Orthodontist Inna Gellerman, in a bright black-and-blue wig and heavy blue eye shadow, leans over Brooke Pagano, 12, of Huntington, gluing brackets onto the sixth-grader's teeth. Office employees wear Christmas decorations in their hair, a mohawk dyed rainbow colors, and an apple perched atop the head. It's "crazy hair day" at Gellerman's orthodontics Huntington practice.
Getting braces today can be like joining a kids' club. Waiting rooms have Wii, PlayStation and Xbox consoles to entertain kids waiting for appointments. Some have monthly raffles of bikes or flat-screen TVs. Others rent movie theaters or bowling alleys or take everyone to a baseball game. Many have Facebook pages. In one Franklin Square office, the waiting room looks like the cabin of a commercial jetliner, with Delta Air Lines seats that have tray tables that fold down.
Here are some Long Island orthodontists who go above and beyond to make the braces rite of passage more "fun":
Dr. Inna Gellerman
165 Main St., Huntington
Gellerman's office offers "Spectacular Bucks" that patients earn for good orthodontic hygiene. They trade them for movie or iTunes gift cards, even an iPod. Some can spin a carnivallike wheel and land on craft prizes such as sand art kits. Every treatment seat has a TV with headphones kids can watch while being worked on. "My regular dentist, they only have baby toys," says Amber Petrusa, 9, of Commack. "I like to play the Wii." The day a child's braces come off, an employee dresses as a taco and leads a conga line through the office.
Dr. Steven Boral
380 Dogwood Ave., Franklin Square, 516-292-6484
400 N. Broadway, Jericho, 516-827-5008, drboral.com
Boral wanted to transform his practice with an airliner theme for years. Interior designer Gary Gaccione says Boral asked him to helpdesign it, telling him, "I feel like I take my patients to a new destination in their life," because when kids are done with braces, they have new self-esteem. Now, walking into the Franklin Square office is like boarding a jet. The practice purchased 19 Delta airline seats and created jetliner-like "windows" that show clouds and a landing strip. Staff members cruise the aisle pushing an airliner snack cart, offering juice boxes, Fritos and Otis Spunkmeyer cookies baked in the office. Once a week, they dress in pilot and flight crew uniforms. Boral has taken patients to Yankee Stadium and Citi Field. The Syosset office is "the island you fly to," Boral says, with a less extensive tropical island theme. "It's cool," says new patient Amanda Mangru, 12, of Elmont. "You have more possibilities to have fun here."
Drs. Joseph and Pasquale Vitagliano
1145 Montauk Hwy.,
West Islip, 631-661-3025
25 Carmens Rd., Massapequa, 516-798-6786, smilewithstyle91.com
Last year, the West Islip office hosted a pizza party at Themes and Dreams in Deer Park and the staff was dancing the Macarena with the kids. The office also does movie parties, says Katie Heal, patient relations coordinator. The practice will rent out a theater on a Sunday and offer free popcorn and soda. The Massapequa office has done a boat fishing trip and taken patients to a Ducks game. Sometimes they'll charge a few dollars per person with the money going to charity, Heal says. The office also "adopts" a soldier every six months, and urges the kids to write letters and donate items to send overseas. At different times of the year, the office will have theme parties.
