Making a brush with the dentist fun

Mill Creek orthodontist installs theater for patients

By Mike Benbow

Herald Writer

MILL CREEK — In days gone by, a good checkup at the dentist might bring a sucker or some other treat, but John Stieber has seriously upped the ante.

Patients of the orthodontist who do a superior job of brushing their teeth have a shot at a pizza party and movie theater outing, all within the confines of Stieber’s Mill Creek offices.

Stieber, who moved into his new digs late last year, has installed a 450-square-foot theater complete with 15 authentic movie seats, a couple of overstuffed couches, a huge screen and SurroundSound.

Even the small touches, from velvet curtains to plush carpeting and gilt-covered moldings, evoke the atmosphere of a real theater.

"I wanted to make it kind of like an old theater," Stieber said Wednesday night as he hosted a party for patient JonFlanagan. "I love to surprise people. When you walk in the doors, you’re transformed into a different environment."

Stieber said he got the idea for the theater as he was planning his new offices at 1025 153rd St. SE. An architect showed him a media room designed for an orthodontist in Texas.

"It seemed like a great idea," Stieber said. "I’m always looking for ways to make the practice more fun for everyone."

Stieber said patients who get an "A" for brushing get a ticket to throw into a popcorn box. Three tickets are drawn each month, and winners can bring a bunch of friends for the party.

"It’s awesome," said Flanagan, 13, as he enjoyed pizza with several friends. "The screen is huge."

His mother, Kari, agreed.

"I think it’s fabulous. I think it’s fun for the kids. It keeps them interested and gives them something to look forward to."

Stieber has a DVD movie library that is growing by the month. For his special night, Jon Flanagan opted for "Space Cowboys."

In addition to patient parties, Stieber said he has donated use of the room to community groups for fund-raising auctions. "I never had anything to donate before," he said. "I felt hamstrung."

He said the room also could be used for video conferences and training sessions. And he admits to staging a Super Bowl party there for himself.

"I’m kind of a kid that hasn’t grown up yet," Stieber said. "I’m always looking to make more of a practice. This is a great way to do that. It’s just a kick."

Stieber said the theater is consistent with his belief that work should be fun.

"We never (in retirement) sit rocking on the porch saying, ‘I just played too hard,’ " he said.

You can call Herald Writer Mike Benbow at 425-339-3459

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