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Dental Check-Up with Dentist to the Stars Dr Gamer Verdian


Dental Check-Up with Dentist to the Stars Dr Gamer Verdian

[00:00:00] Felicity Cohen: Hello, I’m Felicity Cohen. I’m so excited to introduce you to my Wellness Warriors podcast. For over 20 years, I’ve been a passionate advocate for helping thousands of Australians, find solutions to treating obesity and health-related complications through surgical intervention and holistic managed care.

My podcast is dedicated to all the people past, present, and future who have helped shape my journey and continue to inspire me to work consistently to achieve a healthier Australia for both adults and future generations. I hope you enjoy it. 

Good morning and welcome to the Wellness Warriors podcast. This morning it’s my absolute pleasure to welcome Dr Gamer Verdian from the Dental Lounge in Sydney, the principal dentist there. Gamer, it’s an absolute pleasure to have you here with me this morning, and thank you so much for making the time. 

[00:00:58] Dr Gamer Verdian: Thanks for having me Felicity, appreciate you inviting me on your show.

[00:01:02] Felicity Cohen: So for many people, they might think this is a really strange subject for us to be talking about today, but I’m so interested in everything to do with health and wellbeing that relates to our oral health, our dental hygiene, and what that means from a holistic point of view to health and wellbeing and so many things that we can talk about. One of the things that really struck me when I was reading through your profile was the statistic about how many Australians don’t actually access social care, and I think it’s quoted of 35% of Australians will never actually see a dentist. That for me is astounding!

[00:01:42] Dr Gamer Verdian: It’s staggering right. You know, I think most of us that live in capital cities, and we sort of live a relatively privileged life, we just don’t understand that because we’ve made, or we were taught to visit dentists regularly, “or else” was generally the message we’d get from our parents. But, you know, there’s a vast proportion of our country that does not access, you know, especially private dentistry, the way you and I know it. And a lot of it, you know, came down to being a dentist myself, it was really hard, sort of managing the inner expectation that we’re helping people, but we also have this going on and know nothing about it. 

The other thing that always resonated with my co-founders and me was the messaging in the media, which was really prominent and still is about all these people living with these dental infections and really horrible comorbidities associated with poor oral health and poor care or access to care, and the relationship that has with people’s lives, right? So, you know, after a long time of seeing this happen, we ended up thinking, what can we do about it? 

[00:03:06] Felicity Cohen: So you’ve actually developed a model to create greater access for patients everywhere. Can you talk to me a little bit about what have you done and then what impact that’s created for people to access good dental care? 

[00:03:18] Dr Gamer Verdian: Absolutely. So about five years ago or six years ago now, my co-founder and I went to Harvard Business School and we were doing a course on disruption and industry disruption, and we got some really good examples of businesses and industries that were disrupted. And after being there, we sat in a restaurant on campus and started thinking, well, you know, dentistry is exactly like some of these industries like, you know, we’re talking about the US steel industry, you know, Uber, and taxis, and Netflix, and Blockbuster, and all those sorts of stuff. And we sort of thought, well, dentistry does a really great job of serving a proportion of the population, it’s about 20%. 

You know, all of our technology is driven toward giving better implants, better root canal therapies, and better crowns or veneers. And nothing is driven to affordability or very little. So we came up with this concept which was Dental 99, one of the keys of the business was to provide quality dentistry at an affordable price, and we thought something that is really affordable if we looked at the Australian landscape would be $99, you know, core treatments. So all the technology we built was basically designed to essentially remove as much of the cost associated with dentistry through technology and software. What that really means is, that we pretty much removed all the receptions out of our dental practices and we created a model that was, you know, fixed price, really transparent, and quite affordable. So at, you know, at Dental 99, each of those treatments is $99. You know we have, we started, we were first opened in 2017, and then since then, we’ve opened 13 practices now. We’re in three cities, three states, you know, Brisbane, New South Wales, and Victoria. And, you know, our goal is to, you know, our overarching mission is to half that number in the next five years, so to make that 35%, half of what it is now. So, you know, I’d like to think we’re putting a really good dent in it, and we’ve, you know, so far we’ve serviced around 60,000 patients in a pretty limited time and something we’re really proud of. 

