Pediatric dentist opens own practice in McKinney
Chris Beattie/Staff Photo - Dr. Neil Dean examines a recent patient at Kids 1st Dental in McKinney. The pediatric dentist's office, which opened about two weeks ago, features waiting-area iPads, games and ceiling TVs above the operating chairs.
There's a new dentist in town, and he's got toys, TVs and specialty training.
Dr. Neil Dean, pediatric dentist, recently opened Kids 1st Dental off Eldorado Parkway in McKinney. After seven years working at general practices in Richardson and Irving, he is happy to have a place of his own - one youngsters desire, not dread.
"The office I worked in before was about 30 years old and stuff was kind of falling apart," Dean said. "I wanted to do things my way and have a state-of-the-art facility where I could make things easier on the kids and myself.
"So far, we haven't had any scared or freaked out kids...they walk inside and don't want to go home."
Technological nuances - digital radiography and patient records - ease Dean's job, while TVs on the ceiling above dental chairs, iPads and games in the waiting areas, and a varied prize wall comfort his patients. Because Dean is also on staff at Children's Medical Center Plano, more serious dental issues can be treated there, if need be.
Though late in the pediatric dentistry mini-blitz on the city, Dean said a more eastern location and inviting atmosphere sets Kids 1st apart. There was only one such office in McKinney a few years ago, but there are now several. Texas Pediatric Dentistry and Just For Kids are farther west near Custer Road.
"I'm a little closer to the heart of the city," Dean said. "When I saw this busy area, and the space became available, I jumped at it."
In the years preceding eight months of planning and construction, Dean gathered ideas for what he calls a "truly kid-friendly place." The office name has a double meaning: Dean pledges to put patients' needs and interests "1st," and says his operating chair is the "1st" place kids should go.
Pediatric dentists typically require two to three more years of post-doctoral dental training after attaining a dental degree. In the U.S., they're then eligible for board certification by the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. Dean received his specialty training at Baylor College of Dentistry and got board-certified in 2007.
Some general-practice or family dentists refer young patients to a pediatric dentist, who treat patients from 1 year old through adolescence. They focus on preventing tooth decay and other oral health issues that can worsen later.
"We look at more than just finding cavities here and there," Dean said. "We look at the growth and development of the jaw, missing or extra teeth, can make all of the appropriate referrals, and we do all of the orthodontic appliances."
What are the most pressing dental problems with today's kids? Sippy cups and bedtime glasses of milk.
"The main thing we see is people letting their kids drink a lot of juice - carrying around a little cup full of juice all day," he said. "Juice or milk - anything with sugar in it - causes cavities, and at night it's even worse because there's no saliva to wash the teeth off."
Though cavities are about 30 percent genetics, he said they can spread and quickly become a more dangerous issue. And sitting in the dentist chair isn't the worst that can happen to children who don't take care of their baby teeth.
"Dental-related pain may be the No. 1 reason kids miss school," he said. "There have been children who have died from dental infection."
Caution of such should fall on the parents, not their children. Dean is convinced that if children are to keep their teeth and mouths healthy, they need a reason to visit their dentist. And he's confident Kids 1st can be that reason.
Dean has treated about 40 patients over the past three weeks, many of whom came via word of mouth, Facebook publicity and/or the office's direct mail ads. Perhaps fillings, crowns and cleanings are more fun with toys and TVs.
"I think if you compare our office to others out there, this one is more technologically advanced and much more kid-friendly," Dean said. "We offer every facet of pediatric dentistry."