THIS FAMILY FOCUSED DENTIST IS COMMITTED TO TAKING THE DISCOMFORT OUT OF THE EXAMINATION CHAIR
BY AMANDA McCOY • PHOTOS BY ROBERT NUZZIE
While career paths often change during a person’s life as he or she explores different job and educational opportunities, sometimes a calling can be clear from the beginning. This was the case with Nicholas G. Zeik, who, back in the third grade, informed his classmates that he would one day pursue a career in dentistry.
“I just knew that’s what I wanted to be. I’ve always loved science and art, and dentistry has a lot to do with both,” said Dr. Zeik.
After earning his B.A. in biological science from Rutgers University and an M.S. in biotechnology/bioinformatics from Kean University (where he simultaneously worked full time as a scientist at Roche Pharmaceuticals), he was accepted into New York University’s renowned dental school. Graduating in 2009 with distinction, and although having the option of going to work immediately, Zeik chose to dive deeper into oral education and training. He completed a one year multidisciplinary residency at Monmouth Medical Center, where he gained additional field experience in various specialties like endodontics (root canals and other similar procedures) and oral surgery.
“As a dentist, you don’t have to do a residency,” he said. “You can work right away, but I was all about learning more and advancing skills before opening up my own practice.” Raised in Elizabeth, Zeik set up shop in his home state after completing the residency in 2010.
One of his goals in opening a practice in addition to providing terrific care was to eliminate the discomfort people often associate with the dental chair. He knew the office environment is a major factor, so when he secured office space in Red Bank, set out to create what he envisioned as the perfect patient environment. The project was extensive. The blueprint included doubling the size of the office and redesigning its interior from floor to ceiling. In 2015, more than five years after construction began, it was ready.
“I’m nontraditional,”said Zeik. “My office is more like a house. I have hardwood floors and a painted chalkboard wall. Interiors by Jessica designed the space and did an amazing job. It doesn’t look like typical. It’s high end, but also makes patients feel like they are at home and we are just hanging out.”
In 2013, while the Red Bank construction was still in progress, Zeik opened a location in Marlboro. Today, he continues to operate out of both locations. “Two practices are definitely a lot of work,” he said, laughing. “I have some patients who drive over an hour to see me. They joke about me getting an office closer to them.”
A warm and pleasant office environment, however integral a part in elevating the patient experience, is only one piece of the puzzle. Each time Zeik sees a new patient, he spends at least an hour; he does the cleaning and examination himself, and educates on proper oral care and techniques that can be adopted at home.
“A first appointment is always with me,” he said. “I sit with each one and educate them essentially on how teeth work.”
While the doctor gives each new patient a sports bag and tee shirt (the kids get live goldfish), the biggest takeaway is a better understanding of how each can continue to promote oral health.
“Mouth rinsing is the biggest thing a patient can do at home, particularly using a rinse with fluoride,” he said. “Your teeth need two vitamins: calcium and fluoride. I push tap water as well. Cavities are actually back on the rise because more foods are processed, made from concentrate, and have ingredients like high fructose corn syrup. Some have sugar on top of high fructose corn syrup. I tell patients the bacteria in your mouth are like little Pac Men. When they have sugar, it’s Red Bull for them.”
In an effort to minimize recovery/wait time, discomfort, and even X ray radiation, Zeik utilizes state of the art technology. By using a digital 3D scanner, for example, it takes him less than 10 minutes to craft a crown or bridge that is easily absorbed into the tooth and looks completely natural. Imaging technology, he explained, has also come a long way, and he’s eliminated the traditional practice of performing X rays off the wall in his Red Bank office.
“You get more radiation walking through Times Squares than you do in my office now,” he said.
Additional services include laser dentistry, teeth whitening, and orthodontic treatments. Dr. Joan Klayton, a board certified orthodontist who studied at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, works out of the Red Bank location. “We keep 90 percent of the procedures in house,” said Zeik.
As a believer in continuous education and improvement, the doctor still spends considerable time in the classroom both as a student and a teacher. He feels obligated, he said, to share knowledge and expertise, which is why he’s slated to begin teaching at Monmouth Medical Center in its dental residency program in the coming year, something he’s wanted to do since being a resident himself. As for his own studies, he has recently become certified in administering Botox and dermal fillers, and regularly takes continuing education courses to sharpen skills. As a result, Zeik is adding “dental spa” to his range of services. The Red Bank office also hosts bachelorette, girl’s night out, and beauty parties, with amenities like a DJ and catered food along with a menu of procedures including teeth whitening and Juvederm treatments.
“The parties add another element of fun,” said Zeik, who also facilitates charitable initiatives like a candy buy back program every Halloween. As an advocate of giving back when and where he can, he’s set to travel to Peru next year to work in a medical outreach program. For patients at home, he offers a discount plan for those who need it.
“I have such a passion for my patients. I think the main difference between a capable dentist and a truly great one is that passion,” he said.
While eventually one of the doctor’s hygienists takes over routine procedures like cleanings and X rays, Zeik explained that if the patient insists on seeing him personally, he happily obliges.
“I want them to know that if they ever need me, I’m here,” he said. “All also have my cell phone number and can call me at anytime.”
When asked if this open door policy continues into the wee hours of the morning, the doctor laughed. “Of course,” he said. “Even then.”
179 Maple Avenue, Red Bank / 732.747.7470
33 N. Main Street (Route 79), Marlboro / 732.863.8040 / zeikdental.com