Creating a Caring Place for Kids

By Janice Hussein, MBA, MS

World of Smiles Pediatric Dentistry in Portland, Oregon has an innovative approach to dentistry for children and families. They view families as partners and emphasize prevention through education. Their dentists—all board-certified in pediatric dentistry—take a holistic approach in their practice by looking at and treating the whole child.

Their practice atmosphere reflects their mission of treating children in the best possible environment: one that is fun, reassuring and relaxing. The waiting room features retro arcade machines, a massage chair for the parents, and a coffee and tea station. To reflect their theme of travel and adventure, each room is decorated with photos from other countries. They also have televisions mounted on the ceilings and big stuffed animals in the chairs.

World of Smiles offers children quiet exam rooms with bean bags and stuffed animals. For their visits, very young children sit on a parent’s lap and lay their head back into the doctor’s lap for what they call a lap-to-lap exam. During the exam, the dentist can then discuss and demonstrate good brushing and flossing practices and talk about any areas of concern with the parents. Children with cavities can have the traditional numbing and drilling (they prefer to say that they are “tickling out the sugar bugs”) or be treated with silver diamine fluoride.

World of Smiles recently opened a new “teen wing,” which is located just across the hallway from the original west Portland office. Once tweens and teens have all of their permanent teeth, they are “graduated” to this special section, where they can continue to enjoy all of the fun of a pediatric dental office but with more age-appropriate features. For instance, one of the dental rooms is decorated with pennants from universities around the United States. Another has musical instruments hanging from the ceiling and decorating the walls.

The teen office is focused on preventative care. In addition to cleanings, exams and sealants, office staff offers nutritional counseling and education on the dangers of tobacco and marijuana use. Patients who need major restorative care such as root canals and crowns are referred to other providers. Parents who want to be seen at the same time as their teens can make appointments for adult preventative dentistry.

“Education and prevention lead to healthy smiles and happy kids” is the practice motto, and it’s not hard to see why so many people leave the office with a big grin on their face.