THE STORY BEHIND THE PHILOSOPHY
A warm individual who enjoys talking to her patients—all of whom she thinks of as family—Dr. Vijaya Kallam has collected a lot of stories over the sixteen years she has been practicing dentistry, but one of her favorites is when a new patient with a lot of medical conditions pointed to her tooth and said, “I want to have this tooth fixed.” Dr. Kallam quickly ascertained that the tooth the patient was pointing to was the least of her worries—she had numerous broken-down teeth that needed filling, fixing, or replacing. Dr. Kallam advised the patient of the additional problems, but agreed to fix what the patient came in for. After Dr. Kallam finished, she handed the woman a mirror. The woman burst into tears and hugged the nearest person—who happened to be Dr. Kallam’s assistant. Then, turning to Dr. Kallam, the patient said, “Oh my God, I look like myself again! I have been to several dentists to have this fixed but everyone wanted to repair everything else but this. Thank you very much for doing this.”
Although what she did seemed negligible to Dr. Kallam compared what she could have done for the woman in terms of dental treatment (and, she hastens to add, she would have proceeded differently if there had been a severe infection of something that affected the patient’s physical well-being), the exchange is always in the forefront of her mind as a reminder of what she should be doing as a dentist and her number one reason to be here—not to lose focus on the importance of listening to her patients.
PATIENTS ARE LIKE FAMILY
“I came from a corporate culture,” says Dr. Kallam of her start in dentistry. “It lacked warmth and a personal touch. It was run more like a conveyor belt and was mostly about numbers. Patients didn’t see the same doctor each time, and there was no personal connection. I don’t think that’s right.”
From that arose her desire to have her own practice that could be patient-centric instead of business-centric. “When you do the right things for the right reasons, everything falls into place.”
After researching demographics, she opened her own practice—V-Smile Family Dental—at the border of Frisco and Little Elm in August of 2016. Unlike the corporate-run offices she had practiced in, she doesn’t run from room to room seeing as many patients at a time as possible. “I take my time with each patient, and I only see one patient at a time,” says Dr. Kallam. Everyone in her office, which includes herself and six staff members, knows what each patient is coming in for so they don’t have to repeat it over and over.
“I take my time with
each patient, and I
only see one patient
at a time”
She also focuses on education over a high-pressure sales job. “It’s my job to educate and give them options. I don’t force them to do anything or play games. I give them a picture of what is going on (with their mouth), but the choice is theirs.” V-Smiles offers digital X-rays, digital scans to minimize radiation exposure, and everything is computerized, so Dr. Kallam can take pictures and show her patients in real time what is going on and explain their options.