Legacy of Care
Caring for patients is a family tradition for the dentists of Pediatric & Adolescent Dentistry of the Main Line
by Sharon A. Shaw


Dr. Winslow Harshaw didn’t have to look far for inspiration when deciding on his career path. His grandfather was a pediatrician and resident of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, while his father, Dr. Robin Harshaw, chose to become a pediatric dentist. Both father and son completed their residencies in pediatric dentistry at CHOP, taught at University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine—where Dr. Winslow Harshaw is the course director of pediatrics—and now work together at their practice Pediatric & Adolescent Dentistry of the Main Line. They were joined 12 years ago by Dr. Micaella Schocker, a University of Pennsylvania graduate and native of Brazil, whose mother and aunts continue to practice dentistry and orthodontics there. After receiving her D.M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Dr. Schocker completed her residency in Pediatric Dentistry at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in inner-city Philadelphia. All three are board certified—a distinction that only 50 to 60 percent of pediatric dentists have. 


The trio is focused on the health, well-being and comfort of their patients, as well as the education they provide to parents and to the relationships they maintain with the entire family. Dr. Robin Harshaw enjoys making the kids happy and comfortable. “You have to be friends with them first,” he says. “Our approach is to get on their level and be friendly.” His son Winslow says that the kids make his job more pleasant and that “kids bring a smile to all who work with them.”


“You have to think like a kid. … Get into their world,” adds Dr. Schocker. “You forget you are growing older. I think I am the same age as when I started.” She enjoys helping children achieve proper growth and development, teaching them good habits for a lifetime of good health. “A cavity is the first sign of not choosing the right foods,” she says. Dr. Schocker believes nutrition is a very important aspect of oral health. She recommends three meals and two snacks a day. “Avoid filling up on calories and having no room for the right foods,” she says. “Keep snacking to a minimum.”


Indeed the Harshaws agree that refined carbohydrates are to blame for many cavities. “Look carefully at ingredients,” says Dr. Winslow Harshaw. “Avoid the snack foods aisle. Even though they are not sweet, many other things cause cavities.” His father adds, “It the frequency of exposure to refined sugars—not the quantity—that is to blame.”


“Early intervention is helpful to establish a good relationship and educate parents,” says the elder Dr. Harshaw. “We like to emphasize ‘Early visits create healthy smiles’ as a theme of our practice. We like to see children by age 1 for what we call a ‘risk assessment.’ At 3 years old a child has 20 primary teeth. Fifty percent of 5-year-olds have cavities in this country. At 1 year old we can see problems clinically. If we catch problems early we can prevent devastating results.”


Some of the treatment he recommends may include changing eating habits, using fluoride or improving hygiene. According to Dr. Winslow Harshaw, sealants are another effective treatment for children. “Sealants are one of the most effective preventative measures,” he says. “We have almost eliminated that form of cavity. Not all sealants are created the same, though.”


“We share a lot of the same philosophy on treatment and disease—how to treat patients, the level of work and procedures,” says Dr. Schocker. “We have respect for each other, we share advice, and we are proud of each other’s work.”


Other technological advances the practice uses to improve a child’s dental care and experience include laser-assisted dentistry that can prepare a tooth without using a drill, intraoral cameras, the use of a vacuum system called Isolite that helps to keep materials out of the throat during procedures, and aesthetic composite materials and crowns minimizing the use of metal materials in the mouth.


Dr. Robin Harshaw has seen many things change in his years of practice. “The quality of care has increased dramatically,” he says, noting advancements such as thorough diagnostic lasers, safer digital X-rays and bonding materials that require less structure to be removed and allow for smaller fillings. The practice, which keeps evening and Saturday hours to accommodate its patient’s busy schedules, is also licensed to perform sedation dentistry in the office and maintains privileges at CHOP and Bryn Mawr Hospital.


A few years ago when its office was devastated by a fire, Pediatric & Adolescent Dentistry of the Main Line had to rent space at several other locations while its own facilities were being rebuilt and replaced with all-new equipment. Though it was a challenging 20 months, Dr. Robin Harshaw says the practice was able to keep most of its staff and patients, many of whom traveled quite a bit and endured unusual circumstances with its temporary offices. “We are grateful for the relationships with our patients and the loyalty they have demonstrated over the years,” he says. “This year we are celebrating our 36th year of practice in Bryn Mawr.”


The doctors also share a passion for service. The Harshaws have both traveled on several overseas missions providing dental care to poor and orphaned children. “It is important to give back to people who are less fortunate and would not otherwise receive care,” says Dr. Robin Harshaw. “Years ago my mentor told me, if you are conscientious, providing the best possible care and service for your patients and families, everything else will be just fine.”


Pediatric & Adolescent Dentistry of the Main Line

780 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr

Phone: 610-527-2434

Web: www.pdmainline.com


Rob Hall is a photographer based in Plumsteadville.