At 29, Sabrina Magid loves her career, and why wouldn’t she? She works side by side with her father, Kenneth Magid, a respected dentist in Harrison who founded Advanced Dentistry of Westchester, and she also practices a form of dentistry she is passionate about.
For Magid, an Armonk native, it’s a type of dentistry that traces medical problems like gastric reflux and sleep apnea back to the mouth, teeth, gums and jaws, making them contributing parts of a larger whole-body system.
What’s more, Magid, who was recently chosen as Westchester Magazine’s “Top 22 People to Watch in 2012,” also cares for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, a community she’s especially fond of. For someone so young, it doesn’t get any better than this.
It’s really no surprise that Magid, a founding member of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health, chose this particular profession. Not only does her father practice dentistry, but her uncle and grandfather were also dentists. Her decision to become a dentist might also have something to do with her sensitivity to the needs of others.
During her years at Byram Hills High School, Magid formed a deaf club and then got her friends to join, to raise awareness of the disability after discovering a friend was losing his hearing. And during her years as a dental student at the University of Pennsylvania, she spent several weeks in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, part of a medical-dental mission to treat underserved populations in South America.
However, her deep sensitivity for the deaf comes from years of being involved with that community, learning American Sign Language as a teenager and then teaching it to others.
At New York Presbyterian Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, where she completed her residency, she treated deaf patients, discovering their unique needs and then seeking ways to accommodate them.
Getting to know the deaf community was important to Magid’s understanding of deafness, and it also gave her an appreciation for the disability that perhaps other dentists might not possess. “The deaf culture is a very proud one that has its own language, art and even poetry,” said Magid. “Very few people are aware of its complexity and of its needs,” she added.
When she joined her father almost three years ago, it was only natural that Magid use her expertise and awareness of the deaf community and blend it into a practice that also includes special screenings for oral cancer, enhanced and restored smile treatments, facial cosmetics, and sedation treatment.
Treatment of such patients must be done with great care, said Magid, as most of them are more sensitive to drilling and the resulting vibration that is common in almost every dental procedure. In addition, many deaf patients cannot express their concerns the way other patients can, which makes procedures more challenging for the dentist. Simply telling a patient that treatment is about to begin or that his or her chair is being adjusted can be difficult if the dentist does not sign, she explained.
At the high-tech Advanced Dentistry office, deaf patients are accommodated in many ways, said Magid. That includes the use of air abrasion lasers that take the place of drills and a speech-to-text converter that translates Magid’s words, which are spoken into a microphone, part of a headset device she wears, and then translated to a computer located above the patient’s chair.
Patients who have disabilities such as these tend to be a little “disconnected,” added Magid, but with these new technologies, procedures are more comfortable and less fearful.
As part of her promotion of whole body health, Magid developed an interest in sleep apnea, a condition characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths when a person is sleeping. Research has shown that it is also linked to a number of life-threatening conditions such as high blood pressure, gastric reflux, diabetes, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, and even stroke.
Magid believes the dentist can play a distinct role in the discovery of sleep apnea. “This is a relatively new field, but I think it’s important that dentists are aware of their role in early screening. It can extend a patient’s life and can also improve the quality of a life,” she said.
At Advanced Dentistry, newly diagnosed patients are fitted with a custom-fit oral appliance that holds the jaw slightly forward and allows the airway to remain open. The device, explained Magid, is fully adjustable and also takes care of the snoring that often accompanies sleep apnea. In addition to treating patients, Magid has also become a mentor to other dentists around the country, teaching them about the disorder and how to effectively treat it.
Magid is more than happy with what she has accomplished in such a short time. “This has really become my life. It’s what I enjoy.”
To find out more about the services that Magid and her father provide at Advanced Dentistry of Westchester, visit www.ADofW.com. The practice is located at 163 Halstead Avenue in Harrison.