Dr. Amy Heim’s approach to dentistry extends far beyond the teeth and gums. Creating picture perfect smiles is one of the Portsmouth dentist’s goals, of course, but Heim also uses her ever-growing knowledge and skills to help patients achieve overall health and wellness.
“The health of the mouth is the gateway to the health of the rest of your body,” is one of Heim’s core beliefs.
Dentistry with the patient, not for the patient, is another one.
“I have a more comprehensive approach than most dentists. I allow time to get to know the patient. It all starts with a conversation,” explained Heim. “We dive into their expectations and goals. I want patients to learn and decide what they want. After all, it’s their mouth, their finances, their risk tolerance.”
One of Heim’s questions to a new patient is how they see their mouth ten years from now. “Many have not thought of that before.” New patients also receive an assessment for peridontal disease––something about 65 percent of Heim’s patients have.
Heim, who has practiced in her Washington Street studio for eight years, admits she is not the dentist for everybody––particularly those looking for a fast and cheap fix.
“I am slow and thoughtful. I look at a mouth from a whole different vantage point.”
Heim, a graduate of The Ohio State University school of dentistry, has continued her education at The Pankey Institute in Florida, where the focus is comprehensive, patient-centered care. She’s been there 13 times in the past nine years, each time returning rejuvenated with fresh ideas on how to improve her practice. “My hands are finally doing all that I have been learning,” said Heim, who recently began her journey to become a Pankey faculty member.
She passes her knowledge on to her staff, which includes two assistants, three hygienists, and two front office workers.
“Watching my team evolve is wonderful,” she said. “In our eight years, we’ve built a really strong culture of learning. I would say the only thing constant in this office is change.”
For example, Heim’s staff was recently trained in Guided Biofilm Therapy. This is a new hygiene tool that uses AirFlow technology to remove all bacteria (biofilm) in the mouth that contribute to tooth decay and gum disease while reducing a patient’s time in the hygienist chair by half. It’s best to think of it as a power washer for your teeth, but gentle enough for even the most sensitive mouth.
Heim’s philosophy includes evaluating a patient’s entire mouth to include the bone, gum tissue, individual teeth, jaw joint, facial and neck muscles, bite discrepancies, and esthetics. It’s in the latter area that she gets to draw on her skills as an artist and photographer.
The “smile design” process starts with “before” pictures made in Heim’s photography studio to blueprint the new smile. After discussing those with the patient and finding out what aspects of their smile a patient wants to change, Heim makes a “trial smile” out of wax that the patient can try on. Once the patient loves the trial, Heim uses resin to help patients achieve their dream smile in one visit or sends the trial to an outside laboratory, where they design hand-crafted porcelain for the ideal fit and appearance.
“I love restoring someone’s smile – giving them the smile they’ve always dreamed of,” she said.
Like all other aspects of her practice, Heim’s dental assistants and hygienists are also trained in photography. And Heim recently passed on her passion about designing beautiful smiles to the next generation of dentists studying at Shawnee State University, inviting them to her office to use the “big camera.”
Heim’s creative and artistic flare is present throughout the studio with her own gallery of black and white Ohio photography she captured herself, with the exception of a couple of them taken by her husband, Adam.
Heim purchased her practice from Dr. Steve Fitzer and inherited most of his patients. These days, she has more patients than she can really handle, but “I’m always open to new patients seeking a new kind of dentistry,” she said.
“Dentistry is sometimes viewed as a task; a broken tooth that needs fixed. I view it differently. I believe wholeheartly that managing a patient’s dental wellness can not only improve their confidence but also improve their overall health.”
620 Washington St.
Portsmouth, Ohio 45662