Dr. Karen Benitez, founder & designer, board certified pediatric dentist at Chevy Chase Pediatric Dentistry will be writing a series of guest posts related to adolescent dentistry and questions she frequently receives from patients that may be of interest to you. If you have a topic you’d like to see her feature, leave it in the comments.
The first post is one that many parents wonder about; whether it is necessary for your child to visit a pediatric dentist and how the experience will differ from just taking them to the dentist you see.
Why a pediatric dentist?
As a board certified pediatric dentist, this is a question I’m often asked here at Chevy Chase Pediatric Dentistry. Most families will be quick to notice a difference in the environment of pediatric dental office specific to kids, much like a pediatricians office would be. The primary elements of a pediatric dental environment are visual, sensory, emotional and tactile acceptability.
At Chevy Chase Pediatric Dentistry, our office is different and you will see and feel it from the moment you enter through our door. Our entire office was designed specifically to build the most comfortable atmosphere to meet the needs of our young patients. It is alive with colors, toys and even a separate nook just for kids to explore and play during their short wait. A trip to the dentist should be fun, after all!
Beyond the aesthetics and environment, as pediatric dentists we are educated in the unique needs of children and adolescents, and children with special needs. Our studies extend an additional two to three years beyond our general dental school education in pediatric growth and development, orthodontic development and behavior management techniques and more. We are dedicated to the dental needs of even the youngest of children and it is ALL. WE. DO.
Parents will often ask me at what age to bring their child in. To this I say, earlier is better! Our first few exams after your child’s 1st birthday are aimed at a familiarity with brushing approach, technique and frequency. Your child is cradled between our laps in what is called a knee to knee exam. During this exam, I evaluate for the sequence of teeth that are erupting and guide you on best measures for providing comfort. I like to demonstrate with my parents even the amount of fluoridated toothpaste with a direct visual. Many parents express hesitations towards brushing, and a surprise when I mention flossing, yes, flossing! I am here with you from the beginning to provide guidance on a very important task. As a mother of three, I offer relatability and experience and I like to share my observations.
Here at Chevy Chase Pediatric Dentistry, we understand good vibes! We encourage our patients to touch, feel, ask questions and share feedback. All this in the interest of introducing the entire dental experience in the friendliest of manners. We introduce our language for all dental instruments in terms kids just get. We “tickle teeth”, use “power washes”, spit into “magic straws”, make “silly smiles” and wear “silly masks”. You get the picture!
As your child grows with us, we will address various subjects. Cavities themselves are the number one question parents express. I like to share with my families any patterns I see that may lend to higher risks. My parents often sit in close-proximity to their child as I am very much an educator! I like to have parents fully engaged in the exam to visually understand any concerns I might have. Kids benefit from this as I only see them twice a year…really, that’s not often.
Crowding is the second runner up in the matter of parental concerns. Yes, I do agree, we all go through a time-period where our child’s appearance begs the question of how all these big teeth could possibly fit in their mouth! I like to assure my parents that kids will grow three dimensionally and that what is more important is a balance between the dental arches, the path of eruption of the teeth and the possibility of early loss of proximal baby teeth. We often work with orthodontists for an early assessment.
Hygiene and dietary habits are other common concerns. Our mouths are the entryway to the rest of our bodies and our beautiful, pearly-white teeth certainly take the brunt of all our food choices. I like to guide parents in what food choices, per age group, are most prevalent in high risk patterns, as well as teaching guides to help your youngster understand what a successful brushing session achieves.
Our dental needs evolve with each decade and we as pediatric dentists are focused on the early, most impressionable ages, to establish a familiarity with oral health practices that carry confidently into their adult lives. Kids are not adults and we cater to their unique needs and approach. It is important to me that my patients feel at home in our office and with the staff. I am delighted that my parents do feel so welcome in my office. My goal at Chevy Chase Pediatric Dentistry is that our families feel they are family. Our enthusiasm in what we do cannot be curbed. IT. IS. PALPABLE.
We welcome your child to come into our office and have a look. Please, stop by and check us out!
You can also find us as Bethesda Magazine’s Face of Pediatric Dentistry, view our Top Docs video below and read our stellar reviews! Follow us on Facebook to learn more about what Chevy Chase Pediatric Dentistry is all about…focusing on your kids.
-Dr. Karen Benitez, DDS
Location: 8401 Connecticut Ave #650 Chevy Chase, MD. 20815