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Shilpi Ahluwalia, DMD

Shilpi Ahluwalia, DMD

NYC Health + Hospitals/Gouverneur

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Transforming Lives Through Dentistry

From a childhood playing with stray dogs in government housing in New Delhi, Dr. Shilpi Ahluwalia came to the United States at just four years old with his parents firmly set on him becoming a doctor. 

In a profession where patients often face long paths and grim compromises, Dr. Ahluwalia gravitated towards dentistry for its ability to transform patients quickly and substantially. 

“We can mitigate problems — pain — right away with a quick root canal or patching up a broken tooth,” he says. “People feel ashamed and we help them go back to their lives quickly. Immediate resolution for a lot of cases. It’s transformative. Patients are very grateful. Their life has been fixed, at least for that day, that moment.” In short, Dr. Ahluwalia restores patients’ crowns.

“It’s always been an intimate career, having your hands in a stranger’s mouth. You don’t get much more intimate than that,” he laughed. “But, yeah, it has become a little more intimate. There’s a lot of talking. You act like a therapist a little bit. I had patients return from the pandemic teary-eyed. They maybe didn’t know how to react or respond or felt uncomfortable. I just told them, hey, it’s good to see you again. There was a period that was bleak and hopeless, despair was high, but you give people new dentures and the first thing they do to try them out is they smile.”

At NYC Health + Hospitals/Gouverneur, Dr. Ahluwalia often sees patients more frequently than their children do. He remembered a woman in the peak of the pandemic who took comfort that he reminded her of her son. 

“Dr. Ahluwalia always rises to the challenges that present when caring for our frail elderly population,” says Dr. Humphrey. “Providing dental care for dementia patients can present with multiple difficulties but Dr. Ahluwalia manages with a calm and gentle bedside manner.”

Dr. Ahluwalia joked that he preferred child patients for their honesty. “You ask ‘em ‘Have you brushed today?’ and they just say ‘Nope,’” he laughed. “Brutally honest.”

And he quipped that patients’ newfound lease on life had him curious about a study he wanted to try: seeing if post-pandemic patients were finally flossing more. 

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