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Childrens dentist makes visits more fun

New clinic offers cartoons, games to keep kids calm


by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Dr. Brandon Schwindt is a big fan of making the dentist visit as fun as possible at his new clinic, Kona Kids, in Tigard.On an average day, Brandon Schwindt treats 40 or 50 children.

They are all ages: newborns, middle-schoolers and teenagers.

Many come for regular cleanings, others need braces or surgery.

The pediatric dentist has operated his clinic, Dr. Brandon - Dentistry for Children and Teens off Southwest Durham Road for nearly a decade, but recently moved his Hawaiian-themed children’s dentistry practice to a larger clinic with a new name and room to grow.

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Persia Bowman inserts tokens into a toy machine at Kona Kids. Patients with good behaviour earn tokens during their visit to the dentist.The new clinic, Kona Kids Dentistry, opened in March, and the response from the community has been great, Schwindt said.

So great in fact, that Schwindt plans to add additional doctors within the next year.

“If I do my job right, (kids) aren’t getting hurt, and there are prizes involved,” he said. “If we can make the dentist fun from age 3 to age 6, then if they do get a cavity at age 6, we have that rapport built up, and we can use that to make it easier for that filling.”

Putting kids at ease is important for pediatric dentists, Schwindt said.

“It’s about 80 percent psychology,” he said. “A lot of kids have fears of the dentist, and it starts at an early age.”

Schwindt admits even he gets uncomfortable when he goes into his regular exams and cleanings.

“There are a lot of sharp, scary looking things coming right at your face,” he said. “That’s the hurdle we have to get over for kids.”

To help kids feel more at ease, he put television sets in the ceilings that play cartoons, keeps parents close for moral support and hides as many of the “scary” tools as he can.

“When I was 7 years old and went to the dentist, all the tools were right there,” he said. “They were these myriad of hooked things. We take all that away unless we need them. Except for a mirror, all the other stuff is hidden.”

The walls are lined with iPads and other gaming consoles for youngsters to play with while they await their turn.

Schwindt’s two sons, ages 2 and 4, helped pick the iPad games and other amenities.

“They’re my market research team,” Schwindt joked.

‘Knew there was a better way’

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Dr. Brandon Schwindt, checks the teeth of Persia Bowman. Kona Kids is a kid-friendly dentist office that opened off Southwest Durham Road in March.Schwindt’s new practice is the latest in a host of child-friendly dentists who have popped up throughout the area in the past several years.

There are a handful of pediatric dentists in Tigard and Tualatin, and several others in Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Wilsonville and Sherwood.

“Some cities only have one or two, but we have plenty here,” Schwindt said.

Schwindt credits the large number of pediatric dentists in Portland with the training program at Oregon Health & Science University hospital and Pacific University.

Schwindt said even in dentistry school in the early 2000s, teachers were telling dentists to treat youngsters like any other patients.

“The way you fix kids’ teeth, they said, is to hold kids down and drill out until you’re done. I knew there was a better way,” he said.

Cavities in children aren’t uncommon, Schwindt said. About a dozen patients each month have as many as 20 cavities in their mouths.

“They say that 40 percent of kids will have a cavity before they reach kindergarten,” he said.

That’s mostly due to a lack of education, he said.

“There are foods available today that weren’t there for the last 100 years, and they are putting sugar in everything, from ketchup to bread and everything else,” he said. “Once we get kids on a good diet, and drinking milk or water and not juice or chocolate milk, that will do a lot for kids.”

As children get older, they take their experiences of the dentist with them, Schwindt said.

“If someone is 19 and they have a great experience at the dentist, that’s something they will carry through forever versus a person who has to be put under whenever they visit the dentist because they are so scared.”

That idea of creating a peaceful atmosphere is what led Schwindt to open his Hawaiian-themed practice in the first place.

“It’s a surf shop,” he said. “It gets people away from thinking about dentistry.”

Kona Kids Dentistry is located at 1145 S.W. Summerfield Drive in Tigard.




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