IN 2014, EDISON, NEW JERSEY–BASED DR. SETH WALLERSTEIN CONVERTED AN EMPTY SPACE INTO A 2,200-SQUARE-FOOT DENTAL EMPORIUM. HIS PATIENT LOGS HAVE BEEN GROWING EVER SINCE.
WHEN I WAS 12, I USED TO babysit for one of the dentists in town. I looked up to the gentleman. He was very well-liked — I saw the respect people had for him. He was my inspiration to go into dentistry. In college, I knew I loved the sciences. It was the right way to go.
Ten years ago, if you had told me I’d be taking impressions using an impression wand digitally, I’d have said, “Nothing is going to replace this rubber stuff!” Or that I’d be making crowns in my office: “Nah, can’t be!” I’m excited to see what the next five years bring.
I didn’t have a learning curve for digital dentistry, but I grew up playing video games — Pac-Man was probably my favorite. That was definitely a plus. We’ve always tried to be on the forefront of technology without having our patients be guinea pigs. I was burned early in my career by investing in a laser that became a very expensive paperweight. I learned that if I’m going to invest in new technology, I want to stick with the market leaders. With technology, you don’t necessarily want to be first, but you definitely don’t want to be last.
All teachers are my inspiration — every teacher I’ve ever had. I’ll single out one, Dr. Harold Baumgarten at the University of Pennsylvania dental school. I come from a long, long line of teachers. There is no greater thrill or satisfaction in life than teaching someone a new skill, and in dentistry it just happens to be how to take care of your teeth and stay healthy.
What contributes to my success? I respect my patients and staff, they respect me and every day is good.
We’re fortunate here in Edison to have JFK hospital, which provides access to care for those who can’t afford it, through two residents and 40 volunteer dentists. JFK [furnishes] the space and the supplies. Dr. Michael Kleiman is currently chairman of the board of trustees at the hospital — I think he’s the only oral surgeon [in the country] who chairs a hospital board.
Patients enjoy coming to a practice where they recognize the staff. I’m proud to say that my newest employee has been with me 10 years. I think that contributes a lot to my success. The patients all know my staff as well as they know me, sometimes better. I respect them, they respect me and every day is good.
One of the most satisfying things is seeing children of patients I saw when they were children. I attribute that to treating my staff and patients as if they’re family. Most of my new patients are referrals. That’s pleasing also, but there’s a difference between saying to a coworker, “Go see my dentist; he’s great,” and trusting me with your child after you’ve been a patient for 25 years.
The visit to Benco Dental’s CenterPoint is what brought this all together. We had a totally blank palette — a rectangle of an office, and we weren’t sure what it was going to look like. Then we got to CenterPoint and it all came together. Some people want it to look like a sterile operating room, some want that homey look and some a professional look. Luckily [my wife and I] had the same vision.
You have to trust the people you surround yourself with. You can’t do it all. Running the business of dentistry is not easy.
We have doubled the number of new patients per month for the last year. That’s the testament to all this. Seeing double the number of new patients monthly than we were seeing before we moved is huge. It has really energized the practice.
Dr. Seth Wallerstein lives and practices in Edison, New Jersey. In 2010, he was named to the John P. Stevens Hall of Honor in recognition of his volunteer and other community activities in Edison. In addition to his work as a dentist, Dr. Wallerstein is also an educator, a key opinion leader for 3M and an active member of both the American Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry, from which he has received his Fellowship degree.
The visit to CenterPoint is what brought this all together. We had a totally blank palette — a rectangle of an office, and we weren’t sure what it was going to look like. Then we got to CenterPoint and it all came together.
ALWAYS IN STYLE: Sleek operatories, sleek office flow: High design meets top-flight dentistry