"Most people develop dental phobias when they're young, and those fears follow them throughout their lives. So we try to make those first set of visits as welcoming and relaxing as we can."
—Dr. Jonathan Silva
Imagine puppets, sugar bunnies, dance partners and a treasure chest awaiting young dental patients.
Those fun aspects are just some of the varied benefits offered by Chesterfield Family Dentistry to encourage and envelope children in comfort during dental visits.
"Most people develop dental phobias when they're young, and those fears follow them throughout their lives. So we try to make those first set of visits as welcoming and relaxing as we can," Dr. Jonathan Silva, owner of Chesterfield Family Dentistry, says.
Dr. Jon knows a few things about motivating youths. He's been coaching youth sports, especially lacrosse, for many years. He enjoys time with his niece and nephew. Additionally, he literally grew up in the office of his father, Dr. Herbert Silva, who was a West St. Louis County area dentist for 40-plus years.
To counteract fear in kids during dental visits, Dr. Jon and his team incorporate a spectrum of interesting props and popular child figures to help communicate with young patients. Take, for example, their entertaining appeal through Sammy the Snake, a yellow and orange puppet with a tremendous toothbrush, who tells stories about what it's like for snakes to often be unsubstantially feared.
In the reception area, children can read about Curious George's first dental visit. Or, children can watch Peppa the Pig, Disney movies or sporting events.
Down the hall, patients hope to get their pictures on the wall through the practice's Cavity-Free Club.
Chesterfield Family Dentistry young patients can take home their "All-Star Brusher" certificate with stickers and kid-style brushes, because prevention is the best cure, reminds Dr. Jon. He says patients help decide whether popular characters, such as the Avengers or Disney princesses, are the best brushers.
"One of the most common questions I get from young patients is about what new prizes are in the treasure chest," Dr. Jon says.
He delights in explaining to youths that the best brushers are not ones who race through the process and finish first. "Everyone should brush for two minutes, twice a day. And they like to guess what those times should be," he adds.
He also offers floss threaders with animal holders.
After using a disclosing solution that reveals through purple or pink hues which teeth have been missed in brushing, children also can view photos of their mouth and be guided through how to reach those crucial spaces.
"Our rule of thumb is that until a kid can lace up their own high-tops and tie a double knot, their dexterity isn't good enough to thoroughly brush their teeth by themselves. So, we recommend they receive help through that period," Dr. Jon says.
His commitment to getting children to brush properly goes so above-and-beyond, he's developed a procedure that involves a rock 'n' roll-jiggle dance routine. "Because every tooth wants to dance," he jokes.
Chesterfield Family Dentistry patients also receive goodbye parties for teeth, after which Dr. Jon uses his magic wand to complete the deed.
To round out dental education, Dr. Jon tells young patients about the sugar bunnies—or sugar bugs—that linger in their mouth. As the tale goes, these creatures start as bunnies. The more they eat and grow, the more mess they make. He gets children to recognize that mess has only one place to go: in their mouths. Once they get good and grossed out, and intrigued, he shares that those bunnies can transform into bigger bugs, which only make bigger messes. Yuck. By that time, who wouldn't be reaching for a toothbrush and twice as much toothpaste?
In addition to youth dentistry, the practice handles family, general and cosmetic dentistry, plus dental emergencies. Dr. Jon says his hygienists and dental assistants can handle up to five siblings simultaneously, or some combination of family members, so multiple trips or waiting through back-to-back appointments may be avoided.
13463 Olive Blvd.
Dr. Jon Silva, owner of Chesterfield Family Dentistry, assures his practice's dental team focuses on positive reinforcement with children, seeking to encourage them and help them feel special. He says it's vital that a child's first dental visit is a nurturing, patient and friendly experience.