Helping People Smile
Colin Yoshida, DDS, owner of Fremont Dentistry, was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, a place where families helped each other and everybody in the neighborhood knew everybody else. “I could walk to school and my parents wouldn’t think twice about it,” he recalls. Perhaps it was a simpler time. His mother was a grocery store clerk and his father was a bank examiner for the state. There were five kids in the family—two brothers and three sisters.
While in high school, Yoshida aspired to be an auto mechanic. “I liked working on cars and fixing stuff. I would tinker around with things, so I thought being an auto mechanic would be perfect, but then my mom intercepted and said I had to go to college,” Yoshida admits with a laugh.
In college, he earned a degree in biology, and at his brother’s prompting, enrolled at the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry, in San Francisco. Like his brother that graduated a year before him, Yoshida was the school valedictorian—first in his class. He gave a speech to the graduates, advising them to always keep learning.
Upon graduation, Yoshida returned to Hawaii and worked in a dental practice with his brother. After seven years, he longed to go out on his own and took a job as a contractor for the state prison system. For three years, he flew from island to island, staying one week in each location, treating the prisoners. “I learned how to fix stuff on the fly,” he says. “It was useful because I had to solve problems all by myself using whatever materials I had with me, but it got old pretty quick.”
Looking for a change, Yoshida moved back to San Francisco in 1996. He worked for a dental office for six months and then bought Fremont Dentistry. Since then, he has grown the practice to include three hygienists, four assistants and a marketing manager. His wife, Harriet, is the office bookkeeper. He hopes to hire a second dentist within the next two years.
Yoshida’s dental practice is holistic. In addition to performing general dentistry, which includes regular checkups and cleanings, he specializes in the removal of old amalgam fillings that contain mercury, a toxic element that slowly leaks out of the filling, as well as ozone treatments to kill bacteria in compromised areas of the mouth. “Your teeth affect your whole body,” Yoshida explains. “You don’t want any infection in your mouth. So I look for gum infections, gum disease and abscesses on your teeth.”
As he advised the graduating class in dental school, Yoshida always strives to learn something new. “Nowadays what drives me is figuring out things I can do to help people get healthier. That’s my purpose and my mantra. So whatever I learn, I’m learning to help people in their health,” he says. He regularly advises his patients about nutritional supplements and lifestyle changes in diet and exercise. He has also seen patients respond well to a practice called oil pulling, which involves swishing oil in the mouth to pull toxins out of the body. In the coming year, Yoshida plans to learn a technique called autonomic response testing, using body energy to diagnose and treat patient maladies.
Yoshida has also developed a specialty in temporomandibular joint disorder, commonly referred to as TMJ, a misalignment of the teeth that causes headaches and facial pain, as well as biting and chewing difficulties. By customizing orthotics and doing restorations, he helps people regain their ideal bite, relieving the pressure and debilitating pain the disorder can cause.
The idea of people helping people, which he enjoyed as a child growing up in Hawaii, is still a value he holds dear today. His No Cavity Club, a reward for kids, acknowledges young patients that are taking good care of their teeth, and the Patient of the Month prize goes to someone that has followed his recommendations and achieved good results. “We want to give them motivation,” Yoshida says.
With two daughters of his own, Yoshida enjoys seeing them develop. His youngest, a 16-year-old in high school, is focused on her marching band activities, while the 20-year-old attends the University of California, in San Diego, and is pursuing a degree in biochemistry. “Who knows what she’s going to do with it?” Yoshida quips. “There’s still hope that she could be a dentist.”
Sandra Yeyati is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings.Edit ModuleShow Tags