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Soothing Kids' Fears While Protecting Their Teeth
Specialty: Pediatric Dentistry
• University of Southwestern Louisiana 1994
• LSU Health Sciences Center School of Dentistry 1999
Native of Sunset
Profile by Sarah Ravits | Portrait by Romero & Romero Photography
The biggest challenge that pediatric dentist Leslie Jacobs faces is making sure that skittish kids and their parents realize that going to the dentist should be a positive and even downright pleasant experience.
“Sometimes people have had a bad experience at another office, and it’s my job to turn them around and get them comfortable so they’re not afraid anymore,” she explains. “That’s one of the most rewarding things that I do. Sometimes they come in here, and they are so afraid that they’re crying.”
Jacobs, a mother of two young girls, Chloe and Callie, has always possessed a nurturing side. Growing up, she baby-sat constantly – sometimes for as many as 11 children at the same time. Her maternal instincts help her deal with dental problems in the youngsters she sees on a daily basis.
“We have a philosophy that everyone will leave happy, and we do whatever it takes to keep them happy and get everything done in the least-traumatic way possible,” she says. “All my assistants are moms, too, and sweet.”
Jacobs realized early on that she wanted to get involved with dentistry when, at the height of the all-too-unavoidable high school awkward phase, her self-described “buckteeth” were fixed by the magic of braces. “My orthodontist changed my life!” she says enthusiastically.
Feeling empowered by her newly straightened pearly whites, Jacobs knew that she was meant to improve others’ lives by fixing their teeth. “I was put in my profession for a reason; it’s who I am inside.”
She and her husband, Stacy Ste. Marie, an orthodontist, operate a private practice, which happens to be in close proximity to Meche’s, Acadiana’s popular sweet shop known for its award-winning king cakes and doughnuts. And though Jacobs acknowledges that cavities are a primary concern in children, she remains pragmatic about little ones’ natural inclination toward sugary treats.
“Oh, they can have sugar – you just have to get it off your teeth after,” she says. “I never tell anyone they can’t have candy or sugar. That’s not realistic. I just tell them how to prevent cavities by getting it off their teeth.” Cavities, she says, are 100 percent preventable, and one of her biggest goals is to teach parents how to prevent them in young children. “Sometimes someone will come in here with eight or 10 cavities at 3 years old,” she says. “And it’s because no one ever taught the parents how to deal with it.”
At the end of the day, Jacobs leaves her office feeling fulfilled. “How could I ever complain with what I have to do?” she muses. “Nothing about my job is hard to me; it’s just rewarding and fun. We have a lot of people who have orthodontic problems; we do a lot of cosmetics, as well. Kids get teased in school about blemishes on their teeth, so I can put veneers on their teeth, and it changes their whole lives. They feel more confident, and they don’t get teased anymore. I can make people smile beautifully in an hour. I love my little babies; I love all my patients, and they always leave happy.”