Justina Pham DDS

Santa Barbara, CA


Below are recent letters to our family of patients.

Click on a letter title to see the full letter.

5.23.2024 | From Shannon: How to Clean Your Teeth at Home

Hello, I am Shannon, one of the dental hygienists here at Dr. Pham’s office.

We at the office are here to care about your overall health!

When you come in to your appointment to have hygiene therapy i.e. “a cleaning”,  I often tell you and show you how to best care for your mouth at home. I do realize however that I give a lot of information and tips in a short period of time and that makes it difficult to remember.  

Here is a summary to help you once you leave the office:

The goal at home is to remove all the plaque on our teeth and gums.  

PLAQUE is a sticky white substance made up of bacteria, food and ACID. This acid creates cavities/holes in our teeth through erosion and it creates inflammation and deterioration of the gums called gum disease. Gum disease gives bacteria access to the bloodstream creating full body or systemic inflammation and disease

How to remove plaque:

We can only remove plaque mechanically. We do that by using a toothbrush, preferably an electric toothbrush, with enough toothpaste to de-stick the plaque. We also need to remove plaque in between the teeth. There are several tools that can do this well. 


1 ) Electric Toothbrush:  Oral B Braun or Phillips Sonicare.

When we brush our teeth we actually focus more on the gumline which is the place where the tooth and the gum meet. Focus on massaging your gums with the brush. Brush for at least 2 minutes. Inspect your work with your tongue, feeling for any areas that don’t feel smooth, then go back and re-brush those spots until they feel smooth. 

2 ) Now we need to clean in between the teeth with a tool that works best for us.

A ) Floss, or Flosser’s:  “hug and scrub”

Hug the floss to one side and wipe several times and then hug the floss to the other side and wipe several times. Do this in between all teeth and at the back side of the last tooth in each corner.

B ) Soft picks or proxy brush:

Make sure you are in between the teeth before starting your work. Move the brush in and out 4-5 times while leaning on the gum in between the teeth. Do this in between all the teeth.  

C ) Water Pick:

Use this tool at a minimum of level 8 on the intensity dial. Basically you are tracing the gums with the water pick in an attempt to remove the plaque from in between the teeth with the added bonus of stimulating the gums with the water flow. I like the tip with the brush on the end as it helps to guide you, by feel, along the gums.


*After you have finished cleaning your teeth remember to inspect with your tongue for SMOOTH surfaces!


I hope this was helpful for you all.

Have fun keeping your teeth and gums clean and your body healthy!


See you soon,

Shannon Jones RDH

3.4.2024 | Is your mouth endangering your heart? Or your brain?

Dear Patients, 

It’s been too long since I’ve reached out! We hope 2024 is treating you well so far and none of you had to bail any water out of your homes or offices!

We are quite excited about something new we will be offering soon and wanted to make sure you all know about it ASAP. The technology of saliva testing has been around for a while but like everything else, it keeps getting better. Our interest in it has increased because we want to be able to help those of you who are doing everything right at home but are still struggling with gum inflammation and infection.

As in all areas of the body, there are both “good” and “bad” bacteria. Several of the damaging types of bacteria are resistant to the traditional ways we have all been taught to treat and heal gum infections.

And they don’t just stay in the mouth… oral bacteria like A. actinomycetemcomitans (Aa) and P. gingivalis (Pg) have been shown to invade the bloodstream through the oral tissues… AND both of these oral pathogens (among others) have been found in carotid artery plaque!

Not only that, but Pg has also been linked to Alzheimer’s*… the effect of this disease on both patients and loved ones of mine puts it especially high on the list of diseases I would love to help stamp out!


Other illnesses that these pathogens have been linked with are:

  • Heart failure

  • Kidney failure

  • Adverse pregnancy outcomes

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Macular degeneration

  • Peripheral arterial disease


We are returning now from spending a day in Nashville with the dentist who pioneered bacterial saliva testing and are excited to start offering it to you soon. If this idea speaks to you, please let us know as we’d like you to be among the first to benefit. Otherwise, we may discuss whether it could be an appropriate test for you at one of your future recare appointments.

In the meantime… have a great spring!



Justina Pham, DDS, Maya, Laurie, Shannon, Lindsay, and Rocket



*Scientific citations available upon request.

11.2.2023 | Kenya Update!

Hello Wonderful Patients,

My last email announced my volunteer trip to Kenya, and many of you were very excited to hear about it! I’m happy to report that our trip was a success! Five dentists treated 122 Masai patients in four days in a place where there is no access to dental care without traveling quite far, which is simply not an option for many of them.

Photos above, clockwise from upper left: 1. Our arrival in the Mara, where the Masai women greeting us wrapped a shuka (like a blanket) around each of us. They wear these shukas all the time, they’re very useful! 2. Assisting my good friend/colleague in the clinic. 3. Elephant family on our safari day! 4. Five dentists and the aerospace engineer who kept our clinic running, with elephants in the background. 5. In the clinic treating a wonderful patient.

It was truly an amazing trip. I got to know a people who live so differently from us, yet were quick to laugh with us any chance we got. We are so different but also the same. Possibly the most touching thing for me was that in a culture where women don’t have the same rights as men, as four female dentists and one male we were able to give them a demonstration of equality that they don’t typically see. I return humbled and ever grateful for where I live and the life I have.

If you are interested in seeing more, our non-profit host Global Village Ministries have several informative posts on their Facebook page.

Thank you so much for sharing my excitement. I am grateful for you all!


All my best,

Justina Pham, DDS (and Maya, Laurie, Shannon, Lindsay & Rocket)

10.2.2023 | Kenya!

Dear Patients,

I have exciting news! On Wednesday this week I will be on my way to Kenya to volunteer! Dental volunteering in Africa is a dream I’ve had for over 20 years, and in January I was fortunate to connect with a group heading out to the Masai Mara to work at Lion’s Clinic in Narok. I can’t wait!

I will be back in the office on Tuesday, October 17, and in the interim we have two doctors covering in case you have any issues. The office will be open and hygienists will still be working so don’t worry… if you have an appointment scheduled, you still have it!

I look forward to sharing my trip with anyone interested once I return… thank you for your support and have a great October!


Justina Pham, DDS (and Maya, Laurie, Shannon, Lindsay & Rocket)

8.28.2023 | Look Ma, we're in the news!

Happy end of summer!

Well, at least for those of you with kids in school it’s the “end of the summer”. With these 90 degree days lately it certainly feels like we’re still right in the middle of it! Typical Santa Barbara…

Our last email in May announced that the practice had attained green business certification. I don’t know how many of you read your Marborg news but we were announced there as well! See the link below if you’d like to read their kind words.

Finally, thank you to all of you who joined us in celebrating ten years in the practice. We had a great turnout and even ran out of salad! It was so fun getting to see you using your chompers for something fun and delicious. Stay cool out there!

Summer 2023 Newsletter | SB County



Dr. Pham, DDS, Maya, Laurie, Shannon, Lindsay, and Rocket


5.16.2023 | Party reminder and another achievement to celebrate!

Here we are and summer is nearly upon us… how does time fly so quickly??

Quick reminder that we are celebrating our 10 year practice anniversary TOMORROW! We’d love to to have you join us for some delicious local Mexican food if you have a free few minutes this Wednesday afternoon between 12:15 and 3!

We are proud to report one more reason to celebrate: We have officially attained certified green business status! I have wanted to have a certified green dental practice since way before I joined this practice, and my amazing team has made it happen! Maya worked closely with the Santa Barbara Green Business Program and we achieved our certification just before Earth Day last month. You may not notice a whole lot of differences, as we were already environmentally conscious in many ways, but rest assured that there are new ways we are keeping our gorgeous planet in mind when we go about our daily operations.

 Thank you all so much for allowing us to be a part of your lives for the past ten years, we salute you!



Justina Pham, DDS, Maya, Laurie, Shannon, Lindsay & Rocket

4.16.2023 | Celebrating our 10 year anniversary and welcome Lindsay!

Happy Spring, Lovely Patients!

What a banner rainy season we just had! We hope you all enjoyed it, and are equally loving the respite we’re getting now.

We find ourselves approaching an anniversary worth celebrating… ten years with this practice! While I practiced for twelve years in other locations before starting with this practice, my most fulfilling years have been the ten I’ve had with you all.

We’d love to celebrate with you all and treat you to some delicious Los Agaves fare… please join us on Wednesday, May 17 starting at 12:15pm if you can make it! We’d love to see you… sharing our lives and passion for health with you is what makes it all worth it!

