Meet a Mom: Hannah Ahn of Around the World Pediatric Dentistry! | Greenwich Moms
Tonight’s Meet a Mom is Dr. Hannah Ahn, dentist extraordinaire who started Around the World Pediatric Dentistry right near OG during the pandemic. A Mom of a 2 year old girl, Dr. Ahn shares how she balances starting a new practice during a pandemic, while learning to be a new mom, and moving to the area from  Manhattan!
She knows going to the dentist can be a “scary” or anxiety ridden experience so her goal is to personalize and make every visit fun and educational for both the children and the parents alike, one of the reasons she decided to go into pediatric dentistry, because she loves working with kids and wanted to make a difference.
Read below as she shares some great tips for how to create great dental habits at home, and how to prepare your child to love going to the dentist!

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself personally?
I am a true Manhattan lover and lived there since my freshman year of college until I graduated from my residency program. After being away from the city for a bit, I moved back when I got married and then due to the pandemic, moved out here. My husband and I have a sweet and super energetic daughter who is 2 years old and keeping up with her keeps me quite busy when I’m not at the office!

What do you love about your neighborhood? What made you decide to move there/ how long have you been there?
We have been in the area almost 3 years now and have completely fallen in love! During the pandemic, with the whole city shut down and stuck at home while pregnant, I had all the time to research the area I would want to not only build a practice, but also a place I would want to settle with my family. I love that my commute to work is just 7 minutes and that we are also so close to The Preschool where my daughter started the 2s program last fall. Being new to the area, it was nice to meet other families who had very similar stories of having to leave the city unexpectedly! I also do love that it is a hop, skip and a quick train ride to Manhattan whenever I start to miss it!

How did you decide to become a pediatric dentist?
I always knew I wanted a career in healthcare where I would be able to make a difference and always knew I loved working with kids! While going on various mission trips, my desire to provide care to all children, including those with special needs, became a true passion. I think the dental visit is often viewed as a “scary” experience or something that will not be fun. My goal was to become a dentist who could make every visit fun and educational for both the children and the parents alike. I truly want to want kids to look forward to their visits and learn that it can be a fun place to learn and work together for a healthy smile!

What do you find the most challenging and most rewarding part of being a pediatric dentist?
The most challenging part of being a pediatric dentist for me is sometimes having to give bad news. Sometimes by the time we meet a patient, they have already had cavities that may be quite advanced. While we work together and do everything we can, some patients may still get a cavity due to unavoidable causes. While our goal is always prevention and to be one step ahead, there are some situations that are hard to avoid, especially for those patients with special needs.

The most rewarding part of being a pediatric dentist is being able to watch my patients grow and mature over the years! The 6-month intervals of visiting the dentist seems to fly by and before you know it, they are young adults and hopefully I have equipped them with the knowledge and good oral habits to maintain a lifetime of healthy, happy smiles!

What makes Around The World Pediatric Dentistry unique to other pediatric dental offices?
I believe that every child is unique and that their dental care should be unique as well. We like to know who our patients are and what makes them happy and comfortable. From having their names up in the rooms before they arrive, to remembering their favorite tv show, to having a welcome message in their language when they have moved from another country, to knowing when try outs were and asking it about the next visit: all the small details and truly listening to not only the concerns of the parents but also to what the child expresses, is something that is very important to me when providing dental care. I believe the difference is in the details and yes, we are here to take care of your teeth and smile, but we are also here to grow and share your experiences!

I also have a unique logo that follows my office theme of traveling around the world in a hot air balloon! I absolutely love traveling and have been to many places in the world and ever since I read that line in the book Around The World in 80 Days, I always thought how fun and exciting it would be to actually travel that way! Each destination in the practice is a location that is very special to me. We love talking about where we have been and learning where all our patients have traveled!

What are some of the ways that you help your patients develop a love/lack of fear for going to the dentist?
I try to really understand and learn who my patients are from the moment we meet. Unfortunately, going to the dentist is often associated with negative feelings of fear and anxiety. Sometimes it’s because it’s just a new experience and sometimes it’s because there has been a previous experience that leads to this negative expectation. We don’t always jump right into checking the teeth or even talking about anything dental related. I love starting the visits with just learning what they did that week or may be looking forward to for the weekend. Building a relationship with my patients and families is very important and allows my patients to gain trust in me to know I truly have their best interest at heart.

