Dr. John Nathan envisioned a career in academics after completing the three-year residency in Pediatric Dentistry and the Master of Dental Science program at the University of Connecticut in 1979. This led him to direct the Residency Training Program at the University of Illinois College of Dentistry, Chicago Medical Campus until 1986, where he opened his practice limited to infants, children, adolescents, the neurologically challenged, and the medically compromised in Oak Brook.
Dr. Nathan remains active in academic life, serving as Adjunct Professor of Pediatric Dentistry at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, Case Western Reserve University, and Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, Cleveland, and the University of Iowa. Closer to home, he is Associate Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology and Dentistry at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, attending house staff at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (formerly Children’s Memorial) for more than 20 years, and active staff at both Adventist Hinsdale and Delnor Hospitals. He achieved diplomate status (board certification) of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry in 1983 and has since served as consultant to the American Board and participated in the writing and development of its examinations.
His exemplary credentials aside, Dr. Nathan’s most distinguishing characteristic might just be the kindness and sense of calm that surrounds him and fills his office. Set in a mid-century modern building, the floor-to-ceiling windows and open environment are designed to welcome both patients and parents, who are encouraged and invited to be present with their children during all aspects of all visits. “We always involve the parents in treatment, discussions, and decisions related to the care of their children,” he says. Having the familiar face and comforting presence of a parent goes a long way in reducing and intercepting apprehension in children as they experience the unfamiliar sensations of a dental visit. Dr. Nathan believes that the arbitrary separation technique that many dentists and pediatric dentists rely on is generally unproductive and unnecessary and does not serve to help young children adapt and accept care.
Dr. Nathan’s office, which is a no-restraint zone, takes a child-oriented approach, and he makes it his mission to always see situations through the eyes of the child. “Our daily goal is to approach each child as an individual and to treat each child in the manner in which each of us would like to be treated. “ Fearful and timid, children simply demand more time and patience. “Regardless how challenging one child may present, we strive to make every experience as pleasant and friendly as possible—always with a smile.”
Children and parents both benefit from Dr. Nathan’s blend of upfront honesty and gentle demeanor. “Because dentistry is openly viewed as unpleasant in our society and does involve a degree of discomfort, it should not be surprising that dental treatment has the potential to represent a threatening event for some children,” Dr. Nathan explains. He adds that while most children can and do respond favorably to a soft, gentle, and kind demeanor, there are some who may have had an unpleasant dental experience or who may be lacking in cooperative ability regardless of age.
For these children, alternative approaches, including sedation, may be appropriate. Dr. Nathan is recognized nationally as one of the top experts in pediatric sedation and management of the fearful and apprehensive young dental patient. Because of his vast experience in this area, he is often able to help even severely anxious children and their parents avoid resorting to treatment in a hospital or surgical center setting under general anesthesia. Dr. Nathan is frequently asked by pediatric dentists what sedation medications and amounts should be used under circumstances where general anesthesia is not possible or prohibitively costly.
“I am the one generalists, pediatricians, and other pediatric dentists call for the really tough cases,” Dr. Nathan admits. Whether it’s the child’s level of fearfulness, the complexity of the required treatment, or the extensiveness of the child’s medical history that is the challenge, Dr. Nathan and his team will solve the problem in the least stressful manner possible.
For the same reasons that pediatricians see infants for well-baby checkups, Dr. Nathan recommends all infants be seen for their first dental visit at or before their first birthday. The opportunity to meet parent and child at this early stage almost always enables his staff to prevent and intercept dental disease from the outset. This timely visit helps parents to best understand their role in toothbrushing, the proper use of fluoride, and to make use of sound principles of nutrition to foster optimal dental health. For the more routine elements of pediatric dentistry, including twice yearly checkups and cavities, Dr. Nathan handles those with the same ease he brings to his most challenging cases.
Perhaps no one can match Dr. Nathan’s referral network. Because of his university affiliations, his local and nationwide teaching, and all-around good nature, he is in touch with pediatric dentists, pediatricians, dentists, and other pediatric sub-specialists across the country, always willing to share advice and help a colleague. In turn, they refer families relocating to his area and nominate Dr. Nathan to the most prestigious short lists. In May, 2012, Dr. Nathan was recognized by his peers as one of the “Top Pediatric Dentists in the Western Suburbs.” His patients and their parents certainly agree.
John E. Nathan, DDS, MDS and Associates is located at 815 Commerce Drive, Suite 220, Oak Brook. To learn more, call 630 574-7336, or visit johnenathandds.com.