Niche filled along with cavities

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Mixing dental expertise with a little psychology is all in a day’s work for Dr. Tamara Robison, who recently opened a pediatric practice at the island’s health care center opposite City Hall.

Robison shares office and treatment space with friend and colleague Dr. Robert Payne, whom she has known for the past couple of years.

“It’s my understanding there was a need for it (pediatric dentistry, catering for ages 1-18),” said Robison, who forms a team with her mom, Karen Kuneau (administration), and daughter, Zoey, 10, who is the practice’s Facebook guru.

“Bedside manner” is a priority for Robison, a University of Washington graduate who obtained her specialty training at Nova Southeastern University (Florida).

“I think I’m good with kids, and they know it right when you walk in the room if you’ve got what it takes or not,” she said. “For those with no bad past experiences, those are the easier situations, but turning kids around with bad experiences takes time, compassion and empathy. It’s a trust-building exercise.”

That was borne out on this particular day when young patient Luc Heyne of Naples settled back in a chair for a checkup.

Robison handed him a pair of dark glasses to counteract the bright light.

After a couple of minutes, he complained the glasses were making his eyes feel “funny.”

The dentist assured him there was nothing unusual about the glasses other than their light-blocking qualities, and then told him softly, but firmly, that their use was mandatory.

The boy understood, settled down, and allowed Robison to continue with the checkup.

Robison said she believes the biggest technological advance in dentistry in the past decade has been the digitization of the profession, specifically in the area of much safer X-ray techniques.

On another level, she said, technology has helped the profession, like every industry, go paperless and in turn, benefit the environment.

“Dentistry is dentistry, a cavity is still a cavity, but our materials have changed. There are a patient as well as environmental benefit,” Robison said.

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