A Pediatric Dentist is a dentist specially trained to meet the needs of infants, children, teens, and patients with special needs. A minimum of two years of postdoctoral pediatric dental training is required.
At Durham Pediatric and Orthodontics, Dr. John Christensen & Dr. Felicia Swinney are both pediatric dentists. Their specialized training has prepared them to recognize and treat the unique dental needs of infants, children, teens and patients with special needs. They provide the most up-to-date and comprehensive dental care available for their pediatric patients.
Dr. Christensen also completed two years of postdoctoral training in orthodontics. He is one of a handful of practitioners in the United States who has specialty training to practice both pediatric dentistry and orthodontics. This unique combination of specialties allows children to receive comprehensive pediatric dental and orthodontic care in one office.
When should I start bringing my child to the dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children should visit the dentist at age one or after the eruption of the first tooth. The goal of examining the infant is to make sure the teeth are healthy and to also provide information to parents regarding oral hygiene and diet to prevent tooth decay. Our doctors and staff will provide you with information on how to properly care for your child’s teeth. They will discuss cavity prevention and provide you with information on treating dental emergencies.
The First Appointment
Our goal is for your child to have a positive experience during this initial visit. We will treat your child in the most gentle, caring way possible. Dr. John and our clinical staff have years of experience and training working specifically with young children.
The first dental visit for our youngest patients consists of an oral examination followed by a question and answer session with the parents. The doctors will likely do a knee-to-knee examination, where your child remains in your lap for the examination. After the examination, Dr. John or Dr. Felicia will discuss their findings and provide recommendations on how to best to care for your child’s changing mouth. They may also recommend a fluoride varnish be applied to your child’s teeth to strengthen them.
For our older patients, our clinical staff may also clean, polish and floss your child’s teeth at this appointment. A fluoride treatment will also be applied. If your child’s back molar teeth are touching, we may obtain digital x-rays to assess tooth, bone, and gum health. If we do not complete all of these procedures at your child’s first visit, we will gradually add them at future appointments. As your child grows, we will focus on age appropriate education on oral hygiene instructions, individualized for each patient.
How to Prepare Your Child for Their Appointment
Please discuss the positive aspects of dentistry to your child. A dental visit is part of growing up. Explain that Dr. John and Dr. Felicia are gentle, friendly, and happy to see them. They will “look, count, and clean” their teeth.
We recommend you avoid telling your child that the dentist “will not hurt,” as this may have never entered their minds. We recommend you avoid using words such as needle, shots, drills, or others that may create fear or anxiety.
Dental treatment and materials have improved over the years, making most dental procedures pain free. When parents or siblings share their past dental experiences with a child, they often create unnecessary fear and anxiety.
We will provide individualized and compassionate care to your child in a warm and supportive environment. Laughter and lightheartedness are the norm in our office. With your help and cooperation, we are confidant your child will leave our office with healthy teeth and positive feelings towards our dental team.
Years of experience has shown us that the greatest thing you can do to prepare your child for their first visit is to simply expect them to do well!
What to Expect:
When you arrive at our office, your child will be greeted by one of our friendly front office staff. They will offer your child a selection of stickers to write their name on. They will collect your completed health history form and insurance information. We will also ask your child if they would like to brush their teeth before they are examined. We have a brush-up area where children can brush their teeth with pre-pasted, disposable toothbrushes. All patients coming from school or daycare are encouraged to brush their teeth while their parents are checking in at our front desk.
A member of our clinical team will then meet you and your child in the reception room and bring you back to our clinic area. Here you will meet other members of our dental team. We will review your child’s health history and let your child select a colorful, new toothbrush. We offer sunglasses to protect sensitive eyes before turning on the exam light. We use a technique called “Tell-Show-Do” from the first visit. “Tell-Show-Do” is a technique where we tell your child what we plan to do, demonstrate or show what we will do, and finally, do the procedure. We will use terminology that is familiar to your child and explain how all of our special dental tools work — including the chair.
To evaluate the health of your child’s teeth and gums, Dr. John or Dr. Felicia will perform a head and neck examination. The doctor and staff will tell your child that they are “counting” their teeth while the examination is being performed. Depending on the age and cooperation of the child, we will clean the teeth and apply topical fluoride to strengthen the teeth. If your child’s back teeth are touching, we may obtain digital bite-wing x-rays to assess tooth, bone, and gum health. If we do not complete all of these procedures at your child’s first visit, we will gradually add them at future appointments.
Education & Information
Our staff will discuss preventive issues with you and your child and review oral hygiene instructions. They will discuss toothpaste use, fluoride exposure and provide diet and nutrition recommendations. Patients receive a ”Report Card” at each 6 month exam appointment explaining what treatment was performed, their child’s oral hygiene score (1-10) and recommendations for home care. Any procedures that need to be completed at a future visit will be explained, along with the treatment fee. Your child will leave with a new toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, stickers and a prize from our prize closet!
No Cavity Club!
If your child does not have cavities, they will become a member of our famous “No Cavity Club!” We will take their picture and they will receive a photo button that they can proudly wear home. If they do have decay, they will receive their “No Cavity Club” button once their cavities have been “fixed.”
Parents are Always Welcome!
You are welcome to accompany your child into the treatment area. We have a comfortable seating area where you may observe our doctors and staff in action. Please note that the space is limited so we ask that only one parent come along. Siblings and other family members should remain in our reception area.
Our experience teaches us that children do best when parents assume the role of silent observer. Dr. John and Dr. Felicia must establish trust and cooperation directly with your child.
While we welcome parents in our treatment area, it is not required. In fact, some parents find their child has a better experience when all family members remain in the reception area. As your child grows older and becomes more comfortable in our office, we recommend tapering-off your participation. Give your child the opportunity to accomplish dental visits independently. At the end of the appointment, we will ask you to come to the treatment area to review what was done and discuss home care recommendations.
As your child grows, periodic, six month dental visits will become part of your routine. Explain that going to the dentist is similar to visiting the pediatrician. Dr. John and Dr. Felicia will help you maintain a healthy mouth and provide gentle and friendly care.
Our goal is for your child to have a positive experience in our office. We believe that children who receive care in a caring and compassionate fashion will remain lifelong dental patients. We truly treat your children as if they were our own and provide treatment in the most gentle, caring way possible. Our entire team has years of training and experience with pediatric care and we enjoy working with children and young adults.