Model Ashley Lerman has professionally followed in the footsteps of her dentist parents, but primarily because she loves working with her hands, is interested in the minor surgery aspect of dentistry, and because it includes a big passion of hers – preventing disease in children.
The public health and philanthropic aspects of pediatrics are what drives model Ashley Lerman and being able to address the disease before it has started via prevention. This includes teaching good habits and stopping the beginning of a problem, working with diet, behavior, expectant mothers, and new mothers. Being able to mediate a disease and retrain society as early as possible is Lerman’s life goal. It is preventing the need for disease-treating dentistry.
Lerman’s advice for parents is to speak to your pediatrician about teeth and go to the dentist by age one for a mouth structure check-up and to hear about dietary input and prevention theories. She urges you to keep popping in. “For example, sucking a thumb can affect the movement of teeth, and don’t think ‘well it’s just baby teeth.’ It also affects how the big teeth come in behind the baby teeth. Thumb sucking usually ends by age four, but there are degrees of it. Have a professional giving you advice, and don’t use Dr. Google,” says Lerman.
Dentistry And COVID-19
When COVID-19 slowly squeezed the world to a standstill, this included the dentistry industry. The industry was only allowed to perform emergency procedures, but what qualifies as an emergency is open to interpretation. Clear cases were patients in acute pain, abscesses, swelling, or excessive postoperative bleeding. A procedure that could be delayed for 30 days without causing any undue risk of harm to the patient was deemed non-essential.
The ‘squeeze’ has eased a bit, but the outcome is a considerable backlog. The waiting people often have painful afflictions and are on pain medication. It is imperative to get them off painkillers, especially the children. During the peak of COVID-19, this wasn’t easy.
“We are highly focused right now and working as fast as we can to get to everyone who needs help,” adds Lerman.
The Disneyworld Of Dentists
“I have a new job at a group pediatric dental practice in the Hudson Valley region. I am so excited, and I value it so much as it is so aligned with my values. I am so happy to be working with an amazing team,” beams Lerman. “It is a specialist, pediatric dental clinic with an amazing community focus and a team that is built around kindness and fun. It has been referred to as ‘the Disneyworld of dentists.’ In this clinic, they can teach me the business aspect of dentistry and guide me as I get my skills up to speed. The focus on making it fun for kids is massive; the kids literally see it as a play destination as they jump amongst bubbles awaiting their appointment slot. The level of expertise is world-class, as well. This overall combination makes it a dream job. I hope to see your kids at the clinic, starting with introductory visits from one year old.”
Preventing Potential Problems
Lerman adds, “Some patients travel over two hours to get to the clinic because their children love it, trust the staff, and they can get everything done in one visit. Unfortunately, there are instances when some kids only come in at age seven for their first dental visit. At that point, the teeth have already decayed away, and sadly those teeth have to go.” The pediatric dental practice ethos is like Lerman’s – prevention. The clinic sends out dental hygienists to teach tiny tots and parents, role-playing with dental hygiene stories.
“The clinic and my dental work are what gets me out of bed in the morning,” shares Lerman. “You will be shocked to know how many children need a dentist and don’t get to see one. Due to a lack of (dental hygiene) education, people today think that kids’ teeth are unimportant, ‘disposable’ baby teeth. Those teeth can last into a child’s early teens. They prepare the mouth for the second phase of teeth; they ‘set the stage.’ Having rotting teeth or removed teeth can be devastating for an 11-year-old. Imagine going through the chaos of puberty and being teased about broken black teeth. This will translate into behavioral issues, adverse social outcomes, and health issues.”
“Dentistry is a vital part of a holistic approach to health,” says Lerman. This is echoed in a report titled Psychosocial Impacts Relating to Dental Injuries in Childhood: The Bigger Picture by Helen Rodd (School of Clinical Dentistry, University of Sheffield, UK) and Fiona Noble Department of Paediatric Dentistry, Charles Clifford Dental Hospital, Sheffield, UK). It states that “society (including other children) often judge poorly those with obvious dental disease or anomaly, and with the rising use of social media, these judgments can be made by even greater audiences. There is currently a lack of qualitative research on this topic to explore the [full] negative psychosocial impacts of dental trauma in greater detail. However, there is growing evidence for the benefit of treatment in improving children’s wellbeing” who have suffered dental disease.
With superheroes like Lerman fighting for the health of children, there is a lot to look forward to. In the interim, it is “To Infinity And Beyond!”