Logo for Pediatric Dentist Dr. Jennifer Rutledge in McKinney, TX

Board Certified Pediatric Dentist

5323 W. University Dr. Suite 100

McKinney, TX 75071

Phone: 214-436-5555

Phone: 214-436-5555


Children with Special Health Care Needs

Our practice values each child as an individual. We understand that children with special health care needs require a dental practice that is open and understanding. We are aware that they often experience a higher risk of oral diseases with potential effects to their overall quality of health throughout life. Whatever your child’s circumstance, all of our patients are treated on a case by case basis with particular emphasis on their individual needs. Our staff is committed to:


Each visit begins by listening to the special circumstances of each child. We understand that parents and caregivers know their children better than anyone else. By listening to you and patiently answering your questions we are able to work together in providing the best possible care for your child.


No two children are the same. Instead of asking our patients to adapt to an unchanging structure of treatment, we strive to remain flexible with treatment options by balancing the safety and emotional well-being of each patient with effective dental care.


Our staff truly cares about each of our patients. Further, our practice is equipped to care for children with special health care needs because of expertise gained through additional training. Dr. Rutledge chose pediatric dentistry as a dental specialty because she is passionate about helping children begin a lifetime of good oral hygiene. This passion is especially present in our treatment of children with special health care needs.




Preventative care should start with the arrival of the first tooth. This is important for keeping young teeth in their strongest natural condition. Dr. Rutledge recommends that you bring your child to see us by their first birthday and recalls be scheduled every six months after that.


Digital x-rays serve as an educational tool that allows Dr. Rutledge, you, and your child to see what is going on. X-rays are necessary to evaluate your child's development and to look for cavities. Dr. Rutledge will assess the right time to take x-rays on your child based on specific dentistry guidelines. She recommends having x-rays of your child's teeth taken at least once a year, or more often if your child has an area of concern. We use state-of-the-art digital x-rays that have very little radiation, and we only take the ones needed to provide a comprehensive exam of your child.


Keeping teeth and gums clean and free of bacteria, plaque, tartar, and food is a big part of being healthy for life. That's another reason to have regularly scheduled visits.


Fluoride is a naturally occurring element, which has shown to prevent tooth decay by as much as 50-70%. However, too little fluoride can be detrimental to the teeth. With little or no fluoride, the teeth aren’t strengthened enough to help them resist cavities. Dr. Rutledge can give you recommendations on fluoride use.

Restorative Dentistry

  • Sealants to protect the chewing part of the back teeth from decay
  • White composite fillings to repair cavities
  • Crowns to repair cavities, broken teeth, and after a pulpotomy
  • Nerve treatments and pulpotomies to keep bacteria from spreading inside the tooth

Space Maintainers

If a tooth must be removed early because of decay, infection, or other problems, we can place a space maintainer to protect the space for the new tooth. New teeth do not immediately replace a lost tooth. Sometimes it can take years before a new tooth grows in to replace a baby tooth. This can cause the remaining teeth to shift and move to fill the gap. Preserving space for the new, adult tooth is important for positioning and allowing the permanent tooth to come in properly.

Nitrous Oxide

Some children are given nitrous oxide/oxygen, or what you may know as laughing gas, to relax them for their dental treatment. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a blend of two gases, oxygen and nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is given through a small breathing mask which is placed over the child’s nose, allowing them to relax, but without putting them to sleep. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, recognizes this technique as a very safe, effective technique to use for treating children’s dental needs. The gas is mild, easily taken, then with normal breathing, it is quickly eliminated from the body. It is non-addictive. While inhaling nitrous oxide/oxygen, your child remains fully conscious and keeps all natural reflexes.

Prior to your appointment:

  • Let us know if your child is taking any medication on the day of the appointment.
  • Please inform us of any change to your child’s health and/or medical condition.
  • Tell us about any respiratory condition that makes breathing through the nose difficult for your child (including, but not limited to allergies and the common cold). It may limit the effectiveness of the nitrous oxide/oxygen.
  • Nitrous oxide should be avoided in patients that have undergone recent surgical procedures on the ears and eyes and recent ear, nose, or throat infections.


Most of the time, kids do very well with Nitrous and a little local anesthesia and can get much of their work completed with no trouble at all. However, some children are very fearful about doctor visits and have trouble laying still for treatment. Sedation is an alternative that can allow us to complete the treatment in a safe and timely manner.

I.V. Sedation

I.V. Sedation is recommended for moderate/severely apprehensive children, very young children, and children with special needs. Dr. Rutledge performs the dental treatment in her office with the child anesthetized under I.V. sedation, which is administered and monitored by an anesthesiologist.

Prior to your appointment:

  • Your child should not have milk or solid food after midnight prior to the scheduled procedure and clear liquids ONLY (water, apple juice, Gatorade) for up to 6 hours prior to the appointment.
  • Please notify us of any change in your child’s health and/or medical condition. Do not bring your child for treatment with a fever, ear infection or cold. Should your child become ill, contact us to see if it is necessary to postpone the appointment.
  • Please dress your child in loose fitting, comfortable clothing.
  • You must tell the staff and Dr. Rutledge of any medications (prescription or over the counter) that your child is currently taking and any drug reactions and/or change in medical history.
  • Please dress your child in loose fitting, comfortable clothing.
  • Please make sure that your child goes to the bathroom immediately upon arriving at the office.
  • The child’s parent or legal guardian must remain at the office during the complete procedure.

