Enter the doors of Katahdin Pediatric Dentistry, located at 24 Penn Plaza in Bangor, and you’ll notice immediately that it’s not your normal waiting room. Instead it feels more like a playground. And that’s the approach that pediatric dentist Gaston To’olo, D.M.D, M.S. wants.
“I want my patients to feel that this is their place,” To’olo said. “That they can stop in just to say ‘Hi.’”
In fact, To’olo’s practice makes getting to the dentist easy on parents and children alike.
To’olo opened the practice on May 18 and chose Bangor because he believed there was need in the area for dental care geared specifically towards children. The office is open from Monday to Friday to receive calls and once a month on Saturdays. To’olo sees patients in the office Tuesdays through Thursdays as early as 7:30 a.m., with the last patient in the chair at 5:30 p.m. He also employs two part-time hygienists who specialize in working with children. To’olo said that he designed hours to accommodate busy family schedules.
“One of the attractive things here is that we have Saturday hours geared toward parents who can’t make regular hours, especially busy families,” he said.
To’olo, a native of Cameroon, Africa, approaches working with children with enthusiasm and a calm demeanor. He came to study in the United States in 1996 on a Rotary scholarship. He studied at Portland State University and later earned both dental degrees from the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry in 2006 and 2009. To’olo is fluent in seven languages, and maybe that gives him an edge working with children, since that requires understanding their “language.”
That’s because he’s “just a kid within.”
To’olo pursued a career in health medicine due to his interest in helping people, but when his professors in dental school noticed how he was able to calm a screaming child and put them to sleep with the sound of his voice by telling them a story, they highly recommended him for pediatric dentistry.
Pediatric dentists work with children from birth through 21 years of age. In addition, they are trained to serve all ages of patients with special needs.
“We deal with complete dental care for kids, from root canal therapies to restorative procedures, growth, and development,” To’olo said. “But we also provide behavior guidance” in a way designed to ease anxiety and fear in many children.
According to To’olo, that guidance in the office encourages children towards proper dental care behaviors, such as brushing flossing, nutrition, and injury prevention. Providing a safe space and creating a fun office to get that training has been a dream come true for To’olo.
“The most important thing is that they are able to walk out of here healthy and happy,” he said. “It won’t come without some frustration along the way, but the purpose is to create joy.”
To’olo is a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Dental Association, American Orthodontic Society, American Education Dental Association, and Maine Dental Association. He is the president of the Penobscot Valley Dental Society.
The office accepts all dental insurances and is a provider for Northeast Delta Dental and MaineCare. For patients needing to set up a payment plan, the office offers Care Credit as well. For more information or to make an appointment, call (207) 942-0593.