Perfect Teeth FOR KIDS Centennial, Colorado
Acquired by a major DSO in 2019, Colorado’s Perfect Teeth for Kids has transformed itself into a mind-boggling wonderland dedicated to the enjoyment of its young patients (and, yes, their parents as well).
THE GLOW FROM a full moon illuminates reptiles, primates and assorted jungle predators lurking among ancient ruins. This striking, almost eerie Indiana Jones–worthy scene, incongruously, is not found at your local multiplex or theme park. It is, rather, a blacklight laser-tag arena whose assembled flora and fauna exist solely for the enjoyment of young patients at Perfect Teeth for Kids in Centennial, Colorado.
Major laser: A look inside Perfect Teeth for Kids’ laser-tag arena—an unusual feature
for a dental practice, to say the least. Bring your own blacklit Jimi Hendrix poster.
Laser tag is just one aspect of the pediatric practice’s kid-centric wonderland, which is called, aptly, the Smile Zone. What else awaits? An arcade (with a stocked prize-redemption room), in which rows of classic games—NBA Hoops, Whack N Win, Mario Kart, Skee-Ball, Plinko—vie for attention with newer favorites like Jurassic Park and The Walking Dead.
This eye-popping extravaganza is part and parcel of this 18,000-square-foot oral-health jewel in the Mid-Atlantic Dental Partners empire, which today encompasses some 230 practices in Colorado and 17 other states. Mid-Atlantic’s 2019 acquisition of Perfect Teeth for Kids expanded its footprint into Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.
One of our biggest initiatives is that we’re trying to build a culture that stands out as different from the rest of the market.”
“One of our biggest initiatives is that we’re trying to build a culture that stands out as different from the rest of the [dental service organizations] in the market,” says James O’Neil, vice president of facilities for Mid-Atlantic. “Essentially, in a three-year span we went from 17 offices to 230, merging three totally separate, totally different entities together with three different cultures and three different ways of doing things. Because we did it so fast, the challenge was trying to figure out what’s the best culture that we want to promote.”
Most of the senior leadership team, O’Neil included, came to Mid-Atlantic from other DSOs. “We have knowledge of the concepts of the ways things have been done and should be done,” he says. “We have open dialogue and try not to reinvent the wheel, but we’re constantly trying to make the patient and team experience better.”
The Centennial location, just south of Denver, offers a fine test of that strategy. Its 21 operatories (counting the chairs in the ortho bay) came together in under six months, and the practice opened its doors this July. “We had acquired a similar practice about four years ago in Delaware,” O’Neil says. “It wasn’t quite as large, but it had the concept—a game area, characters on the wall and 100 percent geared toward kids. After we acquired the practice, we noticed it was one of the busiest in the chain.
“We knew [Perfect Teeth] was going to be our flagship,” he continues. “We put our best ideas down on paper, and we made them happen.” Two more locations are being planned for Texas and Ohio in the near future.
The pandemic, naturally, presented some challenges. “We were at 35 percent capacity” when Mid-Atlantic began to reopen practices in mid-July 2020, O’Neil says. “The senior
leadership team pretty much lived on a Zoom call for six months straight. It had to be done. Even if we had questions coming up the chain that we didn’t have the answers to, the worst thing you can do with an organization like ours is go silent.”
It’s all in the game: An operatory jungle scene; (insets) Perfect Teeth’s vintage-style video arcade and always-stocked prize-redemption room
Such communication and support from the top, all the way up to Mid-Atlantic CEO Leigh Feenburg, meant a lot to the clinical team at Perfect Teeth, which includes two pediatric dentists and two orthodontists, each with a team of four. “I was approached by Leigh several years ago to be part of the Perfect journey, and I instantly knew it was something special,” says Dr. Lacey Bowen, a pediatric clinician in the Centennial practice and a member of the 2021 Incisal Edge 40 Under 40. “We all have the same goal: patient-centered care. And to be able to do it in this environment, I couldn’t not be a part of it.”
Lori Mixon, Mid-Atlantic’s vice president of marketing, recalls the dental team’s reaction when they first glimpsed the life-size gators and giraffes in the reception area, as well as the cheerful murals throughout.
“One pedodontist almost started crying because he thought it was so beautiful,” she says. “The Smile Zone is unmatched. Every single day we receive positive feedback from parents who don’t want to leave the arcade, feedback on the fun, clean, colorful operatories and the trusting relationships with the dentists. The entire team is dedicated to that.” That, and (after hours, presumably) working to best their young patients’ high score at Skee-Ball and Mario Kart.
“Get as many details down on paper as you can. You want a core group of decision makers, but I caution that you keep those select few individuals to a low count. Section it down to four or five people from clinical, facilities, marketing, finance, so everybody gets their own contribution to their part of the puzzle. Once you decide what it’s going to look like and what the end product will be, lock it down. Then don’t try to change it mid-project.”
—James O’Neil, vice president of facilities, Mid-Atlantic Dental Partners
The Design Team
Photography: Eric Larsen
Interior Design: Amanda Griffith, Benco Dental Design
Dental Designer: Sean McNamara / Amanda Griffith / Sarah Gorden, Benco Dental Design
Benco Field Director: John Klavon