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Fun and Floss: Pediatric dentists bring new light to care

Video games, murals, DVD's to watch -- not what you necessarily think of when you have a toothache or need a cleaning. Welcome to the world of pediatric dentistry.

Thanks to improved technology and a focus on making kids fell comfortable, many children no longer dread a visit to the dentist's office. These days, pediatric dentists offer dental care in an environment that suits everyone from toddlers to teens.

Everything here, from our color scheme to our office furnishings, is meant to make children feel comfortable, emotionally and physically. Offices now have headphones with TVs, video games, books -- anything to ease a child's fears, said Dr. Nicole Byrne, D.D.S., of her new office in Wilton.

According to some pediatric dentists, establishing a sense of trust between the parent and the doctor is important to easing a child's apprehensiveness. Many parents agree.

"My experience with taking my children to Dr. Byrne's office has been absolutely wonderful because she understands children and always gets it right," said Wilton mom Nicole Rock whose two daughters who are patients of Byrne's.

Byrne said as a child she didn't even know pediatric dentists existed. She said that pediatric dentistry has evolved and grown tremendously over the past few years. As taught by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, or AAPD, Byrne said dentists are encouraged to emphasize the theory of comprehensive early intervention to avoid cavities.

"We now know that habits such as grazing (continually snacking throughout the day), overuse of the sippy cup and going to bed with a bottle can greatly increase a child's chance of cavities," said Byrne.

According to pediatric dentist Lawrence Kotlow, D.D.S, P.C., of Albany, pediatric dentists receive two years of additional training that specializes in children's oral health. Kotlow said in these two years, dentists learn how to detect abnormalities, how to work on children with disabilities, as well as the key components of early intervention. Kotlow said even though pediatric dentists now have more of a presence than ever before, he has actually been practicing for 32 years.

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