Have you ever wished you could sit down and get a one-on-one with your child’s pediatric dentist in Philadelphia?
Well, you’re about to get the closest thing to it! This summer, Penn Dental Family Practice is pleased to welcome Dr. Ellie Kwon to our Main Line Practice. She took the time to sit down with us and tell us about herself and her work as a children’s dentist.
Dr. Kwon: I’m originally from South Korea. When I was a child, my family moved all the way to sunny southern California, where I later attended dental school at University of the Pacific. Later on, I moved to Philadelphia with my husband, during which time I worked for a family dentist. I realized over and over that my favorite patients were children, so I decided to pursue a pediatric dental specialty in New York. As a pediatric dentist in Philadelphia, I go into work every day with the excitement of making brighter smiles for my patients, one child at a time!
Dr. Kwon: I was a very active, energetic child, which sometimes got me into trouble! One day I was running around the pool and ended up with a chipped upper front tooth. My parents took me to an amazing pediatric dentist, who fixed the tooth and managed to keep me relaxed and entertained throughout the procedure. This experience really shaped me, because from that point onward I was never afraid of visiting the dentist’s office.
I wanted to be a dentist because I discovered that I could make a difference in patients’ lives. While I was working as a general dentist, I got a lot of joy out of working with children, and this led to my decision to pursue specialized care for children. As a family dentist, I saw patients of all ages. Now, I treat children and patients with special needs.
Dr. Kwon: Pediatric dentistry is a unique combination of behavior management and dental procedures. It’s also distinct from other branches of dental medicine because of the nature of baby teeth. Baby teeth move, change position, and are eventually replaced by permanent teeth. A pediatric dentist must understand a child’s development and the special characteristics of baby teeth, which are smaller and more fragile than adult teeth.
The most rewarding part of working with children for me is having the opportunity to play an important role in their childhood. I try to establish a friendship and a sense of trust with each patient so they feel comfortable in my office. Very young patients can have trouble verbalizing what they are and aren’t comfortable with. My goal is to help them overcome their fear and ensure that they stay comfortable throughout their appointment.
Dr. Kwon: The biggest change I’ve seen in pediatric dentistry through the years is that it continues to become more scientific and evidence-based. There have also been exciting new innovations in treatment, with new materials being used for full coverage crowns, like zirconia crowns. Another great example is fluoride, which can be placed on a cavity to slow down its growth. This is a real help when you have a patient who can’t tolerate the dental treatment required for a cavity. It buys the child time, essentially, so they can wait until they’re older to get the cavity treated.
Over the years, we’ve also seen changes in the way that parents manage the behavior of their children. Parents are more concerned. They really don’t want to see their child in a fearful or stressful environment. So, our job is to make sure that we provide the most comfortable environment for our patients. No matter what we do, there will be patients who react with fear. But, we strive to do our best to help them ease into the appointment and take the time to talk to parents so they know what to expect. It’s very important to us to evaluate what’s best for each child and discuss that with their parents.
Dr. Kwon: I think of my work as playtime with my young patients. I have a wonderful time getting to know them and learning about what they like and don’t like. Each one becomes my new friend as soon as they walk through the door! I also enjoy talking to parents and keeping them involved in their child’s appointment. The appointment can often be as important for the parent as it is for the child because they learn how to better coach their children on good oral hygiene. I feel excited to go to work each day because I know I can make a positive impact on my patients.
Dr. Kwon: I cannot stress enough the importance of prevention for children. Establishing early, frequent visits to dental office will help patients and parents gain more dental health awareness and prevent many problems from ever developing in the first place. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends scheduling your child’s first dental visit by the time the child turns one. Early intervention and the participation of parents in their child’s oral hygiene reduces risk for cavities and gum disease.
As a pediatric dentist, I am here to provide individualized attention and care for each patient. I’m glad to answer all the parents’ questions because this is such an important part of pediatric dentistry. I hope families can feel comfortable visiting me so we can start discussing the optimal care that will help to prevent dental disease for a lifetime.
Dr. Kwon: I am actually a patient of Penn Dental Family Practice myself! For as long as I’ve been a patient, I’ve always been impressed with the practice. It’s at the heart of one of the best dental schools in the country and constantly stays abreast of the most recent research in evidence-based dentistry. All the practitioners here are extremely knowledgeable and the staff is very caring. We also have doctors working in every specialty, which makes it easy for patients to seek help for complex treatment issues that require the input of multiple specialties. I would recommend PDFP to anyone who is seeking quality dental care. I wanted to work in this office because I enjoyed my experience as a patient. So, I’m very happy to be a part of the team!
Dr. Kwon: Yes, we’re opening new office in Berwyn soon. It will have state-of-the-art equipment and technology to support the most current treatment methods. Like at our other locations, the Main Line office will offer a wide range of dental disciplines. It will also be a family care clinic, which means that we can address the issues that crop up at the different stages of a patient’s life. For example, as my patients grow up they might consider getting braces, or they may need to remove their wisdom teeth as young adults. Patients can receive all these types of specialized care in one location. We’re thrilled by this opportunity to serve our patients in Berwyn and the surrounding area and can’t wait to meet the community!
Dr. Kwon: My two favorite things are dogs and traveling. I love watching dog grooming videos and jogging by the dog park. I also enjoy travelling with my husband and hope to visit all the continents someday!
Dr. Kwon: First and foremost, that prevention is the main goal when treating children. Dental decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood, and it is preventable. Also, dental habits and diet are two of the strong predictors of future dental health.
I hope to have the opportunity to talk with parents about how to prevent dental diseases at their child’s dentist appointment. I want every child to get the care they need and to enjoy their experience at my office. My goal is for patients to feel excited about coming back to see me in the future. Giving our patients a positive perspective on dental care will have lifelong effects on their dental health.
Have you scheduled your child’s first dentist appointment yet? Has your child had the chance to see a local dentist this year? If you’ve answered “no” to either of these questions, then now’s the time to act! Bringing your child to the dentist is one of the most important steps you can take to secure a healthy future.
You can schedule your child’s appointment with a pediatric dentist in Philadelphia at PDFP on the Main Line by calling our office at 215-898-7337!