A new dawn for child-friendly dental care

A new dawn for child-friendly dental care

Libi Al Muzian shares her journey in building Sunrise Dental Clinic – a pioneering paediatric dental practice which specialises in child-friendly care.

Sunrise Dental Clinic was born out of a heartfelt desire to provide children with a dentistry tailored to their needs. This approach has been so successful that the Edinburgh practice has earned multiple awards for its outstanding orthodontic and paediatric dental care.

The practice is owned by Dr Libi (Lubna) Al Muzian, a specialist in paediatric dentistry, and her husband, Dr Mo (Mohammed) Al Muzian, a specialist orthodontist.

Limitations of conventional dentistry

Sunrise is a far cry from the environment Libi found herself in when studying for her DClinDent in Paediatric Dentistry. Practising at a dental hospital, she was surprised by the limitations around making the environment more child-friendly. 

She recalls: ‘There were so many restrictions. We were prohibited from putting stickers on the wall and wearing colourful scrubs. Then, in the private practice where I worked, I learned that despite our best efforts, it is difficult to provide a service for children within an adult environment.’

Libi perceived this as a personal challenge, and fortunately, her husband Mo embraced her vision for an innovative solution.

‘We knew we could provide services together in a child- and family-friendly environment. We wanted to provide a dental home rather than just a clinical space where people received dental treatment.’

‘A fun and inclusive space for children’

The realisation of their dream is evident in what they have built. Seamlessly blending the non-clinical with the clinical, Sunrise Dental Clinic is a fun and inclusive space for children – whatever their needs. Colourful furniture and posters, neon lights, a selfie station and a large Instagram screen are strategically situated throughout the waiting areas. There are iPads at child-level, but there is also a ‘business lounge’ – a nod to the adults who attend.

The brightly decorated surgeries are called studios – Singing Studio, Sparkle Studio, Smile Studio and Sky Studio – and are a haven for children of all ages. There is coloured seating, treasure boxes with take-home gifts, wall-mounted TV screens, a virtual skylight of blue sky and fluffy clouds, rainbow murals and a tree of photos of happy patients. It has all been carefully curated to offer positive early dental experiences.

A tailored environment

‘The TVs in the ceiling allow us to cater to patients’ interests. We find out what they like before they arrive and play it on the screen to break the ice. It helps us to speak their language immediately. Everything is designed to distract and form good memories,’ she says. From taking a picture in the selfie station when brushing their teeth to trying out different toothpaste flavours, every step of the patient journey is a positive reinforcement.

Libi’s argument for paediatric care in a specifically tailored environment is compelling.

‘Our general approach to paediatric dentistry in the UK is not always optimal. We have a family dentist where everybody attends. Then, if children require specialist input, they are referred to a dental hospital. But why not provide a service specific to their needs? When you enrol your children in activities like dance classes, you find classes tailored to their age group. Dentistry is the same. Children require a distinct approach, including specialised behavioural management techniques, which necessitate training and an understanding of psychology. There are key physiological and psychological considerations at play.’

Elevating the patient experience

Libi has developed multiple skills acquired through her doctorate and studies. But she has also added her own take on elevating the patient experience.

‘Before a child’s appointment, they can watch videos of our practice with their parents to familiarise themselves with the set-up. And also with me so I’m not a stranger when they come in. My social media gives them insight, too. Lots of information I would struggle to fit into the appointment. The result is that parents feel empowered, and the child is excited to come in because they have their expectations set. It’s all about building trust.’

Each new patient gets their photo taken in the dental chair, which is added to the gallery of faces in the waiting area to create a sense of community. Patients also get a second Polaroid to take home.

‘They can take home the Polaroid. Seeing themselves happy in our environment reinforces the message that they are safe at the dentist. We also give out flossers and disclosing tablets, a child-friendly book about teeth and sugar, and a leaflet about home dental care. The treasure chest contains toys, games, fidgets, blind bags, and squishy and soft toys. Every child who comes in and listens well can tick off their appointment and get a prize from that chest, and that’s a huge winner.’

Minimally invasive dentistry

Libi says the move towards minimally invasive dentistry within paediatric care has been a game-changer.

‘We follow the research showing that sealing caries is as effective as removing and sealing. This is a huge step forward because it means we can do much more to help children before their problems become more complex. Treatments like the Hall Technique and SDF to arrest caries have made things easier not just for children but also for treating clinicians and parents. Nobody wants to see children in pain.’

The sedation technique used is mostly inhalation sedation – a perfect tool for children with anxiety, children with autism or special educational needs. Also for children who require more complex treatment, like surgical exposures of canines and complicated extractions, Libi says.


And, because she understands children’s fear of needles, she uses The Wand from Dental Sky to deliver local anaesthetic. This computer-assisted system administers anaesthesia via a pen-like device to ensure a painless experience. Due to its appearance, it helps calm the most needle-phobic of patients. 

‘The only other experience children have of injections is their painful immunisation injections, so I explain that local anaesthetics are different and that their main job is to turn off their feelings. A huge part of desensitisation is making things appear differently from what they are, and The Wand achieves this because it does not look like an injection. I tell patients: “This is my sleepy tooth computer, which will make your tooth sleep.”

‘Single-tooth anaesthesia is also beneficial with autistic patients and patients with special educational needs. I have had numerous patients, old and young, with autism who have been able to tolerate treatment much better using The Wand because they don’t have that anaesthesia of the surrounding tissues to deal with postoperatively. It has a huge role in facilitating treatment for children, and it’s great for adults, too. Nobody wants to walk around feeling numb for the rest of the day.’


Libi’s role is hugely rewarding, but she knows her approach must remain fluid to meet the needs of what can be a demanding cohort of dental patients.

‘We aim to provide a child-friendly environment and enhance the overall experience because dental treatment can be difficult sometimes. While they might be the perfect patient at one appointment, the next time we meet, they might not be so compliant. If they are going through some difficulties at school, for example. 

‘Paediatric dentistry involves adjusting to children’s needs while asserting authority and fostering their confidence in your ability to provide optimal dental care. Creating a welcoming environment in our clinic helps children feel at ease.

‘When they immediately feel at home in our clinic, overcoming any other challenging aspects is much easier.’

For more information about The Wand, please visit www.dentalsky.com/wand_dental.

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