There are few dentists that receive calls from several states away asking for treatment; Sabrina Magid is one of them.
That's partly because Magid, of in Harrison, can offer something few other dentists can—she can speak sign language.
Magid, 30, has been interested in sign language since her days at Byram Hills High School. She has taken and taught classes, organized groups and now dedicated a portion of her time specializing in treating deaf patients.
"Many people don't think about the difficulties (deaf people) may encounter while bring treated," Magid said, noting that something as simple as calling for an emergency appointment can be a difficult task for people who are hearing impaired. Regular visits are also difficult, in most dental offices deaf patients can't hear directions from the practicing dentist, can't hear noises from drills or other tools as they approach and can't listen to reassuring words from the person holding them.
"It can be kind of scary," said Magid.
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To combat those issues, Magid uses simple steps like never putting her back to a deaf patient to allow for lip reading, offering cell phone numbers to deaf patients so they can text for an emergency appointment and signing to them whenever she has a free hand. While she is examining a patient a screen above the patient's chair displays whatever Magid is saying in text, so the line of communication is never lost.
It's also reassuring for patients to know their dentist can personally communicate with them the minute they walk into the office.
"They really appreciate however much I know, the effort and also just the sensitivity to their needs," Magid said.
Word has spread about the practice as far as North Carolina. A dentist there called recently to see how they can better treat deaf patients. A deaf patient called from several states away to schedule an appointment, telling Magid the commute to Harrison would be worth it.
"That was pretty incredible," she said.
Magid also asks patients to explain to her how she can better serve their individual needs and does the best she can to make it happen.
"I'm always learning," she said. "My patients are always teaching me new words and giving me suggestions to better serve their community, it's been great."
Other organizations have also taken notice of Magid's success. The Westchester Business Council recently named her one of the area’s “Top 40 Under 40”.
While treating the hearing impaired has become a specialty for Magid, she has other focuses. She has started trying to get the word out about snoring and sleep apnea, which is a problem with interrupted breathing during sleep.
Magid said the issue is often under diagnosed and that dentists have a unique opportunity to evaluate patients for the problem. She has been lecturing to local dental societies about the importance of screening.
"If they're tested and eventually treated, all of a sudden they have more energy, their blood pressure is better; if you catch them early—if you catch someone under the age of 50—and you treat them, you can extend their life 10 years," she said. "It's just incredible stuff."
Non-hearing impaired patients have also taken a liking to Magid, who works with her father and a staff of about 10 people at Advanced Dentistry of Westchester. It goes to show how far a dedicated attitude and friendly smile can go.
"I really enjoy making people healthier and more comfortable," Magid said. "I'm just doing what I enjoy doing, I like helping."