Top Dentists 2010
Our annual roundup of the Valley’s top dentists — as rated by their peers
(page 4 of 5)
Dr. Geri-Lynn Waldman, Dolson Avenue Dental
75 Dolson Ave., Middletown 845-342-1533
Practicing dentistry: 8 years
Dental school: Columbia University, followed by a two-year pediatric residency at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Memorable patients: “It’s always rewarding when a child who’d had a negative dental experience somewhere else comes to me, and everything turns out fine. The other day I had a nine-year-old boy like that. But he did so well with us that he even told his mom it was okay for her to leave the treatment room. And he gave me a thumbs-up, too, when I’d ask how he was doing with the procedure. When I can turn someone around who’s been afraid, that’s very satisfying.”
Out-of-the-office life: When she’s not treating a young patient, you might find her buying pet food (“I’m a big animal lover; we have three dogs, four chinchillas, and fish”) or traveling with her two children. “Our favorite spots are Vermont, the Bahamas, and skiing in Colorado.”
Geri-Lynn Waldman, D.D.S. on Pediatric Dentistry
“A large part of being a pediatric dentist actually involves educating parents,” says Dr. Geri-Lynn Waldman, who specializes in treating young patients.
“Many parents don’t realize that children should first visit the dentist when they’re as young as age one,” says Waldman. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, in fact, recommends an initial visit when a child’s teeth first break through, or by their first birthday, she says.
Waldman admits her tiniest clients can be a challenge. “We don’t expect much from them at age one,” she laughs. “Sometimes they won’t even open their mouth. But you’d be surprised — some two-year-olds are better than adults about it all.”
On these earliest visits, Waldman will check the tot’s teeth and gums, and discuss with parents topics like baby’s proper oral hygiene, nutrition, sucking habits, effects of bottle or breast-feeding on teeth, and methods to prevent future dental problems.
“But the biggest thing we try to do is make their visit fun,” she says. “As a pediatric dentist, we have two extra years of training in dealing with children. So just creating a pleasant environment, and talking things through with them, really helps,” she says.
To that end, Waldman’s young patients get an extra dose of TLC. The office itself is kiddie friendly. Treatment rooms at the Orange County facility contain colorful murals — an ocean scene with fish and leaping porpoises, a jungle with monkeys and birds; and the waiting room is chock full of toys.
Treatment-wise, Waldman turns to state-of-the-art pediatric technology such as digital imaging (to diagnose tooth problems), fluoride treatments, and use of special dental sealants.
She stresses the need for parents to take a young child’s dental care seriously. “Sometimes parents think, ‘Well, baby teeth fall out eventually, so why not wait until the permanent teeth come in to see a dentist?’ But they don’t realize that decay in baby teeth can have the same consequences — pain, abscesses, swelling, discomfort — as decay in adult teeth.”
Waldman notes that, on a recent day, “three of my patients — they were three and four years old — already needed full-mouth rehabilitation and had to go under general anesthesia.” In another case, a four-year-old needed work on 16 out of 20 teeth. “Sadly, situations like this are fairly common,” she says.
Bad nutrition is often the key culprit, she says. “A lot of people are giving their kids junk food early on in life. Some parents are good about avoiding it with the first child, but then start slipping with the younger ones. Or maybe an older child has snacks in the house, so the younger one gets them, too. And some parents think it’s healthier to give kids lots of juice to drink, rather than soda. But sweet juices can create problems for their teeth, too.”
“The trick is to put kids on the right path to dental health while they’re still young, then stick with it,” she says.