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NJ Dentist Techniques Part Of Trend Across Nation

May 26, 1986

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. (AP) _ Unlike many people who become anxious at the mention of the word ″dentist,″ Daniele Webster says a trip to the tooth doctor can be a ″marvelous experience.″

But then, Mrs. Webster, who lives in England, has her dental work done at a clinic in New Jersey where the care includes limousine service and lunch served with a rose on a linen place mat.

The classy care offered at the Lewin Center here is part of a dentistry marketing trend across the nation, and Dr. Bruce Lewin says it brings him customers from as far away as Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Europe.

″We do quality work, but others do quality work, too,″ he said, explaining that his practice of ″anxiety control″ is one reason patients are drawn to his clinic.

Another appeal, Lewin said, is that he can perform major dental work during a one-time visit of up to a week instead of over a period of months because he has an in-house lab to prepare dental devices.

″When someone looks at one of our patients, we don’t want them to say, ‘Gee, they have nice caps.’ We want them to say, ’Gee, don’t they have nice teeth,‴ Lewin said.

He said he eased into the care he offers over a number of years, starting with the one-time visit and the anxiety control in about 1966.

The limousine rides and lunches came later.

An official of the Chicago-based American Dental Association said that such things help dentists lend a human touch to their practices and compete for a patient pool that is shrinking because advances in dentistry have improved the state of people’s teeth.

″These gimmicks all cater to human needs and wants,″ said Paula Perich, assistant executive director of marketing services for the ADA. ″There is a growing awareness that patient needs, such as a serene atmosphere, need to be met.″

To make patients feel comfortable and important, she said, some dentists serve wine and coffee in their offices. Others have taken to putting photograph albums in waiting rooms, showing the doctors and their employees at work, with their families, and participating in community activities.

″This is all to make people feel comfortable, to dispel fears and present the dentist in more human terms,″ Ms. Perich said.

Of the limousine rides, Lewin said: ″When you’ve gone through a day of dentistry, you’re tired. The limousine is just a nice touch.″

He said his patients have included Europeans for a number of years because of articles about his clinic in French and British newspapers and magazines. Publicity in the United States has been more recent.

One of the main philosophies behind the one-time visit care is to minimize future dental care - if people have major dental work done and take care of their teeth, they should be able to go without major treatment again for 15 to 20 years, Lewin said.

The anxiety control treatment draws quite a few frightened patients and, in severe cases, includes administering the tranquilizer Valium intravenously.

Another extra is a videotape Lewin makes of his patients while they are in the dental chair. He keeps the tapes as part of a patient’s record but also makes copies for patients to learn how to care for their teeth.

Lewin declined to discuss details about the cost of his treatment.

He said, however, that a complete exam, including X-rays, a periodontal survey, diagnostic models and the videotape, costs about $450.

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