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Dentist talks to kids on their level
SMOKEY POINT Dr. Justin Smiths practice is new and young in more ways than one.
Not only is he one of the relatively few dentists whose office is paperless, since his charts are computerized and his X-rays are digital, but hes also recently minted, having received his degree in dentistry at the University of Michigan in 2005.
But whats newest about his practice is its location in Smokey Point, and whats youngest about it is his patients, since Smith practices pediatric dentistry, in which he received his degree from the University of Illinois in July of last year.
We just moved in a couple of months ago and were planning on establishing a bigger location down the road by July, said Smith, who works with one dental assistant and one administrative assistant.
Smith developed an interest in pediatric dentistry while working with an orthodontist, and he became interested in dentistry in the first place when he began weighing the options of careers in the medical and dental fields.
Dental seemed like a good way to go, since it gave me more control over my time, so that I could spend more of it with my family, Smith said. I didnt even know there was such a thing as pediatric dentistry at first, but I liked the idea of helping the special needs of kids.
Smiths waiting room includes toys and a tent, and his dental chairs and equipment are all sized to fit smaller children, but he believes that his staffs approach to their younger patients is the most important aspect of his practice.
Were very child-friendly, Smith said. Were honest, but we talk to them on their level. Its a different vocabulary than dentists use with adults. We tell them what were going to do, we show them the instruments were going to use to do it, and then we do it.
Smith offers not only nitrous oxide, but also general anesthesia, for patients who require more work and might have a harder time sitting still in a chair.
Part of what we hope to do is turn our young patients into good adult patients, Smith said. Its a fun experience for them, that doesnt leave them traumatized, they wont be afraid to go to the dentist as adults. We have a treasure chest, full of prizes for after they have work done, as well as toothbrushes with a full selection of Disney characters.
To prevent dental decay, Smith advised new parents against giving their children too much of drinks that are otherwise good for them.
Of course, you want to give them milk and 100 percent juice, but when theyre between the ages of 1-6, you should limit it to four to six ounces a day, Smith said. The wrong kind of snacks can also increase their risk of cavities. Fruit snacks like raisins contain a lot of sugar, while cheese and crackers are a better choice.
In the short time that hes been here, Smith has been impressed with the attentiveness of area parents.
They really care about the well-being of their kids, Smith said. We dont have a lot of failed appointments, and theyre very receptive about treatment. We want to make parents part of what we do, while ensuring a quality standard of care.
Arlington Pediatric Dentistry is located in Suite 201 of 3325 Smokey Point Dr. in Arlington. Its office hours are Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and its phone number is 360-657-1650.