Taking a little one to the dentist for the first time can have a lasting impression and lifelong effect on oral health.
Pediatric dentists have the training and tools to keep children calm and comfortable, ensuring a good cleaning. In addition to the training a general dentist receives, pediatric dentists get up to three years additional education on working with children, preparing them to handle behavioral difficulties, nervous patients and all things kid-related.
“I often get asked why a parent should take their child to a pediatric dentist rather than a general dentist,” said Dr. Ansony Kim of Hello Smiles Pediatric Dentists. “If you have a young child who is sick, most parents will take them to a pediatrician, rather than a family doctor. It’s the same thing.”
Kim is in the process of setting up his practice in Oakley and hopes to open to patients next month with a state-of-the-art facility. He has been a pediatric dentist since 2013 and said preventative care and education are a big part of what he does.
“Many things, like bottle rot, are preventable, and a lot of times, first-time parents just don’t know how to prevent things,” he explained. “Seeing children early can prevent a lifetime of oral health issues and anxiety. We always want easy, positive checkup appointments.”
Kim worked with dental hygienist Jen Sutton-Shay for two years before he moved from the East Coast to California. Sutton-Shay said Kim was popular with the children in the practice for talking sports and listening to ‘lost tooth’ stories.
“The whole goal at the end of the day is to have a successful treatment,” she explained. “In pediatrics, it’s common to see kids who have had a negative dental experience elsewhere and come in scared. There is nothing better than to ease their fears and build a trusting relationship with them, so that, hopefully, they will leave with a smile on their face and feeling proud that they did it.”
Kim said the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatricians both recommend taking a child for their first dental appointment by age 1 or six months after the first tooth appears.
“There’s a lot of benefits to seeing children early, so if there are any issues like decay or cavity, they can start as quickly as once the first teeth are out,” said Kim.
Kim’s practice is currently under construction. He said he looks forward to serving as a member of the community and providing a local option to treat children from infancy to teenage years. He hopes to begin accepting new patients in April. For more information, visit www.hellosmileskids.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.