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Promoting Oral Health by Combating Fear

Dr. Wonnie Rhieu, Photo: Courtesy of Pete Senn Yuen from Medical Bound

Oral health is crucial to our well-being, but as many as 20 percent of Americans avoid seeing a dentist because of anxiety or fear. That contributes to the 26.5 percent of adults with untreated dental caries and other issues. That’s driving an increasing focus on comfort. 

“The entire dentist experience should be designed to be as stress-free and comfortable as possible,” said Dr. Wonnie Rhieu, DDS, MHS, of Sky Dental in New York City. 

The patient experience

“Once the patient has been seated in one of our modern treatment suites,” Rhieu said, “we provide them with a comfort menu offering things like fleece blankets, entertainment options, and even nitrous oxide (laughing gas) for those patients that need additional measures to alleviate stress.”

Building Sky Dental has given Dr. Rhieu hard-earned business experience. 

“In dental school, you are trained to diagnose and provide treatment, but there’s so much more that goes on — customer service, employee management, business management. You have to be prepared to handle all of these challenges.”

Success requires intangibles, too. 

“The most valuable skill I have learned is to trust in yourself and go with your intuition,” Rhieu said. “After graduating residency, I found a dentist who had an open chair in his practice for rent. I jumped at the chance, and that was Sky Dental’s foundation.” 

Currently offering five treatment suites, Dr. Rhieu has plans to add three more, as well as a pediatric area.

For Dr. Rhieu, it always comes back to her patients. 

“The patient experience is the most essential part of building a brand and growing a business,” she said. “Learning how to inspire, lead by example, and always put the patients first is a recipe for success.”

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