At Armstrong Pediatric Dental, Dr. Susan Armstrong helps recognize the dignity of each child.
For many children, that first dental appointment can be a daunting experience; bright lights, new sounds and unfamiliar encounters can add up to major anxiety.
But at Moorestown’s Armstrong Pediatric Dental, every patient is treated with dignity and respect in a welcome and comforting environment. In an age where pediatric tooth decay is at an all-time high, getting children in that chair is vital.
Founded four years ago, the private pediatric dental practice is led by Dr. Susan Armstrong, a graduate of Creighton University School of Dentistry and mother of two. Armstrong previously obtained a bachelor of science degree in biology before studying dentistry in 2000; she then attended the highly selective Pediatric Dental Residency Program at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, where she achieved her post-doctoral training in pediatric dentistry.
“My philosophy has always been to reach the child at his or her level of understanding and recognize the unique dignity of each child,” says Armstrong. “With that in mind I show them the understanding and kindness I’d want for my own child. I get satisfaction by helping patients through what can be a tough situation.”
At Armstrong Pediatric Dental, the team uses techniques of “Show, Tell, Do” to explain to children just what’s happening during their treatment, taking the fear out of the situation through hands-on demonstration.
“It’s all in our attitude; going to the dentist doesn’t have to be scary or difficult,” she adds.
Dentists strive to let the child patient be a partner in the treatment. Instead of having something simply done to them, the “Show, Tell, Do” method empowers patients and makes them less afraid.
Typical patients range in age from less than a year up to 18 years old. It is recommended that children see a dentist within six months to a year of the eruption of their first tooth, and at least by the time they reach their first birthday, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
When in doubt, the sooner parents make an appointment the better, so dentists can provide counseling and help to establish good oral hygiene and healthy eating habits early.
Armstrong Pediatric Dental has a policy that allows parents to be in the room if they prefer during their child’s treatment, where they are equipped with guidelines and information that explains the psychology behind dental visits.
“Helping parents through that process is also a very important part of what we do; it can be difficult for parent as well,” says Armstrong. “I believe that makes us unique as a practice.”
Care for All
For patients with special needs, Armstrong and her team have received training to deal with each individual situation and challenge with understanding. Patients are given treatment in the office whenever possible; however, there are options to provide care at a surgical center, where children can receive significant treatment under general anesthesia.
“If patients have special needs, their cognitive abilities may be impaired to the point where you can’t have cooperation during dental treatment, which can be dangerous,” says Armstrong.
Each patient is treated as an individual and made to feel comfortable and cared for, she says.
The practice also sees teenagers, who have unique care needs as well. Dentists speak with teens in the practice about the dangerous of cigarette smoking, the importance of nutrition, and unexpected complications that can arise from lip or tongue piercings.
What should parents do?
Pediatric tooth decay has seen a recent surge in our country, now at a 40-year high for children younger than six. This is a serious issue that can create a source of pain, as well as psychological and emotional upheaval, dentists say.
What should parents do? Parents must make themselves more aware of the source of decay, be mindful of how much sugar their children are eating, and increase oral hygiene efforts early on, Armstrong says. Children should visit a dentist at least every six months for cleaning, too.
“Childhood decay is the most prevalent disease that children are facing right now in America—it’s also the most preventable, which is the irony,” Armstrong says. “Our goal in pediatric dentistry is to prevent this from happening.”
Armstrong Pediatric Dental
9 E. Main St.
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 4 (June, 2012).
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