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Pediatrics

Why Dental Care is a Concern

Gillette pediatric dentist, David Collier, DDS and dental assistant Missy Ness help Esther keep her teeth healthy.

Gillette pediatric dentist, David Collier, DDS and dental assistant Missy Ness help Esther keep her teeth healthy.

The Gillette Children’s dental team is busier than ever providing specialty dental care for children who have disabilities.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Oral disease is the top unmet health issue for children who have special needs. It can be a struggle for parents of children who have a disability to find good dental care because many places are not properly equipped to care for children who have cerebral palsy, epilepsy, craniofacial issues and other health concerns.

The dental clinic at Gillette is one of only three facilities in the metro area that is specially equipped to serve patients who have disabilities. In a typical year the Gillette dental clinic has close to 3,000 appointments.

Krissy Plasch is the manager of Gillette's ambulatory care. 

Krissy Plasch is the manager of Gillette's ambulatory care. 

The need is great

Gillette’s dental clinic fills a gap in dental and orthodontia care because many of the patients are medically complex and that makes it difficult to access care from community dentists. The Gillette team includes dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, and orthodontists who have in-depth knowledge of the dental issues facing patients who have disabilities. Gillette also has a team of specially trained pediatric anesthesiologists and on-site operating rooms for more complex dental surgery.

In addition to the expert staff, the Gillette dental clinic also has custom equipment and special facilities to help patients be as comfortable as possible during a dental procedure. “We have space so our patients can stay in their wheelchairs when they receive treatment,” ambulatory care manager, Krissy Plasch, says. “We have ceiling lifts in two of the treatment rooms. We have weighted blankets and stabilization boards to help our more anxious patients,” she adds.

Gillette dental assistant, Missy Ness, helps Henry with a check-up. The Gillette dental clinic has special bays so patients can remain in their wheelchairs or strollers during examinations. 

Gillette dental assistant, Missy Ness, helps Henry with a check-up. The Gillette dental clinic has special bays so patients can remain in their wheelchairs or strollers during examinations. 

Safely serving patients

A great deal of planning and work has gone into making sure the dental clinic has the safety measures in place to keep everyone as safe as possible from COVID-19. At the start of the COVID pandemic, the Gillette dental clinic was closed for more than three months. The closure prompted a backlog of patients needing appointments. The recent hiring of two new contract dentists is helping to get the dental program back on track and to ensure Gillette can serve as many patients as possible.

“From the hygienists, to the dental assistants, to the dentists, everyone on the dental staff has the patient’s interests at heart,” Plasch says. “We’re evaluating our workflows and want to see as many patients as we can. We know the wait to see our dental team can seem long, but we know it’s worth the wait!”

Dental assistant Missy Ness praises Esther for taking good care of her teeth.

Dental assistant Missy Ness praises Esther for taking good care of her teeth.

Comfort for children

“Gillette is doing everything it can to ensure proper safety measures are in place,” Plasch says.

The new safety measures include a ventilation system to ensure negative air flow to help contain the possible spread of COVID-19 and other airborne pathogens. Negative air flow means lower air pressure allows outside air into a room and any air that flows out of the room passes by a filter. Exam areas are, of course, thoroughly cleaned but now the rooms are left empty for at least 30 minutes after a dental procedure to ensure safety.

Gillette still allows a parent to accompany a patient to their dental appointment. “We know parents are a comfort to their child when they’re going through something like a dental appointment,” Plasch says. “At Gillette we also have the benefit of having a member of our child-life team help ease stress during an appointment. This helps everyone feel more relaxed.”

“Our dental clinic staff is eager to help patients,” Plasch adds.  “We want to make sure everyone’s dental care is great!”

Do these symptoms sound familiar? Our 30-minute consult appointment could help get answers.

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