Dubuque pediatric dentist Steve Leifker will extract anything he needs from his big bag of tricks to help ensure that his young patients keep coming back.
”The window is open, so’s that door. I didn’t know they did that anymore,” he recently sang to a child.
The lines are from the song “For the First Time in Forever,” from the animated film “Frozen.”
“He’s a good singer,” said dental assistant Sharon Brimeyer. “And he can sing in Spanish, too.”
Leifker, of Dubuque Pediatric Dentistry, receives rave reviews for going the extra mile during appointments.
“If I would choose any dentist within a thousand miles, I’d choose Dr. Steve,” said Melissa McChesney, who brought her two sons, Alex and Zach, in for their regular appointments recently, 40 miles or so from their home in Lost Nation, Iowa.
“My role is to make it as easy as possible so that they become lifelong patients of a dental office,” said Leifker, 29. “I use a tell, show and do approach,” where he explains things to comfort the child, demonstrates the toothbrush and how it works and then does the checkup.
Ten-year-old Alex took the chair first.
“So school is out for you? You’re going to go into what grade now?” Leifker asked.
“I graduated from fourth grade, and I’m going into the fifth grade,” Alex answered in serious fashion. Earlier, when asked about why he likes Dr. Steve, he said, “He’s able to treat me with the best tools and able to fix any problem with me. He pretty much makes my day the happiest for my teeth.”
After going over how many times he should brush a day (two) and for how long (two minutes), Leifker had one more quiz question.
“Do you know how long you have to keep doing it?”
“Until you’re 197 years old. That’s when your teeth can fall out.”
As Leifker worked on Alex, McChesney’s younger autistic son, Zach, 7, wandered around the office. McChesney said Leifker does a great job with Zach as well, sometimes with extra staff help.
“What I like especially is, even before he touches Zach, he asks first if it’s OK,” she said.
Leifker and his wife, Katie, have two young children, and his mother runs a day care center, providing him with some built-in training. As the checkup neared an end, talk turned to the Legos in the office and Alex’s interest in games.
Leifker, who also has a performance background, even offered to sing a little from “Frozen,” which drew applause from those in the office.
“I think some of the staff is getting tired of it because some of the material gets repeated a lot,” Leifker said, with a laugh. “But if some of the kids are looking for a little bit more like songs and things, I certainly will do whatever I need.”