Steven K. Okamoto, DDS Michelle Okamoto, DDS, Owner & Associate
The dental practice of Dr. Steven Okamoto is a 2,500-square-foot center featuring state-of-the-art technology in restorative, prosthetic and implant dentistry. As part of the facility, Dental Sleep Centre of the South Bay offers treatment of sleep apnea, bruxism and other sleep disorders. Dr. Steve has been practicing dentistry for more than 30 years; he also practices in Newport Beach. He and his daughter Dr. Michelle Okamoto are both graduates of the UCLA School of Dentistry and participate in extensive continuing education in dental health.
“Many of our team members have been at the practice for more than 20 years—bringing a consistency to care.”
Tell us about recent developments in the field of dentistry.
Dr. Steve: “The dental world is changing—not a subtle change but a tectonic shift created by the growth of corporate dentistry, dental technology and digital communication. Our office has responded to this shift in ways that bring a more efficient, more comfortable and more patient-centered experience. By embracing these changes, our patients are involved in their own treatment planning for both their immediate care as well as long-term oral health.”
In what ways does your team provide personalized attention to patients?
Dr. Steve: “Personalized attention vs. corporate—that is the choice many are looking at when choosing their dental health care provider. Our friendly, helpful team is going to give each patient one-on-one dialogue as they choose a time to visit and what is needed for that reserved appointment. We provide convenient hours and access, accommodating special work or child care schedules.”
Dr. Michelle: “Patients want to understand the cost and time involved in their appointment with us. We work with them creating a specialized treatment plan that estimates number and length of visits to our office, as well as itemized costs. We are also in frequent contact with their insurance company for any adjustments as treatment progresses. And most importantly, many of our team members have been at the practice for more than 20 years—bringing a consistency to care as patients continue to come in for treatment.”
How has the evolution of technology benefitted the patient?
Dr. Steve: “Many of the technologies that have existed for some time have matured, creating an environment for an even better outcome for patients. Digital radiography is much better than film, delivering images with greater speed, function and ease—and significantly less radiation. With 3-D imaging we can now forecast the ‘smile makeover’ before treatment begins—for example, mapping out teeth movements for Invisalign and placement and restoration of implants. Patients can see that smile that they want done even before we pick up an instrument.”
Dr. Michelle: “Digital communication. That is one of the shifts that is positively benefitting our patients—specifically creating a relationship and experience that allows patients to be more active in their dental health. Patients are using their phones to make appointments, see post-op instructions and tell us how their time at our office went. Whether it is text or email, we are communicating their treatment plans, cost, insurance benefits. Another huge benefit is our ability to interface with the patients’ physicians on their medical health, which is intertwined with their dental health—transmitting X-rays, blood test results and consultation reports from other health care professionals.”
What makes your practice stand out?
Dr. Michelle: “In the South Bay area dentistry is not scarce, but a great dental experience is. We have been told time and time again—through testimonials, reviews, thank-you notes and gifts—that our office is soothing, relaxing and welcoming and that we are conscious of their comfort. But the greatest compliment is when they express their trust in our technologically advanced—yet compassionate—team.”
How do dentists and physicians work together to treat patients?
Dr. Steve: “Today, physicians are looking for assistance with dental health professionals when they suspect heart disease with their patients. This communication was unheard of even as recently as 15 years ago. Often an orthopedic surgeon will request a thorough dental examination prior to proceeding with a joint replacement such as a hip or knee. Patients with a cardiac valve replacement will require special premedication with antibiotics prior to having various dental procedures.
In addition, some trained general dentists and prosthodontists are able to assist the oncologist when a patient undergoes chemotherapy or radiation treatment to the head and neck. These dentists can consult and treat patients who undergo such cancer treatments to ensure that the patient is comfortable, able to eat nutritious foods to sustain physical strength and health, treat conditions that may manifest from such therapy, and institute a program to ensure that the dentition and oral tissues are not affected.”