Not many children get excited to visit the dentist, but for five local siblings, excited and enthusiastic are exactly what they are for their bi-annual check-ups with Elizabeth Bortell, DDS, Director of Pediatric Dentistry at Children’s Hospital of Richmond. In fact, 10-year-old Rachel said, “when mom says we have to get up early to go see Dr. Bortell, I say ‘yeah.’”
Sherri, mother of the children ages five to 14, brought her kids to Dr. Bortell in 2001, shortly after Dr. Bortell joined the hospital’s medical staff. Sherri, who has been bringing her children to the dentist every six months since they were toddlers, was dissatisfied with her existing dentist because he wanted to restrain then three-year-old Brenna while treating her seven cavities. Sherri said the dentist’s cold bedside manner – he told Sherri’s oldest daughter to stop crying after he pulled seven impacted teeth at once - also was cause for concern. When she saw an article in TidBits, Children’s Hospital of Richmond’s family newsletter, announcing Dr. Bortell’s arrival, she verified that the hospital participated in her insurance plan and made appointments for everyone.
“She talked to me and explained everything,” Sherri recalled of her first visit with Dr. Bortell. “And when Brenna had seven cavities [caused by drinking too much juice], she did not make me feel bad about that.”
Growing the Practice
Prior to Dr. Bortell’s arrival, Children’s Hospital of Richmond’s Pediatric Dental Program only treated patients up to age 13 unless the child had cerebral palsy, Down’s Syndrome, autism or some other medical issue that required special dental care. Today the program treats children through age 21 and in January added a second dentist, Deepa Simon, DDS, to focus on the pre-adolescent and adolescent population, a group Dr. Bortell refers to as “the most underserved population in Richmond.” Working in the clinic four days a week, Dr. Simon will focus on everything from basic cleanings to more complex procedures such as root canals, bridges, crowns and partial dentures.
Children’s Hospital of Richmond’s Pediatric Dental Program provides comprehensive services ranging from standard pediatric practices (regular checkups, cleanings and x-rays) to complex procedures such as dental surgery. Services are available for the well-child as well as the child with special needs. With a two-dentist practice, Children’s Hospital of Richmond expects to double its patient volume and treat up to 3,000 patients in clinic and 620 patients in surgery each year. For children with special medical needs, surgery is often the only way to conduct a bi-annual cleaning. In other cases, surgery can be the best way to pull teeth or complete extensive dental work for an otherwise anxious child.
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