By Sally Deering Photo by Sally Deering
When you walk into Bayonne Family Dental – one of five dentist offices in Hudson under the umbrella Dental Groups of New Jersey – don’t be surprised to see smiling kids looking forward to seeing their dentist. That’s right. Kids who want to see the dentist are not a rare sighting at Bayonne Family Dental. That’s because Dr. Peter Fuentes and Dr. Salvatore Pavone, the two partners overseeing the dental practice, aim to keep their offices a no cry zone. They want children – and adults – to feel as comfortable as possible in their spacious offices.
The expansive Bayonne office on the corner of 55th Street and Kennedy Boulevard features 10 treatment rooms and offices for seven dentists on rotating schedules. The multi-specialty dental practice provides orthodontics (braces) sedation dentistry, implant dentistry, cosmetic dentistry and its specialty – pediatric dentistry. Dr. Fuentes and Dr. Pavone previously practiced in Bayonne on 43rd Street and Avenue “B” when they took over for Dr. Morton Berenbaum, who retired after 35 years of specializing in pediatric dentistry.
“After Dr. Berenbaum, we’ve pretty much become the go–to provider for children in Jersey City and Bayonne,” Dr. Fuentes says. “Word-of-mouth travels fast; that’s what we’ve learned. We’ve seen 200 new patients a month since we’ve been here.”
On a recent Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Fuentes was treating Angelina Moore, 8, of Bayonne who was there with her mom Dianna, who had brought her youngest daughter in the week before.
“I’d heard they were very good with children,” Dianna Moore says. “And they are. My other daughter was here last week and didn’t feel any pain. And she’s 6.”
“Our main goal since we built this place is that we wanted to build something in this community that was different,” Dr. Fuentes says. “We treat mother, father grandfather and kids. It’s a comfortable place you can bring your whole family. We have flat screen TVs in all the treatment rooms and although we’re kid-friendly, we do cater to adults. Our vision is to make Dental Groups of New Jersey the authority in dentistry in Hudson County.”
Dr. Fuentes started out studying neuroscience at John Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland, he says, and then “fell in love” with dentistry. He says: “It’s the only job I’ve ever wanted to do. The difference between medicine and dentistry is that when you’re sick, you go to the doctor and he diagnoses you, but he doesn’t fix anything. In dentistry, if your tooth hurts, I’ll take it out. If you’re teeth are crooked, I’ll put you in braces. We’re problem-solvers. If you have a toothache, you’re leaving here without a toothache.”
And although the doctors and their staff of 75 treat adults, kids rule at Bayonne Family Dental. In the waiting room, there are toys for the kids to play with and a game of chance where for 50 cents you can win a really cool toothbrush. There are posters on the walls of animals with big toothy grins and when Dr. Fuentes or a member of his staff greets a patient, ‘high-fives’ are exchanged along with some big smiles.
“When you’re treating kids, they have to be comfortable,” Dr. Fuentes says. “When children feel comfortable they feel less scared. We make it comfortable here; that’s what we do better than anybody else. That’s why people want to bring their kids here and their friends here. We try to keep it a place that’s not intimidating to children – or adults. We have adults who are just as scared as children.”
Having a staff that works well with children is important to a successful practice. It helps that the staff is young, Dr. Fuentes says, who are in their 20s and 30s and very energetic.
“I think our youthfulness and the fact that we use the latest technology, that’s been very important to our success,” Dr. Fuentes says. “We don’t do reminder cards, we do text messages and emails. When you’re due for your six month check-up, you don’t get a postcard you get an email.”
Dr. Fuentes and Dr. Pavone recommend parents bring their children in for their first check-up starting at 18 months-old. He says that the Hudson community has a lot of teenage parents who don’t know their kids should be seeing a dentist at that young age. And when parents bring their kids to Bayonne Family Dental, Dr. Fuentes says it’s imperative they learn about good nutrition and the ‘perils’ of giving children sugary and acidic drinks like apple juice.
“Drinks like apple juice are possibly the worst thing you can give a child because of the sugar and acid,” Dr. Fuentes says. “You might give your kid five or six glasses of apple juice a day and not realize you’re hurting your kid. Diet is our big community outreach here.”
On Fri, Aug. 23rd, Dr. Fuentes and Dr. Pavone will be doing another form of community service when they treat a group of underprivileged children from Denville.
“That day they’re going to be the only group in the office,” Dr. Fuentes says. “We’ll let them talk to the doctors and the assistants and we’ll give them check-ups and cleanings.”
And if they need additional dental work, Dr. Fuentes and Dr. Pavone will take care of everything.
“We’re very down-to-earth people,” Dr. Fuentes says. “My partner Dr. Pavone and I have done a good job over the years. We’ve won a lot of awards and honors, but all that’s secondary. The best award I have is getting new patients in the office every day. New patients who say I’ve heard great things about you.”
For more info:
Dental Groups of New Jersey
Bayonne Family Dental
1216 Kennedy Blvd. (55th St)
Bayonne hours: M-F, 9 am-6 pm; Sat, 9 am-1 pm