Jan Gabus: The Menlo dentist who promotes more than healthy teeth

by Linda Hubbard on November 22, 2011

Dentist Jan Gabus has practiced in Menlo Park for over 20 years, and during that time he’s made the nine-mile round trip from home to office and back by bicycle almost every day.

“I grew up in Nebraska and my mother got me interested in fitness, and I played high school football and ran track,” he said. “I started running in dental school and continued until my knees started giving out. Then I started commuting by bicycle.”

Earlier this year, when he’d been forced to suspend his practice for six weeks while recovering from abdominal surgery, he wanted a unique way to announce to his patients that he was back working full time. He came up with the idea of offering his patients a crisp $5 bill if they walked or cycled to their appointment, alternately donating the $5 to the Mid-Peninsula Dental Health Foundation.

“I wanted to get people to think about their overall personal health a little more, not just their teeth,” he said. “The first person to take me up on my offer was an 85-year-old man. And then there was the 12-year-old girl who hates going to the dentist who walked into the office with a bicycle helmet in her hand and ear-to-ear grin on her face.”

Jan has always made community involvement a part of his practice. Over a nine year period, working with the Menlo Park Kiwanis Foundation, he raised $100,000 for college scholarships that were awarded to Menlo-Atherton High School graduates. He’s also raised funds for the Mid-Peninsula Dental Health Foundation, which provides low cost dental care to needy local families .

About this year’s $5 bill project he said: “When you’re a dentist, it’s fun to do something unexpected — something that brings a smile to my patients’ face and mine, too.”

All those winning smiles are captured on a bulletin board in Jan’s office, all the better to inspire others to choose a fit way to see their dentist.

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