That quote, attributed to the late American poet Ogden Nash, speaks to the anxiety – real or imagined – induced by dental visits for many people.
With that in mind, longtime Marin dentist Dr. Gila (JEE-la) Dorostkar’s new pediatric dental office at 650 East Blithedale Ave. in Mill Valley is determined to reduce that anxiety for both their kiddo patients AND their parents.
“We’re all about patients and families first,” says John Millar, the practice’s project manager. “We do everything we can to accommodate the child and the family.”
That includes Aspen, Dorostkar’s brown-eyed golden retriever who completed a pet therapy program and is regularly called upon to calm young patients as they sit in the dental chair.
“Kids love her and it really helps them get over some of the trepidation,” Millar says of Aspen, who is featured on the practice’s “Brushing is PAWsome” t-shirts.
The office also boasts a toy-tower sculpture that gives out bouncy balls after an appointment. “It helps if kids can see their ‘reward’ while going back to the dental chairs and really makes the office seem like a fun place to be – kids love it,” Millar says.
Televisions are positioned above each dental chair for kids that want to watch a show during the appointment –”anything to ease their nerves,” Millar says.
Dorostkar opened her family dentistry practice in Greenbrae in 1997, and 10 years later launched a practice focused solely on pediatric dentistry.
“Gila had learned so much about what really works for kids that she decided to create a practice completely designed around kids,” Millar says.
In 2016, Dorostkar decided to open an office in Mill Valley, allowing her longtime patients there to avoid the after-school and Hwy. 101 traffic to Greenbrae. They spent 18 months on building out the space. “We needed to build something that was centered 100 percent around taking care of kids,” Millar says.
The Mill Valley office is now open four days a week, with Dorostkar joined by Dr. Megan Golinveaux and Dr. Cicely Smith, both of whom have been part of Dorostkar’s practice for several years.
“One of the things we wanted to do was to make sure that Mill Valley patients had a chance to see their favorite dentists,” Millar says. “We completely recognize that while the child is the patient, the family plays a critical role. If the parent is stressed and anxious, the kids will be stressed and anxious.”