Posted by: Lisa | September 6, 2010

Free care for those peepers & choppers

At  my eye exam last year I casually asked my optometrist when he recommended that children get their first eye exam.  He told me that he would like to see all babies (I nodded, while thinking, “cha-ching!”).  But then he said does FREE eye exams on all babies under 12 months.  He does it as a service – a donation of time toward some charity that goes toward detecting and correcting vision problems in children.  He said the best age to do the eye exam is actually under 3 months because babies are less likely to grab the equipment, etc., but he’d do anyone under 12 months for no charge.  I immediately scheduled an appointment for Jacob, who was 9 months old at the time.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I mean, I know my kid is smart and all, but I wasn’t sure if he’d want to show off by reading all the eye charts.  Dr. Bigham actually didn’t even ask him to do that, though.  I guess he didn’t want to put Jacob on the spot.  He did, however, put the drops in his eyes so his pupils would dilate, and he shined his little flashlight in them.  I tried to hold Jacob’s hand down when he went to grab the flashlight, but Dr. Bigham told me to let go because it showed his eye-hand coordination, depth perception, etc.  At the end of the exam Dr. Bigham was able to tell me that Jacob was still slightly farsighted (normal for babies) but that he’d probably be nearsighted before too long thanks to heredity.  He also assured me that I didn’t have to worry about Jacob developing a lazy eye because his eye muscles were strong.  Then I walked right out without paying a cent.

Not long after this I decided to look into pediatric dentists.  I’d read in parenting magazines that you should take a child to a dentist when he gets his first tooth, and by this time Jacob had four.  I searched the websites for several local dentists and settled on one particular practice.  When I called to schedule an appointment, the receptionist told me I certainly could schedule a regular visit, but she wanted me to first consider their FREE dental workshop for babies/toddlers and their caregivers.  She said they offer it a couple times a month.  So we went.  One of the pediatric dentists and several of the hygienists were in the waiting room when we arrived.  They spread a giant blanket on the floor for the babies/toddlers to play on.  They handed out adorable stuffed animals with teeth (full sets of dentures glued into their open mouths) and giant-sized toothbrushes so the kids could practice brushing the dragons’ teeth.  There was a big tank of fish that kept Jacob’s attention, as well as other typical toys.  The dentist talked to the parents about healthy tooth care for babies/toddlers.  Most of what she said was common sense to me – things like not letting kids go to bed with a bottle, keeping sweets & sticky foods to a minimum, etc., but I also learned a few things, too.  She answered a few questions & then did a quick exam on each child’s mouth.  She was great with the kids and “counted” their teeth while checking to make sure everything looked good.  I left with a bag of goodies and again, no charge whatsoever.  Easily worth an hour of my time.

Some people say you can’t put a price on peace of mind, but I’m pretty sure “free” is a price everyone will approve!

I’ve never checked with other dentists or eye doctors, but I would imagine that if these two both offered a free exam for babies then there are probably others in Charlotte and in other cities that would do something similar.  I think it’s worth checking out.

For those in the Charlotte area, here is the info for the practices we used:

Dr. Kevin Bigham at First Choice Eyecare
7800 Stevens Mill Road – Suite A
Matthews, NC 28104

Pediatric Dentistry of Matthews
1340 Matthews Township Pkwy. – Suite 201
Matthews, NC 28105



  1. I love Pediatric Dentistry of Matthews! My kids went there until they “aged” out. Chris began going at 18 months when he knocked a tooth out right in the front – they measured the space and checked it every 6 months – if the space had ever closed up any they would have put a spacer in – didn’t have to do that, thank goodness.
    It was hysterical when Chris was 18 years old, 6’5″, driving himself to the pediatric dentist! Glad you found it worthwhile!

    • I’m glad to hear someone else knows that practice well & has good things to say about it! I hope we don’t “need” to go back again for another couple years, but it’s where I’d like to go once that day gets here. I always felt funny going to a pediatrician’s office as a teenager – the places are always decorated for such tiny kids!

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