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Pediatric dentist shuns tech in favor of crayons, chalk ; Pediatric dentist shuns TV, video games in favor of crayons, chalk [Capital (Annapolis, MD)]
[May 02, 2012]

Pediatric dentist shuns tech in favor of crayons, chalk ; Pediatric dentist shuns TV, video games in favor of crayons, chalk [Capital (Annapolis, MD)]

(Capital (Annapolis, MD) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Construction crews got a surprise when they were working on the office of Dr. Sissy Jimenez.

When they asked where they should hook up the television, she told them there wasn't going to be one.

No video game console or computer, either.

Jimenez went old school at the new Annapolis Pediatric Dentistry. Instead of the latest tech gear, the brightly-colored waiting room is filled with buckets of magic markers to color with, picture books and a few toys. If children choose, they can even take to the streets, so to speak, courtesy of a healthy supply of sidewalk chalk. Cost had nothing to do with the decision.

"Everything is bright and colorful and cheery," said Sallie Harris, whose daughter, Sydnie, 4, was busy coloring last week. "This really wakes you up when you walk in. It distracts the kids and it helps. It makes a big difference." Jimenez, who has four children of her own, opened the office in January and treats children and teens ages 1 to 18. It's her primary practice, though she still provides dental care at the county Health Department and two other offices.

Over the years, Jimenez said she realized that TVs and other gadgets in the waiting room don't make children any calmer. "TV definitely doesn't seem to help," she said.

So the 48-year-old decided to provide a quiet, comfortable space where children can be creative without channel surfing or surfing the Internet. If children want that, it's strictly BYOT (bring your own technology).

"(The waiting room is just) really colorful and warm and inviting," she said. "I've always noticed with my kids ... doing artwork made them calm." Jimenez said the response has been overwhelmingly positive. "I've had little kids tell me it's a cool office," she said, adding that she posts their artwork on Facebook.

Ella and Marion Riddle of Annapolis concurred. They visited the office for the first time last Friday, and were coloring and playing games before their appointments. "It's better than watching TV," said Ella, 7. "It's better for your brain." Marion, 9, said this way she didn't have to listen to a television show she didn't like.

Their mother, Bess, had an equally positive review. "I love Sissy," she said. "I would have expected nothing else." The low-tech approach doesn't extend to the dental equipment, however. Jimenez is high-tech all the way when it comes to caring for teeth.

"As much as I love the waiting room, I love that everything in back is state-of-the-art," Harris said.

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry President Dr. Rhea Haugseth has the same mix in her own office in Marietta, Ga. "I don't know if it's a trend or not, but a lot of us don't have a lot in the waiting room," Haugseth said.

Colorful atmosphere Jimenez's office could double as an art gallery. In addition to a few drawings by patients on display in the waiting room, more than 40 paintings by Glenn Shiring line the walls.

Visitors are greeted by smiling fish, soaring dragonflies and grinning dogs and cats. There are also colorful messages about being creative, getting outside, exercising and brushing your teeth even extending into the bathroom. One painting is of a television, but the screen is dark except for the word "read" in the center.

The backgrounds of some of the acrylic paintings are re-purposed objects, such as dental X-rays, maps, comic books and baseball cards. Shiring, a Grasonville resident who also teaches guitar, spent the better part of 2011 creating all the pieces.

"I needed a big project to sink my teeth into," said Shiring, who has also worked on murals at Queen Anne's County schools.

Jimenez knew his work well because she and her children have taken art and music lessons from him. His paintings were perfect for the office, she said, because they're colorful and simple, while embodying creativity.

"I didn't want 'Sesame Street' and Mickey Mouse," she said. "I wanted cool-looking pop-art. I know (children) are here to get their teeth fixed, but if they can walk away inspired to draw a picture, that's good." (c) 2012 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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