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New pediatric dentistry ready to fly

Words like “astounded” and “love” rarely come to mind when describing how most children react after walking into a pediatric dentist’s office for the first time. Nevertheless, that is exactly how Dr. Prashant Gagneja describes the response from patients of his new practice, Must Love Kids.

Superhero poster

“They’re surprised,” he says. “They don’t realize it’s a dental office because there are a lot of fun things and it doesn’t look like one until you get in the back and actually see a dental chair.”

Gagneja, the former chairman and associate professor of Pediatric Dentistry at OHSU, opened Must Love Kids earlier this summer with his wife Monisha. The Vancouver practice utilizes entertainment and imagination to promote positive oral health care habits to children.

“We created this theme around comic books and super heroes,” explains Gagneja, “and we had artists from Marvel and DC Comics actually write a comic book [for Must Love Kids]. We use these visuals for branding as well as to tell a story to the kids.”

Ready to engage children during their visit are wall graphics that line the interior of the office; a two-foot tall Iron Man figure sits near the reception desk; a large flat-screen television provides an escape for kids and parents; an interactive gaming area keeps children entertained during wait times.

All of these elements were designed to promote a fun and relaxed atmosphere and five-star customer service, Gagneja says.

“The first things we looked at were the senses that evoke fear – the noises, the smell of the place, the textures, the colors,” he says, illustrating the practice’s attention to detail. “The first time you walk into the office [you’ll notice] a fragrance. We actually selected a scent that will relax you… We didn’t hold back on the expenses because we wanted parents to feel comfortable. So instead of a waiting room, [we have] a parent lounge.”

While the practice’s unique environment aims to take the anxiety factor out of a trip to the dentist, it also helps the small business stand out in a crowded market – a fact that Gagneja hopes will benefit Must Love Kids’ future growth.

“Once this practice is running smoothly and we’ve tested all our systems we would like to expand to [another] location – maybe a second or a third,” he says, with a caveat: “We do not want to grow too large too soon even if we have the option to expand because it could become more of a corporate dentistry, which does lose the personal touch. I think it’s very important not to do that.”

Must Love Kids specializes in children ages 6 months to 18 years. The practice is located at 601 SE 117th Ave., Suite 150, in Vancouver.