How a local dentist makes it kid-friendly, and kid-famous
story by Jennifer Colosimo • photos by Scott Rogers
It doesn’t take much more than a toddler emergency to get any fear of pediatric dentistry out of the way. Alisha Bradshaw explains how Dr. Thomas Weyrich handled her son Charlie’s emergency one weekend.
“When my son slipped and fell face-first into our hardwood floors one morning, I thought for sure he had damaged his teeth for good,” said Bradshaw. “But Dr. Tom offered to meet us at his office that afternoon, a Sunday, to check his teeth. We don’t always see him on Sundays, but that’s the trend of our experience with Dr. Tom. He and his staff go out of their way to make the visits kid-friendly, and take time to explain each procedure in a way that kids can understand and feel comfortable about.” Weyrich’s insistence on educating first, before treating, has made all the difference to numerous Gainesville families.
“The first time we visited the dentist, my kids were extremely nervous,” said Jodi Lawler. “But Dr. Tom and his staff are always extremely kind and patient, soothing each one with words in a calm fashion to ease their anxiety. Plus, they make it a fun experience for both of my kids.”
“He knows his stuff,” added Lawler’s son, Jones, 12. “I know that when we visit, it will not be scary, because he talks and explains why my teeth are the way they are.”
Jones admitted the video games in the waiting area don’t hurt either. Both Jones and his sister credit their good brushing to Dr. Tom’s teachings.
“Our office is an open environment, designed to be kid friendly and comfortable,” said Kristina Reagan, RDH. A hygienist with Weyrich for more than a decade, Reagan loves the way Weyrich has trained his staff to put kids first. “Kids can watch other kids doing certain things, and that helps them be brave. Dr. Tom talks directly to the them, and I think that’s important because the first experience at the dentist can either make or break a child. If you can win them over, it’ll progress into good dental habits for life.”
Reagan also explained that Weyrich is intentional about the time he spends with each child, first telling them what he’s going to do, then showing them what he’s going to do and then explaining every step as he does it. It makes a huge impact on a child to have that good, comfortable experience early on.”
“He will explain exactly what he is going to do, how it might feel and then asks if they understand before proceeding,” added Lawler. “After our first visit, I knew right away that we had found the pediatric dentist that was right for our family.”
It is beneficial that Weyrich makes his office a fun place to get your teeth taken care of, because establishing a good relationship between childhood and dentistry may lead to a future generation of healthier smiles.
“We do see that kiddos who start good home care early, for the most part, have fewer cavities,” said Weyrich. “If you can get in on the ground floor where they haven’t had bad experiences yet, or you know you can coach through that early developmental stage on how to brush, floss and take care of their smile, then you don’t have problems develop that can cause even bigger ones in the future.”
Weyrich opened his practice in the fall of 1996 with his wife, Jan. Their goal was to build a place to educate parents and children and remove the fear factor from the dentistry equation.
“If you can take a child who is afraid and explain to them in the simplest of terms that what they’re expecting to happen is probably not going to happen and alleviate their fear so that they know that it’s okay, well then you’ve given them the confidence to have great dental visits for the rest of their lives,” said Weyrich. “More so, I want parents to know that I will treat their child the way I would treat my own child; that way, I know I’m giving them the very best care I can, in the very best way I can give it to them.
“My goal is when you see me at Wal-Mart you wave and say hello, instead of running down the other aisle,” he added.
Many of Weyrich’s former patients now bring their own children in to see him.
“That’s probably the biggest compliment I can get.”
Thomas J. Weyrich DDS PC
697 Medical Park Lane NE
Gainesville, GA 30501
770.718.1800 • SmilesByDrTom.com
Open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.