Emily Buckley, editor in chief
Dr. Kurt Vest, DMD, recalls sitting in the dental chair of his grandfather as a child and having bit of a “scary” experience. “He was a tough, John Wayne type of guy and I felt like I needed to be tough for him,” Dr. Vest said. “But he had a really kind hygienist who worked with him. One day, when I was 14 or 15, she asked me if I had ever considered being a dentist. I hadn’t, but her words echoed in my ears, and eventually I started thinking about it. I thought maybe I could be a dentist — even a kids’ dentist and help kids have a positive experience.”
He began his undergraduate studies at Utah State University (USU), still unsure of what he wanted to do, but once he got into a human anatomy class he was hooked. It was a turning point: He knew he had found something that he wanted to do and that he could do a good job at it.
After completing his education at USU, Dr. Vest went to dental school in Philadelphia and completed his pediatric dental residency in Hawaii before returning to Cache Valley in 2013 to practice dentistry. He worked as an associate dentist with ABC Pediatric Dentistry until he and his wife, Dani, opened their own practice, Wasatch Pediatric Dentistry, last year.
“I strive to make the dental experience a personal one, both for my patients [kids] and their parents,” Dr. Vest said. “I want them to feel that I care about them, and I have empathy for them — I’ve had some negative experiences in the chair and can empathize with how that feels.”
He says they have purposefully planned and created a positive atmosphere in everything they do. From how the office is designed to the dialogue his staff is trained to use, kids’ and parents’ experience is at the conscious forethought. “Kids have feelings, thoughts, attitudes, and impressions just like parents do,” Dr. Vest said. “We try and help kids get through their experience without it being super tough or traumatic — maybe our office is even somewhere they are happy to visit.”
When the Vests opened their practice, one commitment they made is that they would not schedule patients so tightly that they felt rushed. They also try hard to work with people’s financial situations. “My practice philosophy is to provide the best possible pediatric dental care to kids and families without the financial aspect being a hold up for them.” One way they do this is through their Wasatch Kids loyalty program for cash-pay patients.
Another unique service they offer is in-office anesthesia performed by a nurse anesthesiologist for treatments that require sedation. For cases that qualify for this kind of care, it helps families avoid the facility fee of a hospital or surgical center.
Dr. Vest says parents should consider choosing a pediatric dentist for their child because of the extra training and expertise they have in children’s healthcare, ranging from child psychology to pediatric cranial facial development. They are also trained to treat children and adults with special needs and have credentials to offer sedated treatment in hospitals.
He adds that babies should be seen by a pediatric dentist within six months after their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday, which many new parents don’t realize is the standard for a lifetime of dental health.
“I tell people I have the best job,” Dr. Vest said. “It is really rewarding and fun to interact with kids and teach them about their teeth.”