Please also welcome to the practice our new hygienist, Lindsay! She has been practicing for nearly seven years, and has focused her practice primarily on the oral-systemic health connection. We are so excited to have her on our team, and look forward to having you all meet her!


All our best,

Justina Pham, DDS, Maya, Laurie, Shannon, Lindsay & Rocket

2.2.2023 | New technology alert!
We are excited to announce that we have some new technology in the office!
Late last summer, we incorporated an intraoral scanner! What this means for you is far fewer messy impressions of your teeth when we’re making things like crowns and nightguards for you. If you’ve been in for one of these procedures since last August, you’ve experienced the scanning firsthand, and know that it’s far more comfortable!
This technology has been around for a while, but old versions required messy powder. Now, we are not only able to scan without adding any sort of coating for optics, but the scanner is also able to digitally select shades, which helps us match the color of your surrounding teeth even more precisely!
To be clear, there is no radiation involved with this type of scanning. The scanner is creating a digital image of the surfaces of your teeth and gums, unke x-rays that go beneath the surface. 
An added bonus: while this technology means more comfort for you, what it means for the environment is fewer impressions going to landfills!
We hope that 2023 has treated you well thus far, and look forward to seeing you soon!
Justina Pham, DDS, Maya, Laurie, Shannon, Leslie, & Rocket
10.14.2022 | Masks and Mascots!
Hi All!


As fall gets into full swing, we have two exciting announcements to make! In light of the CDC’s late September loosening of mask recommendations in healthcare settings, we are no longer asking you to wear a mask when you come to your appointment! We realize that this will feel like great news to some of you, and not so great to others. Of course, we still welcome any of you who would like to continue wearing a mask to do so. Also, if you have any flu-like symptoms please give us a call or send a text and we’ll be more than happy to reschedule your appointment for a time when you’re feeling 100%. Anyone who has specific personal concerns, please reach out to us and we’ll do what we can to accommodate them.


Our second and most exciting announcement is that we have a new office mascot. We are happy to present, Rocket the Boston Terrier puppy! He is now 4 months old, and has been in the office since he was 10 weeks old. He is quickly learning the ropes, and loves all of our patients. Our eventual goal is for him to train as a therapy dog so he can provide comfort to those of you who might appreciate it. For now, his adorable antics lift all of our spirits! If you love dogs like we do, or you just appreciate seeing a cute puppy face, ask about him next time you’re in!


Be well!
Justina Pham, DDS, Maya, Laurie, Shannon & Leslie
6.4.2022 | Farewell and Good Luck, Caleb!

Greetings, patients!

Happy June to you all! We hope you all are safe and well, and are looking forward to the ways you’ll enjoy the summer.

Many of you have gotten to know Caleb as a friendly face at the front desk over the last eight months. Some of you also know that it’s his dream to become a dentist! The good news for him, and bittersweet news for us, is that he is off to pursue his dream in the fall!

Yesterday our team enjoyed a day of wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley to give him a proper send-off. In the photo above you’ll see, from left to right: Shannon, Maya, Caleb, Dr. Pham, Leslie, Laurie… and even Leslie’s furry friend Gracey!

We’ll miss Caleb and we wish him all the best in dental school. With his passion and enthusiasm, he’ll do great!

The rest of us will be ready to keep helping you reach your health goals as usual, and look forward to seeing you soon!

All our best,

Justina Pham, DDS, Laurie, Maya, Shannon & Leslie

3.17.2022 | Farewell Annie, welcome Leslie, and office closure (just for spring break)

Happy soon-to-be-Spring to you all,

As always, we hope this update finds you all happy and well!

I will rip off the bandaid quickly as this is not the happiest email I’ve sent you… many of you will be sad to hear that Annie will be leaving our team. NOOOOOO, say it ain’t so! That’s certainly what I said when I heard. But sadly, it’s true. The commute has become too much and she’s decided what’s best for her is to stick closer to home. While we are so sad to see her go, we wish her the best and are glad that she’ll be spending less of her precious life in her car. We love and will miss her dearly.

On a happy note, we are welcoming Leslie to our team, who is recommended by a trusted colleague of mine and is a pretty phenomenal person. Her story is one that really demonstrates some of our favorite team values, those of personal and professional learning and growth. I’ll let her share with you herself, please feel free to ask her about it!

Finally, we are closing the office next week for spring break, so your restroom can get a much needed face lift and the office can get a fresh coat of paint. If you have a dental emergency, please call the office and follow the instructions to reach the doctor on call. And of course, come in soon to see some of the new touches around the office!

All our best,

Justina Pham, DDS, Laurie, Caleb, Maya & Shannon

2.16.2022 | Mask Update

Hello Lovely Patients!

I hope this message finds you all well, and enjoying this summer-in-winter weather we’re having!

Many of us have been eagerly awaiting today, when the indoor mask mandate is lifted in Santa Barbara County. While I think Noozhawk already did a good job of clarifying that schools and healthcare settings (among others) are not included in the lifting, I wanted to take a moment to confirm that. We will be continuing to wear masks in the office at all times (even during team meetings, sadly), and ask that you do as well. If you’ve forgotten to bring one, not to worry, just pop your head in and let us know and we’re more than happy to give you one. Thank you all for your patience and perseverance!

On another note, we have just done a mini front desk remodel! We finally removed the built-in cabinet for the paper charts, four years after going paperless and removing the actual charts. We’re loving having a little extra space up there, and we’d love to show it off to you next time you’re in if you’re interested!

Take care of yourselves and we look forward to seeing you soon!


Justina Pham, DDS, Maya, Caleb, Laurie, Annie & Shannon

12.20.2021 | Welcome to new team members and Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

We hope this holiday season finds you all healthy and happy, and surrounded by people you love.

Even though they’ve been part of our team for anywhere from two to six months at this point, I wanted to formally introduce you all to our new front desk team, Maya and Caleb.

Maya is a senior at UC Santa Barbara and is working towards a degree in Biological Sciences. She hopes to work in healthcare post graduation and is loving the opportunity to learn from Dr. Pham. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with friends and family, reading, and dancing.

Caleb is a San Diego native, but since graduating from Westmont College earlier this year, has made Santa Barbara his home. As an aspiring future dentist, Caleb loves being a part of the Pham Dental Family—always learning so many applicable skills within a welcoming and friendly environment! Caleb’s interests include most outdoor activities; the favorites being time spent at the beach surfing and playing spikeball, as well as hiking in the beautiful SB outdoors!

They are both cherished members of our team, and if you haven’t yet had the chance to meet them in person, we hope you do soon.

We are in the office this week through Thursday, December 23rd. Be safe, happy, and well this holiday season, and unless we see you this week, we look forward to caring for you in the new year!

All our holiday best,

Justina Pham, DDS, Maya, Caleb, Laurie, Shannon & Annie

9.20.2021 | Friendly reminder: Use Your Dental Benefits Before They Expire!

It’s wild to think, but the end of the year will be here before we know it! Have you made the most of your dental benefits? If you have any benefits remaining, there’s still time to use them before you lose them!

December tends to be a busy month for everyone, so don’t wait until it’s too late—call us today at 805-687-1411 to schedule an appointment before the holidays. We look forward to seeing you!

All our best,

Justina Pham, DDS, Maya, Lena, Laurie, Annie & Shannon

6.21.2021 | Mask Update and Welcome, Maya!
Happy Summer Solstice!
We wanted to reach out as soon after June 15 as possible, as we understand that you may have questions regarding face covering requirements in our dental office with the recent changes to California’s mask mandate. We greatly respect everyone’s opinion and convictions regarding such a sensitive and controversial subject; however we ask that all patients and visitors continue to wear face coverings and practice social distancing during their appointment, except when seated in the patient chair during treatment.
We have adopted our policies to comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. The guidance states that face coverings and social distancing are still required for all individuals in healthcare settings, including dental offices, regardless of their vaccination status.
As we consistently aim to demonstrate, we believe in putting the health and safety of our dental team and patients first and have always adopted the most cautious approach regarding government and health officials’ recommendations in response to the pandemic.
We thank you all for your understanding and patience as we work diligently to protect the health and safety of our patients and dental team during these challenging times.
On another note, we would like to extend a warm welcome to Maya, who will be helping cover the front desk over the summer. She is a smart and sweet UCSB student, who is interested in a career in healthcare, and we are grateful to have her join us!
Happy summer to you all,
Justina Pham, DDS, Lena, Laurie, Shannon, & Annie
5.28.2021 | Protocol Changes TBD

Hi All!

