There’s a new team member at Charlotte Pediatric Dentistry. Sweet smiling ATKINS is a rehabilitative facility dog who will be joining us on select days each month. ATKINS is certified to mitigate dental anxiety by providing Animal Assisted Intervention for pediatric dental patients. ATKINS is available by request, for no additional fee, to assist your child during dental cleanings and most dental restorative procedures.

If your child is anxious about visiting the dentist, then please contact our team for additional details. Currently ATKINS is visiting patients at our Waverly office only.

How is ATKINS, Rehabilitative Facility Dog, benefiting our patients?

Our pediatric patients love her! ATKINS walks them back to the dental chair, and she will model how to have their teeth examined. She jumps up in the chair, gets her own patient napkin and has her teeth checked with a mirror. Patients then have a choice how they would like ATKINS to sit with them during their appointment. She can sit on their lap in the chair and provide Deep Pressure Therapy. This Deep Pressure Therapy is proven to reduce anxiety. If they are more comfortable with less contact, she can sit at the end of the chair or beside the chair.  At the end of the appointment ATKINS loves to show off some of her fun commands like fist bump, turn, wave and roll! She even has a special basket that she uses to bring them their toothbrush!

What is ATKINS’ background and training?

ATKINS is a yellow Labrador Retriever that was raised and trained by the paws4people® Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Wilmington, N.C. ATKINS began her training when she was only a few weeks old. She knows over 100 commands and was specifically trained for her job at Charlotte Pediatric Dentistry. She and her primary handler, Barbara, trained together for 50 hours before ATKINS began seeing patients. For more information about ATKINS training and to hear more about  paws4people®, visit their website at paws4people.org.

How do I schedule my child with ATKINS?

Let our team know that you would like to schedule your child on a day that ATKINS is in the Waverly office. Your child will definitely get to meet her. We do, however, triage where her assistance is needed the most throughout the day.  Your child isn’t guaranteed that ATKINS will be with them during their entire appointment.

Who owns ATKINS and where does ATKINS live?

ATKINS is owned by paws4people® and is assigned to her Primary Handler, Barbara  Kucera. When ATKINS is not working, she lives with Barbara and is a member of the Kucera family. At home she is a playful dog who loves to play ball, go for walks and catch a Frisbee! 

What about infection control? How can a dog be in a dental office?

Assistance and Facility Dogs are being utilized nationwide in various medical settings including oncology clinics to relax patients during chemotherapy.

Like an oncology clinic, a dental office is a clean environment, not a sterile environment. An example of a sterile environment would be a hospital surgical setting. Patients in non-sterile settings enter the treatment area with germs on their clothes, on their skin and in their hair. When ATKINS assists with a patient, she is either on the patient’s lap, at the foot of the dental chair or on the floor near the patient, several feet from the patient’s mouth and sterile instruments being used.

What precautions have you put in place for patients that have a fear of dogs or have a dog allergy?

Please let our front office team know of your concern and our team will make sure your child is separated from the area of the office where our Facility Dog, ATKINS, is working.