My Vision of Tamal Vista Family Dentistry (TVFD)

We love our patients and as a way of connecting with you and helping to demystify the world of dentistry, we invite you to travel with us as we explore and unravel some of the tips, tricks and newsworthy tidbits in the field of dentistry,

Check in frequently as we will post our blogs every other Tuesday!


  Dr. James and Cristy McDowell in front of their San Rafael office with their beloved "Laverne".

Dr. James and Cristy McDowell in front of their San Rafael office with their beloved "Laverne".

My wife, Cristy, and I moved to San Rafael in 1999 and we purchased a small dental practice at the corner of 5th and H St at the entrance to the Sun Valley neighborhood of San Rafael.  Our goal was to provide the best treatment I could with my training both from UCSF Dental and from a residency in Advanced General Dentistry at UOP Dental School in San Francisco.  Our small practice grew from wonderful referrals and we also eventually combined practices with Dr. Stephen Jaffe and we worked together for a few years before he retired completely.  It was fun becoming part of the San Rafael and Marin community and growing our family here.  Since we live here in San Rafael, patients often saw me in markets and around town, and I frequently heard people calling out “Hey Doc” and stopping to say hello and show me their smile.  As the practice continued to grow, our office and space became tight and limited my ability to implement the latest technologies and services for my patients creating a barrier to the quality of treatment I wanted to provide.

  Dr. James and Cristy McDowell in their first dental practice in San Rafael at the corner of 5th and H Street.

Dr. James and Cristy McDowell in their first dental practice in San Rafael at the corner of 5th and H Street.


I’ve always strived to treat my patients in the most caring manner, to treat everyone as I would family, with the best possible materials, latest techniques and in the most up to date and modern facility as possible.  I realized that to do so at my original location wasn’t possible and for the vision of my practice I needed to find a place to build an office that mirrors my mission, not only now, but would also have the ability to adapt to newer technologies and treatment services in dentistry.

In 2015, Cristy and I decided to create Tamal Vista Family Dentistry (TVFD) and establish a state of the art facility that would allow our practice to continue to grow and provide all of our patients with the best possible care. It was also important to not only create the right space, but maintain the family, “homey” feel that we have built our reputation on.  Most important to our goals and mission was to find talented dental professionals with skills and desires to treat our patients as family as well.  We want patients to walk into the office, feel “at home”, see happy, caring and warm staff and know that they’ll be well taken care of by everyone in the office.  As our practice grows with patients, so does our staff and finding the right team is a big part of what makes TVFD special. 

I knew with the move to our new location, I would need to find the assistance of another dentist to join the practice. Unlike many other dental practices that separate patients between specific doctors, I wanted to find someone to share in the vision established by TVFD and be able to treat all of our patients together and to work as a team.  With some searching, I was happy to be introduced to Dr. Dan Scott and realized early on that he shared a very similar passion for dentistry and personal care to every patient.  We’re often compared to brothers and too frequently even dress the same at the office. He also completed a 2-year advanced dental residency in Philadelphia following his dental education at UOP.  The two of us enjoy collaborating on every patient that comes through the door and being able to treat them with a complete range of services.  With both our training in advanced dentistry and a practice facility that can allow us to provide those treatments, we are happy to able to treat all of our patients for most of their dental needs.  Whether it’s giving kids a great first visit to the dentist, routine adult cleanings, esthetic veneers, crowns, fillings, implants or root canals, we are happy to provide these treatments in a facility and with staff that cares about our patients.

As dentistry changes, our vision is to also grow and find ways to provide our patients with the most current dental options.  Dr. Scott is trained to provide Invisalign as an orthodontic option to many patients and I have recently completed a residency in Dental Sleep Health and can not only assist patients with snoring, but apnea and related issues with sleeping.  We’ve also just brought in a 3-D dental x-ray imaging system to better evaluate and treatment plan cases and also added a new 3-D scanner that uses cameras to make models of your teeth instead of traditional goopy molds.

I hope you find TVFD a special place.  My wife Cristy and I are proud of what we’ve created and know that we’ve established a practice that will continue to grow and standout in Marin as a place of dental excellence.  We’re proud to have been recognized by so many of you and was voted Best Dentist in both the 2018 Marin IJ and 2017/2018 Pacific Sun.  Thank you so much and make sure to say hello and show off that smile the next time you see any of us around town. 

I look forward to sharing more fun stories and dental education in blogs to come! 

James McDowell DDS