[00:05:57] Felicity Cohen: Oh, I think that’s an incredible result and I’d really love to watch further those outcomes and to see that 35% drop as well, so congratulations on coming up with that. It’s innovative and you know, definitely will create an impact, but it’s also going to have an ongoing impact on other health-related consequences of lack of access to dental hygiene. 

So that kind of leads me into, you know, holistic healthcare and I really do believe that you know, oral hygiene and management of good dental care, it really is the gateway to good health in many ways. And what so many people don’t understand is that if you don’t look after your oral health, there are so many different potential risk factors for disease, can you walk through them, what would some of those risks look like and what health complications if we’re not attending regular dental care? 

[00:06:52] Dr Gamer Verdian: Absolutely, Felicity, I think, you know, sometimes dentistry’s like the lost cousin in medicine, you know, where we just think about drilling and filling teeth. But you know, oral health is not just teeth, right? It’s all the surrounding structures, which are gums, ligaments, bones, muscles, glands, nerves, and all of these really function for some of the basic necessities of human life, like our self-worth and our wellbeing is sort of really indicated through our smiles.

And I think it’s really important to remember when we talk about oral health, you know, some of the most important functions of humanity come through our mouths, you know, which is speaking, smiling, you know, sighing, you know, also important things like taste, it’s just a really foundational part of being a human being and it really should be given that level of importance. 

What we have found over the last few years, and a lot of our research has sort of stepped back at just looking at teeth and looking at how our oral health affects the rest of our bodies. You know, some of the really key findings we’ve had are how, you know, gum disease can affect and is affected by obesity. You know that’s a really strong, strong feature, and we know that there are pathophysiological consequences between obesity and the cytokines created by adipose tissue resulting in deterioration of the periodontal disease. 

The other one we always think about is, you know, heart disease, right? Where the myocardial infarctions and heart attacks are right, quite commonly have an association with periodontitis. Another really interesting study that is being done is on Alzheimer’s because we’ve found some of the inflammatory tissues in Alzheimer’s plaques have an association with gum disease and the bacterial load and inflammation that’s caused by the bacteria in periodontitis, which is gum disease by the way. 

I would say these sort of, you know, comorbidities and linkages are really just coming to light, which just shines a huge, you know, microscope on how dentistry and, you know, maintaining oral health is as important as it ever has been. 

[00:09:29] Felicity Cohen: Absolutely. So it’s really interesting if I think about, you know, one of my own patients here at WeightLoss Solutions Australia, who’s been through their weight loss journey and came to us originally with multiple comorbidities and one particular patient who comes to mind had severe obstructive sleep apnoea, sleep with a CPAP machine, type two diabetes, and really poor self-esteem. But we were able to see just such a shift in those comorbidities over a 12 months period. Can you remember within your practice, a patient whom you’ve worked with and you’ve seen other potential benefits from, or managing oral hygiene and seeing other health outcomes from a holistic point of view?

[00:10:14] Dr Gamer Verdian: I’d say there are two sides to that question, Felicity. So on one side is this, sometimes people who have made really poor lifestyle choices end up with Type Two Diabetes, obesity, and heart conditions, and when they reach an inflexion point and it causes them to make a significant change. They lose lots of weight, their health and appearance get better, they stop smoking, they stop, and they break the addiction to sugar and junk food. And then the last thing left is the damage they’ve done to their mouths, you know, which, you know, if you even, I see this quite regularly where people will turn their lives around from drug addiction or from obesity and then they have really, really noticeable smiles that just don’t look very good. And if we change, and it’s like the last hurdle, you know, it’s like, “all right, I’ve turned my life around, but one more thing, if only I could do something” if we turn that around, I think it makes the change stick for a long time. And I’ve seen this happen, really over and over and over again. So I do think of my patients doing that quite frequently, and that’s really life-changing because once you do everything else and your smile’s still sort of, is indicative of your previous life, once you turn that around, you know, you are just set on a different pathway for the rest of your life.

