When her son, Dillon, had serious dental issues, Monica Konrade knew where to turn — the pediatric clinic at the UMKC School of Dentistry.
“Dillon did not have proper enamel on his teeth, as it would flake off, so his risk for cavity and decay was much higher, and even with consistent care and cleaning at home he already needed four crowns at age 3,” Konrade said. “I knew this was going to be a long process from the beginning and wanted to be where he was going to be on the edge of options and treatments and still get the best care.”
The brightly decorated pediatric clinic is welcoming to all children, whether their dental needs are routine or out of the ordinary. With some area dentists donating their time, along with expert pediatric faculty supervising third-year DDS students and second-year hygienists, the staff is up for any challenges.
Konrade knew about the clinic because her parents brought her there when she was a child. Now when it’s time for Dillon’s checkup, she drives an hour and a half from her family’s home in Lebo, Kansas, and says it’s worth the trek.
“It was such a comfort as the students and professors assured me it was not lack of care or poor parenting, as I was feeling like a failure,” she said. “We were presented with a plan not just for treatment, but also for Dillon’s comfort and attention to his needs, to make sure seeing the dentist and getting these procedures would not be traumatizing.”
At the end of his latest visit, Dillon was all smiles. Though the clinic offers top-notch care all year, February is an especially fun time to visit. It’s Children’s Dental Health Month, during which the American Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile program promotes the benefits of good oral health to children and to their caregivers and teachers. This is the 15th year UMKC has participated in the program, which makes extra toys, story books and coloring exercises available for children.
“It’s always fun to get a prize after the appointment,” Konrade said. “This time he got more prizes.”
And Dillon deserved them for being a particularly patient patient.
“Sitting still for close to two and a half hours is a long time for a young child,” Konrade said, “so any extra incentive to be calm and still during treatment is wonderful.”
Third-year dental student Josh Wilhelm took care of Dillon on his latest visit and said he was a great patient.
The clinic gives Wilhelm and his classmates important experience in caring for children and interacting with parents. And though he isn’t considering going into pediatric dentistry at this point, Wilhelm enjoys the experience.
“It’s fun to be around patients who are excited to see the dentist,” he said. “That’s not always the case.”
Though getting Dillon the best care is why they come to the UMKC clinic, Konrade said, it is a nice bonus to help students.
She and her husband, Jason, both have medical education backgrounds, in nursing and physical therapy. As a result, she said, “We understand, from when it was our turn to practice our newly acquired skills, how valuable it is to have patients. We hope that the student doctors come away with just as much positive experience and growth as Dillon and I have.”
Find photos here.