Many kids can find the dentist’s office to be a scary place, even though as a responsible parent, you are concerned about your child’s dental health. Most experts recommend regular dental appointments following the initial visit, which should be made within six months of the first tooth appearing. You can help to eliminate some of the stress and anxiety that many kids have when going to the dentist by choosing a pediatric dentist, one who specializes in putting younger patients at their ease. Choosing the right dental practice, one that works for your family, is a must, and it’s well worth doing some initial research to ensure that.
1) Ask For Recommendations
Most other parents are happy to give their recommendations and opinions about the pediatric dentist they take their children to, and simply asking around is a good place to start. Talk to family members or other moms in the playgroup you go to. It’s a good start to have some positive or negative feedback from others who already use a particular pediatric dental clinic, although you’ll still need to visit the dental clinic in person to get a feel for it.
2) Check the AAPD
Another good way to find a reliable pediatric dentist in your area is to check with the AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry), and their website has a directory. The advantage of this is that you can be assured that if a dental clinic is listed in their directory, the clinic has been AAPD certified.
3) Call the Office
Calling the office and talking to the staff, there should be your next step once you have your list of potential dentists narrowed down to three or four. Come up with a list of questions before you pick up the phone, and you should also be able to get an accurate idea of the policies and services at that office.
Some possible questions:
- During an appointment, can a parent stay with their child if desired?
- During my first visit, what can I expect?
- My child is an anxious patient. Do you have any procedures or amenities to help calm him/her?
- Is sedation or numbing used, and for what exactly?
- Are there emergency / after hours at your dental practice?
4) Schedule a Tour
Scheduling an initial tour of the practice is your next step if you like the answers given to your questions. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona suggests taking a tour without actually having a check-up. By doing this, your child can become familiar and comfortable with the office and its sounds and smells before having to sit in that dentist chair. A waiting room that has a television and an area filled with toys and games to occupy kids are good signs that the dentist is actually child-friendly.
5) During Initial Visit, Watch Interactions
A good pediatric dentist will interact appropriately with children, and that’s something to look for during your initial visit and tour of the facility. The Center for Pediatric Dentistry advises that a good children’s dentist introduces a new tool or technique by using the tell, show, and do approach. Before using a tool or technique, the dentist will initially explain what it is and what it’s used for and then perhaps demonstrate it. A small tube of toothpaste or a toy can make a good reward for any child who is a good patient.
Whether you are an adult or a child, it can be an anxious and stressful experience going to the dentist for the first time, as many of us know only too well. Knowing that your child is comfortable and at ease is important to any parent, and if you take your time and do some initial homework, you can find a dental practice that really looks out for children. The first step towards a lifetime of efficient and reliable dental care often begins with finding the perfect pediatric dentist for your child.