A traumatized 8-year-old boy was missing several front teeth when Dr. Erik Harrington saw him at the emergency room, the result of a particularly vicious attack from school bullies. Harrington, owner of Highland Park Dental in the Park Cities and a father himself, was moved by the sad story.
Replacing teeth takes time and the boy didn't have much of that. This was a Friday evening. He had to return to school on Monday and was afraid the bullies would laugh at him in front of his classmates.
"The boy's Mom started to cry. As a parent, I knew exactly how she felt," said Dr. Harrington. "Showing up on school on Monday without his front teeth would have been another notch on the belts of the bullies. I didn't want to let that happen."
Harrington opened his Park Cities office that weekend and went to work, quickly fabricating temporary teeth that the boy could wear to school on Monday before getting new permanent teeth.
Harrington didn't charge for this work. His payment was a "thank-you" note from the boy.
"That note was one of the most moving things I have ever read," Harrington said. "It was wonderful. It was one of the most inspirational letters that I have ever received from anyone."
This story might sound unusual. But it's not, at least for Dr. Harrington and Highland Park Dental. Harrington is no stranger to giving his patients the extra attention they need, whether they're scheduled for major oral surgery or a simple round of teeth cleaning.
It's why Harrington and his office were recently selected as a "Mom's Pick" by Dallas Child Magazine. The "Mom's Pick" section recognizes kid-friendly businesses.
"I receive a tremendous high from being of service to others," Harrington said. "That tends to result in the kind of service that moms and kids like. I know that kids are not miniature adults, that they have their own way of looking at the world. I keep that in mind as I work with them. You have to see the world as if you were a child when you are working with kids."
The 8-year-old boy in the bullying case was able to return to his school on Monday with a new set of teeth. The evidence of his bullying was gone.
“It’s not often that you are in a position where you can really help someone,” Harrington said. “In this case, I was in that position. I was able to make a positive difference in that boy’s life, and in the life of his family. It’s an honor to be able to help.”
And the letter? Harrington says that he uses it to remind him of how important medical work can be. It is a cherished gift.
"When you put on those teeth, I was the happiest person in the world," reads one of the lines in the boy's letter. "When those boys had hit me, I felt like I was never going to be normal in my life. You helped me realize that I would be normal, and you made me feel safe and confident about myself."
“I don’t always remember the procedures I perform that generate the most money,” Harrington said. “But I will remember the work I did for this boy. These are the kind of cases that you never forget.”
If you want to learn more about the special care that Harrington provides to his patients or want to schedule an appointment, call Highland Park Dental at 214-499-9455. The office is located at 6725 Hillcrest Ave. in Snider Plaza in Dallas.
Highland Park Dental
6725 Hillcrest Avenue
(next to Starbucks in Snider Plaza)
Dallas, Texas 75205