Building confidence starts with a smile

By KATE LUDLOW

From left are Stacy Rose, Dr. Diana Drvostep and Kristen Jordan of Austin Children’s Dentistry. (Photo by Kate Ludlow)

It was Diana Drvostep’s childhood dentist who first suggested that she follow in his career footsteps.

“I got interested in dentistry…In college, I was going to go into medical school and then I met with my dentist, I had been going to him for probably 25 years, and he said, ‘You know, I have got a better career for you. I started shadowing him, and I loved the relationship he was able to form with his patients.’”

Now the primary dentist at the newly-opened Leander location of Austin Children’s Dentistry, Dr. Diana, as her patients call her, is still working remove the fear from, in a child’s mind, one of the scariest places of all.

“My philosophy is, I want the kids to have an enjoyable experience when they come here. And a lot of times, they are definitely afraid when they walk in the door. Whatever I can do to make it easier for them. If they don’t want to sit in the dental chair, they can sit in my chair. I want them to have an amazing first visit, whether they have cavities or don’t have cavities and basically, build their trust,” said Dr. Diana.

The offices of Austin Children’s Dentistry are designed with kids in mind. A giant giraffe greets you as you walk up to the building, the fun, playful colors draw you in, and there are televisions to help keep children distracted during their exams. They offer memberships into the No Cavity Club, where patients  are rewarded for each cavity-free visit, and are entered into a drawing to win a PlayStation 3.

“It gives the kids motivation to stay cavity-free,” says Dr. Diana. “Kids get their first permanent teeth around the age of 6. You have to get them to understand that they’ll have to count on those teeth when they’re 80. Just reiterating the fact that it’s so important to take care of those teeth. They don’t understand that these are the teeth they’re going to have to have for 50-60 years. We try and make it fun for them.”

But more than treatment, Dr. Diana works with parents to educate them on the best ways to help their children prevent cavities.

“The main thing is if your child is going to drink juice or soda, or even milk, have it during meals. We don’t want kids sipping on sugary beverages throughout the day,” she said.

Dr. Diana also gives children tips for proper teeth brushing, including a fun way to ensure that kids are brushing for the right length of time.

“Have them brush for the length of a commercial,” she suggested.

During her residency at New York University, Dr. Diana was able to work with children with severe dental issues, who had lost their confidence as a result.

“I saw so many kids in my residency that had severe what we would call early childhood caries, or cavities, their front teeth are rotted out, basically. A kid comes in and they’re scared to smile. They’re ashamed to smile, because they don’t like the way their teeth look. Having the ability to fix those teeth and give a child a smile back is, I mean, it’s rewarding for me, but I also feel like the parent is grateful and the child is able to smile again.”

Her research project during her residency was entitled, “A Child’s Perception of a Smile and Its Social Implications.” Dr. Diana interviewed children ages 5-6 and showed them pictures of healthy teeth and a picture of children with lots of cavities.

“It was overwhelming the amount of children that didn’t want to be friends with the child that had all the cavities, just based on a smile, not seeing anything but the teeth,” she said.

It is issues like this that Dr. Diana works to prevent and treat daily at Austin Children’s Dentistry.

Dr. Diana understands the power of a smile.

“Growing up, I brushed my teeth all the time. My mom never had to tell me to do it. I always wanted clean, white teeth. Unfortunately, my teeth weren’t the straightest, and for about three years, I wore braces. I had very, what you would call, buck teeth. I was definitely ridiculed a little bit growing up, and that’s another reason why I truly believe that dentistry is such a great thing for kids. It really can help self-esteem and all those aspects,” she says.

She and her husband have three dogs, all of whom get weekly teeth brushing.

“Oh yeah, they have great teeth,” she said.

Dr. Diana earned her undergraduate degree from Villanova University in Pennsylvania before going to the University of Oklahoma for dental school. She is also a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association.

Dr. Diana is one of six dentists who work with Austin Children’s Dentistry at their locations in Leander, Austin, and Round Rock.

Dr. Diana works to keep a laid-back environment at her location in Leander. Though her patients have a hard time pronouncing her last name, she said even if her name was Smith, she’d still go by Dr. Diana.

“I want children to come here and have a great experience. I want to take away the fear. We put children first here,” she said.

For more information on Austin Children’s Dentistry, call (512) 220-2729 or visit www.austinchildrensdentistry.com.