For Dr. Elizabeth Thorson, specializing in and practicing pediatric dentistry was a no brainer.
“Kids are just way more fun,” she said laughing. “Adult dentistry has its perks, but I’ve always loved working with kids.”
A native of Kansas, Thorson graduated from Kansas State University before obtaining her DDS in 2009 from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry. There she was recognized for Excellence in Pediatric Dentistry.
With two years of additional training at Louisiana State University, Thorson gained advanced expertise in Pediatric Dentistry, which included leading-edge training in behavior guidance techniques, hospital dentistry, trauma and prevention.
After working several jobs once her education was over, Thorson said someone approached her to start a practice in St. Charles Parish.
“My response was, ‘Where’s that?’” she said. “I came out here and I was super impressed with the area. I did demographics and I thought, ‘Wow, how has no one come out here before?’”
That was six and half years ago, and her office remains the only pediatric dentist office in the parish.
“It has been amazing,” Thorson said. “The people out here are the salt of the earth. They remind me of people in my small hometown. It has been a huge blessing.”
Thorson said opening the practice was far from a sophisticated affair.
“It was literally me and one assistant and we did the front and back work,” she said. “We scheduled and answered phones. It was a true start up. We had zero patients, and now in August it’ll be two years since we added another doctor.”
That doctor is Dr. Amanda Begue, who is also an LSU-trained pediatric specialist.
Thorson said everyone she hires has a great disposition with kids
“They’re all so comforting,” she said. “Because Dr. Amanda and I are both pediatric specialists, we are specially trained and went through child psychology. We know how to make everything as easy as possible and we know traumatic experiences with dentists are real and the toll it can take.”
Thorson said her office team tries to make everything as fun as possible, adding everything is clearly explained to the children from start to finish.
Keeping children in the routine of going to the dentist is something parents and caretakers can do to make visiting the dentist less scary, Thorson said. That, however, was interrupted this year with the pandemic.
“From our perspective and what we’re seeing, it has really nailed into our heads how important preventative and routine care is,” Thorson said of the office being forced to close for six weeks. “During COVID, when we were shut down, I had to come in multiple times for emergencies for facial infections and swelling and teeth waking kids up at night because it was so painful. Dental disease can move very quickly.”
Fortunately, Thorson said, the Louisiana Department of Health allowed dentists to start treating patients after a little over a month of the quarantine.
“They deemed us essential,” Thorson said of LDH. “It is its extremely essential to prevent these diseases. With people out of work and no school it has been a challenge to get kids in for appointments, and we understand that. But we also know how important it is and we daily see repercussions of kids not coming in regularly.”
When the office was allowed to reopen, Thorson said there was an onslaught of appointments to make up.
“There was so much back log,” she said. “There was six weeks of not seeing those patients plus people who were already scheduled to come in.”
That backlog, combined with additional safety protocols and PPE shortages, created new and unique challenges.
“We are really, really high risk because we do create aerosols,” Thorson said. “So we have to be extra careful, which we are. We wanted to and continue to make sure we have everything in place to keep us and our patients safe.”
For more information on Dr. Thorson, Dr. Begue and the entire practice, visit www.thorsondentistryforkids.com.