistry is not definitive. Everyone has unique individual needs, and there are a lot of grey areas, with many different solutions to different situations with different variables that influence the outcome. There is not always one answer and the answer may be right for one person but not the next.
How do you work to calm people who are scared of going to the dentist?
We spend a great deal of time educating the patient before starting treatment, so they understand the proposed plan. We talk about how the patient is in complete control and encourage them to let us know what they need at any point during the treatment - that they are always in the driver's seat. If it helps make someone more comfortable, we talk them through the procedure as well.
What are the best dental practices we can all do at home for the health of our teeth every day?
The straightforward brush and floss is no longer the best practice. One needs to look at their body as a whole. You need to look at any health conditions that cause generalized inflammation within your body, for example Crohn disease, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure etc. Then we need to look at proper hydration, stress/exercise, rest/sleep/play, and your nutrition. If the above are not all in check, then the brushing and flossing will not be effective and they will not become a good habit. The mouth and body are highly connected, so we must be mindful of this.
What are the biggest changes you've seen in Bloor West Village since opening your practice? How do you make sure your business adapts to these changes?
There has been a wonderful influx of young families over the last several years and this is really exciting. We are a family dental health practice and cater to all aspects of dentistry, however, we especially love the kids. There is an emphasis on prevention and total wellness, we discuss diet, early referrals to specialists if needed and the importance of a regular visit to ensure any larger issues can be avoided.
What personal and professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
I am most proud of both my personal and professional families - my home team and my work team... I am truly blessed on both fronts. My husband and I are most proud of our two daughters who continuously keep us on our toes; they are good kids who are incredibly supportive and grateful for our lives.
On a professional level, our office is moving in a new direction with a focus on wellness; monthly, we meet as a team to reflect and map out our next steps. We participate in a lot of CE (continuing education courses) as a team and also personally. This allows us to maintain all the current standards and keep up with modern dentistry and technology. It is really exciting.
Do you have any parenting advice?
Get involved with all the amazing activities. It's a lovely way to connect with other families and people in the neighbourhood and to become a part of creating an amazing community.
What is best/worst about raising children in Toronto?
The best part is all the opportunities; extracurricular, multicultural events, restaurants, parks, sports, there is so much to enjoy. The tricky part is creating a balance because there is so much. I began biking and skiing thanks to my children and their influence. We have also started canoeing as a family.
What do you think is the perfect way to spend a day in Toronto?
My family and I like to take walks and ride our bikes along the many different paths and parklands; many times, you do not even know you are in the city. I love Etienne Brule park, Edward Gardens, the boardwalk around the water, and Sunnyside is a childhood favourite. For a few years now, my family has participated in the Ride For Heart on the DVP. My family also loves attending the One of a Kind Show each year. We also love to spend time at home, watch a movie, work on a puzzle, and be creative in the kitchen.
Who are your personal mentors/sources of inspiration? Why?
On a personal level, my greatest mentors are my parents. They have always been role models for finding my purpose in life and how this should include having a positive impact on those with whom we work. It is important to always be grateful, give back and understand we are here for one another. We need to remember to always treat people with the care and respect we would like for ourselves. My husband and my children are also incredible sources of inspiration; they remind me to play and to always have fun in what we are doing; their support in invaluable.
What's something most people don't know about you that you'd like to share?
I'm really funny. I have a great sense of humour (but I don't have an opportunity to share it every day).
What is the best advice you've ever received? How about the worst?
The best advice I was ever given was to genuinely enjoy the journey. There are going to be ups and downs, this is the normal, without the challenges we cannot appreciate the good times. If there are no challenges and everything is perfect, we are simply not living our full lives.
The worst advice was, and always is, channelled towards working harder. In fact, what we want to do is not to manage our time as much as learn to manage our energy.