Steady hands earn children’s trust

  • Thursday, August 29, 2013

Teasie Witte, Dr. Jan Wrobleski and Belinda Wierschem have been a team at Kids Teeth since the practice opened 34 years ago.

Photos

After 34 years, Dr. Jan Wrobleski is moving his original practice to a new location.

The new Kids Teeth office will open on Thursday, Aug. 29.

The new address is 1073 Johnnie Dodds Blvd.

The old Johnnie Dodds office near the Ravenel Bridge closed on Aug. 21, but doctors will continue seeing patients at their Park West office until the opening.

The new office is located off of Johnnie Dodds Boulevard, between the Crickentree Shopping Center and Carolina Eyecare Physicians

For more information call 216-5879 or email info@kidsteethsc.com.

Dr. Jan Wrobleski

The road to dental school was not high on his list of priorities, but Dr. Wroblesky, or Dr. Jan as he is known by both patients and adults, had to select a major when he went to college. His father was a dentist, so he naturally put down pre-dental and it stuck.

He attended West Virginia University for his undergraduate and dental degree. Dr. Jan completed his pediatric dentistry residency at the Medical University of South Carolina and remained on the faculty as an associate clinical professor for 26 years. He has practiced pediatric dentistry since 1979.

He started his residency in 1976 where he met Teasie Witte, a dental assistant.

“She knew a lot more than I did and had more patience than anyone I’d ever seen,” he said.

Witte was looking for acareer in children’s medical care. She chose dentistry because it is a disease one can get ahead of and have control over and helps kids have a good smile.

Ultimately the two would pair up to be a team knownto many families in Mount Pleasant.

She joined his growing practice in 1981, choosing private practice over the clinic atmosphere.

The pediatric dental school was not a great environment in the early days, according to Dr. Jan. There was one dentist and no assistant and it was not an welcoming place for children. But when Dr. Jan stayed at the clinic to teach, a new pediatric dentist came in, created an assistant position and brightened up the place. It was a total transformation, Dr. Jan said. It was then he realized what joy he would find in treating children.

He opened his own pediatric dental practice in Mount Pleasant in 1979 when the population was just 18,000.

His wife Francette was his assistant, his hygienist, his front desk manager and everything in between. He continued to teach at the university and treat in the clinic to supplement the start of his career.

The practice was slow going. But he was finally able to hire his first employee (other than his wife), Belinda Hicks Wierschem.

Wierschem was hired as a dental assistant, which has developed into the position of office manager to meet the demands of a growing practice.

The practice continued to grow slowly. Dr. Jan expanded the leased building several times over the years as adjacent tenants moved out.

Today he has two offices, the new one and one in Park West.

He also has former patients, such as this reporter, bringing their own children to the practice.

In 1997 Mount Pleasant began to increasingly grow in size and population. Dr. Jan continued to see a need for an expansion. With word that Park West and ultimately Carolina Park coming online, he began the planning stages of a second office.

He also began to bring in more doctors.

His team

The Kids Teeth team now includes 23 part and full time staff including three other dentists all working together to provide the best of care for Mount Pleasant children.

All of them go by their first names, just as Dr. Jan does.

• Dr. Will MacDonald is board certified in pediatric dentistry. When he was a resident at MUSC, Dr. Jan taught at the school and he remembers a day when he overheard Dr. Will talking to a child, and then switching gears and talking to the child’s mother. “He had this innate ability to switch gears smoothly. I knew I could teach him everything in the world about pediatric dentistry better, but never a communication skill like that,” said Dr. Jan.

Dr. Will was offered the opportunity to come onboard with Dr. Jan’s practice.

Dr Will’s choice to join the staff was influenced by his love of Lowcountry waterways.

He attended Wofford College to complete his undergraduate degree and received his dental degree and completed his residency in pediatric dentistry at MUSC.

He has been in private practice since 2003.

• Dr. Mike Myers is a board certified pediatric dentist.

He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of South Carolina in 1997 and a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the Medical University of South Carolina in 2002.

Dr. Mike completed a general dentistry residency at the University of Florida and a pediatric dentistry residency at MUSC in 2006. He has been in private practice since 2003.

He completed his residency with Dr. Will and was also invited by Dr. Jan to join the team.

• Dr. Ron Bell is board certified in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics. He maintains professional membership with several local, state and national pediatric dentistry and orthodontic organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Association of Orthodontists.

Dr. Ron has served as chair and program director of both the Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Postgraduate Programs at MUSC.

Dr. Ron attended Tulane and Louisiana State University for his undergraduate degree and obtained his Doctor of Dental Surgery from Louisiana State University School of Dentistry in 1973.

He completed training in pediatric dentistry at Louisiana State University School of Dentistry and Children’s Hospital in New Orleans.

Dr. Ron then earned his orthodontic certificate at the Medical College of Georgia.

According to Dr. Jan he plans to retire within one year.

All doctors and hygienists rotate their schedules between the two offices.

A sign of the times

The property owner of the current Highway 17 office ended Dr. Jan’s lease to construct a Walgreens.

But the new office will be similar to the Park West location, with a playroom, plenty of waiting room and conference room areas and much more. The space is very kid friendly and adorned with murals by artist Ashleigh Cook. The name Kids Teeth was also a sign of the growing practice and a brand more recognizable to the newcomers moving to town.

Today they see at least 13,707 patients a year.

“We see so many patients, but we treat each one individually,” said Witte. “It’s hard to believe we have touched the lives of this many children. But kids are always giving of unconditional love and I love being in children’s dentistry.”

She explained that the practice works hard to combat the innate fear many have of dentists “If you can take a child that is fearful of coming to the dentist and have them leave saying they are glad they came, then we’ve made great strides.”

Dr. Jan said in addition to proper oral health, alleviating this fear early on is paramount to the dental experience. “That is why we keep it a fun environment. That is the meat of what we do here,” he said.

“If you can take a child and see them early and earn that trust and confidence in them, they will be the ones asking their parents to bring them in if there is a problem,” he said.

“And if we can have a parent, who has invested time in money in treatment - follow through with that treatment, the probability is that the child will continue and get value for what they have invested.”

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