Typically, a patient falling asleep during a health examination is more cause for concern than celebration.
For pediatric dentist Dr. Morvarid Moini, DMD, MPH however, it was a signal to take her dentistry career in a different direction.
“All of my adult patients were so relaxed that they fell asleep during treatment while I was in dental school. It made me think about how I could best channel that skill and that’s when I decided that I wanted to pursue pediatric dentistry,” she said.
Scientific Study + Clinical Experience
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the pediatric dentistry residency program, taken after graduation from dental school, immerses the dentist in scientific study enhanced with clinical experience. This training is the dental counterpart to general pediatrics, and trainees learn advanced diagnostic and surgical procedures along with:
• Child psychology and behavior guidance
• Oral pathology
• Pharmacology related to the child
• Child development and growth
• Management of oral-facial trauma
• Caring for patients with special health care needs
• Sedation and general anesthesia
• Dietary and nutritional counseling
“With kids, there’s so much fear around the treatment, that arises from the unknown and lack of trust, and that was something that intrigued me,” she said.
Morvarid grew up in Brevard, attending Indialantic Elementary, Holy Name of Jesus and Melbourne Central Catholic schools before graduating and heading off to college. After attending dental school at Nova Southeastern University and pediatric dental residency at Tufts University, she decided to come back to the Space Coast to contribute directly to the community where she was raised.
Good thing for us, Brevard is listed as a shortage area in a number of medical categories, including pediatric dentistry, mental health services and oncology services.
Morvarid, who tells her patients to call her Dr. M&M, hopes her work will help ease the burden a bit. “There is definitely more need than can be addressed at this time, but we will do our part,” she said. Her office is located in the central part of the county, on Sarno Road, and currently sees about 100 patients on the three days the office is open: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
“We are here to progress to a full-time schedule as our patients need us,” she said.
Prevention is Key
“We can see kids as early as their first tooth, but definitely by their first birthday,” she said. Prevention is key. We treat if we have to, but really the goal is to keep them out of treatment with prevention.
Our goal is to make the process fun and easy by giving the patients a sense of control. We say ‘You are my boss. Raise your hand if you have a question and give me a thumbs up if you’re ok.’”
Ensuring patient comfort and working to build trust is critical to reducing the fear factor that children often experience with a pediatric dentist. We try to keep visit times short – no more than 20 or 30 minutes, because we understand they are children after all, she said.
Dental care for babies
- Wipe gums twice a day with a soft, clean cloth in the morning after the first feeding and right before bed to wipe away bacteria and sugars that can cause cavities.
- When teeth come in, start brushing twice a day with a soft, small‑bristled toothbrush and plain water.
- Visit the dentist by your baby’s first birthday to spot signs of problems early.
- Talk to your dentist or doctor about putting fluoride varnish on your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears.
Dental care for kids
- Brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Drink tap water that contains fluoride.
- Ask your child’s dentist to apply dental sealants when appropriate.
Shawna Lucas (formerly Kelsch) has lived and worked in Brevard county for the past 20 years, serving in a variety of jobs and community service roles. She’s a former food and news reporter for Florida today, and was owner/operator of a marketing company that assisted clients and partners such as the Florida Healthcare Coalition, Blue Cross & Blue Shield Foundation for Florida, The Brevard Health Alliance, and Florida Tech to identify and solve pressing community health issues. She has she has dual bachelors degrees in Journalism and Sociology from the University of Miami, and was an inaugural fellow at the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.