Hooray! Your baby’s first tooth has come in!
Helping your child to create positive oral hygiene habits starts early. That process begins with selecting pediatric dentists.
A great first dental experience will help your child to build positive associations early. A little forethought can be the thing that prevents years of both anxiety and dental bills. With so many options for dentists out there, how do you choose the right professional for your child?
Knowing what questions to ask might be the thing that keeps your little one smiling for life. Read on to learn seven important considerations for choosing a dentist for kids!
1. The Office and Environment
Even the most basic dental checkup can cause anxiety in young children. When the dentist’s office is a place that they want to be, it makes the whole process much easier.
A pediatric dentist’s office most likely looks different from an adult dentist’s office. You might notice bright colors, cartoon characters, and child-sized chairs. These are just a few of the features that can help your child feel welcome when they arrive for their appointment.
Many dentist’s offices have televisions in the exam room to help distract nervous patients. They may even get to choose the show or channel! Giving children a sense of agency when they are anxious can help build positive feelings and reduce anxiety.
You will also want to consider the location of the office. Is it local? Having an office nearby can make things easier when there is a dental emergency.
2. The Professional
If the dentist is not a person that your child likes, they are unlikely to cooperate during treatment. If the dentist is not a person that you like, you might subconsciously signal that to your child, causing anxiety. In either case, if you don’t like the dentist’s personality, they are probably a bad fit for your family.
Overall rapport is important. A friendly professional will greet your child by name, and be able to chat about child-friendly topics. Professionals will offer your child choices whenever possible, such as toothpaste flavors.
Pediatric dentists should be comfortable talking to children in a developmentally appropriate way. This includes explaining both tools and procedures. Children should understand what is happening and why so they will not feel scared or confused.
3. References and Reviews
When choosing a pediatric dentist, always ask for references from local families. If a parent is happy with their dentist, they will be happy to share their experience with you. Likewise, if a family has had a bad experience, you may want to keep that information in mind.
Online reviews can also be an important tool when it comes to choosing a dentist for kids. Pay attention to reviews that mention infection after treatment. That can be a sign that the office is not clean, or that aftercare instructions are not being clearly communicated to patients and families.
If a dentist does not have any reviews, that can also be a red flag. An established office with many positive reviews is probably a safer bet. The dentist may be new to the area, so it may be worth going for an initial consultation anyway if the office is convenient.
4. Comparing Dentists Costs
While comfort is the biggest factor, the issue of cost is also important. Make sure that the office you choose accepts any dental insurance that you have. If you do not have insurance, make sure the out-of-pocket fees are affordable for you.
Do not feel awkward about comparing dentists’ costs before you settle on a pediatric dentist. In the case of a dental emergency, you do not want cost to be an obstacle.
5. Licenses and Certifications
Any professional will happily show you their licenses and certifications when asked. As a matter of fact, many dentists proudly display this information on the walls of their offices.
Pediatric dentists require different training than dentists for adults. You will want to be sure that your child’s dentist is specifically certified to work on tiny teeth. This special training is essential if your child has anxiety or special needs.
6. Services Offered
When it comes to pediatric dentistry, preventative care is as essential as treatments. You may want to ask which preventative dental services your child’s dentist offers.
Does the office offer sealants to prevent cavities from forming in hard-to-reach areas of your child’s mouth? Do dental checkups include a fluoride treatment intended to strengthen enamel and prevent tooth decay?
Many pediatric dentists will offer your child a brand new child-sized toothbrush during each dental checkup. This is to be sure that brushing is happening at home.
7. Customer Service
As the parent, you will be dealing with office staff more than you will be dealing with the dentist. When you call, make sure that the office staff is friendly and helpful. When you ask questions, staff must take the time to answer thoughtfully and completely.
You may need dental insurance to afford treatment. It’s important that office staff is knowledgeable about which policies the office accepts. They should have systems in place and handle payment in a professional manner.
If you have concerns, you should feel comfortable going to the office staff for help. If the culture in the office is uncomfortable, or you don’t feel like you can approach staff, the office may be a poor fit. Read this article to learn about what questions to ask.
Selecting Pediatric Dentists Should Make You Smile
When selecting pediatric dentists, there’s no shame in being thorough. Your child deserves a clean, comfortable, and welcoming pediatric dental experience. If you take these factors into consideration, you’ll be beginning a wonderful partnership that is sure to keep your child smiling!
If you found this article helpful, check out the rest of the blog for more tips that will keep the whole family healthy!