Cosmic Smiles for Kids: Initiating a Lifetime of Good Oral Health
Oct 31, 2012 07:24PM
● By Linda Sechrist
Eighteen years as a doctor of dental surgery has enhanced Tamara Robison’s natural talent for making her pediatric patients feel at home in a room full of intimidating equipment, as well as her gift of creating an instant rapport that elicits confidence and wide-mouthed smiles. When asked what enables her to connect so well, even with special needs children, the founder of Cosmic Smiles For Kids suggests that it may be patience, honed after graduating from the University of Washington and then working in the state’s public health system for children and her own private practice.
Robison initially chose a career in dental hygiene at the suggestion of an orthopedic physician that treated her injured knee after a downhill skiing accident in high school. “The accident proved to be the catalyst that led me to a chemistry teacher in dental hygiene school who pointed out that I had everything it takes to be a dentist. Thank heaven I followed their advice, which led me one step at a time to where I’m supposed to be,” says the native of Reno, Nevada, who believes that her young patients sense the love she has for her work, as well as her desire to have fun while doing it. “Kids know they can have fun with me and still respect the boundaries that I set for them,” notes the diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry.
Robison’s love of pediatric dentistry, which covers the years between infancy and adolescence, as well as her passion for prevention and oral health education, eventually led her to Nova Southeastern University, in Fort Lauderdale. “In my general dentistry practice in Seattle, I noticed that I was treating more children and felt that it was important to know everything there was about their particular needs, as well as about how to work with youngsters that have pervasive developmental disorders. I applied for acceptance into a two-year residency at Nova to become a specialist,” explains Robison, whose residency research project included working with obstetricians to provide prenatal counseling, which helps women achieve optimal health before the birth of their babies.
As an aspect of Robison’s patient education process and her community presentations to mothers’ groups, birthing centers and hospital education programs, she advises all parents about the potential for transferring bacteria in their mouth to their children via shared cups and eating utensils. “If a parent has a high level of gum disease or a lot of cavities and fillings, they can transfer the strain of bacteria that caused them to their child’s mouth. This simple act can put a child at risk for the remainder of their life,” says Robison.
Repetition and a slow introduction to dentistry is part of Robison’s formula for building trust with any child, especially those with special needs. “During their first visit, I give them an office tour. On their second visit, they get to sit in the chair while I talk to Mom about their sensitivities to light, touch and sound,” remarks Robison. For children with severe problems, Robison calls on her medical team for intravenous sedation.
“Building rapport takes time, but it’s well worth the investment, because it lays the important groundwork for a lifetime of oral health, which we now know is a vital part of preventive health care and wellness,” advises Robison.
Locations: 15495 Tamiami Trail N., Ste. 125, Naples, 239-263-4517; 40 S. Heathwod Dr., Bldg. B., Marco Island, 239-394-2270. Also visit CosmicSmilesForKids.com.