By Johanna Piazza
Special to New York Resident
A few months ago, a new patient wandered into Dr. Paul Tanners’ Madison Square Avenue office. Her current dentist did great work, she told him, and her teeth looked beautiful, but there was something missing ‘ a bedside manner. Her dentist was just too ‘procedure oriented,’ she said. She dreaded visits to his office and put off invasive procedures to avoid the displeasure. Tanners couldn’t help but smile: The woman was his target market, and he was ready to serve her.
A good dentist doesn’t have to be a barbarian,’ Tanners jokes. ‘My job is to be service-oriented. A dentist can do beautiful work, but if patients dread their visit, they aren’t going to want to come in for the work.’ Long feared by all but the most sadistic among us, a visit to the dentist is improving by leaps and bounds. Increasingly, dentists are focusing on customer comfort and satisfaction during treatment.
Tanners, a long time Manhattan prosthodontist, has sculpted every nuance of his practice to make patients as comfortable as possible during teeth cleanings, oral surgery, and other dental procedures. He follows up each visit with a home phone call. He sends gifts or flowers to patients who may be a little woozy after a visit. In the office, comfort includes the tangible ‘ headphones with a variety of programming that are easily adjustable during treatment, a foot and leg massage by a licensed therapist, a foot and leg massage by a licensed therapist, and even aroma therapy, as well as the less tangible ‘ an encouraging and friendly staff that constantly inquires about comfort levels and goes out of its way to not inflict even a smidgen of unnecessary pain.
And as dental care has rapidly moved into the realm of enhancement as well as prevention ‘ with teeth whitening becoming more popular on the shelf and in the office ‘ Tanners is capitalizing on the moment. On his staff is Dr. Michelle J. Zweifler, a certified plastic surgeon who is available for consultations and outpatient wrinkle and lip treatments such as Botox and collagen injections. ‘The patients leave happy with their teeth, so we thought we’d add another dimension to the practice by offering plastic surgery consultations,’ Zweifler says. ‘And so far patients have been very receptive to it. They love the convenience of both specialists in one office.’ A botox injection combined with a standard teeth cleaning and checkup can be completed in less than two hours.
While the current space on Madison Avenue is certainly adequate for a dental facility, it doesn’t gel with Tanners’s vision of the overall dental experience. So he is opening a new office in the fall that will be more ‘spa-like,’ with wireless headsets and plasma televisions adorning the ceilings. ‘To me, the ultimate experience is feeling nothing, with computerized anesthesia, music playing in the background, and someone massaging your feet and legs,’ Tanners muses. ‘That is what I want my patients to experience.’