A Socially Conscious Pediatric Dentist

Champions for Children

Christopher Harvell and his wife, Lezli Levene Harvell, owners of Dental Kidz (Photo by Rayon Richards)

The Harvells’ dental practice is a brand-new, 8,000-square-foot office with the latest equipment and the ability to seat about 24 pediatric dental chairs. Families are welcomed into a massive, luminously colored space appointed with a TV tuned to age-appropriate programming. The Harvells found the facility by partnering with the Brick City Development Corp. and a local real estate agent. After an exhaustive search, they found a landlord who was open to their concept and negotiated favorable rates on the terms of their lease.

The Harvells started Dental Kidz with the intention of operating a pediatric practice that focuses on eliminating oral healthcare disparities in inner cities, starting in Newark, where the need for oral care is great. According to the New Jersey Dental Association, the state ranks 49th in its percentage of residents who drink public drinking water that is fluoridated at the level recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lack of water fluoridation can accelerate tooth decay, because fluoride keeps teeth strong and helps prevent cavities. Elmore says that New Jersey has not made oral health a priority, noting that in 2003, then-Gov. James E. McGreevey tried to eliminate adult Medicaid dental plans altogether.

Levene Harvell is in the trenches every day with Dental Kidz patients, treating the children as though they were her own. Her husband helps on the business side of the practice, drawing from his M.B.A. days at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, first-class business experience on Wall Street with Credit Suisse, and consulting knowledge at Booz & Co. “We’re at the pinnacle of both our industries,” he says.  “Not only is my wife a dentist, but she’s a specialist with many honors. If you couple that with my skill set, you’ll see what a great team we are.”

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