How’s May going for you? I hope you have some relaxation planned for this long weekend!

First off, sorry for the “Blank Template” subject line last month… the site I use to send these lovely emails overhauled their platform, and clearly since I only know about teeth, it’s taken a little getting used to. Hopefully this one goes off without a hitch!

As more of our community is vaccinated, and as that magical June 15 date for total California reopening approaches, I did want to check in about our office protocols. Given that the CDC now says that vaccinated people can be indoors together without masks, we have been eagerly awaiting specific healthcare setting updates. Just this week, the update is that there is essentially no update: in other words, dropping masks and screening protocols does not apply in healthcare settings. Rather anticlimactic, no?

So… as annoying as they are, we ask that you continue to wear your mask when you come in to the office, and we ask for your continued patience with the temperature checks and screening questions. We personally know immunocompromised folks who either cannot get the vaccine, or who have but never developed antibodies, and we thank you for your cooperation in making our office safe for everyone.

We do welcome you now to come straight in for your appointment, rather than calling from the car. And if you’d rather wait without a mask on, please feel free to wait outside in our gorgeous weather and we’ll bring you straight back when we’re ready.

On that gorgeous weather note, we hope you all enjoy this gorgeous long weekend. We will be enjoying it as well, and will be back in the office to serve you on Tuesday!

All our best,

Justina Pham, DDS, Lena, Laurie, Annie & Shannon

2.26.2021 | Why did I have Jaw Surgery?

Hi Everyone, and Happy Friday to you! 

I hope you all are enjoying this gorgeous weather we’ve been having… while much of the country has been covered with snow, we’ve been wearing shorts in our beloved 70 degree town. We’re so fortunate to be able to enjoy the outdoors, or at least a sunny spot on the porch, when so many can’t leave their homes. Speaking of which, by the time you read this, most of our team will have had both rounds of the Covid-19 vaccine… yet another amazing thing to be grateful for!

I wanted to make good on my promise to explain to you all why I chose to have jaw surgery. I’ve spoken to a few of you who wondered why I opted for something so invasive when I didn’t appear to have a severe overbite or underbite… I didn’t really look like I had a jaw issue at all.

Over the past couple of decades, I cracked a few teeth and needed a few crowns and a root canal. I knew I was grinding my teeth so I was wearing my nightguard every night without fail. Also, I had tried to straighten my lower front teeth several times with braces and Invisalign, and they always relapsed. Someone else might just accept that it is what it is, continue wearing their nightguard and getting crowns and root canals when needed, and be done with it. But being the teeth-obsessed dentist that I am, I wasn’t satisfied with that solution. I wanted to know why this kept happening, and was there any hope of changing the path I was on?

As I expanded my professional training into the realm of TMJ stabilization over the last few years, I realized that I had a severe enough bite issue that was not only causing me to crack teeth, but in order to fix would require either jaw surgery or crowns on every tooth. In my case, the latter option would be less than ideal esthetically, and also traumatic to my teeth. The surgical option would be traumatic to me physically, but ultimately more ideal esthetically, much less traumatic to my teeth, and I would end up with a bigger airway than when I started.

How does airway factor in anyway? It turns out that the type of jaw surgery that would fix my bite is also a surgical cure for sleep apnea. I didn’t have sleep apnea, or even a tiny airway, but over the last few years I had started to snore occasionally. While surgery is certainly invasive and not to be taken lightly, I didn’t want to accept the non-ideal solution of crowns on every tooth, only to develop sleep apnea in twenty years and wish I had gone ahead with jaw surgery when I was younger.

We happen to have a world-renowned jaw surgeon here in Santa Barbara, so I knew I was in excellent hands. And while my airway was not my original reason for seeking surgery, I will say that when I woke up, I could immediately feel a difference… I have never breathed so easily and freely, and it’s an amazing feeling. I’m happy to have it ten weeks behind me now, and I continue to feel better with each passing week. Thanks to all of you for caring and asking how I’m doing!

We are still open regular hours and ready to see you. If you’re overdue, please don’t wait to get your own vaccine to come in, unless necessary for medical reasons. We want to nip any potential issues in the bud before they become more complicated. And thankfully, many patients are still saying that our office is the place they feel safest being, outside of their own homes. We look forward to seeing you!

All our best,

Justina Pham, DDS, Lena, Laurie, Kaylee, Shannon & Annie

1. 15. 2021 | Covid and Surgery Update!

Happy Belated New Year!

We hope you all are settling into 2021. While this new year hasn’t been nearly as festive as years past, there’s at least hope that we will end this year differently than the last.

To that end, by the time you read this, four of our team members will have received round one of the Covid-19 vaccine, and more to come next week! It’s a proud moment in a bizarre time… and interesting that the vaccine is being rolled out at the exact moment our community is experiencing its biggest surge in cases.

Our office remains open, with the same increased protective measures in place. I want to thank all of you who have called to let us know that you need to reschedule due to symptoms or a potential exposure. We so appreciate your your efforts to keep others safe… we truly do have the best patients!

For those of you wondering about my surgery and how my recovery is going:  on December 18th I had jaw surgery to correct a bite issue that I’d had for a long time, but didn’t realize until fairly recently how severe it was. My surgery went perfectly, and recovery is slow but going well. I was back in the office this week a few hours a day, and will be back to a more normal schedule next week. I will write more in a future post about my bite issue and why I chose surgery to fix it. For now I will say that I’m breathing better than ever!

Stay safe out there and come see us soon,

Justina Pham, DDS, Lena, Laurie, Kaylee, Annie & Shannon 

12. 7. 2020 | We're Still Here... and Holiday Office Schedule

Dear Patients,

We hope this note finds you well!

Some of you have reached out asking if we’re still open, and I wanted to assure you that the most recent local stay-at-home order does not apply to dental offices. We are considered an essential service and the Public Health Department is encouraging regular dental visits in order to maintain general overall health. We will continue to monitor the guidelines closely and keep you informed as we learn new information. And as always, we are staying up-to-date with all infection control recommendations and standards.

Of course, you know yourselves best and if you would feel more comfortable postponing any visits for now and you already have something scheduled, please give us as much notice as possible as we are currently fully booked and do have a list of patients trying to get in before the holidays.

Also of course, we are still asking pre-screening questions so please cancel if you’re sick and let us know if you have been in contact with anyone who has symptoms or is confirmed Covid-positive.

I will be out starting this Friday, December 11 for my own surgery, but I will be available for zoom, facetime, or phone consults December 14-17. Hygienists will be in the office their usual hours through Monday, December 21.

The office will be closed December 22 – January 3 for the winter holidays. If you have a dental emergency during those dates, please call the office number below and follow the instructions to reach the doctor on call.

If we don’t see you this year, happy holidays and best wishes for a much better 2021! We look forward to seeing you soon.

All our best,

Justina Pham, DDS, Lena, Laurie, Kaylee, Alexis, Shannon & Annie

11.20.2020 | Dental COVID-19 update... at home and nationwide

Happy Holidays!

I hope you all are happy and healthy, and looking forward to a rejuvenating Thanksgiving! I’ll keep this quick with a few points that may concern you:

  • We are short-staffed at the front desk right now, and I am handling much of the insurance and billing myself. I apologize in advance if you receive multiples of anything, or if it seems like our office manager has lost her mind… I am MUCH better (and far more experienced) at fixing teeth than running the front office. Thank you for your patience!
  • Speaking of the front desk, many thanks to Alexis for helping us out! She is friendly and helpful and, while new to dentistry, she loves people and has been a great help!
  • With COVID cases rising all over the country, I want to thank everyone for your continued patience and cooperation with our protocols. We are remaining vigilant and have so far been able to avoid any known COVID exposure within the office. We have had a few team members with similar symptoms (including my double bout of strep throat) or exposure elsewhere, and were able to isolate quickly enough so as not to bring it into the office. Many thanks to my team, who are open and quick to communicate with me. Fatigue with all of this is rising along with cases, but we’re not yet at the finish line. Stay strong and stay the course!
  • Our office will be closed for Thanksgiving week and from December 22 through January 3. In the event of a dental emergency, please call the office phone number to find out how to reach the doctor on call. You will be in good hands should anything arise.

Thank you all for letting us be part of your community. Now that we only see each other’s eyes in public, I am even more grateful every day that we get to see your smiles when you visit us.

