Finding the Right Pediatric Dentist for Your Children
Question: How young is too young for taking your child to a dentist?
Answer: Your child is almost never too young for a visit to the dentist. In fact, if even one of your child’s baby teeth has erupted, it’s time or her to see a dentist. Rule of thumb: your child should visit a dentist either by age one or when her baby teeth appear, whichever comes first.
So how do you find the right pediatric or family dentist for your children? Read below for our tips. (Note: a family dentist may work out just fine for your family; most have considerable experience working with children as young as just a few months of age. If you want a true pediatric dentist, remember that a pediatric dentist needs to have at least two additional years of training. Make sure anyone who calls himself a pediatric dentist has that training.)
- Your first step is to ask family and friends for recommendations. You know your friends’ and extended family’s needs, so if they’re happy with a dentist, chances are you will be, as well.
- You also can take a look through the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s dentist search tool to find a dentist near you.
- Before going for your first appointment, ask for a consultation so that you can visit the dentist’s office and get a “feel” for his practice.
- If looking at a pediatric dentist, his office should be child-focused, with plenty of books and toys aimed at kids in the waiting room and his dental equipment should be sized for children, not adults.
- Take a look at how the dentist interacts with your child(ren). Young babies, of course, probably won’t interact with him much, but your older children will. Do they appear calm in his presence?
- Does the dentist talk to the children as if partners, or does he talk “down” to them? Can you sense that he respects and likes children?
- If you choose to go with this dentist, at your child’s first appointment, note if the dentist explains what he’s going to do to your child to your child. He should explain all procedures in a way a child can understand and should let your child know exactly what to expect.
- If at any time and for any reason you decide that this dentist isn’t the right one for your child or family, politely let the dentist know that you will be leaving. You can provide an explanation, but it’s not necessary.
- If you feel comfortable, you can ask the dentist for a recommendation to another dentist.
- When you choose another dentist, ask the first dentist’s office to send your child’s dental records to the new dentist.
Dr. Darren Dickson is an experienced family and cosmetic dentist. He is not certified as a pediatric dentist, but counts as his patients many happy youngsters and their parents.
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