Interview With Dr. Sarah Kluver — A Scientist or an Artist?
Get to know Dr. Sarah Kluver and learn why she is a passionate kids’ dentist.
Your child’s dentist is much more than an oral health authority—they’re a friend to your family and play an important role in shaping your child’s present and future relationship with dental care.
To welcome our new general dentist to the team and give your family an opportunity to get to know her, here is our Meet the Dentist interview with Dr. Kluver.
At first glance, looking into someone’s mouth might seem like an odd profession. What first inspired you to become a dentist?
Dentistry combines two great passions of mine—science and art. I loved the idea of being in a profession that allows continual academic growth while also allowing me to connect with my creative side helping to create beautiful smiles.
Dr. Kluver What first inspired you to choose the field of dentistry?
I spent a lot of time shadowing health professions and felt drawn to dentistry for its connectivity with patients. There was a lot of traffic in and out of the dental office, but the dental team knew everyone’s name and medical as well as personal history. In the dental field, the terminology of “patient” is changed to “guest”. I felt like this is a profession I could enjoy every day.
What do you love most about being a dentist?
I enjoy connecting with my patients as well as their parents—getting to know what activities they are involved in, what school they go to, and their favorite shows on Netflix. It is important to me to know who my patients are on the schedule the day before I see them.
What is your favorite part of being a kids’ dentist and why?
Kids are so fun! Their honesty is refreshing and they really are (usually) the best patients.
Dr. Kluver what has been your favorite advancement in the field since first starting?
Silver diamine fluoride has been a tremendous advancement, especially in pediatric dentistry. It works to stop a cavity from progressing if caught in time. It is very hard for some young kids to sit still for a cavity to be filled and placing silver diamine fluoride can stop the cavity from progressing until the child is able to cooperate to have the cavity removed and filled.
What is one of the most interesting things you have learned recently?
I recently listened to a live webinar discussing the role of dentists administering vaccines. Being able to administer vaccines such as HPV, flu, and COVID could be a great asset to patients as well as aid in vaccinating a greater population.
What problematic dental trends and gimmicks do you see in mainstream society today and why are they harmful or dangerous?
There are many dental trends in our society today that are not backed by science.
Avoiding fluoride puts children at higher risk of dental decay than necessary. While very high amounts of fluoride can cause serious issues, in moderation it is very beneficial in helping to strengthen the enamel, stop cavity progression, and encourage possible remineralization in areas of minimal decay.
I have seen firsthand the effects of using “mail-in” aligner services, and the detrimental effects it had on the way this particular patient was able to close his teeth together. It is very important to have dental supervision when moving teeth.
You must see teeth, gums, and mouths in all sorts of conditions. What do you really think when a patient presents with untreated tooth decay, gum disease, cosmetic imperfections, or other types of damage?
When I see patients with mouths that are in disarray, the first thing I do is thank the patient for coming to see me. It takes a lot of courage to take that step and I feel grateful that they came in to see me when there are many other dental chairs they could be sitting in.
Dr. Kluver what is the most memorable case you’ve ever treated?
I once treated a teenage girl who was referred to me because she had cavities on every tooth. She was never counseled on proper brushing techniques or diet and had very rarely ever been to see a dentist.
Over the course of many visits, we restored her teeth and I saw marked improvement with her oral hygiene as well as her enthusiasm to keep her teeth clean. It was very rewarding to be a part of her dental health journey, and I feel blessed to have been able to make a difference.
Patients often feel sheepish when talking with their dentist about making cosmetic changes. How do you feel when a patient asks you about cosmetic dentistry? What tips do you have for helping them start the conversation?
I enjoy completing cosmetic dental procedures, so I would welcome all conversations about cosmetic dentistry. Once a patient is able to maintain good oral hygiene, there are many areas where cosmetic dentistry can make a big difference—from teeth whitening to veneers.
I recommend starting the conversation by bringing up any cosmetic concerns you have at your next visit and we can work together to come up with the best treatment option for you.
How do you handle patients who have dental anxiety or a phobia of the dentist? Do you have advice for what parents can do to help put their children at ease before and during their visit?
I think the best way to show patients and family that the dentist can be fun and exciting is to come to the office for a “happy visit”. It doesn’t involve any treatment, just a chance for the patient and parent to see how we treat the kids who come in the door and how well other kids behave. Sometimes it takes a few visits to gain trust.
Before a dental appointment, there should only be positive language about coming to the dentist. We use show-tell-do before procedures so there aren’t any surprises during the visit or anything unfamiliar before we get started.
Many parents will put off dental visits for their kids just to avoid receiving a lecture on their dental parenting. What would you say to a parent who feels guilty and hopeless that they have “ruined” their kid’s teeth from avoiding treatment for so long?
I would first say thank you for bringing your child to see us at the dental office. I would then discuss how we can address the decay as well as talk about how we can avoid this in the future. Through collaboration, we can go over diet and oral hygiene, as well as make sure that the caregiver feels comfortable bringing their child in for regular exams at our office.
Dr. Kluver what are one or two things you wish all of your parents and kids knew about dentistry and oral health?
The oral cavity is connected to our overall health. It is important to take good care of your mouth and come to the dentist regularly, just as one would go to their general physician.
Baby teeth, while only present until around the age of 12, are very important in maintaining space in the oral cavity as well as the health of the permanent teeth that will eventually take their place.
What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions about dentists, pediatric dentists, or the industry in general?
I often have friends and even family joke about “drill, fill, and bill”. It is a very cold approach to a very complex job.
While we do drill, fill, and bill, dentists in general strive to provide a comfortable environment and pain-free care for our patients while treating cavities, periodontal disease, orthodontic concerns, etc. We are in-network with many insurance companies and try to utilize the most cost-effective approach whenever possible.
What is your guiding philosophy in caring for and treating your pediatric patients?
When I look at my pediatric patients, I look at them like they are my own children. If I wouldn’t diagnose or treat something on my 7-year-old or 2-year-old, I won’t on my patients.
Dr. Kluver what is one piece of dental-related advice you often give to parents and their children?
In dentistry, diet is often discussed. One piece of advice I give to parents is to monitor sugar exposure vs. quantity. While I wish we could all stay away from sugar, I realize it is something that will be present in most children’s diets.
In regards to cavities, it is better to drink a Gatorade or sugary beverage in one short sitting instead of sipping on that beverage over a long period of time. The longer the oral cavity is exposed to sugar, the more damage it can cause.
The tooth fairy is granting you one wish to make any magical-powered dental tool you can dream of, what would it be?
The Anesthetizer 2000—with one sweep of my Anesthetizer 2000 wand, any tooth I’m working on will be instantly asleep!
Bring in your kids to meet Dr. Kluver at Pediatric Dental Specialists.
If you and your kids would like to meet Dr. Kluver, all you need to do is schedule an appointment with the Pediatric Dental Specialists’ Hastings or Grand Island office. You can call us anytime during business hours or fill out this online appointment request form.
Dr. Kluver and the team look forward to caring for your kids’ smiles.