Have and happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

With gratitude,

Justina Pham, DDS, Kaylee, Alexis, Lena, Laurie, Shannon & Annie

10.23.2020 | Dental COVID-19 update... at home and nationwide

Happy October, All!

Last week the American Dental Association Science and Research Institute released a study that found that “fewer than 1% of dentists nationwide” were “estimated to have a confirmed or probable COVID-19 infection” as of June. Also reported, 99.7% of dentists “were using what was referred to as ‘enhanced infection control procedures.’”

This is great news… when the pandemic hit, dentists and dental teams were all a bit terrified by a chart that showed our professions as some of the most at risk when it comes to airborne infections. Dental hygienists were literally at the very top of the list, more at risk than any other profession, due to the creation of aerosols during dental cleanings.

Thankfully, dentists quickly mobilized, adding all sorts of protocols for dealing with aerosols that we’d never employed before:  face shields, high volume suction for hygienists, external suction, and air purifiers. We weren’t always completely sure which of these additions would make the most difference, but we added as many as we could in order to protect our teams, patients, and ourselves. This incredibly low rate of infection among dentists suggests that what we are doing is working!

Before I sign off, I wanted to share information for a rapid COVID testing site in Ventura in case any of you need it. They use the same test given at Cottage, but instead of getting your results within 24 hours, your results are texted to you before you even get back to Santa Barbara… about 20 minutes. And it’s not the swab to the brain kind of test either. I found the site when I had strep throat a few weeks ago… before I found out it was strep, I wanted to determine as quickly as possible whether I was positive for COVID so we could start reaching out to patients. Thankfully the test was negative, and I’m grateful for having found this testing option! Select the Rapid Molecular NAAT test for the quick results:  https://covidclinic.org.

Happy Halloween to you all, however it looks for you this year. Two of my family members will be Mr. T this year because they already have mohawks! At least candy and pumpkin pies still taste just as good during a pandemic… just make sure to brush and floss (or waterpik)!


Justina Pham, DDS, Lena, Laurie, Kaylee, Annie & Shannon

9.25.2020 | The ADA's Fluoride Recommendations

Happy Fall Equinox… and may we all start this next season strong!

In a previous email, I mentioned different ways of boosting fluoride exposure for those of us who at higher risk of developing cavities. I wanted to give some additional details today about current recommendations from the American Dental Association for fluoride supplementation.

The ADA’s last publication on this topic was in 2013, and the next update is expected sometime in 2021. The ADA panel included 71 trials from 82 articles through October 2012 in its review and assessed the efficacy of various topical fluoride caries-preventive agents.

“The panel recommends the following for people at risk of developing dental caries: 2.26 percent fluoride varnish or 1.23 percent fluoride (APF) gel; or prescription-strength, home-use 0.05 percent fluoride gel or paste or 0.09 percent fluoride mouthrinse for patients 6 years or older.”

What puts you at greater risk? Factors increasing risk of developing caries may include, but are not limited to, high titers of cavity-causing bacteria, poor oral hygiene, many multisurface restorations (including fillings and crowns), chemotherapy or head/neck radiation therapy, eating disorders, drug or alcohol abuse, irregular dental care, cariogenic diet, active orthodontic treatment, presence of exposed root surfaces, restoration overhangs and open margins, any new cavities within the last 3 years, or any condition physical or otherwise that makes performing proper oral health care especially challenging. (The factors we see most often in our office are in bold.)

I know this is super riveting for you all (not really), but I think it’s important to know what the risk factors are and be able to take charge of your susceptibility, especially in a year when access to care has not been as regular as it usually is.

We have fluoride varnish in the office and may offer it to you at your next hygiene visit if we think you’re at increased risk. Please also feel free to ask if we think you’re a good candidate for this treatment. This is one of the easiest ways to boost fluoride, and we have many simple at-home options for you as well.

I’m starting to space these emails out a bit as topics seem to be less urgent these days, but I will continue to reach out once or twice a month. We love your replies, and we especially love your questions! If you have a question, chances are someone else has the same question… so please ask away and I will send out my responses here.

We hope you enjoy these last few days of September and are ready for the gifts of fall!

All our best,

Justina Pham, DDS, Lena, Laurie, Kaylee, Shannon & Annie

p.s. Our wonderful hygienist Symantha has stepped away for a while in order to be home with her kiddos… we will miss her and wish her all the best, and hope our paths cross again soon… Shannon and Annie are both amazing and going strong and look forward to seeing you soon!

9.11.2020 | Implants, bridges, and a Costco deal!

Welcome to another Friday!


I hope you all enjoyed the root canal vs. implant discussion from last week… fascinating stuff, right? I wanted to talk about implants vs. bridges today… often patients are deciding between the two and there are definite differences between them!


In pre-implant times, we had to make bridges when teeth were lost. When multiple teeth were lost, we would either make long-span bridges or partial dentures. Now that we have implants, we have a great option that’s more like having your own tooth back.




Involves neighboring teeth



Difficult to clean

Sometimes, yes

Sometimes, yes

Can still get a cavity



Can be done quickly




This chart may make the choice seem like a no-brainer, but I still think bridges are great options. For people who have successfully had a bridge and just need it replaced, and it didn’t bother them to clean under it, a replacement is the quickest way to get the job done. However, having a bridge is “a lot of eggs in one basket”, meaning that if a problem like a cavity develops on even one area of the bridge, you’re basically back where you started with needing to replace the entire bridge.


Implants are great options and are the most like having your original tooth back, but they take time to integrate into the bone. This means that there is usually a period of several months of having a space or some sort of temporary in place, either something attached to the implant or something you wear for esthetics and take out to eat and sleep.


If you’re ever facing a root canal, bridge, or implant, I’m always more than happy to discuss the specifics of your situation so you can make the best decision for you.


One thing that’s great for both implants and bridges is… a waterpik! Costco has an amazing deal on them until September 27… you get BOTH a countertop model and a cordless model (with 45 second reservoir) for $75. No, I don’t get a referral fee from them, but this is a great deal and for those of you willing to venture to Costco these days, worth checking out. The set also comes with several different tips, ideal for implants, braces, or deep gum pockets. Such a deal!


We hope you all find something to smile about this week and look forward to seeing you soon!



Justina Pham, DDS, Lena, Laurie, Kaylee, Annie, Shannon & Symantha

9.4.2020 | Should you get a root canal or go straight to an implant?

I’ve gotten the same question from two different patients in the last couple of weeks, so I thought it would be a good one to send to you all in case any of you have ever wondered the same thing.


“Should I bother getting a root canal or will an implant last longer?”


First of all, GREAT question. Before implants came to the US in the 1980’s, dentists had to do anything possible to save teeth, performing all sorts of heroics that didn’t always last. Now that we’ve had implants for several decades and they’re such a predictable option, there are times when it might not make the most sense to save a tooth. That said, implants are a totally different animal and come with their own set of issues, which should be considered before making a decision. Here are a few pros and cons for each option:



Natural tooth with a root canal:  can still get a new cavity, attached to bone with ligament fibers which provide some shock absorption

Implant:  can’t get a cavity, directly integrated into the bone so no shock absorption, 



Natural tooth with root canal


Can still get a cavity



Has some shock absorption



Has proprioception



Can develop gum issues and bone loss



Lasts forever



8.28.2020 | Quarantine Cavities

Hello again!

How are you all doing?  Did you survive the heat wave? Enjoy the upcoming week because more is on the way!

One thing that struck me this week is that not only does “Quarantine Fifteen” (as some people have called it) seem to be a thing, but “Quarantine Cavities” are also a thing! At least in my world.

I mentioned in a previous post that we have seen gum issues worsen during this time… which makes sense when you’re overdue for your regular hygiene visit for obvious reasons. The thing I did not foresee as much is for cavities to appear suddenly and/or worsen quickly! Discussing this with Annie, one of our amazing hygienists, yesterday… it also makes sense! Folks are home, routines are different, we may be snacking differently, comfort eating more, sipping coffee and other drinks at a frequency that we may not have before. Not to mention that when we are out in public we’re wearing a mask so people are not seeing our teeth, so we may not be cleaning them as well or as often… so much has changed with our habits!

It all reminds me of a chat that I usually have with teen patients as they’re heading off to college, and their routines are about to change massively. I think it’s a good one to have with you all now since in some ways we are all in a similar boat of massive routine change and figuring out a new normal. Here is the thing:

So many people think that HOW MUCH sugar you eat matters most when it comes to cavities, and it’s not… it’s HOW OFTEN.

