Anthony Fernandez, DDS
Anthony Fernandez is a third-generation San Francisco Bay Area native, who earned his DDS degree in 1986 at UCSF School of Dentistry. Chief clinician with NewEnamel, Fernandez has been in private practice in Sonoma County for over 26 years, and is an active member of the California Dental Association (CDA), American Dental Association (ADA), Redwood Empire Dental Society (REDS), and UCSF Dental Alumni Association. Over the last few years, he has implemented CAMBRA for his patients.
I’ve always been active in continuing education, and when I saw Dean Featherstone give a CAMBRA presentation, a light bulb went on; it was as if I’d been given a set of glasses to see my profession differently. I’m not just a tooth repair guy; I’m treating individuals with disease and there are things that can we do to help them manage that disease.
Rapid Results Lead to Financial Successes
My first implementation was with my own sons. My middle boy’s x-rays showed tooth decay that would predispose him to illness and when I started doing CAMBRA with him I saw results very quickly. So I started doing CAMBRA with my patients — talking with them more about how to take care of their teeth using the CAMBRA protocol — and that was very empowering. They stopped getting cavities and their teeth were less sensitive.
It wound up being a financial success as well. I have a very normal dental practice, three chairs in a middle-class neighborhood of Santa Rosa. I do zero advertising, but I have a steady stream of new patients, because the word of mouth when using CAMBRA is that you're a good dentist, that you have your patients’ health and best interests top of mind. That resonates. I do less restorative work these days, but my patients send me their kids and neighbors who need a lot of dental work at the outset. And once patients are healthy, they have money that allows them to consider certain elective procedures. In general, because I’m not drill-happy, my patients are less afraid to come in and they come in more often.
Some might think of CAMBRA as one more thing to do, another 15 minutes I don't get paid for, extra paperwork – and at the beginning, it can feel like that. So I looked at my forms and my practice and baked CAMBRA into my system. I put the CAMBRA questions in between everything else and, now, it doesn’t really take any more time. I’ve also worked with my staff. My hygienist talks to the patients about protective and risk factors. The front desk does too. We assess the risk, write a prescription, and keep the therapies in the office where we can price them more reasonably than the drug store, with printed instructions that are very simple.
Patients and Communities Benefit
But the real key is how patients take care of their teeth, because they're the beneficiaries so I’ve eliminated barriers for them, made it easy to do. Most of my high-risk patients, once they do CAMBRA, are not high risk anymore.
I'm at a point now where I've got it working efficiently and I'm looking to make it even more streamlined. We’re talking with software guys about how to track usage and outcomes. That's where the future is. See where it works and where it doesn’t and lower the obstacles.
From a societal point of view, restoring teeth is a big economic burden and CAMBRA has the ability to save those resources for other things. We’re doing the right thing. It’s fun and rewarding and I invite other practitioners to join in, to get in touch with UCSF and understand how to make this work.