How to Choose a Pediatric Dentist

Story by Amanda Blair

As a caring parent, you want to protect your child’s teeth. Many families visit a general dentist. However, a pediatric dentist is better suited for taking care of your son or daughter. This type of dentist, a specialist entirely focused on children’s teeth and gums, is used to helping kids feel relaxed, so they aren’t fearful of a checkup. The equipment at a pediatric office is designed and optimized for children. The environment will usually offer toys and a bright color scheme. Finally, prevention is a central mission — laying the groundwork for a lifetime of solid oral health.

Recognizing the importance of a pediatric dentist, the next step is to review the available options. Here are a few pointers to find one who will expertly protect your child’s teeth while keeping them at ease.

Know where to look. You can ask loved ones and others in your social networks for their suggestions, or you can get referred through your pediatrician. Local magazines and websites provide ideas, as well. Another way to search is through provider-finder portals, such as the one from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD).

Check for credibility. You want to know that your choice of a pediatric dentist is a proven professional who is active in the field. They should have accreditations, such as membership in the AAPD, and continue to sharpen their perspective through seminars and continuing education courses.

Go see for yourself. When you think you have found a strong candidate, it is time to scout the location physically. The ambiance in the office should be comfortable and welcoming. Colors should be warm, and toys or manipulatives should be available. These familiar elements of a kid-friendly space will both help your son or daughter feel at ease and take their mind off the appointment. Furthermore, the dentist and staff should be friendly and accommodating to the distractibility and anxieties of children. When you visit, stay a little longer in the waiting room, checking to make sure that the dental team excels at engaging and treating children.

Get answers to a few questions before you book the appointment. Does the dental office have an answering service for off-hour emergencies? Is your dental insurance accepted? What else is important to you? Make sure all your questions are answered before you proceed with booking the first appointment.

After an initial visit, you want to evaluate whether this practice met your expectations. Did your child get seen by the dentist at the scheduled time? Did they ask for full dental and medical records? Was the examination both careful and comprehensive? Did you get updated on the development of your son or daughter’s teeth? Finally, to what degree did members of the staff discuss oral health with your child? A competent and concerned pediatric dentist will inform your child about the influence of diet on teeth, go over proper brushing and flossing habits (including a demonstration), and set a timeline for the arrival of your child’s permanent teeth.

Through your initial research and post-appointment questions, you should be able to find a great pediatric dentist to safeguard your child’s current and lifelong health.

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