There are many words that one can use to describe Dr. Julie Blumenfeld, such as artist or educator. This past July, she added pediatric dentist to the list, when she took on her first full-time professional role as a member of the team of Stevenson Smiles.
Affectionately known as Dr. Julie, Dr. Blumenfeld is focusing her work on dentistry for infants, children, adolescents and people with special needs. Stevenson Smiles owner and lead dentist Dr. Joshua Weintraub said Dr. Blumenfeld shares his vision of providing the highest quality service possible and of putting what is best for the patient first.
“She has a passion for working with children with special needs and focusing on the family unit as a whole and how everyone in the family can work together to improve their diet and oral health,” said Dr. Weintraub.
Dr. Weintraub learned of Dr. Blumenfeld through a patient. Subseq-uently, he met her at a lecture given by the Maimonides Dental Society. Her husband and Dr. Weintraub also crossed paths through involvement with AIPAC. Both doctors are graduates of the Baltimore Jewish Council’s Leadership Development Program.
Young, Dr. Blumenfeld is of the new dental philosophy of prevention rather than the traditional model of “drill and fill” dentistry. She, according to Dr. Shari Kohn of Dentistry For Kids in Hunt Valley, is also one of a fast-growing cohort of young women who are flocking to the field. Dr. Kohn said when she went to dental school more than 20 years ago there were few women in her classes. Today, in the classes she teaches at the University of Maryland, “there are more women than men. … This is a great profession for women, and we are really thriving and growing in it and growing in numbers.”
Dr. Blumenfeld said she was pre-med in college and involved in several internships. She was unsure where she would take that, but was one day talking to a family friend, telling him about her love of art — painting, sculpting. He told her to look into dentistry.
“I said, ‘I am not interested in putting my hands in people’s mouths, but thanks a lot,’” recalled Dr. Blumenfeld. “But a lot of dentistry is about being artistic. The first month [of dental school], we had to make a set of teeth out of wax. If you don’t have the hand skills, you can’t become a good dentist. A lot of it is artistry.”
Being a dentist, with all its precision (and its not-so-positive patient reputation) could be very stressful. Dr. Blumenfeld, who has a 2-year-old and a baby on the way, acknowledged that, but said she loves her field. The best dentists, she noted, are those who help people overcome their fears of sitting in the dentist’s chair.
“I get to empower the kids, which is different than general dentistry,” she said. “Helping the children overcome these fears is really rewarding.”
Dr. Blumenfeld loves children — and has the patience to educate them and their families about good oral hygiene. One of the major changes in the field, according to both Dr. Blumenfeld and Dr. Kohn, is the one-year dental visit.
“We have learned through dentistry over the years that mostly — if not all — problems can be prevented,” said Dr. Kohn. “If we get kids going to the dentist at a young age, we can hone in on prevention. We can also establish a dental home, a place to go for emergencies and questions and problems. You have someone to contact.”
Dr. Blumenfeld is all about education. She said she aims to teach parents about the importance of flossing and brushing, of course, but also about good dietary habits and the link between oral health and systemic health.
“What happens in your mouth, affects what happens in the rest of your body,” she said. “Prevention is really important. Once you get a kid who is 4 or 5 years old and never came to the dentist and the parents had no idea that having juice for multiple hours in a sippy cup wasn’t a good thing, it is a losing battle.”
How will Dr. Blumenfeld balance work and life, with two little kids and a growing pediatric practice? Said Dr. Blumenfeld: “I have a rally supportive husband who has made it easy for me to pursue my dreams.”
Maayan Jaffe is JT editor-in-chief firstname.lastname@example.org