Starting from the moment your child's first tooth erupts, regular dental checkups are important in maintaining lifelong oral health. Eighty-three percent of children aged two to 17 have seen a dentist in the past year, while 17 percent of children between the ages of five and 19 have untreated dental caries, estimates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
When choosing a children's dentist, you want a professional who will make each visit pleasant and stress-free. Search for a pediatric dentist who specializes in treating patients from infancy to adolescence and will make the right fit for your family. The following are 10 characteristics to look for:
Visiting the dentist intimidates both adults and children. To allay your child's fears, find a dentist with a warm and outgoing personality. Make an appointment for you and your child to meet your dentist before the first checkup to get a feel for their demeanor and how comfortable your child feels around them.
During these early years, your child needs to start brushing twice daily to prevent tooth decay, per the American Dental Association (ADA). An upbeat dentist can demonstrate the importance of healthy oral care with an optimistic attitude that inspires your child to take care of their teeth. Observe your dentist's interactions with your child – and how your child responds – to confirm you made the right choice.
A trip to the dentist can be challenging for a child to sit through, so find a dentist who has patience for little patients. You want a dentist who's not only knowledgeable, but also able to handle your child's fidgeting or dental anxiety with finesse.
When working with kids, a sense of humor is a must. One sign of a great pediatric dentist is the ability to make every dentist visit fun. A dentist who can use silly voices or puppets to make your child giggle, while simultaneously demonstrating how to brush their teeth properly, is invaluable.
A negative experience with an uncaring dental professional keeps people away from the dentist, as noted by the Consumer Guide to Dentistry. Your child's dentist should be sympathetic toward your child and make any necessary accommodations.
A truly great children's dentist can improvise in order to calm your child. A creative dentist will adapt to how your child feels to make the experience more productive and enjoyable for them.
When your child has a dental emergency, you want immediate help. Find out how your dentist handles after-hours and emergency calls, and whether they're available to answer your calls and questions on your child's oral health.
Dental providers who listen to patients' concerns and explain procedures so both parent and child understand always receive high marks. Select a dentist for your child who takes the time to answer your questions and will go into as much detail as needed to put your child at ease when they're sitting in the dentist chair.
Compared with a general dentist, a pediatric dentist completes two to three more years of training on specific children's dental problems and habits such as bottle decay, thumb sucking and teething pain, says the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). They also study child development and therefore know how to treat young patients, according to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry. The ideal candidate is a pediatric dentist who's a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and stays current on the latest in pediatric dentistry.
From bright colors and cartoon character wall murals to indoor playgrounds, pediatric dentist offices are often designed just for kids. Waiting areas may contain pint-sized furniture, along with plenty of activities to keep them busy. The dentist practice may also have special children's dental instruments and TV screens with children's movies for distraction.
When searching for a dentist, make sure your kids keep up their oral health with products like Colgate® Kids 2in1 Watermelon Toothpaste. Ask friends, family or your pediatrician for referrals to a qualified and personable children's dentist. Read online reviews to see what other parents say. Get to know the dentist you select, to be certain you found the best choice for your child.