Dentist Discovers Power of Connecting with Her Community

February 21, 2017
Ed Rabinowitz

Mariana Blagoev, D.D.S., owns and operates Bright Smiles Dental in Parlin, New Jersey. She wound up in dentistry because she enjoyed working with her hands. Though she considers herself a somewhat shy person, she recently discovered how connecting with your community can make a difference in the lives of patients, and raise awareness of your practice.

When Mariana Blagoev was growing up in Europe, she loved to paint and draw. She knew early on that working with her hands, creating something, was what she wanted to do with her life.

But until she spent time working in a dental office, she didn’t know that would be the path she would take.

“In Europe, we didn’t do internships like they do here,” Blagoev, D.D.S., explains.

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But once she experienced what the oral health field had to offer, she knew it was the perfect choice.

“There’s a lot of art in dentistry,” Blagoev says. “A lot of art.”

Blagoev is a graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy, School of Dentistry, and received the Jefferson Dental Study Group Merit Award, and The Diploma for Academic Excellency graduating at the top of her class. She practiced for years with prominent clinicians in the area of cosmetic and restorative dentistry in New York City, and today is the owner of Bright Smiles Dental in Parlin, New Jersey, specializing in cosmetic dentistry. She loves the personal touch she’s able to provide to patients in her office, as well as giving back in her community.

THE REWARDS

Blagoev says what’s rewarding about her work is it’s an area of dentistry that doesn’t revolve around pain and anxiety. She references a friend, a neurologist, who often feels there are many times she’s unable to ease patients’ pain, and can do no more than listen and try to provide comfort.

“For me, it’s exactly the opposite,” Blagoev says. “When people come in they may have pain, but they leave with a smile. It’s kind of like seeing immediate results.”

Patients like those results. Blagoev makes certain to take before and after photos in case patients forget what the before looked like. They’re often surprised, albeit pleasantly.

“And that’s good,” she says.

TOY DRIVE

Last December, Blagoev organized a Toy Drive as a way to put smiles on the faces of some of the needy children in her community during the holiday season. But doing so didn’t come easily.

Blagoev admits that she’s a shy person by nature, and prefers to maintain a low profile. But the California-based agency that helped build her practice’s website encouraged her with different ideas to become more involved in her community.

“Like every dentist, I started advertising because we need new patients,” Blagoev recalls. “That’s the way of the profession.”

But her agency helped her see that, not only is advertising expensive, it doesn’t always work. Becoming more involved in the community through food drives and other events, however, had more of an appeal — especially after Blagoev saw patients’ positive reactions.

“They loved it,” she says.

That led to the Toy Drive. Blagoev encouraged patients and other members of the community to drop off new, unwrapped, or lightly used toys at her office between December 1-21. All the collected toys were donated to Second Chance Toys. Then, in the true spirit of giving, Blagoev offered each donor a free dental check-up, complete with an exam and X-rays.

“But they didn’t want it,” she says. “They liked the idea, but they just wanted to donate the toys. People like doing things to help other people, and I just gave them the opportunity. And now they know where my office is.”

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BEING SOCIAL AND ACTIVE

Blagoev has learned that it’s a funny thing with patients. If you don’t ask them to do something, they probably won’t. But if you ask, they’re happy to accommodate. That’s a strategy she employs on the practice’s Facebook page. Three years ago she started asking all patients who schedule appointments online to provide a review. Now, the positive reviews continue to pile up.

“These are my patients,” she says, “so I very much like reading the reviews. And I’ll tell you, when I have a day that’s not so good, I open (the reviews) and read them.”

When she has spare time, Blagoev says she enjoys doing the opposite of what she does at work. In other words, she doesn’t like spending all day in one place.

“I like open spaces,” she says. “I like skiing, walking and windsurfing,” the latter of which she only recently began. “But I love it now. I’m so hooked.”

The physical nature of the activity is important, but Blagoev says it’s also about open space.

“The beauty and space of nature,” she says. “That’s what affects me.”

CREATIVE AND INVESTIGATIVE

Blagoev acknowledges that she loves cosmetic dentistry because of its creative side. But there’s another element at work: the investigative aspect.

“You have to listen to patients, and ask the proper questions so that you come up with the right treatment that’s going to help,” she says. “And when it all comes together and works, and you relieve the patient’s pain and they’re happy, that’s very rewarding.”

She’s also very proud that she was able to make it on her own.

“I worked for somebody, and with other people, and then decided to take the risk and open my own practice,” she says. “Every time you do that, you take a big risk and it turns out to be successful, that’s the other reward.”

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