Former naval officer opens dental practice — Schaffer Dental Excellence — in Carmel Valley


By Catherine Kolonko

A new dentist in Carmel Valley has taken over an established local practice that now offers dental treatment to both adults and children.

In February, Dr. Robert Schaffer moved into the Carmel Valley dental office formerly occupied by Dr. Paul Gimby. Though he retired, Gimby will continue to work at the office one day a week to encourage a smooth transition for current patients, Schaffer said.

“My practice philosophy is to have a warm, family-friendly practice,” said Schaffer, whose office, Schaffer Dental Excellence, is located at 12750 Carmel Country Road, Suite 205, San Diego, 92130.

“I really like transforming people’s smiles. That’s one of the main reasons I got into dentistry. I felt when people smile, they’re happier, they feel better and I love that.”

A former naval officer who served in Afghanistan, Schaffer most recently was a partner in a group practice in North Carolina. One of the reasons he decided to go into his own practice was a desire to spend more time with patients, he said.

“It allows me time to sit down with the patients and have real conversations with them…to get to know them and what they expect from me and for their smile and their dental health.”

Schaffer knows some people have anxiety about dentists so making them feel comfortable is a priority. He sends a letter to all his patients explaining what to expect during an office visit. After a dental procedure, he likes to personally follow up with each patient. He joked that often patients are surprised to get his telephone call and some joke that they wondered if they forgot to pay the bill.

Schaffer Dental Excellence offers general dentistry with expertise in orthodontics, root canal therapy, oral surgery and a variety of whitening treatments and cosmetic procedures. The practice previously only saw adult patients so Schaffer has equipped the office with child-friendly tooth brushes and fun toys and stickers to welcome child patients.

The son of a U.S. Marine, Schaffer was born at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and returned to the military base as an adult when he joined the U.S. Navy. During a stint in Afghanistan as a triage officer in a Marine combat zone, Shaffer treated Marines, as well as members of the Afghanistan National Army.

“It made me realize I was more than just a dentist and that the world was bigger than just what I had experienced,” said Schaffer about his time in the Middle East.

He also participated in humanitarian efforts in remote villages, mostly conducting dental extractions. Part of the outreach involved teaching children about oral health care “They really were never exposed to anything like toothpaste or tooth brushes, believe it or not,” Schaffer said.

After his tour in the Middle East, Schaffer was stationed in San Diego. When he left the Navy, he and his wife moved back east while his wife was pregnant with their first child. After a few years, they realized how much they wanted to return to California.

“We were dying to get back to San Diego,” said Schaffer, who recently relocated from North Carolina with his wife, Danielle, and their three young children.

“We decided to move and live in Carmel Valley because that’s where the practice is…and we really want to be a big part of the community.”

More information about the practice can be found at or call (858) 481-1148.