At one time, dental offices were where orange-plaid upholstery and garish murals of ships went to die. It was no solace knowing the decor did to one’s eyes what the tooth-scraper would soon do to one’s mouth. But, readers, the past is simply that.
You may know Drs. Masha Kogan and Virginia Romano of the Dental Center of Westport from their witty, hip and unapologetically feminine advertisements. Photographed around town in braw tulle skirts and flossy kicks, the two are overcoming the rough-hewn reputations of their predecessors and modernizing our perception of dentistry.
Full disclosure: My kids and I have been going to this dental duo for 13-plus years. I first chose them for their proximity to downtown shopping. I stayed with them because my children didn’t scream when they saw them, which is their goal: to make us love our trip to the dentist.
“We know no one wants to be here, so we want it to be like they’re walking into their living room,” Dr. Kogan says.
Inviting and colorful, the waiting room is adorned with paintings by a local artist and a stack of fashion books on the coffee table. A menu of available drinks (tea, coffee, water) is near the door and are happily served by the front office staff.
But playful photos and creature comforts are only the “frivolous wrapper” around the hardcore nut. Both Drs. Romano and Kogan graduated in the top of their classes at NYU dental school and attend the top continuing education programs in the country, regardless of cost. They often exceed the Connecticut requirement of 25 hours of CE each year and focus primarily on cosmetic dentistry, full-mouth rehabilitation, implants and Invisalign. This enthusiasm extends to every member of their team.
“We all sit around at lunch discussing periodontal disease. We’re nerds about dentistry,” Dr. Kogan says.
During examinations, they consider the whole body, not just the mouth and all of its saliva-covered inhabitants.
“What we oftentimes see inside the mouth gives us an indication of what else is happening with the body, such as evidence of acid reflux, B12 deficiency… and more,” Dr. Kogan says.
These indications often lead to nutritional recommendations or referrals to other physicians.
On the other side of the fun train is fighting with insurance companies. Drs. Kogan and Romano will shed blood for their patients’ insurance coverage.
“We know what the patient requires,” Dr. Kogan says.
If insurance won’t cover it, the patient still needs it. Proper treatment is sacred; they’ll go to extraordinary lengths to ensure their patients receive the correct care.
Despite the expert care and sunny surroundings, fear and anxiety still haunt some patients. To be fair, jitters of this ilk are hardly unusual to the medical community. What is unusual is that these women offer their cell-phone numbers, so patients can call them if they’re anxious, in pain or wake up at 3 a.m. and feel like chatting.
Listen, no one can make a drill sound any sweeter than the shrill wail of Satan’s baby. But they can give you a toothbrush, a warm lemon-scented towel and a smile. And you’ll leave feeling happier, knowing you love your dentists and they love you right back.