To many, visiting the dentist is a dreaded experience, and it doesn’t help that dental practices aren’t known for being the most enjoyable of environments to be in! Sitting in a squeaky pleather chair, as it slowly reclines you to face that fluorescent blue lighting, with the scent of rubber gloves in the air... bring back any bad memories?! Now imagine replacing pleather with luxurious leather, fluorescent bulbs with ambient lighting and the smell of rubber with the scent of Palo Santo, and you can start to see how these small changes could make a big difference to your dental visit experience! This is the vision of New York dentist Dr. Jennifer Plotnick and her brand new “Grand Street Dental”, and we went behind the scenes just before launch to show you the future of dental practices!
Meet Dr. Plotnick
Dr. Jennifer Plotnick attended McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where she earned both her undergraduate degree and her Doctorate of Dental Medicine. A New York City Native, she returned to the Big Apple after finishing her dentistry education to complete her residency in the Bronx at Albert Einstein Montefiore Medical Center in 2009. She is now transitioning to her own Grand Street Dental practice in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, having worked at another private Brooklyn practice for the past seven years, a place she says has taught her invaluable lessons that dentistry school would never have been able to.
“I think it’s invaluable to have learned the managerial skills I have from being part of a private practice,” Dr. Plotnick says. “But more important than that, I learned what really matters in dentistry: the relationships you build with patients. You get to know people; what’s important to them as individuals, and you can use that to help them enjoy the care you are giving them.”
During this learning process, a key takeaway from Dr. Plotnick’s time at her Brooklyn practice was the power of visual tools, explaining that having patients see where a cavity is starting to develop or where a tooth is starting to crack helps them feel part of the treatment, rather than feeling like they are being constantly lectured to. “You’re not just talking to somebody; you’re having a conversation. I wanted to step away from the trend where practices were becoming like machines, filing people in and out as fast as possible, focused only on providing the minimum treatment their insurance could afford. I don’t want it to be clinic-y. I want people to feel they are being taken care of.”
Not your typical dental office
These concepts of patient comfort, visual engagement and an ongoing conversation were at the core of Dr. Plotnick’s blueprints for her space on Grand Street in Williamsburg, NY. Instead of creating another cookie cutter practice, Dr. Plotnick collaborated with professionals outside of the dental industry, chiefly in the worlds of art and design, to create a more relaxing environment that encouraged conversation, used visual stimulus to entertain and engage, and created a space that felt more like a “relaxing living room” than a “sterile surgery.” Creating an open floor plan was essential to this concept, where you can hear people talking and laughing from the waiting room to the examination rooms.
“I was in here taping up floors, envisioning how the layout would be and working closely with the architect to make the lighting soft and ambient, as far away from what people were used to as possible,” she says. Although a daunting experience, complete with the inevitable mishaps that come with managing a construction site, a hands-on approach was essential to realizing her mission. Dr. Plotnick’s friends, and in particular her husband Kent, an artist and photographer, were invaluable support throughout the process, helping with everything from photography to wall art and even business cards to create this stereotype-crushing practice. “I thought to myself, I spend a large majority of my time here, so if I can create a space that I enjoy being in every day, it should translate to a place my guests feel comfortable in, too!”
Spreading the word
Creating a practice from scratch is one thing, but attracting the patients needed to sustain the large costs of maintaining a practice is a constant battle, even for established practices. So Dr. Plotnick’s choice of location was not an accident. Knowing her vision of style plus substance, Williamsburg was the perfect setting to test a concept that, at least in theory, would be well received among a youthful demographic, who are used to brands offering services beyond the norm. Even before the practice launched, these assumptions played true, with Grand Street Dental’s eye-catching “pre-opening” window displays and social media feeds gaining a lot of attention, leading to a strong following and waiting list, months before launch.
This unique intersection of art and dentistry are truly at the core of Grand Street Dental’s disruption in the space. Grand Street Dental’s Instagram feed catches patients’ attention with its colorful, playful imagery, but then drives home important messages about oral health to an engaged audience. This ability to engage and educate, without patronizing or preaching, is something that is tough to find in the dental industry and is a powerful tool as dentistry looks to focus more on good habit guidance and support for patients. “Getting someone to read your post, you have to make it interesting, make it more fun, make it more light-hearted,” she says. “Capturing their attention is what we, as dentists, have struggled with, but it’s so crucial to helping support those crucial healthy habits.”
Dr. Plotnick + quip
Here at quip, we share the same belief that the biggest difference we can make to oral health, is initiating a total mindset change: repositioning oral care as a more enjoyable, rewarding part of your day, using good product, brand and service design.
“In our hectic lives, people appreciate simplicity, and quip makes good oral health more simple,” says Dr. Plotnick. “The fact the brush and packaging are so beautiful, and the fact it will now take pride of place in any bathroom, should not be underestimated. Anything we can do together to inspire people to care more about their oral health is good news for dentists, for patients and therefore for teeth!”