Iqaluit dentist wins people’s choice business award
“It’s not known as the happiest of professions, but I love it"
There’s a gentle orchestra that plays inside Iqaluit’s Arctic Circle Dental clinic.
You can hear “adult contemporary” streaming from ceiling speakers, the buzzing of a drill in one of its exam rooms, laughter echoing in an out of the reception area, and a hearty New York accent conducting the whole thing.
“It’s not known as the happiest of professions, but I love it. I laugh all day long,” said Dr. Steve Partyka, a New Yorker who’s been the owner and head dentist at Arctic Circle in Iqaluit for five years.
“I work side by side with my friends, what more can I ask for? That’s an ideal situation. I hate to go home at the end of the day.”
But Partyka — or just “Dr. Steve” as he’s known around town — has more of a reason to flash his shiny white teeth now.
The dental clinic has won the People’s Choice award in Up Here Business magazine’s 2014 Frozen Globe Awards after two of his staff members nominated the business in the competition.
The People’s Choice award pits all nominated businesses North of 60 against each other in an online vote open to the public.
After a month of voting, Arctic Circle received 3043 votes — 735 votes ahead of runner-up Yukon business, Technical Solutions Company.
More than 100 companies are nominated for various award categories awards this year
Partyka can hardly believe his business garnered that much attention.
“No, it’s odd, I poke people with needles!” Partyka said with four loud bellows of laughter that can probably be heard outside his clinic, perched on a hill overlooking the city.
Partyka puts the win in perspective, however, using one of the countless analogies he slides into his day-to-day conversation.
“It’s not me. It’s the staff. I’m the guy on the stage. But that doesn’t mean there’s all these people that are working the lights, working the curtain, working the stage,” Partyka said.
He chalks the win up to how he approaches dentistry, as well.
“We’re not just putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound,” Partyka said.
Prevention of disease is something Partyka stresses — and that’s what will improve the state of dental care in Iqaluit, something Partyka says is poor at the moment for kids.
“I think the dental care for children is getting worse. I think that the problem is growing. It’s dietary, and hygiene. That’s the problem,” Partyka said.
A report released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information in October said Nunavut has the highest rate of dental surgery for a disease known as “early childhood caries,” at 97.2 per 1,000 people.
Dr. Steve wants to buck this trend in the future.
He thinks Nunavut needs “regular dental care by a real dentist, by a hygienist” and “not dentists that fly in to make a fast buck.”
But change will happen with education, Partyka said.
“When I got here, I had young kids ask me, at what age do I lose my next set of teeth? Because they assumed that it’s part of life that they would lose their teeth by the age of 40,” Partyka said.
Recently more kids have started to get excited about visiting the dentist, Partyka said. His staff say it’s because of Dr. Steve.
“Kids love him,” dental assistant Leslie Mamaat said.
“I think he does a lot for the community and I think he goes above and beyond the call of duty. And I just think he needs to be recognized for that,” dental hygienist Aleeya Johnston said.
That’s one reason why so many people have voted for Arctic Circle, Johnston said.
“Word of mouth really. We see a lot of people, and if someone comes in for a procedure for a cleaning or something, they’re happy,” Johnston said.
“They’re happy when they leave and they’re happy with [the staff], and they’re happy with the way we treat them,” she said.
Partyka plans to attend the Frozen Globes reception in Whitehorse Jan. 23.