Health & Wellness – Smiling Bright
Story by Megan Whitehead | Apr 26, 2017
The only pediatric dentistry in JCMO offers advice for your child’s lifelong oral health.
Going to the dentist is not most people’s idea of a good time, but we know that it’s necessary. As adults, we all recognize the importance of at least semi-annual checkups for our oral health — but what about our kids? Do you take them in to the dentist early enough? Before their first tooth arrives?
Dr. Robert Coyle, Dr. Gregory Stine, and Dr. Maice Scott of Capital Dentistry for Children guide their pediatric practice with three keys for maintaining good oral health from infancy: education, prevention, and support.
“Fifty percent of kids under 5 have cavities,” says Dr. Coyle. “That is something we would like to improve.”
In order to begin a successful journey to good oral health, it’s important to make the first appointment six months after the eruption of your child’s first tooth, or by their first birthday.
“We love to start seeing kids at an early age, because when it comes to cavities, discovering them early leads to much better outcomes,” says Dr. Scott.
Pediatric dentists have begun to follow the “medical model,” meaning that you have a medical home in their practice that you visit regularly, not just for urgent issues. “We don’t want you to only bring your kids in when there is a problem,” Stine says. “Prevention and familiarity is important with the family. As a pediatric dentist, not only are we trying to prevent and cure disease; we’re trying to grow good adult patients. All the time we have parents who come in and wish they could see us. That’s a compliment, but it’s sad too because many times parents aren’t taking care of themselves because they have a fear of treatment. It’s very common.”
Unfortunately, dentists have to deal with many people’s irrational fear of their work. A lot of this stems from past trauma during dental procedures, so the doctors at Capital Dentistry work hard create a positive experience for even their youngest patients.
“Some general dentists don’t want to see a child until they are 3 or 4 years old because they expect a certain level of cooperation. We don’t expect that,” says Coyle. “We know that a 1- or 2-year-old isn’t necessarily going to cooperate with a dental exam. We understand what their developmental stages are and what to expect.”
To avoid letting your child be one of the fifty percent of kids who develop a cavity before age 5, making that first early visit is essential. Creating a plan for your child and developing a relationship with their dentist will help prevent future problems.
“We know when we see someone at a young age, we are really able to go through the different risk factors and put together something specific for each patient and family,” Scott says.
“Our first visit isn’t a lot about teeth — it’s about education and building that relationship, because that trust is very important,” Stine adds.
Even before your children have teeth, or when they’re first showing teeth, you should know what to look for and what habits to develop early.
“We spend a lot of time with parents on proper diet and healthy brushing habits,” Coyle says. “By and large, when we see kids at an early age, we are more successful with that.”
Coyle says this knowledge and early introduction to dental hygiene creates a more comfortable environment for children and their families. “By having a dental provider that knows your family and knows your child, it’s much easier when trauma occurs for you and your children,” he says. “There’s a trust there and easy access.”
Capital Dentistry for Children is the only pediatric dentist practice in Jefferson City. As such, the doctors pursue continuing education to ensure that they are up-to-date on the latest materials, techniques, and literature available to them.
“We pursue additional certification through the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry that requires residency, a written exam, and an oral exam with annual qualifying exams,” says Coyle. “Every year, we’re taking a new test and are able to tell the parents of our patients that we are at the top of our game. We all feel strongly that we do that.”
Along with this certification, the doctors each attend a specialty residency in a hospital setting, which included an emergency, pediatric, and general anesthesia rotation. This exposed them to many situations that help them be prepared for any patients, including children with special needs, medically compromised children, children with developmental or behavioral issues, or children who have had trauma in other medical settings. These children require extra care and patience, which pediatric dentists are especially well-equipped to provide.
“Not every child needs to be seen by a pediatric dentist — there aren’t enough of us to go around,” Stine says. “There is nobody better than us for kids who have special circumstances, though.”
Along with their continuing education, Coyle, Stine, and Scott feel that their practice excels due to their partnership and incredible staff.
“The fact that the three of us work so closely together and hold each other to a high standard makes it so we can bounce ideas off each other, positively compete against each other, support each other’s growth, and hold each other accountable,” says Scott. “Plus, our staff is incredible. They are well-trained and go through continuing education. We also have a lot of fun.”
To fully ensure the oral health of your child, it is important to remember those three keys: education, prevention, and support. Finding a provider you trust, making appointments early, and knowing what to look for will help keep your child’s smile healthy and sparkling.