Drs. Efraim Zak and Scott Friedman, Island Orthodontics, 1990 Deer Park Ave., Deer Park, 631-586-7654, toothbracer.com; 500 Portion Rd., Lake Ronkonkoma, 631-588-1199, islandortho.com; 1025 Northern Blvd., Roslyn, 516-365-5300, braces4kids.net
"Dr. Zak holds three office outings each year: movies in February, mini-golf in July and pumpkin picking in October. Plus the office has weekly raffles for Long Island Ducks tickets during baseball season." -- Cindy Katz, 45, Syosset
Dr. Jeffrey D. Felicetti, 1035 Park Blvd., Massapequa Park, 516-795-7878, str8smilesbydrjeff.com
"My brothers and I go. . . . His office is so fun -- it's like no other. He always has contests to enter and gives gift cards. He has had 'guess how many items in a jar' (contests). He has 'best postcards sent to him for summer vacation' (contests). . . . Now he is giving out coins for good brushing . . . for no broken wires, and for coming on time to appointments. When you reach certain amount of coins, you can trade them in for gift cards." -- Madison Uzwy, Bellmore
Drs. David Sukoff and Jennifer Sipkin, 47 Merrick Ave., Merrick, 516-868-3131, sukoffortho.com
"My son, Niame, is a patient at Dr. David Sukoff and Dr. Jennifer Sipkin's office. . . . When he arrives for his appointment, we are greeted by the most helpful and friendliest staff. They have flat-screen TVs throughout the office and Xbox in the waiting room. . . . They have contests going on at all times offering excitement and fabulous winnings, such as an iPad, iPod and Yankees, Knicks and Islander tickets. This office is also eco-friendly. They have gone paperless." -- Silvia Munoz
Dr. Arthur M. Kammerman, 226 E. Seventh St., Garden City, 516-742-4110, kammermanortho.com
"There is absolutely no need for any video consoles to entertain the patients because there is no time to play -- the appointments consistently run on time and all types of appointments are available. The staff accommodates the high school students before school at 7 a.m. or even Sunday mornings. . . . An added bonus is the 'guess how many items are in the jar' game. Every holiday and season is recognized through this game with items ranging from jelly beans in the spring to colorful erasers at the start of school. Prizes vary, but it is always fun to play, especially for younger siblings in tow." -- Joan Coletta, Valley Stream
Dr. Richard Kardovich, 248 Middle Country Rd., Selden, 631-732-2566
"I love going to my orthodontist. . . . There are no video games or raffles of any kind -- there's no need. I've never had to wait. As soon as I open the door, Dr. Kardovich greets me with a big hello." -- Catherine Daniels, Coram
Coolsmiles Orthodontics, 656 Main St., Port Jefferson, 631-928-9800, 1645 Rte. 112, Medford, 631-289-0909, coolsmiles.com.
"This office is always running a unique contest for some type of high-tech gear, from iPods to iPads to video games to sports tickets. One contest sticks out . . . they asked their patients to take a 'Flat Stanley,' which actually was the image of the orthodontist, and submit their adventure to win. The submissions were brilliant and hilarious." -- Bridget Forstmann, Lake Grove
Dr. Seth Kleinrock, 1705 Broadway, Hewlett, 516-593-0082, kleinrockorthodontics.com
"All three of my children have been or are patients. His office has video games, televisions and movies. His office has a lot of sport memorabilia as well. What is unique about his office is not the technology but the friendliness of the staff. They always greet you with a smile and help finding appointments that fit your schedule. He has a patient of the month and raffles for things like an iPad." -- Lori Bader, Oceanside
Dr. Seth Newman, 14 Glen Cove Rd., Roslyn Heights, 516-626-2060, newmansortho.com.
"I recently finished going through the process of braces and I absolutely loved them! The orthodontists office was amazing. The people are so nice, friendly and try to keep you as comfortable and entertained as possible." -- Ashleyrose Devito, Roslyn
Dr. Jacqueline Fulop-Goodling, 40 Crossways Park Dr., Woodbury, 516-921-6010, drjacquiesmiles.com.
"I would like to nominate Dr. Jacqueline Fulop-Goodling from Woodbury. She has an awesome office with games and TVs at every station, once a year she takes all her patients to Adventureland. And she has theme weeks and contest - it is so much fun going to her office." -- Jen Gould,
Dr. William Mittler, 514 Merrick Rd., Valley Stream, 516-561-1881, mittlerortho.com
"Patients fill out raffles for free movie nights and they get coin rewards that lead up to prizes. He is hosting a roller-skating party for the patient, families and a guest." -- Sandra Aragona, Valley Stream