Our mouths are naturally around a neutral pH, not exactly, but close (yay, more chemistry!). Every time we take a bite or a sip of something other than water, our mouth’s pH drops and becomes acidic. Left to its own devices, it takes about 20 minutes to return to normal. So if you’re snacking, or heaven forbid, sipping on a frappuccino every 10 minutes… your mouth NEVER returns to normal (until 20 minutes after said snacking/sipping session ends). This is a super fun environment for the bacteria that cause tooth decay, and with even the tiniest bit of sugar (including any fermentable carbohydrates) they wreak absolute havoc with your teeth.

There are things you can do to get your mouth back to normal faster, especially if you’re not able to brush right away:  swish with water (at the very least), or to stimulate salivary flow, chew sugarless gum or pop a sugarless mint or candy. And please… no sipping on frappuccinos! (Drink it quickly with a meal if you must.)

If you’ve had a cavity in the last two years, you are at increased risk for developing more, so please increase your at home fluoride use in one of the ways described in the last post… ACT fluoride rinse is the easiest and you can get it almost anywhere.

And of course, come in for your routine visits if you can and don’t postpone your necessary x-rays. We have had quite a few patients tell us that they were feeling hesitant to come in but once they got to the office and saw our protocols with their own eyes, they felt so much better and safe in the office. We’ve even seen a patient who hasn’t gone to the grocery store yet but came in for a cleaning… bravo!

Hope to see you soon and be well,

Justina Pham, DDS, Lena, Laurie, Kaylee, Annie, Shannon & Symantha

p.s. If you come in during a heatwave and tend to run cold, please bring a jacket or blanket in with you… our A/C is working hard to keep us all (relatively) cool under our PPE and we don’t want to freeze anyone!

8.16.2020 | Welcome back, Shannon and Symantha!

Welcome to August! It sounds so strange, but August is indeed upon us, and we have had the 90 degree days to prove it! Hopefully you were able to enjoy some fun in the sun this weekend!

I will keep it light today… and offer up a huge welcome back to our remaining two wonderful hygienists, Shannon and Symantha! While Annie has been holding down the hygiene fort since we reopened for preventive care in May, Shannon and  Symantha have been getting ready to return, and the day has finally arrived! Starting this week, those of you who know and love Shannon will be able to see her and welcome her back in person on Thursdays, and Symantha will be joining us on Tuesdays in providing you all with excellent care.

We have missed them both, and are so excited to welcome them back. Their schedules are filling quickly, so please give us a call right away to save your spot if you’d like to see one of them. And a huge thank you goes out to Annie for taking such great care of everyone in the meantime!

A quick invitation before I sign off:  Team Pham has embarked on a 21-day gratitude journey, each of us writing down 3 things we are grateful for, every day for 21 days. This is recommended by Shawn Achor of the Happiness Advantage (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXy__kBVq1M) as one of the ways of wiring our brains more for positivity… and who can’t use a little more positivity right now? Feel free to join in if you’d like, and we’d love to hear some of the things you’re grateful for. My 3 for today:  getting to live in such a beautiful place, my husband’s cooking, and our team is completely back together!

All our best,

Justina Pham, DDS, Lena, Laurie, Kaylee, Annie, Shannon & Symantha

8.15.2020 | Hypochlorous acid fogging... a.k.a. your chemistry lesson for the day

Hi there, patients!

About a month ago, I sent an email about the layers of protection that we have added to our office protocol. One of the new layers I mentioned was hypochlorous acid, also known as electrolyzed water, and I promised back then that I would provide more information in a future email. This is a chemistry-heavy post, which will be super fun for some of you and possibly anxiety-inducing for others. Personally, I love it!


The FDA stated in 2015 that HOCl (hypochlorous acid) is “the form of free available chlorine that has the highest bactericidal activity against a broad range of microorganisms”, which we now know includes SARS-CoV-2. 


HOCl is a fast and effective anti-viral agent because it carries no electrical charge, so it quickly penetrates the lipid membrane and inactivates the viral protein. In contrast, hypochlorite ions (found in household bleach) are negatively charged, as are germ surfaces, so they repel each other, which makes the disinfection process take much longer.


Hypochlorous acid is also completely safe to the skin, non-irritating, and eco-friendly, unlike bleach. OSHA has stated that it is not considered hazardous waste and does not require special disposal as would toxic material. It can be purchased pre-made, or can be made at home with an electrolysis machine and the common household ingredients of water, non-iodized salt, and vinegar.


In our office we are fogging the rooms between patients and at the end of the day, in addition to using our usual hydrogen peroxide based disinfection for solid surfaces.


Many thanks to Dr. Lisa Germain, a dentist in New Orleans, for her research and easy to grasp explanation of how this works! She also has a podcast where she answers questions from patients, check it out here if you’re interested:  https://thisoldtooth.com/podcenter/


I will be unplugging next week for some overdue R&R so I’ll pick up the emails when I return. Please send in any questions you may have and I’ll answer them in these emails… and if you know more chemistry than I do (you know who you are) and you’d like to correct me on anything, please do!


Cheers and stay safe and happy!

Justina Pham, DDS, Lena, Laurie, Kaylee, Shannon, Annie & Symantha

8.7.2020 | At-Home Maintenance

Greetings, patients!


Congratulations on surviving another week in this strange new world! A couple of weeks ago I sent you an email to let you know about scheduling and affordability options intended to help you restart your regular routine visits to us. Your hygiene intervals are designed for prevention, resolution, and maintenance. We take many factors into consideration when recommending your recall interval, and it can be difficult or impossible to “make up for lost time”.  We encourage everyone to get back on their recall interval to the best of their ability, and we also know that this will look different for everyone. Therefore, I wanted to list a few things that are extra helpful for home use:

  • Water-pik – this is an excellent substitute for, or adjunct to, flossing. It also does a great job of cleaning implants, bridges, and braces, and can reach areas that floss can’t access. If you are overdue for your hygiene appointment (or even if not!), adding a water-pik to your routine can be a great option. Some patients like to mix a little hydrogen peroxide in the water (don’t use more than half hydrogen peroxide) for extra disinfection. I’ve included a photo of my personal favorite… I like using water that’s a little warm so as not to cause any cold sensitivity on roots. Some patients are turned off by the wet bathroom mirror (and let’s be real… counters and floor) that may result from their learning curve when getting started with a water-pik, but I promise you it’s worth a little mess and it WILL get better. Bonus:  the model pictured can be taken into the shower, which contains the mess!
  • Soft-piks, toothpicks, and proxabrushes – these are other home hygiene aids that help you reach in between teeth, and are also great for crowns, bridges, and braces. We have samples of all of these in the office, and our hygienists are excellent at suggesting whichever would be most helpful for you.
  • Tongue scraper – all sorts of bacteria can be harbored in the grooves and papillae of the tongue. Tongue scrapers are great and come in several different designs. Our favorite is one offered by Breath Rx… let us know at your next visit if you’d like one popped into your goody bag!
  • Fluoride – most patients are using standard over the counter toothpaste, which typically has 0.05% sodium fluoride. This is fine for many patients, but if you tend to get cavities, have braces, gum recession, and/or a lot of fillings, crowns or bridges, additional fluoride can be helpful in preventing issues or slowing down the progression of issues already developing. Please reach out if you’re interested in additional fluoride but not sure if it’s right for you, we are more than happy to review your specific situation with you. Getting extra fluoride can be accomplished in several ways:   
  1. 5% fluoride varnish applied in our office at the end of your hygiene visit – this was once only recommended for kids, but we now know that there are many benefits to adult in-office fluoride varnish.
  2. Add a 0.05% fluoride mouthwash, like ACT, to your home routine just before bed.
  3. Swap out your over the counter toothpaste with a 1.1% prescription strength fluoride toothpaste, like Fluoridex. We have this in our office and are happy to mail you some if you’re sheltering in place and feel that it may be helpful to you. 
  4. For patients with severe dry mouth, or who are undergoing head or neck radiation treatment, we have even stronger fluoride options. Please reach out if you think you or a loved one might benefit from more information about this option.

I hope you found something useful in the list above, and you know we love we talking about this stuff, so please ask us any questions you might have. One more thing before I go… this is fiesta week folks, and there’s still time to enjoy some of the festivities at https://www.sbfiesta.org/live-stream. It’s different this year but still… Viva La Fiesta!



Justina Pham, DDS, Lena, Shannon, Symantha, Annie, Laurie & Kaylee

7.24.2020 | Scheduling and Affordability Options!

Happy Friday, we’ve made it through another week!


