Dr. Lisa Bienstock opens Norterra Kids’ Dentistry and Orthodontics
By Eric Newman
Take one step into the new Norterra Kids’ Dentistry and Orthodontics office in North Phoenix, and it will be clear the do-it-all shop for everything mouth-related for kids and young adults is something special.
Rather than the drab, melancholy mood one might expect at the dentist or orthodontist, everybody on staff is engaged in lively conversation, with smiles on their faces and a feeling of positivity in the air.
A lot of that is thanks to Dr. Lisa Bienstock, a board-certified pediatric dentist and owner of the practice – located at 1935 W. Happy Valley Road, Suite 101 – who moved her office to the new location in early October. She’s hand-picked a skilled staff that shares her standards and values.
Dr. Allison Inouye, who practices pediatric dentistry in the new Norterra office alongside Bienstock and Dr. Britney Bries, recalls the impression Bienstock made when they met during Inouye’s first year of residency at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Annual Session/Conference in Washington, D.C. “I was immediately drawn to her infectious personality,” Inouye says. “After a long conversation our very first time meeting, her sincere desire and excitement to mentor a young pediatric dentist and her passion for everything kids, dentistry, teaching and health had me hooked. I knew that I had stumbled upon something incredible.”
Mentoring other pediatric dentists and providing a more comprehensive, hands-on education is an important part of Bienstock’s mission to provide the most quality care possible to young patients. To be a pediatric dentist, practitioners must have completed a two-year or three-year residency program that focuses exclusively on pediatrics after graduating from four years of dental school. “Most people do not understand that we are not your typical family dentist because we have two to three years more training and specialize only in ages 0-21 – we are like the pediatrician, but in dentistry,” Bienstock says.
(While doctors Bienstock, Bries and Inouye see only children, there are two orthodontists on staff – Dr. Richard Jones and Dr. Howard Choi – who see kids and also treat adult patients.)
Born and raised in Phoenix, Bienstock foresaw an incoming boom of houses and businesses in the North Valley, and wanted to provide the best-quality care for the many residents that call the area home. The new facility is double the size of her old practice, just a few blocks down the road.
“We wanted a one-stop shop for infants, children, adolescents and young adults. A place for all of their dental needs – not just routine check ups, or to have cavities filled, but a place to take care of any orthodontic needs as well,” Bienstock says. “So instead of going to a separate orthodontist when the time comes, we do everything under one roof. This makes the dental visit more effective, convenient and efficient for the family.”
On busy weeks, Bienstock says she and her staff often spend more time at the office than at home. Thus, it is necessary that everybody is comfortable and wants to be at work. Having an appreciation for the energy children can bring is also vital. “I love my job because I truly enjoy spending time with kids,” Bries says. “I can have meaningful conversations about everything from (the video game) Fortnite to Disney characters to the best chicken nugget dipping sauce all day! I really feel like I have the best job and I am excited to be practicing in Norterra.”
“It’s extremely high-energy, and we make it fun and easy to work and be here,” Bienstock says. “We make sure we have people that exude positivity, and that it’s a happy place, and hopefully that rubs off on patients.”
In addition to positivity, practicing pediatric dentistry requires another virtue – patience. And the doctors at Norterra Kids’ Dentistry and Orthodontics have it in abundance. “Patience is key with a nervous patient. It’s always important to remember that although dentistry is very familiar to us, it is not at all familiar to a child undergoing a dental procedure, or even a dental check-up, for the first time,” Inouye says. “I think it’s important to listen to the child’s concerns, acknowledge that it’s okay to be nervous or scared, and reassure them that I will proceed at their speed when they’re ready. Then rinse and repeat with every additional step! Positively reinforcing their great behavior and bravery with praise, and the reward of a balloon and prize at the end of their appointment, always helps also.”
Bries recalls one 8-year-old patient who was scheduled for treatment with oral conscious sedation. His mother wasn’t sure she wanted her child to be sedated, so they decided to try nitrous oxide and behavior management instead. “When I was talking to him before we started, I found out that he was a huge SpongeBob SquarePants fan, so we put it on the TV and sang the theme song over and over again, seeing who could yell the SpongeBob SquarePants part the loudest,” Bries says. “He had to suffer through my bad Patrick impression and terrible singing, but we were able to get all of his treatment done that day without the need for sedation.”
“Mom was happy because she felt like we truly listened to her preferences, the patient was happy because he was healthy and got to watch TV, and my team was happy because we felt like we provided excellent, individualized care.”
Each age group presents a new challenge, but some benefits as well. Toddlers and infants are often unsure of what big pieces of metal are doing in their mouths, but Bienstock still finds them easy to work with. For younger kids that have yet to reach their teenage years, Bienstock has some fun nicknames for equipment and treatment methods, such as calling novocaine “sleepy spray.”
A caregiver with plenty of advice for oral care, Bienstock hopes to also be a friend and mentor to her young patients. “When I was in dental school, I told my parents that I didn’t want to be a dentist if I couldn’t be a pediatric dentist,” she says. “I didn’t want to see adults, because the kids are so much more fun and the overall dental experience is much more rewarding.”
For more information on Norterra Kids’ Dentistry and Orthodontics, or to set up an appointment, call 623-434-0543 or visit norterrakidsdentistry.com.