The First Dental Visit … and Beyond

The Santa Barbara Children’s Dental Practice is the realized dream of Dr. Annie Pham-Cheng (or Dr. Annie), who has had a long history of providing comprehensive and expert dental care to children in the southwestern suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Annie has designed the office here, in Goleta, with the children’s safety and comfort in mind. You will find the office inviting, comfortable, and relaxing. Besides the flying clowns and cheery walls, you will also find state of the art equipment including digital radiography, OSHA-approved sterilization system, and computerized records.

Dr. Annie has long been a firm believer that dentistry is an integral part of medical care, and that a child’s oral health is of paramount importance to his/her overall well-being. She will spend the time to know the child not just as a dental patient, but also as a person with a specific medical history. With two children in Montessori school and having learned more about the Montessori methodology, Dr. Annie also firmly believes in the fact that children can and will learn anything given some freedom, patience, and a “prepared environment”. This includes learning about the dental office and procedures.

Our primary goal is to give each child an enjoyable experience in the dental office. To increase your child’s understanding and relieve any anxiety, Dr. Annie uses the “tell-show-do” method of behavioral management. She will explain what will be done and demonstrate it outside the mouth (or on a sibling or a doll) before beginning the procedure on the child.

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Young children and children who have had an unfavorable experience with a previous dentist will be apprehensive and may cry. Please do not let the crying upset you as it is a child’s normal reaction to a strange environment, and Dr. Annie will know how to console them. Older children and those who have had some experience with the dentist also benefit from the “tell-show-do” method as Dr. Annie uses the process to build communication and trust.

Before your child’s first visit, you can order through Dr. Annie’s office a customized Dentasaurus book. The book is illustrated and customized with the child’s name and serves as a fun and non-threatening introduction to the dentist. Please read the book together often and try to familiarize him/her with the few ideas mentioned in the book. Feel free to relate your own positive dental stories, however leaving out as much detail as possible as this will unnecessarily worry the child. For older children, please explain to him/her that Dr. Annie will have her own unique way of doing dentistry, and that they should ask Dr. Annie in person when they come to the office. Dr. Annie’s treatment plan and clinical approach to each child is different, tailored to the child’s dental needs, as well as their emotional and physical maturity. On the first visit, you will be requested to complete a medical and dental health history for your child.

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Over time, Dr. Annie strives to establish rapport with your child by developing a friendly and trusting relationship with him/her. Because of this, parents are encouraged to let the child come down to the treatment room without parental escort (except for parents of an infant or toddler). If parents do accompany the child to the treatment room, please watch for cues from Dr. Annie as sometimes she will need you to be a “silent partner” so that she may get all of the child’s attention. Working together, with all this preparation, we can succeed in providing your child with feelings of comfort and trust.

If there are specific concerns or a special need, please do not hesitate to call prior to the appointment so that we may address these issues accordingly. The Santa Barbara Children’s Dental Practice would like to warmly welcome you and your child and looks forward to providing many years of healthy, happy, and confident smiles.