[00:11:48] The other part is, the other reverse of that is this, you know, people really wanna make a change, and the, you know, we all know when people look at you, they look at your eyes and your smile as the first. So often I, and I do think of a patient who had, you know, they had, you know, drug-related issues in their twenties, you know, they turned their life around in their early thirties and they want, or they wanted to turn their life around, get a job, start working in the workforce, start building a career, but their teeth were what’s holding them back. So we were able to, you know, and this was with relatively minimal expense, basically, get them to a point where when they smile, they were not self-conscious and that gave them a great sense of self-confidence. And that was the catalyst to, you know, looking after their health, stop smoking, you know, basically the desire to rejoin, you know, a family-orientated society. Started with that one thing, it was like, all right I can get my teeth sorted, and I think we should never discount the power in that and the lack of power in not having it.


[00:13:06] Felicity Cohen: Yeah, I love that. Really interesting, one of the things that I think you would be really aware of is during the COVID pandemic so many people were seeing themselves in a different light. Like we are today in front of a computer screen, whether it was constant Zoom meetings, and became more self-aware and possibly a bit more self-conscious, and I think that possibly led a lot of people down the pathway of cosmetic dentistry. They couldn’t travel, disposable income, all sorts of factors that led to people deciding, okay, maybe now I’m gonna invest in my smile. Can you tell me what you’ve seen and has that also led to people actually looking after their mouth health in a better way? 

[00:13:51] Dr Gamer Verdian: Yes, I can absolutely attest to that, Felicity, and talking to my colleagues in dentistry, and I think they’ll all agree or most of them will that, you know, we’ve had a bit of a sort of booming times in dentistry over the last year or so, which sounds crazy considering what we’ve been through, but exactly what you said is true. We had people, we’ve had people being on these Zoom meetings, being really confronted with the way they look at a relatively close scale, and that has brought it straight and made it front of mind like, “Ooh, I think I need to do something about my oral health”, and then, as you said, people have had more disposable income, you know, we’re not paying for overseas holidays, we’re not paying for, you know, expensive restaurants as much as we were. So that has led to people investing in themselves and we’ve had time to think, and I see this in my patients and me, myself personally, we’ve had time to think about what’s really important and how important our health and wellness should be.

And I was at a conference recently in the US and, you know, the whole focus and it was a healthcare conference and not a dental one, was that we really need to be delivering health span to our patients, not lifespan, you know, and the shift in thinking where medicine is reactive rather than preventative, you know, I would much, and you know, anyone that’s been through dental disease would definitely agree, you’re much better off preventing these things way, way, way before they happen before someone like me has to get involved and try and fix them over and over again. 

[00:15:35] Felicity Cohen: Absolutely, and you’re speaking to someone who, you know, that’s my language every day. It’s all about preventative health and in our patient population if we can manage overweight and obesity early enough before those medical comorbidities kick in, that’s the best-case scenario. But, you know, even so, if we can actually resolve, improve, and treat those medical comorbidities through, first of all, better weight management, but then everything else that goes with it, then that’s a must better case scenario and definitely, you know, for me, if we can reduce the burden off our healthcare system by managing preventative health in a better way, then that’s the best thing we can possibly do.

I’m really interested to note that you were at a healthcare conference, not a dental conference. What was the appeal for you in attending a conference that was looking at health overall rather than a dental conference?

[00:16:27] Dr Gamer Verdian: To be honest, Felicity, I was just, this was a really exclusive conference. I would say that it was really designed for world health leaders, and I was really lucky that a friend of mine worked at the company that had this healthcare impact forum and I was lucky enough to be invited in there. So I was sort of snuck in, and you know, the speakers that were there were Bill Clinton, you know, Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, you know, the head of medicine at Harvard, the head of the CDC for the last two years, so really great thought leaders in healthcare. So for me, you know, having done plenty of dental conferences over the years and dental courses, you know, and I’m such a firm believer in over-educating, I would jump at an opportunity like this to learn something new and different, and walk away, and it did happen, super inspired. You know, when you’ve got Tony Robbins two meters away talking to you about longevity and what we should be doing in healthcare, you can’t help but walk away trying to make a really great impact in this world. 

[00:17:39] Felicity Cohen: I love that, and I think it’s great to have that vision that is so holistic and having a view of everything fits together, that we’re, you know, we are multifactorial in every single possible way, but from a health perspective that we need to address everything and not leave one piece of that puzzle out. And especially when we do look at where dental oral health and hygiene fit into that as well. 

