A New Kind of Dentist Comes to Town

Most people dread going to the dentist. And for some people the fear, embarrassment or annoyance that comes with an appointment is enough to keep them from going. Dr. Rosie Wagner is out to change all of that with her new practice in East Somerville.

Smiles by Rosie is unlike any dentist you’ve probably ever visited. For starters, the office is in a building that once housed taxis and ambulances. But instead of being cold or sterile, the office is warm and inviting, with cheerfully painted walls adorned with local art, a special children’s room and even a zen corner.

“Since I had the opportunity, I wanted to do the big thing from the beginning,” Wagner said of building out her office from scratch after signing a 35-year lease. “The main reason is I have a very specific way of doing things. I pictured my office a lot in dental school.”

Rosie Kelli Pamela

Dr. Rosie Wagner with Office Manager and Somerville resident Kelli Geoghegan and Dental Assistant Pamela Fragoso.

Wagner opened her practice last summer and is currently accepting new patients, especially those who may not have been to the dentist in a very long time or people who have special needs.

Smiles by Rosie is a paperless office, which allows Wagner and her staff to better accommodate blind and deaf patients by using special tools to send them information. There’s also a water dish in the waiting room for service animals.

The office is fully wheelchair accessible and because Wagner was able to design the space to fit her needs, the rooms are flexible. This allows patients to remain in their wheelchairs during appointments instead of having to transfer to a specific dentist’s chair.

“I learned in my residency service that a lot of dentists don’t focus on” those types of patients, Wagner said. “Behavior management is a key part of dentistry. No one wants to be here. I wanted those patients to be a part of a comprehensive, flexible office.”

Rosie Dentist Chair

But perhaps the patients Wagner is most passionate about are the ones who haven’t visited a dentist in several years, even decades.

“They have been lectured and think a dentist will see their mouth as a reflection of their ability to care for themselves,” Wagner said. She strives to alleviate that anxiety by taking a lot of time to talk privately to new patients when they first visit.

Once she actually starts examining patients, she clearly explains things she can fix and also points out special things about the individual’s mouth that they may not have known.

“I’m focused more on health than aesthetics,” Wagner said.

When searching for the perfect location for her practice, Wagner drove around Cambridge and Somerville scouting commercial office space. Wagner knew she’d found the right one when she discovered her current location. As a Somerville resident, she knew there was a need for more dentists in the eastern part of the city.

Rosie Kids Room“East Somerville has one dentist for every 8,000 people. Cambridge has 1 for every 1,200,” Wagner said. “There’s an enormous barrier to care.”

Many of Wagner’s patients come from the surrounding East Somerville and Winter Hill neighborhoods. And she’s thrilled to be a part of a growing, changing area of the city.

“People just accept this as part of the neighborhood,” Wagner said. “I do a lunchtime walk from here to the top of Winter Hill. There are lots of changes in East Somerville. And with Assembly Square, it might mimic a Davis environment.”

After speaking with her and visiting the office, it truly sounds like Wagner has found the perfect place for her dental practice to call home.

Updated April 9, 2013: I finally had the chance to go to Rosie myself for an exam and cleaning and it was just as pleasant as I expected. Her office is light-filled and soothing and Rosie herself is calm, knowledgeable and fun to chat with. The exam was thorough and Rosie was so helpful in explaining all kinds of things about my mouth that I was totally unaware of. Her employees were professional and kind, with friendly smiles and great bedside manner. I recommended Rosie after just meeting her and now that I’ve experienced how different her practice is, I can’t say enough good things about her!

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