Credentials, experience, and associations are extremely important aspects to look for in a pediatric dentist. What makes one stand out from the other? WHO they are. Our Doctor Spotlight series allows our tiny patients and parents to get a glimpse into the doctors’ lives. Come get to know us!
Meet Dr. Carrie Dunlap
Dr. Dunlap received her Doctor of Dental Surgery in 2004 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Fueling her passion for pediatric dentistry, she participated in extramural rotations at the Oral Surgery Department at UNC and the Pediatric Dental Clinics of Cumberland and Orange counties. Being a mother of three children, Dr. Dunlap treats children with patience, compassion, and the same care as if each one is her own.
Why did you decide to focus on pediatric dentistry rather than general dentistry?
I practiced for two years in a general dental practice before joining Charlotte Pediatric Dentistry in 2006. Throughout those two years, I realized that I was called to work with children. Children have always held a special place in my heart. I started babysitting around age 12 and enjoyed being around children. Kids are so full of life, humor, and joy. I can relate to them on many levels and feel so comfortable around kids of all ages.
Do you have kids?
I am the proud parent of 3 children. My son Carson is 13. I also have a 12-year-old daughter, Caroline, and a 7-year-old daughter, Campbell. Carson loves all sports, especially baseball, football, and basketball. Caroline loves to dance competitively and play basketball. Campbell enjoys drawing, dance, and playing with her friends.
What are some of your “tricks” to help ease kids’ fears about their dental visits?
I talk to kids in a way that they will understand and that makes them feel comfortable. Kids want to know what is going on when they are in the dental chair. I explain things to them step-by-step while I am completing a procedure. I find out each child’s unique interest and go from there. If they like a certain princess like Elsa, then they get an “Elsa tooth” that day. The toothbrush “races” on their teeth, like Lightning McQueen, to make it shiny. If they’re a Batman fan, they get a “Batman tooth.”
When giving local anesthetic, I tell them we are using “sleepy juice” to put their tooth to sleep, and they may even hear their tooth “snore.” If I need a longer distraction, I tell the story of Pete the Cat. It’s a fantastic children’s book where Pete’s shoes change color depending on what he steps in. I tell the child what Pete stepped in and they will guess what color his shoes turned.
What’s the best part of your day?
The best part of my day is putting my youngest child Campbell to bed. We do a page out of a seek-and-find book and read. I used to read to her, but now she is reading to me! Campbell is a talker and when I’m putting her to bed, she tells me all about her day.
What’s your favorite kids’ show?
My favorite cartoon is Tom and Jerry. I like that it is a calm and quiet show. It’s not really a kids’ show, but my girls and I like to watch Cupcake Wars. We love to bake and it’s neat to see all the cool things they make on that show.
What’s your favorite color?
Probably Carolina blue for obvious reasons or aqua and teal because they remind me of a tropical ocean.
Do you have a sweet tooth? If so, what’s your favorite sweet?
I love sweets a bit too much! My absolute favorite sweet treat is a really good birthday cake. It must be really good to be worth the splurge. My husband has learned the difference between good cake and bad cake. The icing is my favorite!
Have you always wanted to be a dentist? If not, what did you want to be as a kid?
I always knew I would likely do something in the medical field. I always loved biology, math, and health. My first real job was in a dental office when I was only 14. I worked there from age 14 through college. This job provided me the opportunity to learn all aspects of a dental office. I knew it would take hard work to obtain the goal, but this experience helped me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I enjoyed developing relationships with patients through the years while working in the practice and saw the positive impact I could have on people.
Do you have a role model or a mentor? Why do you look up to them?
Many people have helped shape me into the person I am today. The most influential has been my parents and my sister. My parents constantly sacrificed to provide me with many opportunities. They taught me to have a strong work ethic and to believe in myself. With these two things, any goal I have can be accomplished. They taught me to put God first in all I do and the rest will fall into place. My sister is someone I will always look up to. She is a wonderful mother to three girls and has so much wisdom to offer. She is an encourager to everyone around her and has such a gentle spirit.
As far as my mentor in dentistry, I may not have ended up in the dental profession if it weren’t for Dean Clodfelter, DMD, who gave me my first job in a dental office. He allowed me to work at the young age of 14 in his practice and gave me the opportunity to really understand what being a dentist involved.
What is your favorite sports team?
My favorite sports teams are any team my kids play on. Those are my most favorite games to watch. Our family also enjoys going to the Carolina Panther games. We have many fond memories from those games.
Finish this sentence: When I was a kid… my dad would grow corn to give me and my sister a summer job. After the corn was fully grown, my sister and I would have to wake up at 5:00 am to pick the corn. Then, we would sit by the side of the road to sell it. We got to keep the money we made. It was in the heat of the summer, and at the time, I didn’t enjoy it. Looking back, I realize the lesson of the value of hard work that it taught me.