So sugar’s a really big problem, you know, the increase in high sugary foods and the impact that potentially has on teeth. And, you know, we were chatting earlier about my first thought when I saw the documentary Supersize Me many years ago, was the shock and horror of seeing in an American population, this prevalence of mountain juice soft drink and children, so young drinking this and having access to it even though their bottles. And you had this mobile dentistry van, I think it was in Texas going around and removing children’s teeth. I was horrified when I saw that. Is that something that we see in Australia? 

[00:18:48] Dr Gamer Verdian: It’s great when you see something like that and you think, “oh no, it’s, there’s no way this would happen here”. I remember being in dental school and we would be part of the public health system and we would see these sorts of cases. And again, I would be shocked like, “wow, this is happening in Australia”, and then in private practice in rather, you know, affluent areas, we still see it, and I think it’s a lack of education. And, you know, some level of ignorance as to the detrimental effects of sugar and the effect it can have on teeth and oral health, other than all the systems, and the negative effects, it’s amazing how damage, how much and how prevalent, you know, childhood decay is. And you know, a lot of it has to do with the difficulties of parenting, I think, but a lot of it also has to do with, you know, education and, you know, sometimes as parents, we do get overwhelmed, I’ve got. Three children of my own, are 9, 8, and 6. And sometimes we make what we call red choices in my house, and we do that as parents, you know, but things can turn really quickly. And the real, real sad part of this is when children are losing their adult teeth because they never get a second chance with them. 

And you know, our adult molars come in when we’re around six or seven, so there’s a real risk of creating long-term affects that end up in really bad outcomes for that child when you fast forward 20, 30 years. Something I tell a lot of my, you know, paediatric patients and teenagers is  , you know, “what you do in the next five to ten years will determine your dental needs for the rest of your life”. You know, a 16 to 22-year-old that has lots of soft drinks or sports drinks or whatever, and ends up needing, you know, say 5 to 10 fillings, those 5 to 10 fillings that should have been prevented end up in time, you know, root canal therapies, crowns, you know, they end up being extracted and needing implants and all sorts of different stuff. So if we really dive deep into how important prevention is I think we’d see a massive shift in the way we parented our kids and especially how we managed our teenagers. 

[00:21:17] Felicity Cohen: So important. We have a program here that we’ve run that is a childhood preventative weight and health program. And one of the best outcomes for me out of our initial research was that we were teaching kids to make better discretionary food choices. And by the end of it, they knew what I eat, the doughnut or the apple? And they were choosing the apple because they understood why, and it really does come back to education. So, yeah, really interesting, maybe we need to throw in a piece around, what does that look like from prevention of all these oral health issues? 

I want to chat to you about some of the myths that are out there that we hear so often, you know, and get your take on whether these, are true or not? So, first of all, carbonated water, is it good for your health and for your teeth?

[00:22:07] Dr Gamer Verdian: I have a great story about this Felicity! I went to my brother’s house a few years ago and he had a 4 year old and a 6 year old daughter, we were having dinner and low and behold, my nieces opened up a bottle of sparkling water and started drinking it. I looked, and I said, “what’s going on here?” and they said, “oh no, they love sparkling water” and then this will answer my question, it is really bad for you, especially on a regular basis. So what we don’t think about is the carbonation in carbonated water or all carbonated drinks or soft drinks is really acidic, you have to add acid to get at that fizz that, you know, we all do like. So, and whilst we think it’s just water, well, it’s not, it’s actually acidic water. And acidity causes erosion of teeth and it causes all sorts of other effects. So, our advice as dentists is to stick to still water, carbonated water should be, you know, it’s not as bad as a soft drink like Coke because it doesn’t have the sugar, but it’s not too far off with all the acidity that’s in it. 

[00:23:25] Felicity Cohen: What about purified water? Do we need to be concerned about how much fluoride we are having and is there concern around whether it’s fluoride in our toothpaste or in water? 

