Dr Leah Romay DDS

Hello!

I'm Leah Romay, DDS

dentist, creative, recipe developer, photographer, environmentalist, and all-around health nut

I'm so happy you're here!

If you'd like to learn more, read on...

I’m a General Dentist practicing in Westminster, Maryland. Prior to dental school, I attended the University of Pittsburgh for my Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Studio Arts. I then received my Doctorate of Dental Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry in Baltimore, Maryland, which is the oldest dental school in the world! Following graduation, I completed a year of residency where I learned advanced techniques in Prosthodontics and implant dentistry. 

I created this site as a resource for family, friends and patients to share my recipes, health and wellness advice – all backed by research and scientific literature. I’ve always had a passion for food, photography and creating beautiful things, so I’ve combined these with my love for health sciences. It is of the utmost importance that everything I post here is accurate and true. I will not share anything that I don’t believe in and I spend many hours researching articles and literature to bring you the most reliable information. 

My recipes are primarily whole food plant based (vegan) and refined sugar free. This means that I work hard to keep my ingredients as close to nature as possible and avoid those that are not. This decision has been based upon mounds of scientific literature that indicates that processed and refined foods are at the root of many of our diseases. Additionally, I have learned that a whole food plant based diet can reverse many of our most prevalent diseases. 

I also focus on making sustainable and conscious choices that are good for the planet by minimizing waste, avoiding single use plastics, avoiding toxic chemicals, and buying products from companies with a commitment to sustainability. The planet is our only home and every effort to protect the planet is worth it. That’s why I am so committed to living as much as an eco-friendly life as possible, and I hope that I can inspire you to do the same!

Dr Leah Romay DDS

I'm here to help you learn about:

1.  Health, wellness, and prevention of disease

2.  Sustainability, planet-friendly living, and minimizing waste

Get to Know Me and My Story

I was born and raised on a farm – first in Tennessee, then in Pennsylvania. My dad raises Angus cattle and grows typical field crops like soybeans and corn. I came from an average middle class family – no long lineage of doctors or medical professionals like many of my dental classmates. My parents pushed me to work hard in school, but also allowed me to follow my passions and I’m very thankful for that. 

An important part of who I am is that I love making things.  I’ve got my kitchen tools, but I also have my cordless power drills and saws, plus my dental drills – I think you can see the connection! Both my parents are really handy, DIY kind of people and helped me learn many skills from a young age. Because of this, I became very hands-on, crafty, and inventive. I was that kid who made elaborate crafts, sewed clothing without patterns, and watched the Food Network (I loved Alton Brown) to learn how to make the perfect recipe. I also spent summers framing out walls, stripping and refinishing furniture, and who knows what else.  

My mom is a very good cook and always took the time to make homemade meals, teaching and inspiring me to do the same. My first ventures into the cooking world were through baking, as I admittedly had a major sweet tooth. For many years, I was the baker of the family and I would make all sorts of sweet concoctions. It helped lay the foundation for where I am now from a culinary standpoint, as I really love learning new techniques and understanding how flavors work together.

Why Dentistry?

Many of my patients ask me why I went into dentistry. Well, it all started back in high school. Being the artsy crafty person that I was, I had it in my mind that I should go to art school for fine arts or fashion design. Naturally, my dad was not into that idea. My mom humored me and we visited some art schools and even spent the day in NYC shadowing at a textile company. What I realized is that although I liked the idea of it, I just wasn’t sure if a career in art was right for me. I loved my science classes in school and I also knew that I wanted to help people, but I just wasn’t sure how. My mom suggested I shadow my orthodontist and dentist. 

While shadowing my dentist and orthodontist, I saw how hands-on all of the treatment is. I also saw the impact these professionals made in the lives of their patients every day. Although many patients complain that they don’t like the dentist, it cannot be denied that dentistry can transform people’s health and wellbeing. I realized that my hand skills and creativity, combined with my love of science and learning would work very well with dentistry.