It is also important for my patients to feel some sense of age-appropriate control. Having choices and the opportunity to express themselves is of utmost importance. When you have the ability to participate in the guided decisions made for your own dental health, it takes away a lot of the fear/anxiety children may have about the dentist. Then it becomes a decision THEY made and are then eager and happy to have their progress checked and evaluated. My goal is to always have our patients (and parents) leave with a smile and to give them the confidence that they are well informed and equipped with the knowledge to take care of their dental health.

What is your best advice for getting your kids to love brushing their teeth and flossing?
The key to creating good dental habits, all starts at home! Reading about the dentist and teaching your child about having a healthy, happy smile is always a good start. Some of my favorite books are “The Bernstein Bears Visit the Dentist”, “Just Going to the Dentist” and “Brush your teeth, Please”. Children love to mimic what you do so being a good model at home and brushing together also helps to make taking care of teeth a fun event.

How has becoming a Mom helped you to be a better pediatric dentist?
What a good question! I like to believe that I have always been a very empathetic and caring person. I have been taught to always put myself in the other person’s shoes and to try to understand what others may be experiencing. Well, I actually put those shoes on 2 years ago and I can honestly say it has allowed me to understand my patients and parents more than I ever have before!

As a board-certified pediatric dentist who has been working almost 15 years, I know exactly what the textbook answers should be! But as a mom, I can now not only give you those answers, but also offer tips and ideas from my experience on how to apply those recommendations realistically. I now understand more when you tell me it is such a struggle to brush their toddler at night, let alone to get it done twice a day; I now understand you when you are rushing into the appointment, apologizing you are late because there was a tantrum right before leaving; I can relate to the guilt you sometimes express when your child has a cavity; and I truly understand that you are just trying to do your best and that sometimes it still doesn’t go the way you wanted or expected. When parents are struggling to make a decision, I always say, “This is what I would do if this were my child” and as a pediatric dentist who is also a mom, it is truly the best advice I could ever give you.

How do you find a balance with motherhood and your job? Any tips for the rest of the Moms out there?
Starting a new practice during a pandemic, while learning to be a new mom was definitely challenging. I am so grateful to have an incredibly supportive family who has helped me juggle it all. I have also learned that time can be “made” in the sense that if I make a point to prioritize and be intentional with it, there is time for everything! Even though I sometimes feel I am always working, I have also learned to take breaks and take the time to go to the aquarium with my daughter, to take her to Big Picture for an art project, to take a walk with her at Binney Park or simply just read a book together and snuggle. When I’m being Dr. Hannah, I am 100% your pediatric dentist with my undivided attention. And when I’m with my daughter, I am 100% her mommy and the world is our oyster!

As I still feel pretty new to being a mom, I am always looking for tips and advice myself! But if I have any tips, it would be to also remember to take time for yourself, guilt-free! As moms I think we sometimes forget who we were before we became responsible for littles ones who are completely dependent on us! On top of all that if you also have patients or clients who depend on you to be available, it can be hard to take that time for just you. But if you haven’t taken the time to recharge, then I think you can never be 100% for anyone else. So my advice would be to take that time to go out with friends or watch a movie or read a good book. Take that time to sit back and just enjoy and be grateful for everything you have and have accomplished.

What is your working mom mantra?
Always plan for the future but don’t forget to enjoy the now!

Anything else you’d like to share?
I am so very excited to be part of this community and to be able to provide care to your children! I really look forward to getting know everyone more as the years go by and am also looking forward to exploring more of what the area has to offer for my family!

We love to support local businesses. What are your fave places when you are in Greenwich to:

Grab coffee: Love grabbing a tea (I don’t drink coffee!) and some pastries at CFCF.
Workout: This is on my new year’s resolutions list!
Go on a date night: Absolutely love the Omakase at Kissaki.
Go out for a girl’s night: I prefer brunch on the weekends and love The Granola Bar.
Go out to dinner as a family: We love going to Terra because my toddler seems to love everything there!
Get your nails done: Coco Nail Spa
Have fun as a family: We love spending the day with a picnic lunch at Binney Park.

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