Eyal Simchi isn’t quitting his day job – even after a video of him performing magic tricks for an awestruck pediatric dental patient racked up more than 30 million views on social media.
Despite the hocus-pocus – and his viral video stardom – Simchi has no illusions.
“I’m not a magician at all. I’m a dentist,’’ he says firmly. “The magic tricks are just something I do to help patients.”
But Simchi, who graduated from Rutgers School of Dental Medicine in 2007, was impressive enough to wow his audience in the video of a 2-year-old boy who gasps in wonder and delight as Simchi plucks balls of light from thin air and begins a game of catch.
According to Simchi, the patient, not his showmanship, accounts for the clip’s mass appeal. “He’s a really cute and expressive kid,’’ explains Simchi, whose Elmwood Park practice, Riverfront Pediatric Dentistry, also focuses on special needs patients.
He may be selling himself short. In videos posted on Riverfront’s website and Facebook page, Simchi performs other tricks – like pulling an extracted tooth from a patient’s ear – and all elicit the same response of astonishment and glee.
Simchi began experimenting with magic as a dental student, although he didn’t perform for patients until after graduation. “I saw a magician doing tricks at the mall and my wife said, ‘Hey, you’re going to be a pediatric dentist, you should learn this stuff.’’’
He followed her advice. The tricks distract children and help them relax, which makes his job easier. It’s especially good for kids who’ve had traumatic dental visits in the past.
But Simchi’s strategy to make dental visits more fun may have backfired. Recently, when he urged one child to brush her teeth, she refused. “She wanted to get cavities so she could come back,’’ he explains. “Most kids cry because they don’t want to come to the dentist, but some of our patients cry because they don’t want to leave.’’
He confesses, “Maybe we’re making it too much fun.’’
Since his video went viral, Simchi has been inundated with media requests from around the world. He squeezes interviews between dental appointments and tries to stay on message. “Anything that changes the perception of dentistry from something to be afraid of to something positive is good,’’ he says.
My heart hurts this kid is so cute https://t.co/ea2iEH72cU
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) May 23, 2018