The Best Smiles Found Here: Happy Tooth Pediatric Dentistry

In the city of Millcreek, Utah, it’s not unusual to see kids running toward the dentist’s office. Who wouldn’t want to spend the day at Happy Tooth Pediatric Dentistry, an office designed to create an experience of complete comfort and care – and maybe most important, fun?

Inspired by Dr. Tyler Hanks, Happy Tooth Pediatric Dentistry is all about the patient/parent experience. Kids feel that experience the moment they cross over  from the outside doldrums into a room full of wonder and excitement. There is no waiting. Both parents and children are immediately greeted by a smiling receptionist. While the parents discuss the business of dentistry with the receptionist, the kids rush over to the Lite Brite wall to create illuminated designs using colorful lighted pegs, or they venture over to the magnet wall, the reading nook, the activity desk, or slide. There’s really so much to do they can’t cover every activity available before meeting with Dr. Hanks.

Driven by a Special Bond

The dentistry, with its whimsical “Bite Me” wall mural in the front activity area, reflects Dr. Hanks’ humor and desire to meet kids on their level to engage them and encourage good dental habits at an early age. “We designed the dental office, according to Dr. Hanks’ specifications,” says Andrew Cottle, Henry Schein Equipment Sales Specialist. “He did not want families to feel like they were in a dentist’s office.”

Driven by a love for kids, Dr. Hanks completed his Public Health masters’ thesis on “How to Reach a Child.” He fell in love with pediatric dentistry while working as a pediatric dental assistant during his undergrad years at Southern Utah University. “I believe a child’s first experience at the dentist can change lives,” says Dr. Hanks, who left an Oregon pediatric dental practice to create and build his own pediatric space.

Dr. Hanks decided to go off on his own in the fall of 2019. He contacted Mr. Cottle, whom he met through a contact, and the process to create wonder and excitement began.

“I partnered with Henry Schein because I trust them,” explains Dr. Hanks. “I know dentistry. Henry Schein knows how to build out an office. It’s their niche and I didn’t have to worry about any of it. Mr. Cottle connected me to all the right people. He has worked with me on every detail and still helping us out today.”

“He called me and asked how business looked in Utah,” adds Mr. Cottle. “I told him that based on his ideas and his engagement, he could only be successful. He knew exactly what he wanted. He just needed us to execute.”

A lease for a location downstairs from an orthodontist’s office was signed in April 2020. Construction began that spring, on the what will become the happiest dental office on earth for Dr. Hanks and his clients, located in the very community where Dr. Hanks grew up.

Open Wide, Say Aah

Dr. Hanks worked closely with Henry Schein’s Integrated Design Studio for some of his unique requests, which included – or more specifically didn’t include - a waiting room. What the 3,000-square-foot Happy Tooth Pediatric Dentistry office does include is a happy, playful ambiance throughout, as well as a sense of comfort and care. Vibrant yellows, greens, reds, and blues adorn the walls, furniture, and equipment throughout the practice, which has:

  • An exploratory play area inspired by Dr. Hanks’ activity-filled visits to children’s museums
  • A “Bite Me” mural that has become a popular Instagram photo-op for families and has generated more than 2,500 followers in less than four months
  • Six private operatories (as opposed to typical open, pediatric dental bays), because every patient experience should be private
  • An indoor basketball court to entertain the kids while the parents focus on checkout

Additionally, Dr. Hanks and his team of four are equipped with high-performing equipment and technology, which include:

A Happy Beginning

When  Dr. Hanks left his dental associate job in Oregon, packed up his family, moved to Utah and made the largest investment of his life, in the midst of a global pandemic, was he worried? “It was really too late to worry,” says Dr. Hanks. “I didn’t work for 90 days during lock down. It freed up my time to do a lot of groundwork. All I could do is hope for the best.”

And, the best was yet to come.

Today, Dr. Hanks walks to the happiest dentistry on earth, located a few short blocks from his home. Happy Tooth Pediatric Dentistry has become an Instagram sensation as well as a local legend, with approximately 350 to 400 young patients a month who are, for the first time, excited to see the dentist.