BY DR. TINA MERHOFF, Pediatric Dentist
Our mission is a matter of attitude and commitment in putting the needs of children first. It is our pledge that we might always be in pursuit of excellence in caring for your child.
I think we all seek sanctuary in our lives, but certainly we find challenges at times. When I started this practice 15 years ago, I set a new course of challenges of combining my faith, work and family. There was no way to predict where we would be today, what joy this would bring to my life – and how quickly time would pass.
When my girls, Maddie and Abbie, were young, we could “childproof” our homes placing baby gates on stairs for safety. Teen proofing isn’t quite that easy. My girls are a part of the first generation to grow up in the age of the digital imprint – easily shared, not so easily deleted. Needless to say, seeking safe sanctuary in our home with faith, hope and love are at our core.
From the moment our patients walk through the door, our team is committed to providing a loving environment sprinkled with fun. Yet we create an experience that goes beyond their oral health and speaks life into their lives amidst whatever they have heard on the news, radio, or school.
As a pediatric dentist, the time we spend with our patients is fleeting. They begin to outgrow our “giraffe room” as they turn toward their teen years. So from the moment these beautiful faces look up at us for the first time, we provide a sanctuary for them.
Sharing Sanctuary: “Children First”
Dana Blankley – His Time to Teach
Dana Blankley, one of our earliest patients, is all grown up and on a mission. This summer, Dana visited the Ukraine and Serbia to teach English to village children.
One of the first patients to ever walk through “the child sized door,” Dana Blankley, was a patient of ours for 15 years. As a frightened but strong-willed little boy, Dana wasn’t quite sure what awaited him on the other side of that little door. I remember him so afraid he literally ran from me.
Due to his acute anxiety and dental needs, Dana required dental surgery with general anesthesia in the operating room to restore his beautiful smile. We had no idea that Dana would be a life long friend now sharing his story with our staff and what he is doing to make a difference in children’s lives. It has been an absolute privilege to DO LIFE with Dana as his story is one of many we hear from our former patients. We share his story because it reminds us of our ultimate mission to “putting the needs of children first, through therapeutic touch, words of hope and excellence in caring.”
Now a 20-year-old, Dana laughs when he reminds me he was still sitting in the “giraffe chair” until he was 18. He said, “I thought it was funny to have my feet and legs hanging off the chair because I was so tall, but since I was a young child, you and your staff took good care of me. Everyone in the office was cheerful and happy – and that helped a lot.”
As Dana grew, he would talk to me about his faith – especially in his teen years. So it is especially joyful to all of us when he walks through the “big door” as a grown man. We still see that spunky little boy, but are in awe of how Dana uses his own faith to provide sanctuary for others.
Dana actively does pastoral work, speaks at churches and this summer he visited Hungary, Romania, Ukraine and Serbia on a mission trip. He spent time visiting the villages of Roma Gypsies teaching children the English language, spreading the Gospel and simply sharing the joy of these young people.
“It was hard to leave the practice (when he outgrew pediatric dentistry), because I had a sense of peace and joy that always made my time in the office positive,” Dana said. “I would tell any parent that it was a wonderful experience and the level of care is exceptional. But for any child, I would tell them to keep going to Dr. Tina’s office as long as you can – until your legs hang off the chair!”
Safe Sanctuary in All Levels of Care
Our safe sanctuary also applies to our parents’ state of mind. We set the highest standard for state-of-the-art dental technology, including sedation, restoration, preventative [dentistry] and safety.
Our sedation dentistry includes anesthesia for young ones who may need longer procedures or more complex dental work. A year ago, we welcomed Dr. Dillon Atwood, one of the few dental anesthesiologists in North Carolina. He is a Diplomate of the American Dental Board of Anesthesiology and specializes in pediatric and special care anesthesia.
We’re also excited to be the first pediatric dental practice in Winston-Salem to offer pediatric zirconium crowns. For years, stainless steel crowns were the “go-to” standard of care for severely decayed primary teeth. Recent advances in ceramics technology make zirconium crowns a healthier, stronger and more naturally esthetic option for repairing decayed teeth.
After 15 years of celebrating healthy smiles, Dr. Tina S. Merhoff & Associates Pediatric Dentistry greets another season, but we still continue to nurture and grow the fruits of our labor.
Times may change, but our mission of “putting the needs of children first” and living our faith is still at the core of all we do. We know there are growing fears in these uncertain times. What may seem small to a young child could actually be very big.
A wonderful author, Corrie ten Boom, wrote a book in 1979 (before some of our patients’ parents were even born), entitled, “Don’t Wrestle, Just Nestle.” The book encourages to “trust in God to provide courage and strength to face the future without fear.” The author suggests that we may find peace and security by abiding by His will. She probably didn’t realize how timeless her message would be.
Recently my daughters’ school chose the book “Wonder” as a class assignment. What a timely message of love and acceptance in an age where criticism, bullying and self-awareness collide. The message of what makes us special on the inside is something we hope every child feels when they come to our practice.
We want to remove doubt and fear of walking in that little door for the first time. We will provide the best care – sometimes critical care – that may bring a child’s lost smile out of the shadows and back into the light. We will help them feel safe. And they will always be met with caring hands.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
– Psalm 91
Welcoming Dr. Melissa
Dr. Melissa Blake, pediatric dentist, is currently accepting new patients. She specializes in dental care for infants, children, adolescents and special needs patients.
We are thrilled to have Melissa Blake, DMD, Pediatric Dentist, join our practice. “Dr. Melissa” earned her Doctorate of Medicine in Dentistry from the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine in Farmington, CT. She completed residency in Pediatric Dentistry at Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine in Stony Brook, NY.
Dr. Melissa is interested in community outreach, nutritional counseling and oral hygiene instruction. She received the prestigious Leo & Mickey Sreebny Post-Doctoral Research Award at Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine for her video project that prepares children for what they should expect during their first dental appointment.
Dr. Melissa is the past President of Hartford Health Education & Anti-Bullying Campaign. This health education organization’s initiative is to address essential health topics for inner-city school children such as mental health and wellness, drug abuse, violence, sex education and nutrition. She believes pediatric dentistry offers “the potential for disease prevention, intervention and education as a means to improve health outcomes” for children.
We are excited to have Dr. Melissa because she shares the same vision for patient care. We take pride in providing the highest quality of comprehensive dental care—while making sure parents are well informed and children have a happy, memorable experience every time.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
– Galatians 6:9
The staff of Dr. Tina S. Merhoff & Associates Pediatric Dentistry promotes “choosing kindness.” We have been so inspired by the book, “Wonder,” and it’s message of love, acceptance and anti-bullying.
Now a motion picture, this delightful fictional story of a 10-year-old with a very different-looking face—the result of a chromosomal abnormality and an illness—and his journey from the nest of homeschooling to the wilds of middle school.
Visit our facebook page for a chance to win movie tickets!
Tina S. Merhoff & Associates
Tina Merhoff, DDS, Pediatric Dentist
Kimberly Scott, DD, General Dentist specializing in children
and introducing: Melissa Blake, DMD, Pediatric Dentist
185 Kimel Park Drive, Suite 202, Winston-Salem