No matter how hard I’ve tried, I’ve always been nervous going to the dentist. When Dr. Yathi Lingam, owner of Olympia Smiles, joined the Thurston County community, I was intrigued by his promise of free teeth whitening for life and made my appointment. What I found was a refreshing dental experience unlike any other.
Having grown up in India, Dr. Lingam made a decision about his career path during high school as is customary for Indian students. “I was really fascinated with dentistry so I decided to just go for it,” he says with a smile. During a competitive application process for the focused course of study, Dr. Lingam was selected for the career of his choice. He says only about one in 80 students are accepted to dental programs and he felt fortunate.
He entered one of the top dental schools in Chennai, India, where he studied diligently through his graduation. Dr. Lingam then moved to Florida where he received a masters degree in microbiology from Florida Atlantic University. Next, he landed in California where he completed additional dental training at Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, further honing his skills. When finished, he relocated the family to Washington. “My daughter still wonders why I left Florida with Disney World and California with Disneyland,” he explains laughing.
When asked why he chose Washington to put down professional and personal roots he share,“Literally I said, ‘so where do I go?'” he remembers. “Washington was so green and is called the Evergreen State, so I thought that sounded good. But, no one told me about the rain.”
After working in Bellevue for a short time, he moved to Olympia, working as an associate with another dentist. After six years, he knew it was time to open his own practice and Olympia Smiles was born. Throughout the past 13 years, the practice has grown, transitioning to a larger building. However, Dr. Lingam and his staff’s philosophy remains the same – to make every patient feel comfortable while offering honest and easy to understand diagnosis and compassionate gentle dental care for all ages.
Before every procedure, whether it’s a cleaning or a crown, each patient is offered a paraffin wax treatment for their hands. “When people come here they are often totally stressed out,” Dr. Lingam shares. “This service just takes the edge off in the first few minutes and they can relax.” Warm neck rolls are offered to rest your head and a towelette once you’re finished. It’s these little things that make all the difference.
The staff couldn’t be happier to be a part of such a warm, friendly practice. Office manager Natalie shares, “The whole reason I wanted to work here is because Dr. Lingam values family above all else. If you have something you need to go do for your family, even if there’s nobody else here, he’s going to say you need to go take care of your family. That’s the kind of boss he is.” Dr. Lingam values everyone’s time and knows there is more to life than work.
However, Dr. Lingam’s work – dentistry – is a very important part of his life. To illustrate his passion for helping people, he shares the story of a new Olympia Smiles patient. When she first visited, he explains, she had no confidence and wouldn’t even smile. But, after her treatment was complete, everything about her changed. “I was so happy to see the transformation that happened from just one week before. To see the difference and confidence in her. We want to see that exuberance come out. It’s just so wonderful. It’s truly one of the best things for me.”
The entire team at Olympia Smiles strives to make patients feel comfortable from the moment they walk through the door. Whether it’s the warm smiles, small talk about your day or helping sort out insurance or financial questions, it’s obvious they are happy you are here. “Without my staff I am nothing,” says Dr. Lingam emphatically. “We are a team and they are the ones who make our patients so comfortable.”
“They’re so welcoming here, you can’t really fear coming in,” shares Kayleigh Townes, an Olympia Smiles patient. “They just have open arms.”
2604 Yelm Hwy SE, Suite A, Olympia
Open Tuesday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.