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Community Kids Dental Coming Soon

Thousands of kids in the Rutland region were left without a dentist last year when a pediatric dentist retired. Community Health recognized the gap in care and immediately began plans to expand the health center’s dental practice to offer pediatric dentistry. Community Kids Dental will begin scheduling patients in the fall.

Dental Practice Manager Ellen Seaver is overseeing the hiring of staff and construction of the kid-friendly facility which will be located at 69 Allen Street, Suite 7, right below Community Dental’s current general dentistry practice.

“From designing the layout of the office to picking out cabinets, doors and even what type of handles go on the cabinets,” Seaver said. “Every little detail is well thought out and executed. When thinking back to where we started with bare bones to an office that is almost finished, the transformation has been incredible to watch. I will breathe a sign of relief when the office is complete, and we can start treating the kids of our community!”

The first hire for the new practice is pediatric dental hygienist Heather Bertrum, who found her dream job at Community Dental. A recent transplant from Connecticut, Bertrum has practiced adult and pediatric dental hygiene for the past ten years. It’s been her passion to find a full-time position in pediatrics.

“I’m excited to be part of this from the beginning,” she said. “We want kids to have Community Kids Dental as their dental home.”

Pediatric dentistry focuses on dental development, care of teeth, gums and mouth and prevention of decay, disease and injuries.

“At the dentist, patients spend a lot of time with the hygienist, and we get to know a lot about you,” Bertrum said. “Not just about brushing – we know your dog’s name! And we build a relationship. The dental home to me means having that place where you feel comfortable to ask questions and be treated for preventative or emergency care, somewhere that you feel comfortable with the dentist and staff and hygienist, and they know you and you know them.”

Bertrum said dealing with children takes special consideration. “When I am speaking with a kid there are certain words I won’t use. I want to eliminate the fear and anxiety. I try to keep terms simple, make sure it’s a fun experience so they will look forward to coming back,” she said. And depending on the age of the child, the hygienist will adjust her approach.

If it’s the first visit or a toddler Bertrum said she could do “lap-to-lap” or “knee-to-knee” where the child sits facing their parent and can see the parent at all times, but they are reclined on her lap and the parent holds their hands. The hygienist will review the child’s oral hygiene, dietary practices, perform a thorough cleaning and answer any questions the parent may have.

The hygienist and dentist work together to identify problem areas as a child grows and teeth develop. They share with parents how important baby teeth are for future oral health. “A lot of what I do is to educate,” Bertrum said, “So if I am seeing that their teeth are touching, I’ll explain to the patient and their parent why and how to floss.”

For young adults, the hygienist helps adolescents keep their teeth and gums healthy – especially those in braces – and makes sure they keep brushing and cleaning in between teeth correctly. Some will need to come for a cleaning with an ultrasonic scaler every three months to remove tarter build up or prevent gum issues. The hygienist would be able to spot problem areas and teach the child how to best clean in between teeth when wearing braces.

Building relationships is important as the child grows. “If something happens, such as, they are playing a sport and need to be treated for a dental emergency, they have a place to go where they feel comfortable. They have that place to go not just for emergencies,” Bertrum said.

“I polish their teeth, and if there is any tarter I will scale that, we’ll floss, rinse and review any brushing or flossing recommendations,” she said. “The doctor will come in for a further exam. After the dentist, we put the fluoride treatment on. Their favorite part is when they get their goodie bag and prize.”

As the final touches are being put in place, Community Kids Dental will soon be addressing a need in the community with new office space and a staff dedicated to helping children.

“It’s going to have bright colors, child-friendly graphics, fun scenes, very kid friendly,” Bertrum said. “A fun place for them to go” and Grow Up Smiling at Community Kids Dental.

We’ll be accepting appointments in September, so watch our website for details.

Heather Bertrum, a licensed dental hygienist, holds an Associate in Science degree in Dental Hygiene from Tunxis Community College. Since graduation in 2010 she has worked as a pediatric and general adult dental hygienist with practices in Connecticut. She has also been a volunteer for Connecticut’s Inner City Dental Mission and Mission of Mercy, as well as Healing the Children Dental Mission in Guatemala.

Community Health is Vermont’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), a network of primary care, pediatric, behavioral health, dental and pharmacy services with offices in Rutland, Brandon, Castleton, West Pawlet and Shoreham. Community Dental offices are located in Rutland and Shoreham, Community Health Pediatrics is in Rutland and Behavioral Health services are available at all of our locations. Community Health Express Care Centers, open 7 days a week, are located at the Rutland and Castleton Community Health Centers. For career opportunities at Community Health’s network of health care services, check our Career Center.

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