Smarties, I get SUPER excited when we feature a Smarty Dad, we are long overdue! Meet Dr. Andrew Johnson with Southpark Pediatric Dentistry. We have gotten to know the team at Southpark Pediatric Dentistry recently and enjoyed their Halloween candy buyback efforts. Dr. Andy is passionate about his work – you’ll love his story of how he decided to follow his passion into dentistry.
Smarties, let’s get to know Dr. Andy!
Dr. Andy’s Smarty Dad Stats:
Dad of: Sam (6) & Lauren (4)
Married to: Heidi for 11 years
Years in Charlotte: 6
Hood: Myers Park
Hometown: Mequon, Wisconsin
Occupation: Pediatric Dentist, Small Business Owner
Tell us how you made a career switch and landed in dentistry.
My wife, Heidi, and I were living in San Francisco and working in the technology industry when the “dot com” collapse happened. Seeing the writing on the wall, we decided to start looking for jobs. Ultimately, new jobs brought us to Charlotte. Not long after arriving in Charlotte, 9/11 tragically occurred. This was a wake-up call for me and felt I needed to do some soul searching and focus on my true career calling in the healthcare field. A great friend of ours is a dentist here in Charlotte and allowed me the opportunity to spend time in his practice, I was hooked and have not looked back since. Soon after, I began the process of applying to dental school and was accepted at UNC Chapel Hill School of Dentistry where my new journey began.
What is your favorite thing about working with children?
I love the energy kids have, it keeps me smiling and on my toes all day long! I really enjoy being able to make the experience at the dentist an inviting one; it is what makes my job great! It is fun watching the kids grow through the years. Our patients usually start out with us at a young age (1-3 years old) and may be a bit skeptical when they first walk into our practice. Our job is to do our best to change that and help them understand that our office is a fun, not scary, place to be.
Tell us how you fold your community into your practice?
We are involved in a number of ways. We participate in the “Give Kids a Smile” event each year, which provides dental care for children in the Charlotte area who otherwise would not be able to visit the dentist. We enjoy hosting various boys and girls scout troops so they can earn badges. Additionally we are a supporter of the YMCA programs for youth. Our office participates in the Missions of Mercy free dental clinic held in December. We also provide demonstrations on good oral hygiene practices to local schools throughout the year.
When should we take our child to the dentist for the first time?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry guidelines suggest that the first dental visit should be no later than the child’s 1st birthday. Typically the first tooth appears between ages six to twelve months. It is important to establish regular dental care early not only to assist in preventing cavities, but also to help the child get comfortable with the dental office.
What tips do you have to prevent cavities?
Brush, brush, brush. Even before an infant’s teeth appear, cleaning gums is important to do on a daily basis and eventually working up to a toothbrush creates a consistent routine.
Diet also plays an important factor in preventing cavities. For infants, do not put a child to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice or any sweetened liquids. Any unswalllowed liquids will remain while your child sleeps creating an environment for bacteria and acids to attack the teeth. For older children, please be cautious of fruit juices and snacks high in sugar. Raisins and chewy/gummy fruit snacks, although made with fruit or fruit juices, these snacks stick to your child’s teeth. These sugars will sit on their teeth and create an opportunity for decay if not brushed away quickly. Beware of granola bars, as often times they contain sticky fruits and hidden sugars (e.g. chocolate). A diet with good sources of calcium are highly recommended for cavity prevention (milk, cheese, yogurt).
OK, so tell us how much candy did you really buy back from Halloween loot?
120 lbs!!! The kids were all so cute. A few tears were shed when they realized that after the candy was weighed they had to give it up, primarily 2- and 3-year-olds. A lot of healthy competition between siblings on total weight. Many were proud to know our military men and women would enjoy it around the world (“army men”, “the trips” were things they said). I was proud of each of them, such a grown up thing to do with something kids love so much!!! We will definitely make this an annual event!
And now for the Dad questions…
What is your favorite thing about being a dad?
Waking up in the morning and having two smiling faces bounding downstairs towards you. Coming home from work at night and the excitement about the day they are bubbling over to tell you about. Having two healthy children and being able to watch them grow and change each day.
First thing that pops into your head when I say “dad”?
My own Dad. I grew up in the Midwest and had the best childhood with amazing parents. I hope that I can become as good a Father as mine was and continues to be for me.
Behavioral trait you hope your children don’t inherit from you?
My inability to slow down and relax. Some people golf or enjoy a book to relax. For me, I have to be in constant motion. I enjoy working in my yard, the house, or training for the next race.
Funniest thing your kids have ever said?
Where do I start, every day they say something more funny than the next! They both have started creating jokes, (puns to be specific) which they have inherited from their grandfather (my Dad). The conversations they have with each other are great. I recently overheard my 6-year-old son explaining to my 4-year-old daughter why the world is round and not flat. It ended with how people in Australia have to eat their dinner while we eat breakfast. Kids just have such an amazing perspective on things!
Describe the perfect date night with you and Heidi.
Finding a quaint, new place for dinner. We enjoy a great meal and some alone time to catch up on the week!
Favorite thing to do on a Saturday morning.
In the Fall it is all about Soccer! I enjoyed playing soccer growing up and now I am able to coach my son and his team! Saturday mornings are all about being with my family.
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
You can find Southpark Pediatric Dentistry at:
2700 Coltsgate Rd, Suite 204
Charlotte, NC 28211
Office: (704) 749-5700
And on facebook!