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The Joy That Lies in Storytelling

Articles, Dental Lifestyle

Dr. Gayatri Raina Patel’s journey into dentistry wasn’t one she’d initially considered. Growing up in India, regular dental visits were a rare piece of her upbringing.

Gayatri’s perspective on dentistry began to shift during her time in Canada (where she moved during her childhood). Influenced by her friends who had chosen the dental path, Gayatri didn’t realize at the time the potential impact she could make in our field.

Determined to pursue her career and goals, Gayatri obtained her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto. She then went on to earn her Doctor of Medical Dentistry degree from Temple University Kornberg School of Dentistry in 2008 before completing a one-year residency at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA.

Gayatri’s journey from performing routine procedures to discovering a deeper purpose in dentistry.

In the early years of her dental career, Gayatri primarily focused on generic, routine procedures—what most of us might call “drilling and filling.” It wasn’t until several years into her practice that she started questioning her purpose with dentistry and why so many people have dental problems. What was the link?

Gayatri started seeking more from her profession and committed to learning more, taking continuing education classes to learn about the profound connection between oral health and overall well-being. Thus, Gayatri learned how many systemic diseases—diabetes, heart problems, etc.—can evolve from poor oral health. This realization prompted Gayatri to dive deeper into areas such as temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) and sleep apnea, expanding her role as a dentist to encompass a more integrative approach to wellness dentistry.

Everyone has a breaking point.

Family was a lot for Gayatri and, finally, like many professionals in the healthcare field, she eventually experienced burnout. Overwhelmed and exhausted, she contemplated selling her practice and leaving dentistry behind.

Seeking solace and guidance, she embarked on a trip to India with her family to visit her 100-year-old grandmother, whom her children had never met. Gayatri opened up to her mother about her physical and
mental struggles during this trip, and her mother’s advice was simple yet profound: Try incorporating more yoga and meditation into her life. Intrigued by the idea, Gayatri and her family took an unexpected
detour, visiting a holy area in India.

There Will Always Be: A heartwarming tale takes shape.

When there, Gayatri visited a bookstore to buy a book for her kids that’d teach them about the history of this significant place. Little did she know, this encounter would be the catalyst for a transformative experience. When she opened the book to page three, it had her children’s names in it with a message: “To Ayana and Arrav, the two darlings who taught us the joy that lies in storytelling.” While this message was there for the author’s kids, Gayatri chose to see this as a blessing and a sign.

Back in America, Gayatri followed her advice and embraced the daily practice of yoga and meditation—and the impact was profound. In the midst of her spiritual journey, Gayatri found herself inspired to write a poem for her children one morning. This creative energy persisted throughout the day, eventually leading to the birth of her first children’s book, There Will Always Be.

For Gayatri, the creation of this book felt like a spiritual gift from the universe. She embarked on a path of self discovery and started letting the universe guide her. In the midst of the negativity brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Gayatri has chosen to focus on the positives and accept things as they are. She believes in the power of meditation and yoga as tools or delving deep into the soul to find answers.

Gayatri offers us all a lesson on embracing life’s (many) twists and turns.

Nowadays, Gayatri tries everyday to remain optimistic and is on a constant journey toward seeking happiness. She has learned to let the universe guide her, embracing the lessons it has to offer. In addition to running a dental practice, Gayatri is currently preparing for a mini-triathlon as she approaches her 43rd birthday.

“If there is one piece of advice I could give my 20-year-old self,” Gayatri said, “it would be that everything happens for you—not to you. Those things lead you to your true path. Not every day is sprinkles and cake for me—I still have my bad days, weeks, and months. I am human, not a robot. But I have taught myself in this journey to talk things through with myself and accept how I feel at the moment in time and work on it. I believe in myself: I believe in the power of meditation, yoga, and looking within myself for answers.”

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