Education

I set my course on dental school and began the process with undergraduate training at University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania

During my undergraduate studies, I stuck to the plan, taking my pre-dental science courses. I also learned a lot about what it means to fail. In high school, I didn’t have to do much to get an A on an exam. College was a different story. I had to spend a lot of time studying. But that didn’t break me and my dedication paid off when I was accepted directly from college into the University of Maryland School of Dentistry

My Realization that Health is Everything

Once I started dental school in Baltimore, I didn’t have much free time, but I still had the desire to be creative and had to find a new outlet.  So I put that creative energy into cooking healthy meals to sustain me through all of the studying and coursework. I started trying out new recipes, making lots of things from scratch, like bread, and packed my lunch every day. But I also struggled with sweets as I was constantly stressed. By the end of the day, I would have eaten multiple chocolates at lunch and ice cream after dinner. I literally could not go a day without at least having dessert. I knew it wasn’t good, but it was like I was addicted. 

Following graduation, I was swooped up by one of the post-graduate programs at UM and I began a residency to specialize in Prosthodontics, which is a dental specialty focused on prosthetic dentistry and advanced treatments. The program was incredibly grueling and difficult with long hours and no sleep. I spent the days seeing patients and the nights doing the lab work, as we weren’t allowed to send most cases to dental labs per the program requirements. Plus there was coursework, memorizing information, and research projects. I spent every day of the week at the school. The days were so long that I would leave home at 6 am (or earlier) and get home at 10pm or later and still have to study. I started to skip meals, not on purpose, but just because there was so much to do that I didn’t feel like I had the time to eat. As a result, I literally was wasting away. My program director prided himself on the idea that his residents got 2 hours of sleep a night. On top of it all, I was paying full price tuition even though I had been promised a moderate stipend to offset some of the costs. Unfortunately, that stipend was cut right before I started the program. After one year, I couldn’t take it any more. My physical and mental health was not good and I couldn’t even pay for living expenses. So it was a difficult choice, but I resigned from the program. 

I learned a lot about prosthodontics in that one year and it continues to help me every day in my practice. I am thankful for what I learned and for the mentors I had and I learned so many invaluable technique. But I am much happier and healthier now that I am living a more normal life with time for self care, sleep, and relaxation. Work and education is incredibly important, but not at the sacrifice of my own well being. 

Learning About Sustainability

Around 2012, I became very aware of the issues facing our planet and wanted to be more “eco friendly.” I realized that although many products make our lives more convenient, they are destroying the planet. Single use plastics like zip top bags, water bottles, shopping bags, food packaging, and household items are littering the planet, ending up in our water and food supplies.

It was around that time that I committed to buying as little as possible in plastic and bringing my reusable bags to the grocery store and to shops. I stopped buying plastic wrap and I invested in things like glass storage containers, reusable water bottles and cups, and a countertop water filtration system. Over time, I have evolved and now I try to buy things from companies that have sustainable practices, or buy as little as possible. (I keep a list of my recommended items here)

Taking a Hard Look

Back in childhood, I definitely had a love for Velveeta Mac and Cheese and processed snacks and sweets. In high school, I could eat a ridiculous amount of Oreos. Now I won’t touch any of those things. 

I always thought I was pretty healthy, as I loved to eat salad and didn’t drink soda. Admittedly I wasn’t terrible, but I wasn’t great either. I was known to bring a bag of baby carrots with me as a snack, yet I could eat a whole pint of ice cream in one sitting. Not exactly healthy. In dental school, I was cooking my own food and learned to make a lot more healthy food, but I still was eating a ton of sweets and dairy. Up until recently, I could still pack away the sweets and was eating out at restaurants all the time. It wasn’t until one year ago that I really asked – what does it mean to be healthy? I had to take a hard look at myself and make some real changes.

I have read so much on the topic and frankly, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. From fad diets to cleanses, how is anyone supposed to know what’s right?

Plant Based Nutrition

When my dad, 13 years post-prostatectomy, realized that his PSA levels were rapidly rising, things turned a bit upside down. 

