The place is magical. Or so says Karole Ridley, a parent of nine children who has visited the offices of Smile Magic, a children’s dentistry practice in Denton.
Ridley said six of her nine kids have received treatment at Smile Magic, and they don’t mind going back each time because they feel like royalty.
“The first time you walk in is awesome,” Ridley said. “They show you what they are going to do, and they explain the checkup process. My kid and I knew what was going to happen, and they made me feel really comfortable.”
At Smile Magic, kids first walk into a royal courtyard or playground. They can then catch a movie in a theater while they wait and even have popcorn or cookies. Once inside their royal chambers — or dentist area — they can gain “gold” coins for demonstrating outstanding behavior. The visit ends by reaching a crowning room, where they will get crowned a royal “prince” or “princess” while standing on top of a throne.
It may be a bit too much for a dental session, but the owners say the royal treatment, as they call it, works. About 100 patients walk into Smile Magic’s Denton location each week, said Emmet Scott, chief executive officer of the practice. And they agree with Ridley — all the kids ask when they can go back.
Scott and his partner, longtime friend Dr. Chad Evans, designed their practice to be kid-friendly.
Both are fathers of a combined 11 children and, after going through their own experiences with taking their children to their dentist, they designed a practice that would help patients get their needed checkups and exams.
With oral health often being taken for granted, both Evans and Scott agree that reinforcing its importance is crucial, especially at a young age.
“It is good for them to start the habit of good oral hygiene, so they can avoid diseases like diabetes and heart disease,” Scott said. “It is all related to the bacteria you have in your mouth.”
Like the obesity epidemic among children, there is also a dental crisis afflicting the nation, and it affects the most vulnerable, Evans said.
Tooth decay or cavities affects more than one-fourth of the U.S. children aged 2-5 years and half of those aged 12-15 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2011 publication “Oral Health: Preventing Cavities, Gum Disease, Tooth loss and Oral Cancer.”
Among adults, 4 percent to 12 percent suffer from advanced periodontal (gum) disease, which is caused by bacteria that gets under the gum tissue.
In adults age 65 and older, one fourth have lost all of their teeth and more than 7,800 people — mostly older Americans — die from oral and pharyngeal cancers each year, according to the publication.
Evans’ love for dentistry began at the age of 12 after watching his father in his dental lab.
He said he now makes it his mission to serve children and underserved communities.
“We are providing a service that is indispensable,” Evans said.
Smile Magic accepts Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid. It also provides parents with payment options to cover their expenses. And to help families with difficult situations, Smile Magic also provides “Free Dental for the Day,” a program that serves about 100 kids per year.
To qualify for the program, parents have to fill out a hardship packet and provide it to the office. One or two children are selected to get dental treatment at no cost, according to the company’s website.
Scott said he has known Evans since the age of 2. They met in Nevada and somehow found each other again in North Texas years later. Scott called it serendipity. They also have a lot in common — Scott is married with five children; Evans is married with six children.
Evans went to the University of Nevada in Las Vegas for his undergraduate studies and earned his degree as doctor of dental surgery at Creighton University School of Dentistry in Omaha, Neb. He is a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and other associations, as well as the founder of the Dental Association of Underserved Children.
Scott earned his degree from Brigham Young University in accounting and was certified as a financial planner from Rice University. He founded a consulting firm in Las Vegas and also was the host of a radio show titled “The Entrepreneur Life.”
Both say their partnership –– Scott’s entrepreneurial skills and Evans’ dental training –– have made it possible to help many. Their practice is not limited to seeing children; Scott said Smile Magic also sees adult patients at any of its five locations.
The Denton office opened in 2010 and was followed the next year with offices in Lewisville and Garland. This year, Smile Magic opened offices in El Paso and Laredo.
“Dental care is a lifelong battle,” Evans said. “The earlier you can get kids to take care of their teeth, the better off they will be … it is a short-term experience with a lifetime of rewards.”
Karina Ramírez can be reached at 940-566-6878. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.