Dr. Amanda Spitz has always been drawn to children – and it was this affinity that set her on a career path caring for kids’ teeth. “I love interacting with them and seeing them happy,” she says. “During my four years in dental school my happiest days were when I was working with children, so I ultimately decided to continue my training in pediatric dentistry.”
Spitz, a native of west-central Wisconsin, received her bachelor’s degree from UW-Madison and her dental degree from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, where she also completed a residency in pediatric dentistry at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
After returning to Wisconsin and spending some time working for another clinic, Spitz decided to start and build her own dental office focused on the specific needs of children. “I wanted to offer exceptional experiences for children and their families,” she says. “I wanted to change their perceptions of what it means to go to the dentist.”
“When they walk in the door, they know this place was created for them.” –Dr. Amanda Spitz
Spitz founded Smiles in Motion in 2008, opening the doors of its first clinic the following year in Chippewa Falls. “The need was so great, and we grew quite fast,” she says. In the years since, Smiles in Motion has added offices in Eau Claire, Menomonie, Rice Lake, Amery, and Hudson.
As any parent knows, children aren’t just little adults, and this goes for their dental needs, too. Pediatric dentists like those at Smiles in Motion receive an extra two years of training focused on treating children from birth through adolescence. They are not only educated in how to treat the unique needs of children’s teeth and oral structures, but also how to use appropriate communication styles to get through to little folks who may be uncertain about sitting in a dentist’s chair.
Building a compassionate team is key, Spitz explains. “What we focus on training our team to do is to have empathy with every situation,” she says. Like adults, children may be scared or nervous when visiting the dentist. At Smiles In Motion the pediatric dentists and their teams are amazing and skilled at calming and distracting kids. The dental instruments and procedures are given child-friendly names and children can choose to chat about the sugar bugs being chased away or put on headphones and watch movies instead. All of this helps children not only gain better dental health but also confidence in a dental setting, Spitz says.
The Smiles in Motion team also works to put adults at ease. “If a parent finds out their child has treatment needs, it can elicit various emotions, so all treatment options are discussed,” she says. Parents may have had negative experiences with dentists during their own childhoods, and they appreciate bringing their kids to a place where smiles are the focus.
Smiles in Motion strives to create a fun, comfortable environment. Their Eau Claire office, for example, features a lobby outfitted with a real-life slide and other interactive play equipment, as well as colorful exam rooms. “I wanted to change their perceptions of what it means to go to the dentist,” Spitz says of her young patients.
Spitz has found a way to serve all children no matter what their insurance or economic status may be. Unlike many other dental practices, Smiles in Motion accepts patients covered by the state Medicaid program, even though doctors are only reimbursed at about 25% of their fees. “We have had many children who are in extreme pain with threatening infections come from three to five hours away to see us because they cannot find a dentist anywhere in their area who will see them,” Spitz says. “No child should have a sleepless night or have to miss a meal because of a tooth infection that no one will help resolve.”
Smiles in Motion
3402 Oakwood Mall Drive, Suite 201, Eau Claire
583 Lakeland Drive, Chippewa Falls
3120 Schneider Ave., Menomonie