By Sandy Eller for VIN News
An Orthodox Jewish dentist from Passaic, New Jersey has found himself in the media spotlight after a video he posted of himself doing a magic trick for a two year old patient went viral over the weekend.
The minute and a half long video, which has 16 million views and 410,000 shares on Facebook and has also made the rounds on Twitter, shows Dr. Eyal Simchi of Riverfront Pediatric Dentistry in Elmwood Park charming a two year old patient with small glow balls that seem to appear and disappear into thin air.
The 39 year old father of six said that the video was originally posted to a Facebook group which has 26,000 dentists last week, and then posted to Riverfront’s Facebook page just before Shavuos.
“Motzei Shavuos I turned on my phone and there were notifications from all over,” Dr. Simchi told VIN News. “I don’t really know how it happened.”
Dr. Simchi said he has been contacted by virtually every news organization over the last few days, including one from Taiwan, as well as companies that sell viral videos.
“Right now I am speaking to a lawyer,” said Dr. Simchi. “I wasn’t really planning on any of this.”
A graduate of University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, Dr. Simchi did his residency at Maimonides Medical Center before going on to become board certified.
The magic component of his dental practice, which focuses on children and special needs patients, came about quite by accident.
“I was walking around in the mall with my wife and I saw the light trick and I was kind of amazed,” said Dr. Simchi. “My wife suggested that it would be great for the kids in the office and I bought the trick because I realized that kids who come in terrified and are stressed out and crying would really like this.”
Over time Dr. Simchi’s collection of magic tricks has grown to well over a dozen, giving him the opportunity to work on children without having to resort to sedation.
His Instagram page is filled with pictures of young patients who are gently cajoled into having their dental work done, some sitting in the dental chair while others are perched on regular chairs, standing, sitting on the floor or, in one instance, checking out Dr. Simchi’s teeth as a way to ease into treatment.
“As a kid, I hated going to the dentist and I still do,” noted Dr. Simchi. “But if you can buy a kid’s trust and you can distract them with tricks, you can do a lot more, especially once they realize that the dentist’s office isn’t a scary environment.”
Dr. Simchi prides himself on working with children and was featured in a 2016 New York Times video (https://nyti.ms/2IJz17d) on the use of silver diamine fluoride, a cavity fighting liquid that is now being used in place of conventional drilling.
“I like to do things differently,” said Dr. Simchi. “In my office we don’t hold kids down and they rarely cry. We don’t sedate or use general anesthesia and so far have been able to keep most cases out of the operating room.”
Listed for three consecutive years in New Jersey Family magazine’s Favorite Kids’ Docs issue, Dr. Simchi’s techniques have made him popular with patients, including a five year old girl whose parents make the eight hour round trip from Syracuse to Elmwood Park for their daughter’s dental work.
In another instance, Dr. Simchi had one patient who said that she stopped brushing her teeth hoping for more cavities so that she could come back to Riverfront more often.
Ironically, Dr. Simchi had originally aspired to a career in medicine and even after choosing to become a dentist, his intent was to specialize in cosmetic dentistry.
An internship at a pediatric dental clinic in addition to growing up as the second of ten children ultimately pushed him into pediatrics, where his now two year old practice continues to attract patients from all over.
“Baruch Hashem, we have grown pretty quickly, and for now we are just going with the flow,” said Dr. Simchi.