When should you take your child to the dentist?
Generally, your child should first visit the dentist by the age of 1 or within the first 6 months of their first tooth.
So, where do you look to find the pediatric dental options offered in your area? You can ask other parents, teachers, your child’s pediatrician, your health insurance company, or even pharmacists.
The tricky question is, “how do I pick the right pediatric dentist for my child?”
Let’s discuss several things you need to think about when choosing which one is best for you.
Why Look at Pediatric Dental Options?
Family dentists practice general dentistry that ranges from all ages of people. Some family dentists have an age restriction placed where they won’t treat children under the age of three, while others don’t have any age restrictions.
The reason you want to choose a pediatric dentist for your child is that this person is a specialist in not only dentistry, but in treating children. The only patients they see all day are children. Their services are better equipped to treat children physically and emotionally.
Let’s look at a list of reasons you should take your child to a specialist.
This specialist treats children with all different personalities.
They will know how to converse with your chatty child, calm your anxious one, or make your quiet one laugh.
The office décor generally consists of colorful murals, toys, video games, and children’s movies in the play area.
Your child will feel they are visiting a children’s museum or playground.
They treat children of all ages and backgrounds, shapes and sizes, from infants to teenagers.
They know that meltdowns happen and know how to make a child smile.
If you are worried about your child’s pacifier or thumb-sucking habits, the pediatric dentist is an expert in this area.
They will help you break any unhealthy habits your child is clinging to.
Pediatric hygienists are just as trained to work with children as the dentists are. They use smaller dental tools that are sized for the mouth of a child.
Unfortunately, baby teeth can develop cavities, too.
A pediatric dentist is trained specifically on how to treat cavities on tiny baby teeth.
Pediatric hygienists explain the uses of each of the dentist tools they are using on your child’s mouth to educate and capture the interest of the child.
A child who is inspired or finds learning about the dentist’s tools fun will want to come back.
Trained in Fun
A pediatric dentist knows how to make a child have fun while exploring the teeth in their mouths.
A child that is laughing and having a fun visit will tell their friends about it and want to come to visit again.
Pediatric dentists are trained to know how to handle and treat special needs children.
They have experienced all types of families and are able to help make the visit an easy and fun one.
Pediatric dentists provide healthy treat bags that include a new toothbrush, toothpaste, stickers, and even small toys at the end of a child’s visit.
Finding the Best for Your Child
Now that we’ve determined you should take your child to a specialist, let’s look at what to look for on your search of finding the perfect one when exploring all the pediatric dental options.
While a general family dentist typically has four years of dental school and four years of college studies, a pediatric dentist has an additional 2-3 years of training.
Some pediatric dentists have experience in general dentistry before specializing in pediatric dentistry.
This is the best option to look for when choosing your pediatric dentist. It means they have even more training and experience than is required for pediatric dentistry, along with bringing a unique perspective to their job.
Once you find a pediatric dentist with specialized training, you want to consider how their personality and office experience affects your child.
Something to Smile About
The last thing any pediatric doctor wants is for a child to leave a visit traumatized and crying about having gone to the dentist. Many pediatric dentists implement exciting techniques in their offices to make children want to come back.
Here is a list of questions you should ask yourself with reading online reviews or visiting a pediatric dentist office:
- Do they have a clean, colorful waiting room and exam rooms?
- Do they give your child stickers to calm them down?
- Do they let them choose from a special array of child toothpaste flavors?
- Do they try to tell jokes to make your child laugh?
- Do they give your child a prize bag at the end of their visit?
- Do they have a special toy box your child is allowed to pick a small prize from?
These are some of the questions you should ask yourself to ensure you and your child feel welcome.
Let’s look at another thing to keep in mind: a preventative approach.
Proactive or Reactive?
Does the pediatric dentist you are interested in take a preventative approach to child dental care?
You want to make sure you pick an office with a dentist that recognizes the importance of recognizing and treating problems before they happen or become worse.
Children are more prone to tooth decay than adults, and you want to make sure your pediatric dentist has the experience and track record of recognizing problems and treating them early. They also teach a child preventative measures.
Fluoride treatment is one example of something you want to look for to ensure resistance to tooth decay.
Now that we’ve discussed dental approach, let’s look at your child’s first appointment.
Dental Work or Consultation?
Your child’s first appointment should be a general consultation to help you decide if this is the right place for you.
It also is an opportunity for your child to become familiar in an unstressed situation with the office and the faces of the practitioners. They won’t be as nervous for the next visit if they don’t feel like they are being treated by a stranger.
Your Child Deserves the Best
If you are considering several different offices, check out the Google reviews other parents have left about their office visits.
You don’t want to settle with the first option you find when choosing from the list of pediatric dental options. Choose the one that meets all the qualities we’ve discussed. That way, you and your child can leave your visits with bright, healthy smiles.
If you are still looking for the perfect pediatric dentist for your child, contact us today to book your appointment.