Featured Story

The Work We Do: Dr. Terry Sanders, Hanlon and Sanders DMD

I’m Dr. Terry Sanders. I’ve been working in Riverhead for about 35 years as a general dentist. Right now, we’re located at 1149 Old Country Road, Suite B1, in Riverhead.  

We have a small family practice. My wife is also a dentist; she’s a pediatric dentist, Dr. Hanlon. We’ve been practicing together for 35 years.

On a typical day, we usually get here at 10 a.m. Today I had about seven or eight patients. A couple were checkups, there were a couple of minor emergencies, two came in for fillings, one root canal appointment. That’s kind of a typical day. Most of our paperwork now is done online, so I had to go back and check some insurance claims that hadn’t been paid and find out if the computer sent them in properly, if the company received them.

The patient starts in the waiting room, they’re brought in the back, we sit them in a chair, put the bib on, talk for a minute, you know, ‘How are you? How’s everything from the last time? Any changes in your medical health? Any issues with your teeth?’ If they’re a new patient I haven’t met, I’ll introduce myself and say ‘What can I do for you today? Why are you here?’ and give them a chance to explain why they came in, whether it’s for a cleaning, or they say, ‘I have a problem with this tooth down here,’ or, ‘I lost a filling somewhere,’ and we’ll take a look at it.

My favorite part, mainly, is just meeting all the different people. Ninety-nine percent of the people that come into the office are really nice people, fun to deal with. I learn a lot from interacting with them. Riverhead has changed a lot for the 35 years we’ve been here. It started off very small — that was before Route 58 was developed, before big stores came here. We had chosen Riverhead primarily for my wife, because at the time there were no pediatric dentists east of Patchogue and Port Jefferson.

With the advent of all the managed-care insurance plans, we’re getting an awful lot of new patients. Bad news is a lot of them don’t return — they’ll come in for an emergency and they’re the kind of people who routinely don’t go to the dentist very often. I’d say a quarter of those patients turn out to be long-term patients.

Like I said, it’s just a family-run business. We really try and take the time to get to know the patients. It’s not like, ‘Hi, how are you, sit down, open up’; we’ll sit and talk for a minute. A lot of the people over the years have become friends; they’re not just patients.

“The Work We Do” is a News-Review multimedia project profiling workers around Riverhead Town. It is made possible by Peconic Landing. See more photos every Monday on Instagram @riverheadnewsreview.