Dentist Spotlight: Q&A with Dr. Lance Lambert on Dentist By 1

By Lora Vitek on October 19, 2022 in In the Community


In 2012, Delta Dental of Illinois and its Foundation launched the statewide Dentist By 1 campaign to educate parents and caregivers about the importance of taking their children to the dentist by age 1 and to encourage them to schedule a visit.

Over the years, the Foundation has hosted several Dentist By 1 two-day events at various colleges and universities in Illinois. As part of this program, oral health professionals attend a training session on the first day to become more comfortable working with children, who then apply this lesson on the second day when offering free dental care to children from throughout the state.

Dr. Lance Lambert has led the training sessions for oral health professionals for the Dentist By 1 events. He spoke at the most recent event held on Sept. 9 and 10 at Malcolm X College in Chicago on his interest leading these sessions, the impact of this event on dental professionals and children, the importance of visiting the dentist by age 1 and more.

Dr. Lance Lambert Q&A

Q: How long have you been participating in Dentist By 1, and what drew you to participate in it?

A: I have been doing Dentist By 1 for 10 years – this is the 10th year. I am very passionate about children’s oral health. It has been a neat opportunity to get out and share my excitement with other dentists and hygienists and dental people. And, frankly, I have a fun time. It’s helping kids having the clinics on [Day 2 of the event] after doing the [seminar for dental professionals on Day 1]. It’s just rewarding and fun getting to meet people.

Q: How do you see dentists/dental staffs grow and what do you hear from them after your seminar and their day of providing care?

A: Dentists/dental staff from training to care are like, “Wow, I’ve never thought of that before.” It’s not complicated, it’s not rocket science – you’re looking at the child, you’re talking to their parents. I guess the hardest part if you are not used to it is having little babies crying in your office.

Q: How do you and parents and caregivers see a child grow through this program?

A: When I have a child I have been seeing since they were 1 year old, they come in at 3 or 3-and-a-half years old and they are happy little patients, hopping up in the chair and excited to be there. If I have a child that comes in for their first visit at 3-and-a-half and never been to the dentist before, it is a different story. Those kids are much more anxious, it’s a lot harder. Harder for them, and harder for us.

Q: Why is it so important a child visits the dentist by age 1 and how important it is to make parents and caregivers aware of that fact through a program like this?

A: We want to establish good oral hygiene habits, good dietary habits and if you wait until a kid is 3 or 4 years old, a lot of that is pretty locked in, and if they are locked in with bad habits, it’s just going to be an uphill battle.

Q: How rewarding is it to be able to keep working with the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation and Dentist By 1 to participate in educating dental professionals and providing care?

A: I really have enjoyed doing this partly because I get to meet a lot of really great people who are interested in helping little kids have healthy smiles. It’s a blast to have the clinic [on Day 2 of the program] and have people who have never looked at a 12-months or 14-months-old mouth say, “Wow!” And the light goes on. As a teacher, that’s a big reward to me. That’s probably my biggest kick out of the whole thing!

Dr. Lambert presenting DB1

Dr. Lance Lambert leads the training session for oral health professionals on Sept. 9 at the Dentist By 1 event at Malcolm X College in Chicago.

Dr. Lambert with oral health professional at DB1

Dr. Lance Lambert poses for a quick photo with an oral health professional on the day of providing free dental care for Illinois children on Sept. 10 at the Dentist By 1 event at Malcolm X College in Chicago.