[00:23:33] Dr Gamer Verdian: So look, this is an ongoing debate and question I have, that I’m asked quite frequently and from the dental perspective, and we’ve got thousands and thousands and thousands of studies on this now going back 70 years, the effects of fluoride are significantly positive for dental and oral health. You know, we’ve seen it in population studies where a population fluorides, so fluoridate the water and the one that doesn’t and the incidence of the disease is exponentially worse. So, you know, from our perspective, right, and we talked all about the oral health side of this, it is very important that we do consume fluoride, and we’ve just got to make sure we do it in a recommended doses. I’ve seen patients of my own who have switched from a regular fluoride toothpaste to more natural toothpaste and seen in six months, you know, someone who’d never had decay come back with eight cavities and they’re looking at them going, “well, what happened here, how did this happen?”. And then, you know, it’s really hard to delve into these sometimes as a clinician, but we nailed it down to switching over to a non fluoridated toothpaste. So, from our perspective it’s crucial and I know there are concerns around fluoride, and as someone who believes in a long health span, I’ve read them, but the oral health benefits to me far outweigh, the potential risks that are discussed. 

[00:25:13] Felicity Cohen: Thank you. What kind of toothbrush should we be using? Do we use electric toothbrushes? Do we use just the regular toothbrush? What do you think is best for us to be using? 

[00:25:23] Dr Gamer Verdian: I’d go electric, you know, studies have shown that with a manual toothbrush, always have a soft bristle, that’s really important, medium or hard bristles will over time scrub away valuable enamel and tooth structure. So, rule number one, keep it soft. But there are studies that do show you can do a great job with manual brushing. It just takes time, care, and attention. And most people don’t give time, care, and attention to brushing their teeth twice a day, every day. So an electric toothbrush takes a lot of that out of you, and it makes it a lot more efficient. And I really love the electric toothbrushes with timers, because it’s very tempting to just go, and I’m a dentist and I’ve got this life and it’s tempting to do that. But if you have the timer there, it’s a lot more difficult and, you know, look, I’ve gotta do my 2 minutes, when the timer stops, I’ll stop. 

[00:26:20] Felicity Cohen: I love that, I’m going out to get one today! 

[00:26:22] Dr Gamer Verdian: So great!

[00:26:24] Felicity Cohen: So what about some of these alternative therapies that have become really popular, oil pulling, charcoal toothpaste, what can you tell me, I guess, first of all oil pulling, like, that sounds pretty extreme, you’ve gotta swish and hold lots of oil in your mouth for a longer length of time. 

[00:26:40] Dr Gamer Verdian: Yeah look, and to be honest, there’s no harm in it okay and you could do it pretty frequently as well. So it’s, I will get into the charcoal toothpaste in a sec, but oil pulling there’s no harm in it. The only harm is if you think that’s all you have to do. So if you were oil pulling in addition to your normal routine of brushing and flossing, I have, you know, I’ve tried it a few times myself and yeah, it does feel weird and it’s different, and you could probably think it’s a little bit extreme, but there’s no harm in it. And you know, there’s some anecdotal research that says it might help, so my opinion is that if you like it and you enjoy it, and you do it in addition to your you know, known oral health habits, then go for it.

Charcoal or activated charcoal toothpaste is a little bit different. Most often the ingredients in it are quite abrasive, that’s how it works. So we’ve got abrasive charcoal which you use to brush stains off, and it gives you a feeling of smoothness, whiteness, and polished teeth. Which is really good, but it’s not great to be done regularly. So if, you know, if you think we’re just abrading away little bits of enamel every time, little bits of dentine, then you know, you just wouldn’t do it regularly. So I think that’s something I would be recommending doing a one-off. My concern is always patients just switching to charcoal toothpaste, especially ones that don’t have fluoride, and then we go down this pathway of, you know, unnecessary or unexpected negative oral health outcomes. 

[00:28:23] Felicity Cohen: So I’d love to just lift the lid on that Pandora’s Box around these home teeth whitening solutions that have also become so popular. 

[00:28:32] Dr Gamer Verdian: Yeah. 

[00:28:32] Felicity Cohen: Especially the treatments that people are, you can purchase off the internet, you can do it at home, and the promise is you’re gonna have beautiful white teeth. Are they safe, not safe? How do people actually assess whether it’s the right thing to do? And they’re non-supervised within a dental environment with their dentist, supervising and advising. 

