Kids Having Fun at the Dentist

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By Rowan Cech

Dr. Joseph Lopez gets his little patients laughing. Photo by Rowan Cech.
Dr. Joseph Lopez gets his little patients laughing. Photo by Rowan Cech.
I knew from the moment that I stepped into Dr. Joseph Lopez’s practice, that this was something new and different. It was everything that I wish my childhood dentist could have been. From the entertaining and colorful pictures on the bright happy walls to the teddy bears just waiting for cuddles from playmates, this is the perfect place to bring your kids.

An inviting and friendly front desk with open views to the cleaning stations keeps parents feeling comfortable too. Photo by Rowan Cech.
An inviting and friendly front desk with open views to the cleaning stations keeps parents feeling comfortable too. Photo by Rowan Cech.

Let’s start from the beginning. When I was asked to profile a dentist, I thought to myself, there really can’t be anything more boring and dull than this. Isn’t all that they do is just stick annoying metal things in your mouth and tell you everything that you have been doing wrong? But after visiting and spending some time chatting with Dr. Lopez, my mind was quickly changed. Going to the dentist at Alexandria Pediatric Dentistry is actually quite a bit fun.

Splashes of color and bright design are examples of a modern approach at Alexandria Pediatric Dentistry. Photo by Rowan Cech.
Splashes of color and bright design are examples of a modern approach at Alexandria Pediatric Dentistry. Photo by Rowan Cech.
Splashes of color and modern design are examples of a modern approach at Alexandria Pediatric Dentistry. Photo by Rowan Cech.[/caption]The space is filled with splashes of bright, cheerful colors that just make you smile as you walk in. Okay, so maybe that one kid who hates the dentist won’t smile right away, but once he sees all of the stuffed animals and toys waiting to be played with, it’s really hard to resist. But best of all, and I think all dentists should have this, Dr. Lopez has set up TVs on the ceiling above the cleaning chairs so that kids can watch compelling Disney movies while getting their teeth cleaned. I almost wanted to stay and get my teeth cleaned just so I could hold a stuffed animal and watch Despicable Me 2
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One of the main things that Dr. Lopez likes to focus on is making sure that the parent is comfortable and feels like their child is in good hands. Especially when it is a new parent. To do this, the cleaning room is a large open space so parents can sit in on the check up with their kids, and also learn new things on how to keep those teeth looking good. This helps the parents relax and overall create a more calm and casual environment. And I mean, let’s not forget that there are teddy bears, because really, who doesn’t like those? Also Alexandria Pediatric Dentistry is a bilingual practice where Spanish is also spoken, which comes in handy since there is a significant Latino population in the Alexandria area.

Some of you are probably reading this and thinking well this sounds all well and good, but what is exactly is a pediatric dentistry and how is it any different from a regular dentist? Well instead of me looking something up that might be wrong, here is what Dr. Lopez says, “A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.”

Dr. Joseph Lopez had to study extra years after his regular dentistry degree to be able to specialize in children.  Photo by Rowan Cech.
Dr. Joseph Lopez had to study extra years after his regular dentistry degree to be able to specialize in children. Photo by Rowan Cech.
Now for a little bit about Dr. Joseph Lopez. When I asked him why he chose dentistry, his first response was actually not what I expected, “I was never that kid at four years old saying, hey I want to be a dentist.” But he changed his mind during grad school at George Washington University when he got to learn more about dentistry through shadowing some of his colleagues. At one point he told me, “I was looking for my own little niche,” which turned out to be dentistry. Before coming to the Alexandria area, Dr. Lopez studied at the University of Pittsburgh. Different opportunities over 10 years led him here to Alexandria and eventually the opening of Alexandria Pediatric Dentistry a little under a year ago.

Bright colors and space-age furniture with tvs on the ceilings makes going to a vist to Dr. Lopez a true adventure!  Photo by Rowan Cech.
Bright colors and space-age furniture with tvs on the ceilings makes going to a vist to Dr. Lopez a true adventure! Photo by Rowan Cech.
So why should you choose Alexandria Pediatric Dentistry? Well first and foremost, as the doctor said himself, they are honest. If something is wrong he will make sure that the parent understands what is going on, then help fix the problem. “While we may be an authority in the field, I feel like we should come down to a level where you can easily distribute and summarize that information so that the parents can more easily understand and appreciate the help.” Another thing that Alexandria Pediatric Dentistry offers is up to date technology. This allows for better work to be done. But overall Dr. Lopez wants to create a stimulating and comfortable environment to keep those teeth in perfect shape!
Alexandria Pediatric Dentistry is located at 3223 Duke St in Alexandria VA, 22314.