A young and hip Brooklyn dentist loves to bring the smiles to her Crown Heights community, as much as she fixes them. Dr. Barbara Peterson, affectionately known as Dr. Bobbi, has been practicing dentistry for about 15 years. An orthodontist as well, she runs her Rutland Road clinic, Aces Braces — providing all sorts of dental needs and improvements.
The New Jersey-born and raised doctor, now a resident of Bedford-Stuyvesant, has lived and practiced in Brooklyn since 2003. Being all too familiar with the invasiveness that her career demands, Dr. Bobbi aims to create a relaxed environment that eases white coat syndrome, she said.
“I think there’s this fear of coming to the dentist simply because someone may have had a bad experience when they were younger, or someone else they know had a bad experience — but I want my patients to know that I feel their pain,” she said.
She employs a staff of 12, which includes her mother and daughter, and a pair of sisters. A combination that helps the clinic easily build and maintain the family environment she loves.
“I love the environment we’ve created here because one of the challenges I had when I opened my old office was getting reliant stuff,” said Dr. Bobbi. “But I have a staff right now that is absolutely and insanely perfect, and I couldn’t ask for a better staff.”
She relates to the average dental patient more than they may expect, and because of her intimate experience as both a patient and doctor — she prioritizes client comfortability.
“In general, I don’t like dentists either,” she laughed. “It’s an experience where a stranger invades your personal space, and I want people to know that I know that pain, and that by coming here — I try to make the experience as pleasant as possible.”
As a result, her clinic exemplifies that. Dr. Bobbi prides herself on being in tune with current trends and culturally relevant history and pop culture, by adorning her practice’s walls with photos of mostly famous black figures and entertainers. And her young patients are huge fans of the visuals, along with the sightings of famous and well-known patients she treats.
In addition to also being well aware of the specific odors that can trigger the fear of dentists, her office’s use of scented candles deodorizes Aces Braces from the typical and distinct dentist office smell.
But sharing some of the fears her patients have do not prevent her from loving her job. A graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C., Dr. Bobbi enjoys interacting with her clientele. From her Caribbean-American patients playing the guessing game on where in the region she is from, others assuming she is a white male based on her name, to putting a smile on her younger visitors.
“There are a lot of things that I love about being a dentist,” said Dr. Bobbi. “I get a lot of mixed reactions when people actually see me, but the reaction I get from seeing actual patients — the kids and teens — is priceless. They love seeing me.”
Unlike many orthodontists, Dr. Bobbi sees an even number of children and adults about braces, whereas most orthodontists see children and teens.
Being an orthodontist also means she gets to interact with her patients in ways a lot of nonsurgical dentists do not.
“I’m in an aspect of dentistry where I see my patients every month, so I get to bond with them and ask them about their birthday or prom, and I get to form a personable type of relationship with them,” said Dr. Bobbi.
Prior to her current location, the dentist had two past clinics on Utica Avenue not far away. But as her clientele grew and wanting to avoid the limitations that come with being a renter, she purchased the property on Rutland Road between E. 95th and 96th streets.
The moderately sized space was personally designed by Dr. Bobbi herself to give her patients a bit more freedom and space than usual.
“Each visit on average is only a few minutes, so I didn’t want a bunch of doors and dividers, because patients get out of the chair quickly so that’s why I have it in an open area,” she said.
But if patients want privacy, they have the option in a private space where she does consultations and botox treatments. Her office accepts most insurances, and she offers affordable payment plans for patients paying out of pocket.
Aces Braces [1049 Rutland Rd. between E. 94th and 95th streets in Crown Heights, (718) 989-1949, www.allth