Dr. Lisa Bienstock

Written by Niki D’Andrea, Judy Harper, Leah LeMoine & Craig Outhier Category: Profiles Issue: August 2015
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Pediatric Residency: Columbia University/New York Presbyterian Hospital
Dental School: University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine
Years in Practice: 8

How do you reassure children who are afraid of the dentist?
It depends on their age. I usually don’t try to reassure the 17-year-olds. Just kidding! If they are ages 3 to 5 then I like to compare them to their favorite character. For example, I might ask, “Do you have as many teeth as Dora?  Dora has 20, how many do you have?” Then, they look at their teeth in a handheld mirror while we count together.

You’ve also worked with special-needs children. What must you take into consideration with more sensitive patients?
Care for special-needs children requires specialized training, increased awareness and accommodation. Many special-needs children comprehend adult communication, so you should communicate just like you would normally. Mostly, both special-needs children and their parents are happy when they feel like they are my only patients that day. But, of course, I try to make all my patients and their parents feel that way.

Which toothbrush and toothpaste do you think are best for children?
Whatever toothbrush your children will use! There are so many cool toothbrushes with timers, characters, stickers and music – it just depends on your child’s age and their interests at that moment. Tooth decay is the No. 1 chronic childhood disease, five times more common than asthma, so I encourage brushing with the clinically appropriate amount of fluoride toothpaste.  

How long have you been doing hot yoga, and what do you like about it?
I have been doing hot yoga since dental school; however, now, I am on a spinning kick! The classes at Madison Improvement Club are absolutely awesome. I like “Party on a Bike.”

You have been to the Dominican Republic to treat children. What developing countries would you like to visit in the future to help provide dental care for kids there?
It is important to do our part on a world-stage. However, there are countless children right here in our own backyard that need quality dental care. In fact, almost 17 million children in America go without dental care. There are plenty of organizations that help out here at home, like Arizona Mission of Mercy.

You’ve traveled extensively. Which countries have the best and worst dental health?
Haiti was pretty bad. Canada was good. I have not been to England in a while, but they are renowned for bad teeth. Just kidding – my dad was born in England and his teeth are just fine. In most of the underdeveloped countries, dental care is lacking. Unfortunately, it tracks socioeconomic status.

What’s the funniest thing a patient on nitrous oxide has ever said to you?
I have my “war stories,” but one time, when I was treating this 4-year-old adorable little girl, she had her hands up in the air and was inspecting them. She looked at me – with utmost seriousness, as if she had just discovered the meaning of life – and said to me in a slow, high-pitched voice, “Dr. Bienstock, did you know that pinkies are small?” I almost fell out of my chair.

“If I wasn’t a dentist, I’d be...”
A reporter… Do you have any job openings?