When Dr. Tonya Smith opened her pediatric dental office in May 1999, she permanently filled her dance card. Every month, more than 500 patients ages 1-18 swivel in and out of Smith’s chair.
Right now, six staff members work for Smith, and in November, the Pediatric Dental Clinic will move into a 4,000-SF facility at Fayetteville’s new Commerce Park, down the street from it’s current 2,500-SF location.
In the new office, Smith will see patients in nine chairs rather than the existing five. Business is so good that the doctor has begun searching for a partner to share the load.
Young patients offer different challenges than adults, Smith said. Calming a fearful child can be difficult. Smith uses a “show and tell” game to help anxious children become familiar with the tools and surroundings of a dentist’s office. Brightly colored rooms that have television sets mounted on the ceilings also help make visits easier for youngsters.
Smith worked as a dental hygienist for six years before returning to dental school at the University of Tennessee in Memphis. There, she studied general dentistry for four years and pediatric dentistry for two.