Dr. Emily Harding is a dentist, owner of Ivy Dental in Charlottesville and a mom of 2! Read her advice on how to help your child if they don’t exactly like going to the dentist and why she loves living in Charlottesville!
How many children do you have and what are their age(s)?
2 Kids. Adam ( 3 mo) and Addison (2.5 years)
How long have you lived in Charlottesville? What made you decide to live here?
I’ve been in Charlottesville for 8 years! Honestly, I knew very little about the town and didn’t know a soul when I moved here. I was escaping my home state and had family in Richmond which was comforting. I wanted to live in a college town with good local culture, good food, like minded people ( those who value education, diversity, the environment ect), and outdoor activities. C’ville seemed to fit the bill and I really couldn’t have been happier with my choice.
What’s your favorite family activity (in Charlottesville)?
Walking down to City Market on Saturday mornings or hitting Fridays After Five.
Where’s your favorite place to eat and/or shop in Charlottesville?
MAS ( not with the kids) or 3 Notch with the kids in tow. Not much of a shopper, currently I’m really looking forward to the Crozet Art Fair. I allow myself one piece every spring and fall for the office or our home.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m a dentist who hates the sound of people brushing their teeth. It gives me goosebumps.
What made you want to be a dentist?
I liked science but am not a fan of hospitals. I couldn’t picture myself sitting at a desk or in a lab. After shadowing some dental residents in high school I started volunteering with the dental school, went on to assist in the summers during college and followed through to dental school myself. I love that I get to chat with someone new every hour. Teeth are fun, but really it’s getting to know people that I enjoy. This profession forces you to get comfortable really quickly with strangers. I pride myself on being very approachable and not at all intimidating.
When should a child start going to the dentist?
Short Answer: When they have teeth. Long answer: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests children see a dentist by age 1. These initial visits are not so much for us to examine the teeth but to talk about feeding habits ( Eg: is the child still getting milk through the night and has teeth?), nutrition ( Eg: is your child getting juice? Are we snacking on simple carbs? Have we already developed a taste for sugary snacks?) and to give advice on oral hygiene for your little ones. It is also good to acclimate your child to the dental office starting at a young age. The idea of someone other than Mom or Dad looking in their mouth is strange until it becomes familiar. The big moving chair, the suction, the polishing brush we use can all be intimidating the first few times. In order for the dental office to become not a scary experience we work to build trust and familiarity over those short check up visits.
Do you have any advice for parents whose children don’t exactly like the dentist?
Find a dentist who is willing to work to build trust. Fearful kids seem to do better if they aren’t rushed. We don’t always get everything done at an appointment that we have planned. Maybe a kid is just having an off day. Is it worth it to me to push for a cleaning or Fluoride resulting in a negative experience if everything I see is healthy? No. As parents we all learn that we need to pick our battles and it’s the same in my office. Do I want to get the exam done and make sure the teeth are free of decay? Of course. But sometimes that is all we get done and we’ll try for more next time. I often invite parents to bring their fearful child on a slow day where they can go into the room, play with the suction, play with the buttons on the chair and get to know the space without having myself of one of our team members in the room. Baby steps 🙂
What is one piece of advice you wish someone told you about being a mother?
I’ve never had to work so hard to carve out some alone time. People can tell you to cherish the “you time” before you have kids but until you find yourself in full parent mode it doesn’t really click as to how difficult it can be. Of course I love my kids. I can’t wait to get home to my two little ones at the end of the day. I sometimes even run to the daycare over my lunch to get some baby snuggles. However, that 15 minutes in the morning to drink my coffee in silence or an hour solo at the gym is something I truly have come to cherish.