Durham Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics

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Children's Dental Services

Serving Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Apex, and the surrounding areas

What is a Pediatric Dentist?

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 Dentistry & Orthodontics, Dr. Rob Christensen, Dr. John Christensen, and Dr. Jamie Molina are all Board Certified 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. John Christensen is also an orthodontist. 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 recommends that children should visit the dentist at age one or (within six months) 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 individualized recommendations on how to properly care for your child’s teeth. 

baby with dr

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. Rob, Dr. Jamie, 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 in-depth dental history review followed by an oral examination. The doctors will likely complete a knee-to-knee examination, where your child remains in your lap. After the examination, Dr. Rob or Dr. Jamie will discuss their findings and provide recommendations on how to best care for your child’s teeth. 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. Dr. Rob and Dr. Jamie will then perform a head and neck examination 

A fluoride treatment will also be applied. If your child’s back molar teeth are touching, we may obtain digital x-rays to check for cavities and to assess tooth and bone health. If we do not complete all of these procedures at your child’s first visit, we will gradually introduce them at future appointments. As your child grows, we will focus on individualized, age-appropriate education. 

How to Prepare Your Child for Their Appointment

Please discuss the positive aspects of dentistry with your child. Explain that Dr. Rob and Dr. Jamie are gentle, and friendly, and will be 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. When parents or siblings share their past dental experiences with a child, they risk creating 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 norms in our office. With your help and cooperation, we are confident 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!

Exam and Cleaning

To evaluate the health of your child’s teeth and gums, Dr. Rob and Dr. Jamie 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!

buttons on front desk

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 bench 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. Rob and Dr. Jamie 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.

Regular Check-Ups

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. Rob and Dr. Jamie will help you maintain a healthy mouth and provide gentle and friendly care.