Get to know Dr. Harbir Bhullar
“My heart for humanity is at the core of my work and I approach others with an earnest desire for their betterment.”
Throughout my life, I have concerned myself with improving the quality of life for others. From a young age, I've felt an instinctual drive and focus for assisting others in their evolution and bringing things to their highest expression. A lifetime of personal and professional development has shaped me into the person I am today.
When I was young, I was really quite shy and reserved! I moved from school to school throughout my childhood, in the pursuit of the best possible education. With each new school, I had to overcome feeling self-conscious of what others might think and whether or not I'd be accepted. As anyone who's been the "new kid" knows, this builds a unique understanding and appreciation for others who struggle with self-worth issues, which I've carried with me to this day. Though shy, I was also athletic as a youth. Through sports, I learned the importance of communication and teamwork, and rooted myself in the importance of building others up even when they are feeling down.
A college course in Psychology served as a catalyst for me for self-inquiry and I learned to improve through active learning, experience, and experimentation. Studying courses in childhood growth and development illustrated to me the importance these stages play in forming thoughts and actions that ultimately shape the direction of our lives. This was just the beginning of what would become a career dedicated to the health and well-being of children.
Discovering My Path to Pediatric Dentistry
While in dental school, I had big plans to be a Hollywood cosmetic dentist. Yet I was struck by a consistent conversation I was having with my adult patients: they told me time and again of their horrible childhood experiences with the dentist. I was also impacted by the opportunities I had to work with children with special needs. It was so rewarding to see how providing a safe, comfortable dental experience not only benefitted these kids, but also their families. In a way, we were rebuilding the trust that the adults had lost in their dentist ages ago!
Then one fateful day, in an emergency room clinic, the patient coordinator informed me of a seven-year-old who was in pain and had been waiting all morning to be seen. He was laying on the chairs with his hand on his head looking miserable. After looking at his teeth, it was determined that he needed a root canal. In preparing, the boy discovered that he would be getting a shot and panicked. My instinct to nurture and encourage kicked in, and I was able to calm him down and assure him everything would be alright. After the procedure, the child gave me the biggest hug! In that moment, it became clear to me just how rewarding working with children could be.
To gain a different experience and to take advantage of a unique learning opportunity, I chose to do a group practice residency program in New York City. My work confirmed what I had been seeing: that many adults carried deep fears of dental work, which stemmed from experiences they had as children. From that point forward, I chose to work exclusively with children. I did so with the group practice residency program at Jacobi Medical Center (a level-one trauma center) and at the Rose Kennedy Center for special needs children and adults. I was accepted at St. Barnabas Hospital for pediatric dentistry, another level-one trauma center in the Bronx, where I was awarded for a research project on caries rate for asthmatics vs. healthy children.
Upon graduating, I sought a position in corporate dentistry, and had the opportunity to work with children from over 15 offices nationwide for over 10 years! During this formative time, I became the go-to person when extra care was required to help put families and children at ease. Not only did this experience help me to observe how pediatric dentsitry is performed across the country, but it opened my eyes to the types of dental issues that most consistently come up with families from all over.
“My journey of self-love and understanding has come full circle as I now realize that the act of being in service to others is where I can experience the greatest joy.”
When I was a kid I did not understand that all the long hours my parents worked were for me and my sister to get the best possible head start in our lives. Like many parents, they surrounded us with so much love and support, and allowed us to think creatively and follow our passions and dreams. They encouraged a pursuit of knowledge. Because of this, I developed a passion for discovery, learning, and creative thinking. If something did not make sense, we should investigate it!
This translated directly into my professional life -- the kinds of questions that my patients and their families were asking didn't always seem to have the most obvious answers. Questions and concerns about grinding, fears about getting cavities and having soft teeth, fears about crowded teeth and a family history of braces, extractions, and sleep apnea, just to name a few. In my continued pursuit of knowledge and answers, I discovered that there are real solutions that work! I developed Elevate Kids Dental as a means by which to investigate and educate alongside families, in pursuit of their improved quality of life.
I grew tired of watching dentistry "happen" to kids, instead of seeing how dentistry can impact and inspire them. By creating an environment that stimulates creative thinking through active learning, our goal is to empower your child by placing them in the drivers seat of their own healthcare journey. This is all about helping your child develop the personal skills and effective habits to set them up for the rest of their lives. I wanted Elevate Kids Dental to be a place where dentistry does not happen to your child, but rather is something for your child to participate in and enjoy!
My Philosophy: Encourage Inquisitiveness
I am deeply aware that young children thrive in an environment of relationships. The quality of those relationships has a huge impact on the health and learning that follows. I have set up Elevate Kids Dental in a unique way, so that you never have to feel alone on your family's healthcare journey. We are here to support you and your child at every step by providing a healthy environment built for exploration and learning that is both safe and predictable.
We have also developed a special educational component where we really focus on the value of proper nutrition and of eating healthy during these critical years of maximum growth and development. We are all about supporting your child with the latest tools and expertise so that they can grow with curious inquisitiveness that spurns their creativity and a lifelong passion for their health and wellness. It is a lofty goal, I know! But these early years are critical in establishing the patterns that will exist for the child's lifetime -- an investment that is truly worth the effort.
I hope in reading a bit about me, you feel encouraged, uplifted and even curious! Please feel free to contact me with any questions you have. It would be an honor to serve you and your family.