[00:28:50] Dr Gamer Verdian: Look, as we all know, you know, unsupervised treatments can be overdone, you know, you just don’t know if you’re causing damage or not. A lot of those home whitening kits, typically have low bleach content, you know, so some of them can work really well in very small doses. But when I say really well, I find most of my patients are underwhelmed and disappointed. You know, in a dental practice, we have access to like really strong bleaches, and we isolate teeth to make sure they’re protected. We keep your lips and cheeks out of the way when we do something like a Zoom whitening, and we have a dentist there to manage complications just in case they arise. And even with those bleaches, we do not get amazing results at times, you know? So when you think about some of these home whitening kits having the bleach that is, you know, 10 times less in strength, you know, it’s going to be really challenging for them to work. And then you try, and try, and try, a lot of people will do it excessively or aggressively and I think is not a great idea. There are some home whitening products which actually do work and are relatively safe, you know, the Crest or Colgate whitening strips that you put on, they tend to work pretty well, and you know, the effects are probably not the same as you would get in a Zoom whitening, but if you wanted to do something at home, that’s what I would recommend, and they’re quite cost-effective and they’re pretty safe. 

The issue with most whitening products is contact time. So a lot of people will sell whitening toothpaste, and we’ll go by whitening toothpaste, but the reality is the strength of the whitening agent is very minimal and the contact time on your tooth is not very much, you know, if you’re brushing for two minutes and then rinsing off, there’s just no time for that whitening paste to work. So that is something that should be considered when we are looking at-home whitening products, what is the contact time and is the contact time going to be effective in a safe timeframe. 

[00:31:08] Felicity Cohen: Thank you. How do you feel about patients travelling overseas to have dental treatment such as, they might want to choose to have crowns or veneers? I know in my personal setting with bariatric surgical patients, we would always discourage it, you know, cheap is not always best and you’ve got to think about the longevity of that treatment, and who’s looking after you when you actually come back to Australia. For us is the biggest problem. How do you see that in your world, is it a problem? 

[00:31:38] Dr Gamer Verdian: I really wanna mirror your sentiments there, Felicity. I look at this not from a medical perspective, but from a basic human perspective, right. So when I see a patient here, the work I do, I’m going to be responsible for the next decade or two, okay, and I know that, and that drives me to make sure the dentistry that I’m providing is befitting of that sort of expectation.

The unfortunate thing is when you go to another country, the provider of that healthcare knows that you are only going to be in their country for a week or two, and then the complications afterwards, you know, will be very challenging for the patient to manage with you. And I think as a human being, that’s really hard to overcome. Now, that being said, you know, I’ve seen the good, the bad, the ugly from overseas dentistry and, you know, in healthcare, like you only have one set of teeth, you only have one body, you only have one chance at all of this, right. You know, it’s not like we you go overseas to an outlet shopping centre and get cheap clothes and it’s wonderful, and you know, I wouldn’t gamble on my health. There are some things I would like clothing maybe, but I really wouldn’t gamble on my health because I think that you only get one chance. 

You know, I’ve seen patients where I’ve discussed the cosmetic case, where we were going to do eight veneers for them, and then they went to another country and they ended up with every single tooth crowned or veneered, and then, you know, root canal therapies were done completely unnecessary right. And they thought, “oh wow, this costing me about five grand instead of like twenty, I’m gonna get as much as I can” but that is absolutely not what we think when we talk about health span in our patients, you know, and when they came back, you know, so much of the work had fallen off or broken or was infected, and you know, having to redo 32 teeth is something that costs, you know, really a fortune. And I think these sorts of things happen too frequently and it’s hard for us to talk about them as healthcare providers because we do have a bias in all this. But it is scary and, you know, I think sometimes we hear from our friends or family who has gone and done, I went to see someone in, you know, Thailand, and everything’s great, look, but you know, if you really looked under the hood and saw what was done, you know, I see the materials that are used in other countries regularly, we stopped using here 30, 40 years ago, just because the quality is absolutely unacceptable. That’s just the norm. 

The decision making in treatment also is limited to the time you’re there. So I’ll give you an example, a patient will come for a missing area and should get an implant, right? Over there, they’ll just do a bridge, which means you’re drilling the hell out of the adjacent teeth to make that work. And then sometimes I’ve seen patients get implants on the first day they’re there and then one week later a tooth is put on and a dental implant, a single dental implant usually needs three to six months of integration with the bone around it. So, if you put a tooth on it straight away, and this happened in this patient, they’ve pretty much lost half of their sinus or the bone around their sinus because it’s just got infected and it ended up coming out. So we have these sort of things that happen here and there that, you know, not every dentist that doesn’t live in Australia is a bad dentist, you know? But I always come back to the first point, which is human nature sort of overrides some of these things.

