In spring 2020, six-year-old Weston Gentzle was on a bike ride with his brother and mother, when he lost control of his bike and fell face-first into the handlebars and then onto the cement, causing severe damage to two of his front teeth. His regular pediatric dentist’s office was closed due to COVID-19, and referred Weston’s mother, Leslie Gentzle, to the NCEF Pediatric Dental Center in Naples, one of five UF dental centers.
Lauren Governale, D.M.D., the center’s director, told Weston’s mom to bring him in as soon as possible and Governale, along with John Tawadrous, D.M.D., a pediatric dental resident, greeted Leslie and Weston at the door.
Leslie Gentzle said that Weston was very anxious but Governale and Tawadrous took time to talk to Weston about what steps they would during his care, easing his fears and calming him down. X-rays showed that Weston would need two immediate extractions and, for his own safety, would need a restraint and a protective stabilization device.
Governale told Weston to pretend they were going camping, and that he was wrapped tightly in a sleeping bag.
“Once he was wrapped up, Dr. Tawadrous explained everything he was about to do in a childlike, playful manner. My son was so calm the entire time, and not once did he protest against anything that was happening or express that he was in any pain or discomfort. I, personally, attribute this to the amazing, talented dentists who were taking care of him. What could have been a very traumatizing experience, causing future dental anxiety, was instead a positive one,” Gentzle said.
“I am also grateful for the UF College of Dentistry’s NCEF Pediatric Dental Center. Had it not be here in Naples, I’m not sure what kind of care we would have received due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
Weston is just one of thousands of patients treated with compassionate care at the NCEF Pediatric Dental Center since it opened in 2008.
The University of Florida College of Dentistry and the Naples Children & Education Foundation, founders of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, founded the NCEF Pediatric Dental Center on the Florida SouthWestern State College campus in Naples to provide access to care and improve the oral health of children in the community.
Primarily funded by grants from the NCEF, the NCEF Pediatric Dental Center has since completed over 135,000 patient visits in the past decade, including specialized care for children whose oral health needs are complex and require care in hospital operating rooms.