We hope you are all well and enjoying the summer, as unusual as it is this year. Did any of you see Comet NEOWISE?


I wanted to follow up last week’s email, which assured you that we’re still here for you, with some information that will hopefully help you in navigating your options for care. During these unprecedented times, obstacles like additional time off from work and financial concerns can be barriers to ideal care. Therefore, we have spent time evaluating our patient finance and scheduling options with the intention of making sure dentistry remains affordable with minimal time expended for all those in need.


Scheduling:  As we continue to stagger appointments in order to reduce the number of patients coming and going at the same time, we also want you to have options that help you fit your care into your schedule.

  • We now have a 7:30am hygiene appointment option with Annie on Thursdays for you early birds out there!
  • With the intention of minimizing your number of visits, we may offer you same day dentistry and/or the option of booking more than one treatment at a time.

Affordability:  We know that making dentistry affordable can be challenging even in the best of times, so we’ve taken extra care to expand your options in order to remove as many barriers to care as possible now and in the future. 

  • We are now extending our pre-pay courtesy for all recall and hygiene appointments, in addition to the usual treatment appointments. Ask Lena or Kaylee for more information when scheduling your appointment.
  • Care-credit financing is available with many flexible options to fit a variety of budgets and treatment needs. You can apply here:  https://www.justinaphamdds.com/financing/
  • As rolled out in a previous email, we have a brand new membership plan available to uninsured patients. This helps extend some of the budgeting benefits of insurance coverage to those without coverage. Learn more here:  http://https://member.kleer.com/?slug=ST4X

One more reminder to all of you:  we are grateful to be able to call you part of our community, and want to be supportive where we can. If you find yourself without the support you need, and we can help you in some way, please reach out!


 All our best,

Justina Pham, DDS, Lena, Laurie, Kaylee, Annie, Shannon & Symantha

7.17.2020 | This Ever-Changing Landscape

Welcome to Friday once again, beloved patients!

This has been a bit of a challenging week in our community. Governor Newsom’s announcement on Monday that many phase 3 businesses would need to pause operations once again was a tough pill to swallow. It can be difficult to feel like we’re moving backward… AND I have been so encouraged and impressed by the businesses that have quickly pivoted to taking their operations outdoors (kickboxing in the parking lot, anyone?). This is proving to be a marathon, not a sprint, and our creativity, flexibility, and resilience as individuals and as a community will serve us well!

While the situation around us is ever-changing, I would like to assure you that we are still here; we are fully operational (though still at the modified schedule that allows us to be safe) for routine care. We are an essential business, and while we did cease all but emergency operations for two months, we used that time to obtain necessary PPE and revamp our protocols in order to serve you safely throughout the remainder of this pandemic.

In the last two months of being fully operational, we’ve seen the effects of being closed:  some patients had infections they didn’t know they had… they had no clue their bodies were fighting infections, some had gum infections develop because they weren’t able to get in for their cleanings on schedule, some had small cavities become large and more complicated (or even impossible) to repair. When we are closed for routine care, more emergencies develop because issues are not caught early.

This is NOT intended to be scary… there is enough fear out there as it is. You all know your vulnerability and comfort levels best. We encourage you to keep on your regular recare schedule if at all possible, and if you want to come in but still feel scared, please reach out so we can talk over your specific situation with you. There is no one size fits all solution right now, and we are here to help you find the best plan for you.

Stay safe and sane,

Justina Pham, DDS, Lena, Laurie, Kaylee, Annie, Shannon & Symantha

7.10.2020 | Layers of Protection

Happy Friday!

I hope you all enjoyed the introduction to our “karaoke” suction device last week; we got some excellent responses from you! Some said it resembled a trombone, others a toilet plunger, still others can’t wait to try singing into it!

All jokes aside, I wanted to return to a concept I mentioned last week:  layers of protection. As mentioned last week, external suction devices are expected to collect around 90-98% of the aerosols we produce in the office, at the source of production. What about the other 2-10%? Thankfully, these devices are only one of the many layers of protection we have in place to keep us all safe. Most will sound familiar to you from previous emails, but they deserve repeating. Here they are, in the order you will encounter them:

  1. Prescreen questions – We ask everyone a series of questions before they step through the door, in order to avoid having anyone who is symptomatic enter the office.
  2. Temperature and pulse oxygen screening – In case anyone slips through the prescreen questions, these two measurements also help us detect symptoms in folks otherwise feeling well.
  3. Masks in shared spaces – Even talking without a mask on can produce aerosols, so we ask everyone (including ourselves) to keep masks on while in shared spaces, such as hallways and restrooms.
  4. Pretreatment rinse – If anyone who is asymptomatic gets in, using a 1.5% hydrogen peroxide rinse for one minute immediately prior to treatment will further reduce the viral load in any aerosols produced.
  5. High volume suction, including external suction in hygiene room – This eliminates the bulk of aerosols produced by treatment.
  6. Medical grade HEPA H13 air purifiers – Any aerosols that escape our high volume suction should be caught by our medical grade air purifiers within 5 minutes of treatment completion.
  7. Hypochlorous acid fogging/misting – Any aerosols that escape both our high volume suction AND medical grade air purifiers are disinfected with hypochlorous acid fogging. This is a safe disinfectant used in skin products, baby products, and ophthalmic surgeries… more details to come in future emails.
  8. Priority appointment scheduling for our more vulnerable patients – Any patients especially concerned about aerosols in the office may request the first appointment of the day, when any and all settling should have occurred overnight.

Is it possible to guarantee that we eliminate 100% of aerosols in the office? No. Nor is it reasonable to expect that there are no aerosols floating around Costco or outdoors. However, you are able to wear a mask in Costco and outdoors, and when you see us, you have to take off your mask so we can help your teeth and gums stay healthy. We acknowledge this added vulnerability, and are therefore layering these protections so that we can do our very best to drive this percentage as close to 100% as humanly possible.

Thanks for being on this journey with us!

To your health,

Justina Pham, Lena, Laurie, Kaylee, Annie, Shannon & Symantha

7.3.2020 | Ultrasonics are back!

Happy Friday, Lovely Patients!

No, this is not our new karaoke microphone… nor is it a kitchen gadget… I’m happy to introduce our new extraoral high volume suction in hygiene!

One of the best things to come out of this pandemic, at least in the dental industry, is that we are recognizing the need for even more effective aerosol management. There does not seem to be a consensus on how long aerosols can remain in the air, and it is also affected by quite a few factors. This means that not only are we as providers potentially affected by aerosols in the room, but you as patients could be exposed to aerosols from the patient who sat in the chair before you. We have always effectively disinfected all surfaces between patients, but now that a new airborne virus is on the loose, we need to be concerned about the air around us. Long story short:  a layered approach to aerosol management is now an absolute imperative.

When we first returned to the office in May, we avoided all aerosol-producing procedures in the hygiene department because management tools were back-ordered at best, and unclear on their efficacy at worst. We are happy to report that we now have this high volume suction device that collects 90-98% of aerosols at the source. It is positioned close to the patient’s mouth so it will effectively evacuate maximum aerosol. (This is just one of the layers of aerosol management we are using… more to come in future emails.)

The benefit to you is that we can now offer ultrasonic treatment in the hygiene room again! 

This matters because:

  1. Ultrasonics are one of the best ways we have of reducing gum inflammation.
  2. Persistence of inflammation in gum tissues contributes to the systemic burden of inflammation.
  3. Low grade systemic inflammation has the potential to increase the risk for subsequent infections.
  4. With cases of Covid-19 infections on the rise on our community, we all need a layered approach for protecting ourselves.

It is NOT possible to reduce our risk to zero, unless we all stay home and never get groceries or the mail. It IS possible to minimize our risk as much as possible. Stay tuned for more details on how we are working hard to keep you safe!

We wish you and your loved ones a very happy 4th of July!


​Justina Pham, DDS, Lena, Laurie, Annie, Kaylee, Shannon & Symantha

6.25.2020 | Introducing... our new membership plan!

Hi Amazing Patients!

I hope June is wrapping up for you all nicely. I, for one, am ready to put June Gloom behind us with the sunny skies of July!

I alluded to a special announcement in last week’s email, and I am excited to be able to update you all on it now! We are often asked by our patients without dental insurance whether they should get it, and if so, what companies are best. This is a fairly simple question, but unfortunately doesn’t have a simple answer.

