Easing dental anxiety through laughter: ‘Weird’ Philadelphia dentist featured on ‘The Tonight Show’

Dr. Harvey Wank, an orthodontist and oral surgeon in suburban Philadelphia, didn’t expect to reach celebrity status one recent evening, but that’s exactly what happened. When Dr. Wank received a text from a fellow dentist noting he was mentioned by “Fallon” and is now famous, Dr. Wank simply wondered which of his patients goes by the nickname Fallon.

TweetNo, that would be Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show. As part of his reoccurring “Hashtags” skit, Fallon invited Twitter users to tweet stories about #MyWeirdDentist. One young man tweeted about Dr. Wank.

For the past 20 years, Dr. Wank has made it a point to joke around with patients, in an effort to ease their dental anxiety and create a lasting relationship. In fact, he regularly offers souvenirs to patients that include the phrase “I got yanked by Dr. Wank.” Shirts, water bottles, flyswatters – you name it.

wank1“We’re always goofing around with patients, because when patients come to see an oral surgeon, they’re nervous,” Dr. Wank said. “We like to laugh, kid around with them. Of course, there’s always a dental assistant with them to hold their hand if necessary.”

So whether it’s the drills and screws hanging on the wall – Dr. Wank jokingly informs patients they’re his tools – or the tongue-in-cheek items he gives to patients, Dr. Wank takes the business of humor seriously. And perhaps his style has even brought in a few patients along the way.

“When a young patient comes in my office, the first thing they say is, ‘Where’s my T-shirt?’”

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