Tooth Break

Dreaded office visits to the Dentist get a happier (even fun?) makeover

By Gina Gallucci-White | Photography by Turner Photography Studio | Posted on 04.29.15 – Lifestyles, People & Places

When first stepping into Dr. Brian Hall’s Endodontic office in Frederick, you may think you’ve taken a wrong turn. The lobby features framed rolling stone magazine covers hanging on the wall, splashed with Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, U2 and Metallica, just to name a few. The office tunes are SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s classic vinyl station. A dart board hangs on the wall by the door; just asl the receptionist for darts to play a game.

Walking back into the patient rooms, guests will notice an impressive display of concert memorabilia—a signed drum head by members of the band Rush and a guitar autographed by local band Kix are a few of the eye-drawing pieces. Vinyl records are used as a frame for a giant concert photo in one room while a Woodstock poster hangs in the other. Upon meeting Hall, he reminds you more of a band roadie than a dentist. Forget the standard dentist uniform of white coat, buttoned up shirt, pressed pants and loafers. Hall comes to work dressed in a black T-shirt with his office’s logo (a drumhead with his initials), khaki pants and black Chuck Taylors.

“For me, personally, I like to have fun with people,” Hall says. “I like to make them laugh, to interact with them and I spend a lot of time with my patients before and after the procedure. … [The decor and theme has] really been so much better than what I even anticipated it was going to be from the patient perspective. It’s created an environment that has allowed patients to relax.” The words “fun” and “relax” are rarely associated with dentistry, but thanks to Hall and several other area practices, dental care can actually be—dare we say it?—enjoyable.

Rock ‘n’ Roll smile

Hanging up in the reception area of Hall’s office is a neon sign featuring a large tooth and the words ‘Drive thru’ inside it. The sign is a wink to the serendipity behind his current office. Back in 2009, Hall’s practice was on West Patrick Street, right next to a Taco Bell. His previous office mirrored a more traditional space, which he describes as “very quaint” and “very nice.” His endodontic practice was uprooted on May 2, 2009, when a truck drove through Hall’s office after a stop at the Taco Bell. “It was like a bomb went off,” Hall recalls. Instead of recreating the office he had before the crash, Hall said, “You know what? I am going to do something different and so for about a year I collected [rock ‘n’ roll] stuff. … I had all these ideas in my head.”

Choosing a new location on Solarex Court in 2010, Hall came in on weekends and evenings to decorate the office. Patient reaction has been overwhelmingly positive since its opening. A patient came in recently and remarked after his procedure, “I don’t believe I am going to say this, but I actually had a good time,” Hall recalls. He cherishes the memories patients share about concerts they have been to, artists they have met and memories triggered thanks to the music played over the radio which can be changed to suit each person’s preferences. “Music speaks to the masses and there is truth to the adage that music soothes the soul,” Hall says. “It really does. [The rock ‘n’ roll theme has done] more than I ever thought it was going to do.”

TV and Prizes

Going to the dentist can be a hard sell for an adult—let alone children who don’t want to sit still while a stranger explores their mouth with sharp objects. The Pediatric Dental Center of Frederick and Smile Frederick Orthodontics have photo booths so kids can share their smiles.  Also, an artist from Spiral Spirit Balloon Company comes in once a month to make balloon characters for everyone.

While some child-based dental practices design large rooms with multiple patient chairs and fast visit times, Frederick Pediatric Dentistry aims to create a family-friendly environment with private rooms and time given to provide the opportunity to ask questions regarding care. “As a pediatric dentist, we set the foundation for a lifetime of positive dental experiences for little kids,” said Dr. Michael Virts. “So if we give them a great experience now, then they are a lot more likely to have great experiences as they get older and want to come to the dentist and want to take care of their teeth, which in turn is really preventing a lot of problems in the future.”

Each room contains a flat-screen television with DirecTV program offerings, so instead of focusing on the dentist, the child can watch a beloved television show. Audioanalgesia, including ocean wave sounds, is also used to provide a soothing environment during an office visit. Kids who are fans of the movie Finding Nemo will also love the 144-gallon marine coral reef fish tank which can also be found in the office. For being good, children can pick out a new bath toy like a squeaky duck or a small race car. Kids who come for multiple appointments for procedures may pick from even better prizes, including a small basketball hoop or a stuffed animal.

Community First

Several years ago, Premiere Dental Arts decided to host a single-day event offering free care, including cleanings and extractions to the community. People lined up as early as 1 a.m. and the practice stayed open many hours after the its regular closing time. “We had so many people coming back and telling us how grateful they were to be able to be a part of this and be able to get [dental work] done,” says Christine Federline Berzinski, dental hygienist and director of marketing events. “We realized at that event that we really wanted to be a [bigger] part of the community.”

Since then, the practice has hosted several events including its annual candy buyback held shortly after Halloween. Children earn money for every pound of candy they bring in. Since 2011, the candy is given to Operation Gratitude, an organization that sends care packages to U.S. military members; last year was their best total so far, collecting around 250 pounds of candy. “Every year we get a better and better response,” Berzinski says.

The practice is also putting together an open house set for June 13 featuring Bingo games, a photo booth, face painting, pizza, popcorn and a showing of the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The event is free and open to the public. It’s “a fun way to give back to the community,” she says. “We want to make it fun for all ages.” The Frederick-based office has sponsored several events benefiting Sophie and Madigan’s Playground, established in memory of two local sisters, and regularly has a booth at Frederick Keys games.

They also do regular giveaways, including movie tickets and free teeth-whitening services. “I think that [the patients] do enjoy that we are out there to be more than just a dental office,” Berzinski says. “They have fun when they come in. It’s a very at-ease practice. They enjoy coming to the different events. … We just want to make sure that we are doing things within the community because giving to the community gives back to us, as well.”