Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Silicon Heat

My 8:30 prophylaxis this morning alerted me that I've been featured on SiliconBeat, one of my favorite sites to keep up with technology trends when I'm not leafing through that dusty stack of dental journals. So, a hearty hello to all forward-thinking readers of said blog. My site has been operating mainly in a stealth mode up to now so I look forward to some interesting dialogue with the dentosphere. In the meantime I know my employer prefers me to spend more time "drilling" and less "spilling" online so I bid you a warm adieu for today.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Hello from Web 2.0

This is a great show so far, just taking a quick break to post an update. Haven't run into any other dentists but a lot of great technology. My favorite is Zvents, which looks like it could be a great way to track my patients' appointments online as well as my own busy calendar. The next up-and-coming area will be online access to health and (of course) dental records, to give patients much more insight and instant access to information about their health and well-being. I predict a boom in health related sites and technology now that everyone's talking about "Ajax" (still unclear on the concept, but I don't recommend it for whitening your teeth).

Friday, September 30, 2005

Office Photo

Here's a photo of the Google Tooth office. I'm quite proud of the open layout, the colorful paint job and inviting environment. Also we've got state of the art equipment and amenities. Hope to see you here soon!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Popular Dental Q&A

What a response I've had to my first blog entry. A lot of Google folks weren't even aware of their new dental office, as we've been keeping a low profile and just rolling out service to a few select groups until we work out all the bugs. But requests for appointments have started to go through the roof. We are trying to keep an orderly schedule and slot people in best we can, so keep checking for cancellations. As you know we're working on our intranet scheduling, alerting and triage site, so you'll soon be able to track your dental history online.

The rest of this blog will be in the popular frequently-asked-questions format (FAQ, rhymes with plaque):

Is Google the first company ever to have its own dentist?

Yes, as far as I know. There are services today where dental service is offered to various companies out of the back of a van or RV. This is strictly a minimal-service, high-volume type of operation where the patient does not really have the opportunity to build up a relationship with his or her dental professional. Nor is any emergency or after-hours service offered.

Why work at Google instead of a traditional practice?

One, it's much like any other practice, but offered to a narrower demographic. As I posted earlier, there is still plenty of work to keep my office busy. Second, I've had the chance to meet and get to know many very interesting and curious folks. People here seem to share a love of science and learning and tend to ask a lot of questions. Third, did I mention the stock options? We hit 400 and doc's looking at paying off the rest of his dental school bills.

Which is your favorite, Marathon Man or Little Shop of Horrors?

Loved them both. I'm considering some movie posters for the office, in place of the usual "hang in there" kitten in a tree posters you usually see.

Seriously though, fear of dentists is a real phenomenon, even in the valley. Simplifying the dental experience and making the patient as comfortable and informed as possible has always been my priority. Folks tells me there's a science of "usability" in the computer software field that strives for the same goals, so I expect to build on some great ideas in that area.

How's the dental hygiene at the Plex?

Of course I can't comment on any specific cases, but I've seen some room for improvement. Late nights, stress, and cans of Coke seem to be a common thread among programmers, all of which hasten enamel decay and onset of gingivitis. Hey, I don't mean to get too techie here. Just a reminder to keep that dental health in mind as you go about your day. One thing we'll be rolling out are stations around the campus near restrooms with colorful toothbrushes, floss and other instruments, for catching a quick brush after lunch. Just drop your brush in the tray after you're done and it will be sterilized for the next user. Any company that offers first aid kits should consider some dental refresh stations as well.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Welcome from your Google Dentist

The first thing people ask me when they find out where I work is how many hours I spend at the office. I live there, I tell them. They look at me with sympathy: yeah, I've heard the hours are brutal. No, I explain, I actually am the first person who lives on campus, in a little apartment right next door to my office. That's because I'm Google's first full-time on-site dentist. I just started a few weeks ago and am just catching my breath long enough to start this online diary, because everyone also asks me about my blog. They usually ask it when their mouth's full of cotton, so it took me a while to know what they were talking about.

How did I get here? I graduated from USC dental school a few years back and was working in an office in LA. The weather was great but the whole place a little soulless so when a friend of a friend mentioned the Google opening, I was intrigued. What kind of company has its own dentist? (More on that in a minute.) In addition, you had to be willing to live on campus and handle emergency calls in the middle of the night. Given my ongoing single status I jumped at the opportunity and came up to Mountain View to check things out. Where are the mountains? I asked, but that didn't throw them a bit. The interview process I went through was more intense than I've ever experienced before. At one point I had several guys & gals in a room and they're asking me to diagram on a whiteboard a particularly complex root canal procedure with twin impacted molars. I'll tell you that was more stressful than doing the actual procedure.

I guess I kept it together well enough and I got the job. At this point they give me basically a clean slate to design my office and living quarters. I've got a couple state of the art articulated chairs in there, all the usual drills and suction, x-ray, and so on, plus amenities like flatscreens and wireless internet for the busy employees who come by my office. They put up a sign, "Google Tooth (Beta)" with my own logo; I think the Beta is an inside joke. We opened for business a few weeks back and pretty soon I had a steady daily dose of traffic for teeth cleaning, fillings, crowns, and a couple root canals so far. Nights and weekends are pretty quiet but I do get an occasional toothache or chipped tooth from an evening frisbee game.

After they hear this people usually ask why we need our own dentist, or they roll their eyes about supposed extravagence like the well-known free meals at work and so on. Actually, I'm surprised more companies of their size don't have their own dentist. Just do the math (I had to do some math in my interview also): with 3000 employees visiting the dentist twice a year on weekdays, that's 24 patients a day, which is more than a full load. Do you want those people staying at work or leaving the office for several hours each time? On top of that, the after-hours service is key because people here are night owls, and a dental emergency could leave someone unable to work for quite some time during a key product release.

Anyway, that's just the start of it, so I'll be sure to post more stories about my experiences, the relative dental health of various execs, and so on. A couple of engineers have already offered to work their 20% time on an x-ray browser so they can explore high-res tooth maps from their desktops. And that's the tooth.