On his own accord and research, he decided to eat a mostly plant based diet. I really thought this was nuts for two reasons. The first is that my dad always complained if there wasn’t meat in a meal. The second is that in my single nutrition class in dental school, I learned that if you are vegan, you have to take B12 supplement. If you have to take B12, I thought, then obviously veganism is not the correct diet for humans. 

However, after a mere 6 months, my dad lost at least 20 pounds and amazingly no longer had to take his blood pressure medicine or cholesterol medication. His blood pressure reading became that of a teenager, all naturally. Prior to this lifestyle change, he was told that his hypertension was hereditary. Turns out diet is a bigger factor. On top of it all, he felt like his energy levels were better than ever. He went for multiple scans to locate any cancerous tumors, but none could be located.

Because of this incredible transformation, I thought there must be some merit to plant based nutrition. I began to read as much as I could on the topic and have found that many studies are showing that vegetarians are healthier across multiple health markers. 

I realized that the Western lifestyle, particularly the dietary habits of the Standard American Diet and the sedentary ways, is resulting in the increased incidence of disease in my family, my patients, and myself. I’ve taken a long and hard look at myself and realized that what I considered to be healthy in the past, was not correct. I realized that meat is not essential for life. I also realized that dairy was causing a lot of issues for me and maybe humans are not meant to drink the milk of another animal. I also realized that there are so many healing qualities in plants.

All of these factors motivated me more than ever to make serious changes in the way I live. I want to share these lessons and experiences so that disease can be prevented and reversed. 

In My Dental Practice

Currently in my dental practice, I see people every day who have cavities and dental problems but also serious, chronic diseases that have taken such toll on them. Although I have many patients that have beautiful teeth, I have many that do not. It makes me incredibly sad to see children and teenagers with fillings on every single tooth because of diet and lack of oral hygiene. I wish every person could have perfect teeth, because we only have one set. Our teeth dictate how we interact with others, how we smile (if at all) and how our food is masticated for digestion and nutrient absorption (literally keeping us alive). The bacteria harbored in unhealthy mouths has been associated with heart disease, diabetes, and other medical issues (1).

My goal in my dental practice is to help people have healthy mouths as well as help patients learn about whole body health. I see my patients’ struggles with diseases and their manifestations. Most people are not happy about taking pills every day to survive. Most also don’t feel like they have the energy or vitality they once did. It is my duty to educate patients and I take the time every day to have discussions with my patients. 

My New Reality: Food as Medicine

What if I told you that you have the ability to be healthy and that you deserve to be healthy? In fact, your body wants to be healthy. What if I told you it all starts with food?

Food is our sustenance. It gives us nutrition to live. Without food, we will die. Yet many of the foods that we eat every day should not even be considered foods. Processed things like white flour, white sugar, margarine, strange by-products and additives – these are keeping us from the health we all deserve. 

If you look at the communities and people that are the healthiest, namely people in the Blue Zones, there is something profoundly similar among them all. They avoid processed refined foods, they eat mostly plants, and they value family and wellbeing. It’s no secret and there is much published data coming from these areas. Yet this is not well known amongst most Americans. 

I want to change that. I want people to know that health is in your control and no, we are not destined to take a list of 10 medications by the time we are old. This is the power of whole food plant based nutrition. It means eating whole foods, which are not refined or processed, and eating mostly plants (fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains and nuts). This may seem radical, but I think it’s more radical to have open heart surgery or take insulin injections every day.

My Mission

There are so many facets to healthy living that for many people, myself included, it can be completely overwhelming at times. I totally get that. I try my very best to make decisions based upon actual scientific research and data and I will be the first to admit when I am wrong about something. I spend hours reading scientific literature and read both sides of the argument. I really want to help people and I would never post something that I don’t believe in. 

I created this website for you – a resource to give you my guidance, ideas, and inspirations. I am still on my journey, and am far from perfect. I hope that together we can lead healthier, happier lives!

If you ever need help, guidance, or a just a word of encouragement, please know that you can always reach out to me. Contact me here, DM on Instagram (@drleahromay), or talk to me at your next dental appointment.

xx

Dr. Romay

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