What I usually tell patients is that insurance companies are in the business of staying in business, and not in the business of helping you keep your teeth. Dental insurance also functions more like a discount plan; health insurance works very differently. I explain that unless you get dental insurance for free (or very inexpensively) through your job, it’s best to calculate how much you would spend on routine care (cleanings, exam, and x-rays) each year, break that figure down into a monthly amount, and unless you can get dental insurance for less than that amount per month… forgo the insurance and self-insure, paying for everything with pre-tax dollars, if possible. See? Not very simple!

I’m happy to announce that we now have our own membership plan available for those of you without dental insurance! It is not insurance, but it offers a way for those of you who would like it to stretch your dental care costs out over the course of a year, and qualify for free services and some additional discounts. Given that these uncertain times require creativity and flexibility, we trust that this new plan will offer some of you a great option for managing your oral health care.

Please check it out at https://member.kleer.com/?slug=ST4X and let us know what you think!

Happy weekend, all… we look forward to seeing more of you in the near future!


Justina Pham, Lena, Laurie, Kaylee, Annie, Shannon & Symantha

6.19.2020 | Month 1 back in the office... check!

Hi All!

Downtown is starting to look a lot different these days… have you enjoyed a meal out on a restaurant patio yet? Or on State Street where cars aren’t allowed? It’s definitely starting to feel like summer!

Team Pham has wrapped up the first month back in the office full time, and we are happy to report that things are going great! Our new PPE takes some getting used to, and none of you can see our faces right now. But trust me when I say that there are smiles behind our masks… we are so happy to be back spending time with you all again! I have to tell you, I have heard from so many people what wonderful patients we have… from specialists we refer to, to new team members who join us from other offices… word on the street is that we have the best patients in town, and I couldn’t agree more! You all have really rolled with our changes and been so accommodating. Feedback from patients so far is that they feel safe and are happy to be back having their teeth tended to (well, as happy as you can be about being at the dentist, that is).

We have a new program to announce next week but for now just wanted to thank you all for being the best patients in town. You all have our eternal respect and gratitude.


Happy weekend!

Justina Pham, Lena, Laurie, Kaylee, Annie, Shannon & Symantha

6.1.2020 | Communication and Connection

Happy June, All!

What a gorgeous weekend we rounded May out with here in Santa Barbara… I hope you were able to enjoy the beauty of our surroundings this weekend!

One of the many things that has become so apparent to me during recent events is that what and how we communicate matters… ALWAYS, but especially during times of uncertainty. How we communicate as individuals with our loved ones, as a team of coworkers, with our valued patients… and how we communicate with the world.  And this has been an incredible opportunity to demonstrate who we are and what we’re about.


My favorite thing about being a dentist is connecting with you all, laughing with you, sharing your lives… and of course making beautiful smiles! I found through these emails that I could still connect with you even though we couldn’t laugh together in person. I have truly loved checking in with you all each week and keeping you informed on how we are handling your care moving forward. Even though we are officially back in the office, I don’t want to give that up. I will continue writing periodic updates, and please follow us on social media if you enjoy connecting on those platforms. 


Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Justina-S-Pham-DDS-1522503551375063/


Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/justinaphamdds/


May you continue to find reasons to smile this week!


All our best,

Justina Pham, DDS and Team

5.22.2020 | IMPORTANT UPDATES: Please read to the end

Dear valued patients,


As people who love to make others smile, we hope you are still finding many reasons to do so. Our community and the world have been through a lot over the last few months, and all of us are looking forward to more normal habits and routines, albeit with modifications.  While many things have changed, one thing has remained the same:  our commitment to your health and safety.


As health care professionals, we deal with the protection against infections on a daily basis, and we have always practiced some of the strictest infection control protocols you will find in our industry. We are appropriately trained and technically prepared for this. Since Covid-19 we have implemented even more strategies, equipment, and procedures to protect our patients and ourselves.  We are extremely proud of the infection control procedures we follow in our practice to keep patients and staff safe.


Our office follows the latest recommendations made by the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We follow the activities of these agencies so that we are up to date on any new rulings or guidance that may be issued. We do this to make sure that our infection control procedures are current and adhere to each agency’s recommendations.


You may see some changes when it is time for your next appointment. We made these changes to help protect our patients and team. For example:


  • Our office will communicate with you beforehand to ask some screening questions. You’ll be asked those same questions again when you are in the office. 
  • In order to minimize touchpoints, we will ask for prepayment over the phone the day before your appointment.  This minimizes touching of pens, credit cards, and keypads. We will also be adding credit card payment capabilities to our website.
  • We will ask you to wait in your car and call or text us when you arrive, so as not to have anyone waiting in the reception area.
  • Please bring a mask to your appointment. If you don’t have one, let us know when you call from your car and we will bring you one.
  • Please bring your own headphones and dress warmly or bring a blanket if you run cold.
  • We have hand sanitizer that we will ask you to use when you enter the office, or you may stop at the restroom and wash your hands. You will also find some in the reception area and other places in the office for you to use as needed.  
  • Upon arrival you will have your temperature checked with a non-contact thermometer, and your oxygen saturation level measured.  The staff will be checking theirs daily as well.  
  • You may see that our reception area has changed and will no longer offer magazines or books, since those items are difficult to clean and disinfect. That said, we still have a lot of magazines being delivered so if you have a favorite from our usual selection, let us know at your visit and you may take it home with you.
  • Appointments will be managed to allow for social distancing between patients. This might mean that you’re offered fewer time options when scheduling your appointment. Furthermore, if you had a previously scheduled appointment coming up in the next few months, we may be reaching out to you to adjust the time slightly. We have always taken pride in minimizing wait times, and we still value your time and appreciate your patience as we restructure our appointment logistics.
  • Certain appointment times will be reserved for our more vulnerable patients so as to further decrease their chances of exposure.
  • All contact points (restroom, reception area, front desk, etc.) will be disinfected between all patient visits.
  • We have added four medical grade HEPA H13 air purifiers to the office, that filter particles down to 0.1 microns (even smaller than Covid-19) and will scrub the air in the office every 5 minutes.


In our efforts to help make excellent dentistry more affordable for our patients, we are introducing a new membership program that will allow you to spread out your oral health costs and qualify for new courtesy discount options. Please visit our website for more information in the next few weeks, or ask us for details when you schedule.


We believe that as a small office, we have great advantages when it comes to keeping you safe. We have individual treatment rooms, rather than an open bay layout, so it is possible to contain aerosols and scrub the air between patients. We also believe that everyone deserves to partner with health care providers who know their name, history, and family… who laugh, celebrate, and sometimes even cry with them. 


We know that our oral health is a critical aspect of our overall health, and the healthier we are, the more we are able to resist all types of infection. We cherish being on this journey with you, and appreciate the trust you have put in us as your partners on this journey. Please reach out with any questions you may have about the steps we take to keep you, and every patient, safe in our practice. If you don’t already have your next appointment scheduled, please call our office at (805) 687-1411 and let us know how we can help you on your health journey.


Thank you for being our patient. We value your trust and loyalty and look forward to laughing with you again soon.


All our best,

Justina Pham, DDS and team

5.8.2020 | More news on the reopening plan!

Hello beloved patients! We still miss you… now more than ever!

This week has been a great one for obtaining clarification on how we are to move forward as dental health providers. Most of the team will be back as of this coming Monday on a modified schedule for reworking protocols and training, and we still expect to start seeing more patients in mid-late May. For now, we have canceled all previously scheduled appointments in May, as we are no longer able to see a hygiene patient every hour, given the new protocols.

We have lists of all appointments that have been canceled, and we will soon begin working on rescheduling those appointments on a triaged basis. As stated in a previous newsletter, please reach out if you have an urgent or emergency concern, but otherwise know that we will be reaching out as we get the schedule more solidified.

We are preserving our fun and welcoming environment as much as possible, even though we and the office will look a bit different to you the next time you come in. In addition to the changes rolled out last week, a few more changes are as follows:

  1. As much as it breaks our hearts not to be able to offer cozy blankets right now, and even though they were always sanitized after every patient, we will not have blankets available in the office for the time being. Please dress warmly for your appointment or feel free to bring your own blanket if you run cold. 
  2. The same goes for magazines and headphones… anything that is difficult to clean must be removed from the office… but feel free to bring your own!
  3. We are adding more touch-free payment options.
  4. We will ask you to wait in your car and call or text us when you arrive, so as not to have anyone waiting in the reception area.
  5. All contact points (restroom, reception area, front desk, etc.) will be disinfected between all patient visits.

As before, we are excited about the improvement in patient and team health and safety these changes will bring.

