Dr. Beverly Largent has been a pediatric dentist in Paducah for 34 years. She takes pride in not only treating children’s teeth but educating parents about best practices for ensuring a healthy smile. Hugs from clients are her favorite reward, but after hours, you will most likely catch her engrossed in a good book. iMeet the dentist to many kids, including mine!
Welcome to iMeet, Dr. Largent. Tell us about yourself…
I was born and raised in McCracken County. I am the oldest of four siblings, all of whom reside in Kentucky. I graduated from St. Mary High School and the dental hygiene program at Southern Illinois University.
I worked as a dental hygienist for almost 10 years before returning to college at Murray State University. From there I attended dental school at the University of Kentucky and the Pediatric Dental Program at UK.
Did you always want to be a dentist?
A number of years ago a grade school classmate told me that I had wanted to be a dentist since the second grade. I don’t remember that, but I’m going with it – it’s a great story!
Tell us about your husband and family…
I am married to my childhood (teenage) sweetheart. We have two adult children and six grandchildren ranging in age from 20 to one year. There are three boys and three girls - the older children live in Paducah, and the younger ones live in South Carolina, so we travel to see them about 10 times a year. My husband is retired and takes very good care of me.
You’ve been a dentist for a long time. How and why did you choose Pediatric dentistry?
I have been in practice 34 years. I’m not really sure of why I chose Pediatric Dentistry; primarily because I saw a need. I like children - they are wonderful and make my day - every day! During the years I worked as a hygienist, it seemed to me that children were an afterthought, little people who had to be dealt with if you wanted to keep the adults in the dental practice. I wanted a place where the children were the most important people.
What is the best part of your job? What is the hardest?
Two best parts, first the hugs from the children, especially if it was a difficult procedure. I also feel a great reward when children have a difficult time with the first restorative visit, and then become very mature and accepting of dentistry for future treatment.
Hands down the most difficult part of my job is motivating parents and children to brush thoroughly. And, also to change their diet to include more healthful foods and drink with less sugar.
You are involved with the ADA and AAPD. Tell us about the roles you have served or currently serve...
Participating in organized dentistry has been one of my most enjoyable hobbies, and I feel that I can make a difference. My first experience was enabled by a local dentist who nominated me to a Kentucky Dental Association committee.
I participated in many committees of the KDA, and when my youngest child was nearing high school graduation. I served a term as the president of the Kentucky Dental Association. This was a very exciting time, since I was the first female to assume that role in the 100 plus years of the organization.
As past president of the KDA, I served on the American Dental Association Council on Ethics, By-Laws and Judicial Affairs. This was a very educational three year term. I was a member of the ADA House of Delegates (the ADA governance system), for over 10 years.
Five years after my term as the KDA president, I started the rotation for president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. This commitment was for five years from secretary treasurer to past president.
I was a member of the board of trustees of the AAPD for over 8 years. Many of these activities overlapped. As AAPD president I was chairman of the board, and although it was challenging there were great rewards. Again, I was the first female in the role of President of the AAPD.
I have served a three-year term as president of Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children, the Foundation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. I currently serve as Nominations Chair for the Foundation. I am also the Editor of KDA today, the Journal of the Kentucky Dental Association.
You have developed a very strong practice over the years and patients come from many counties. What’s the key to your success?
I am a provider for most insurance, private and public. The first visit is when the decisions are made. It is the first impression for the parents, a time when treatment plans are presented, and the children can interact in the office.
The most complementary patients are ones who return every six months for re-care visits, traveling those same hours, after the immediate dental needs are resolved. They could as easily seek these visits from a local dentist.
I think that children become long term patients because they feel comfortable, and there is a high level of trust between the parent and the dentist.
What’s the best advice that you can give a new parent about taking care of their children’s teeth?
Parents should be prepared to brush their children’s teeth as soon as they can be seen in the mouth. Tooth brushing is then as normal as bathing. Parents should also be aware of a good diet for very young children. Weaning from the breast or bottle at one year of age and limiting between meal sugars is invaluable. Children should never be put to bed with a liquid that contains sugar - including milk.
Working with kids, I’m sure you see it all. Any memorable/funny tales to share?
Children are always amusing, if you just listen to their stories. One of the most memorable days came with a comment from a three-year-old boy. The boy and his sister were in my office for an exam, and they were seated near one another. As I examined the girl, the young boy came to stand near me and watched. I told him how much I admired his red hair. I asked him where he got such beautiful hair. He thought for a moment, and then replied Wal-Mart. I was amazed, and amused with his flip answer. I was privileged to have this boy in my practice for over 15 years. His personality remained the same.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Free time! What’s free time? I think I have been overscheduled for as long as I can remember. That is likely my greatest flaw.
I love parties. I love to decorate and cook for guests. I have innumerable sets of china, glass wear and silver services. (Many of these are from estate auctions). I enjoy planning events, and a 40-person Thanksgiving celebration is not unusual.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
I love to read. I like nothing better (well almost) than to binge read in my pajamas. I can become a zombie! I currently have four books on my list and my favorite author is Ken Follett.