Pediatric Dental Associates: Orthodontics and Dentistry for Children has made it their business to calm young children’s fears, educate families on oral hygiene, and consequently, to create informed and responsible patients that feel safe and comfortable at the dentist.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Drs. Robert Chen and Lotus Su, the proprietors of Pediatric Dental Associates. Though the office itself has been operating for over thirty years, this husband and wife team took over the practice in 2008. They have made the education, well-being, and welfare of children their mission.
On my way into the office I ride the elevator with a family with several children ranging from about eight to eighteen. The mother, responding to a statement I make about this being my first time here says, “You’re going to like it here. They’re really great.”
The lobby feels fresh and open. The front desk staff is courteous and pleasant. Most telling, though, is this same family at the counter. The younger children talk or watch the movie playing. The eldest son discusses graduation plans with his mother and the receptionist. Everyone is cheerful and friendly. Absent is the nervousness, the quiet anxiety that usually haunts the waiting room of a dentist office.
A moment later, Dr. Chen comes out to meet me, and we sit down to chat, and soon, Dr. Su joins us as well. The comfortable atmosphere I am noticing is no accident. Dr. Chen and Dr. Su have made it their goal to cater to dentistry’s most fearful patients, and they do it well. So well, in fact, that, as Dr. Chen explains, “Typically, dentists will send [us] kids that they are not able to manage or kids who have fear of dentistry.” More than just referral of the most frightened kids, “other dentists bring their kids to be seen by us, other dental staff members bring their kids to our office: this all speaks volumes to how much trust they put in our hands, to take care of their kids.”
Utilizing years of honed experience and technique, the staff is familiar and comfortable handling anxious children. The doctors explain that for many kids, a “tell, show, do” method is very effective. Dr. Chen clarifies, “We tell the kids what’s going to happen, we show them what’s going to happen, then we do the work so they know what’s going to happen before it happens.” Dr. Su continues, “Every kid is different. Some kids cooperate really well. Some are just so terrified. It’s rewarding when you see one kid overcome that fear and become better and better each time.”
Quelling the fear of the very young is only the beginning, however. Dr. Chen tells me, “By focusing on pediatric dentistry, we are able to influence kids. We help them form good habits about being responsible for themselves, not just dentistry. We also help them form good habits about being able to speak up, if they have any concerns. We help them with communication.” At Pediatric Dental Associates, the intent is also to educate, to grow young patients into informed adults who know how to manage and participate in their care.
Infants begin their dental education with the first tooth. Dr. Chen explains that, rather than waiting until age five for the first dentist appointment, now, “The recommended guideline is when the first tooth comes in or by age one—whichever is earliest.” At one, most kids are not going to be forming dental habits, but their parents will certainly be creating the foundation. “It’s not necessarily just taking care of teeth,” Dr. Chen explains, “Basically, we give counseling to the parents. A lot of first time parents, they do not know how to deal with kids having teeth coming in so they usually come in here with a lot of questions.” From brushing to diet, Drs. Su and Chen ensure that parents are prepared to provide their infants with proper dental care from the start. They even speak with local pediatricians to coordinate dental advice.
Pediatric Dental Associates also specializes in serving special needs individuals and perform cleft palate surgeries with an anesthesiologist. They also visit schools and provide tours for field trips at the office. More than just an orthodontist and pediatric dentist, Drs. Chen and Su are devoted to working with kids. Dr. Su sums it up: “The main thing is, it’s fun working with children. I do enjoy the experience and want them to have a positive experience each time.”
The results of their diligence and dedication is already becoming apparent. Those terrified kids are growing into capable adults. Dr. Chen cheerfully says, “We even have teenagers who are able to make their own appointment, know what’s going on, they’re able to schedule things, they are able to drive here themselves, take care of things. We’re really proud of that.”
6015 – 100th Street SW
Lakewood, WA 98499