[00:35:43] Felicity Cohen: Yeah, absolutely. So finally, our listeners are all wellness warriors, and we know that wellness is so worth fighting for, and once you lose your health, you can spend the rest of your life fighting to get it back, whether it’s spiritual, mental, or physical, and you know, something that we are always inspired to learn about from, you know, what’s going on on their wellness journey.

So my last question for you is, is there a time in your life that you can remember that you were struggling with your wellness and what did you do to fight for it or to reclaim your own personal wellness? 

[00:36:24] Dr Gamer Verdian: I absolutely have one of these, Felicity. You know, I was a basketball player for most of my, you know, teens, twenties, and thirties, and so I had all sorts of injuries, and you know, recovering from injuries is not fun and does take a lot out of you. 

But the one that really comes to mind was early last year, I was really doing long clinical hours and I was really doing a lot of, you know, research, and reading, and up-skilling. So I was, you know, at a desk or a computer for 16 to 18 hours a day or seeing patients, and eventually, I had a bulging disc in my neck and that pain was the worst I’ve experienced. I think I’ve been very lucky in that, this is the worst thing I’ve had if I think about a lot of other people, but having a bulging disc in your neck that doesn’t allow you to walk, doesn’t allow you to move, you know, just getting a drink or going to the bathroom was, you know, a real challenge.

So that was really, really, really tough, and what I did to get out of it, I think, you know, we can all get into this fog of un-wellness and injury and it’s, you know, you need a catalyst to push you out of there, and for me, you know, I really am a huge believer in meditation so I did a lot of meditation at that point in time. And then, you know, seeking out help, sometimes you just don’t do it and you forget to do it! So I started seeking help from, you know, a really great chiropractor, physio’s, you know, I’ve got friends that are doctors and I got the advice I needed. And then I said to myself, and I think this is a really great thing to think when, you know, when you are unwell, is to improve a little bit each day. It’s like, okay, I’m going to get 1% better today by doing these stretches, these exercises, right? Or by meditating and feeling better, and then if you think about it that way, you know, a lot of hope can be built just by a small shift in mindset, and a lot of the times, those 1% improvements you don’t feel because you’re clinically sore, but you will reach a stage where your pain becomes subclinical, which means you don’t fail. So you know, it could be 50 days, so if you were 1% better each day in 50 days, it will be 50% better, and potentially in a hundred days, it’ll be 100% better. And a lot of the times you’ll be surprised you get one, it goes to 1% then 2% and then it might be 5%, and then you are stretching and all sorts of other things are making a significant impact.

I think going on from there, you know, I made a real priority to look after myself in terms of rest and recovery, you know, so if you are going to do a really long day, you really need to be disciplined about not going home and just falling asleep. And if you have a challenging day, you know, so I make it a routine every day, no matter what, to spend 15, 20 minutes doing some form of recovery and it doesn’t need to be anything too dramatic, you know, spending time on a foam roll up or one of those weird little baseballs or one of my go-to favourites is a theragun. And if you’re a healthcare provider, I think we put great strain on our nervous systems and whether that is through posture or strength, you know, where you need to perform dental procedures or surgical procedures in awkward positions. And also whilst you’re doing all that, your nervous system is taxed by the mental thought process of, you know, providing, you know, the best healthcare possible. So it is really taxing on our nervous system and it is really important to give a focal point to rest and recovery every day. 

[00:40:31] Felicity Cohen: So many amazing takeaways from our conversation today, but just to recap on that last answer, there’s a lot of really good value in there for people listening today, rest and recovery, I’m a great fan of! Mindfulness meditation and reaching out and asking for help when you need it. And knowing that there are so many different other health professionals in a range of modalities that can support, help you, and assist you on your wellness journey so that you can thrive.

It’s been an absolute pleasure having you here today, Gamer, and thank you so much for joining me on the Wellness Warriors podcast. 

[00:41:06] Dr Gamer Verdian: Thank you, Felicity, it’s been a blast.

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