You can still reach me directly by calling or texting (805) 416-0555 if you have a dental emergency or anything urgent. If you don’t hear back within an hour and it’s between normal business hours, try calling the office at (805) 687-1411 as I may be with an emergency patient.

We all look forward to getting back into the office and seeing you soon!

All our best,

Justina Pham, DDS and Team

5.1.2020 | Tentative reopening plan update!

Hello All! How are you holding up?

Well, we at Chez Pham have had quite the whirlwind week… first Santa Barbara County seemed to say last Friday evening that dental offices are free to reopen with social distancing measures in place, then last night some clarification came from the California Dental Association that appointments are still to be urgent and emergent in nature.

What we do know is that things are still changing, and we are staying on top of it. We have made a few definite decisions, all with the health and safety of our patients and team at the  forefront. Here are a few of the highlights:

  1. We have added four medical grade H13 air purifiers to the office, that filter particles down to .1 microns and will scrub the air in the office every 5 minutes.]
  2. Pre- and post-screening questionnaires have been added to our protocols, including temperature measurements for both team members and patients.
  3. Certain appointment times will be reserved for our more vulnerable patients so as to decrease their chances of exposure.
  4. Patients will be asked to enter through the front door and exit through the back door so as to limit contact while coming and going.
  5. We will be prioritizing urgent concerns, as well as periodontal maintenance procedures so we can minimize creating new urgent concerns as much as possible.

These are only a few of the things we have added, more will be forthcoming. Rest assured that we have your health and safety in mind as we navigate this new terrain. We are excited about the positives that will come from us all reworking our protocols… as always, incredible innovation sprouts from challenging times!

While our dates are still somewhat fluid, we expect to start seeing more patients in mid-late May. Please reach out if you feel that you are dealing with something that concerns you enough to merit being near the top of our list.

As always, please call or text me at (805) 416-0555 if you have a dental emergency or anything urgent… you can also reply to this email if you have a question/concern/update that is not urgent, and Lena or I will get back to you.

Have a wonderful weekend, we look forward to hopefully seeing some of you soon!

All our best,

Justina Pham, DDS, and Team

4.24.2020 | Week 6 Check-in!

Welcome to Groundhog Day… again! I hope you all are healthy and well, and finding ways to enjoy your time. After last week’s email I heard from many of you and it was fabulous! I really enjoyed hearing about the books you all are reading, movies you’re watching, food you’re getting for takeout… and theater productions you’re watching from home!

As usual for Fridays, Team Pham has just wrapped up our weekly Zoom meeting… we talked about how much we miss you all, how much we miss each other, and possibly most importantly, how things are going to look at the office when we all return! One thing we know for sure is that we will be expanding our usual schedule in terms of days and possibly hours, in order to accommodate everyone who is overdue, feeling overdue, needing attention, etc. We will likely ask for a little patience while we get everyone put into their time slots (which will be staggered to minimize any crossing of paths), but rest assured that we will create exta time slots so you all will get the attention you need.

As always, please call or text me at (805) 416-0555 if you have a dental emergency or anything urgent… you can also reply to this email if you have a question/concern/update that is not urgent… or an update of your own!

Happy weekend to you all, and may it look and feel different from the rest of your week!


Justina Pham, DDS and Team

4.17.2020 | Greetings at the end of week 5!

Well, here we are at the end of week five… how are things going for you? I’ve heard from some patients and it’s been so lovely to hear how people are doing and what they’re doing with their time. One of the things I love the most about being a dentist is getting to connect with you all and share a piece of your lives… it is such a blessing and that is one thing I can still do right now… just not in person yet!

Team Pham has just wrapped up our weekly zoom meeting… we’ve been checking in virtually every week, with coffee or another choice adult beverage in hand, supporting each other from afar. Everyone you’ve enjoyed spending time with at our office – Lena, Laurie, Shannon, Annie, and Symantha – is missing you all a ton and can’t wait to catch up when we’re able to!

As always, we hope you all are safe and healthy.

If any of you have friends or family who find themselves without a dentist right now and needing advice on a dental issue, please feel free to give out the number below and I’d be happy to talk to them.

Please call or text me at (805) 416-0555 if you have a dental emergency or anything urgent… you can also reply to this email if you have a question/concern/update that is not urgent.

We are keeping close tabs on recommendations from authorities, ready to gear up for any changes we will need to make in the way we manage infection control when we are back in the office. We have always had some of the strictest infection control protocols in the industry, and look forward to further improving the health and safety of our community. I will use these email updates to keep you informed on these changes.

In the meantime, stay safe, sane, healthy, and happy!

All our best,

Justina Pham, DDS, and Team

4.10.2020 | Hoping to see many of you in May

We are now wrapping up our fourth week of sheltering in place… can you believe it? I am hoping that we will be able to see some of you starting in May… so far we are doing a pretty good job in California… here’s hoping that trend continues!

We hope you all are safe and healthy, especially those of you who are still out there on the front lines.

A reminder, I am available if any of you have emergencies or need anything.

Please call or text me at (805) 416-0555 if you have a dental emergency… but also if you are having trouble getting anything you need for yourself or your family. We consider ourselves blessed to be a part of your community, and are happy to help if we are needed.

The best and fastest way to reach me is at the number above, you can also reply to this email if you have anything non-urgent. I will get back to you.

Thank you all so much for being part of our community, and take care of yourselves!

All our best,

Justina Pham, DDS, and Team

4.1.2020 | Closure indefinite... but call me if you need anything!

Happy April, Beloved Patients!

The good news is that reported Covid-19 cases in Santa Barbara County are still fairly low (let’s keep it that way!) and the weather is absolutely gorgeous!

Regarding reopening the office, the latest news from the California Dental Association is that we are waiting for Governor Newsom to lift the shelter-in-place order before we can set a date to reopen. We hope you all are safe and have what you need. Our families are sheltering in place and so far we are all healthy.

Please call or text me at (805) 416-0555 if you have a dental emergency… but also if you are having trouble getting anything you need for yourself or your family. We consider ourselves blessed to be a part of your community, and are happy to help if we are needed.

Otherwise, we are still monitoring voicemail, texts, and email remotely, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Again and as always, thank you for being a valued patient. We appreciate being a part of your community and look forward to when we can be together in person again!

All our best,

Justina Pham, DDS, and Team

3.23.2020 | Update from Your Dentist

To Our Patients and Their Families,

We sure do miss seeing your smiling faces these days! Our sincere hope is that the quicker we all get on board with sitting on our couches, the quicker we can get back to taking care of your pearly whites!

As of today, the California Dental Association’s recommendation is to see only life-threatening dental emergencies through April 5, 2020. This very well may change again, in which case we will keep you informed. If you are due for an appointment between now and then, expect to hear from us if you haven’t yet.

            Please do not hesitate to call Dr. Pham at (805) 416-0555 if you think you may be experiencing a dental emergency or require immediate dental attention. She will work with you to determine whether you need to be seen and make arrangements as needed.

         In addition, call Dr. Pham if you are running low on any supplies you usually get from us, including Fluoridex toothpaste, peridex rinse, bleaching solution, etc. We are working on a way for patients to order these items if they’re needed.

As stated previously, if you have any questions regarding your future appointments, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (805) 687-1411 as we will continue monitoring voicemail, texts, and email remotely.

We have heard from a few patients already and so far everyone is healthy and doing well. Please take good care of yourselves, and we look forward to seeing you again as soon as it’s safe to do so!

All our best,

Justina Pham, Lena, Laurie, Kaylee, Annie, Symantha, and Shannon

3.16.2020 | Office Closure 3/16/20

Dear Valued Patient,


Due to the CDC and CDA reports about the COVID-19 crisis, we have decided to close the office in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The office will be closed as of Monday, March 16, 2020 through to March 30, 2020.  We will be in touch to reschedule all appointments affected by this closure. 


If you have a dental emergency, please let us know and we will work with you on a plan to address your dental emergency but also keep our office free from exposure.  The emergency number is (805)416-0555. 


Please stay tuned, as this is a swiftly changing landscape for us all.  We look forward to caring for you and our community and to continue delivering excellent dentistry according to CDC and ADA guidelines.


With gratitude, 

Justina Pham DDS and Team

Look Your Best


We combine experience with the latest in dental technology to deliver

the best patient experience possible.

2780 State St, Suite #12

Santa Barbara, CA 93105





Mon: 8-12, 1-5

Tues: 8-12, 1-5

Wed: 8-1

Thurs: 8-12, 1-5

Fri-Sun: Closed