After the sedation appointment:

  • Your child will be drowsy and will need to be monitored very closely. Keep your child away from areas of potential harm.
  • If your child wants to sleep, place them on their side with their chin up. Wake your child every hour and encourage them to have something to drink in order to prevent dehydration. At first it is best to give your child sips of clear liquids to prevent nausea. The first meal should be light and easily digestible.
  • If your child vomits, help them bend over and turn their head to the side to insure that they do not inhale the vomit.
  • Please call our office for any questions or concerns that you might have.

Post-Operative Care

Care of the Mouth After Local Anesthetic

  • If the procedure was in the lower jaw the tongue, teeth, lip and surrounding tissue will be numb or asleep.
  • If the procedure was in the upper jaw the teeth, lip and surrounding tissue will be numb or asleep.
  • Often, children do not understand the effects of local anesthesia, and may chew, scratch, suck, or play with the numb lip, tongue, or cheek. These actions can cause minor irritations or they can be severe enough to cause swelling and abrasions to the tissue.
  • Monitor your child closely for approximately two hours following the appointment. It is often wise to keep your child on a liquid or soft diet until the anesthetic has worn off.

Please do not hesitate to call the office if there are any questions.

Care of the Mouth After Trauma

  • Please keep the traumatized area as-clean-as possible. A soft wash cloth often works well during healing to aid the process.
  • Watch for darkening of traumatized teeth. This could be an indication of a dying nerve (pulp).
  • If the swelling should re-occur, our office needs to see the patient as-soon-as possible. Ice should be administered during the first 24 hours to keep the swelling to a minimum.
  • Watch for infection (gum boils) in the area of trauma. If infection is noticed – call the office so the patient can be seen as-soon-as possible.
  • Maintain a soft diet for two to three days, or until the child feels comfortable eating normally again.
  • Avoid sweets or foods that are extremely hot or cold.
  • If antibiotics or pain medicines are prescribed, be sure to follow the prescription as directed.

Please do not hesitate to call the office if there are any questions.

Care of the Mouth After Extractions

  • Do not scratch, chew, suck, or rub the lips, tongue, or cheek while they feel numb or asleep. The child should be watched closely so he/she does not injure his/her lip, tongue, or cheek before the anesthesia wears off.
  • Do not rinse the mouth for several hours (and avoid mouth rinses).
  • Do not spit excessively.
  • Do not drink a carbonated beverage (Coke, Sprite, etc.) for the remainder of the day.
  • Do not drink through a straw.
  • Do not eat anything crunchy or spicy.
  • Keep fingers and tongue away from the extraction area.

Bleeding – Some bleeding is to be expected. If unusual or sustained bleeding occurs, place cotton gauze firmly over the extraction area and bite down or hold in place for fifteen minutes. This can also be accomplished with a tea bag. Repeat if necessary.

  • Maintain a soft diet for a day or two, or until the child feels comfortable eating normally again.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise or physical activity the day of the extraction.

Pain – For discomfort use Children’s Tylenol, Advil, or Motrin as directed for the age of the child. Please do not hesitate to call the office if there are any questions.

Care of Sealants

By forming a thin covering over the pits and fissures, sealants keep out plaque and food, thus decreasing the risk of decay. Since the covering is only over the biting surface of the tooth, areas on the side and between teeth cannot be coated with the sealant. Good oral hygiene and nutrition are still very important in preventing decay next to these sealants or in areas unable to be covered. Remember, sealants do not help in preventing cavities between the teeth, so flossing is still necessary.

Your child should refrain from eating ice or hard candy, which tend to fracture the sealant. They should also avoid sticky foods which can remove the sealant from the tooth. Regular dental appointments are recommended in order for Dr. Rutledge to be certain the sealants remain in place. The American Dental Association recognizes that sealants can play an important role in the prevention of tooth decay. When properly applied and maintained, they can successfully protect the chewing surfaces of your child’s teeth. A total prevention program includes regular dental visits, the use of fluoride, daily brushing and flossing, and limiting the number of times sugar-rich foods are eaten. If these measures are followed and sealants are used on the child’s teeth, the risk of decay can be reduced or may even be eliminated!

Oral Discomfort After a Cleaning

A thorough cleaning can produce some bleeding if your child has plaque and tartar build up along the gumline. Also, if your child has gingival swelling due to poor hygiene or braces, some tenderness or discomfort can occur during the cleaning. This is not due to a “rough cleaning” but, to tender and inflamed gums from insufficient oral hygiene.

  • Continue to brush at least twice a day and floss before bedtime, even if the gums bleed or are sore.
  • For discomfort use Children’s Tylenol, Advil or Motrin as directed by the age of the child.