According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association, it’s advisable to take a child to a pediatric dentist before his/her first birthday, or when the child’s first tooth appears.
Regular dental check-ups are an integral aspect of oral health care for children. When most of the adults cringe at the thought of visiting a dentist, what can you say about children? There’s no denying the fact that most children dread even the thought of going to the dental clinic. However, one way to make them feel better is to take them to an experienced, kid-friendly dentist. At times, people wonder what’s the harm in taking the child to their family dentist.
The fact that pediatric dentists provide oral health care only to infants and children should explain it. Pediatric dentists undergo two to three years of specialty training after they receive a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree from a dental school. To be able to practice, they need to take the written and clinical examination by the National Board Dental Examinations for state licensure. An experienced pediatric dentist has everything fine-tuned to the needs of the children and is well-aware of the approach that he/she should follow while dealing with infants, and children of different age groups.
Why Choose a Pediatric Dentist?
Given the fear and uneasiness that a visit to a dental clinic usually arouses in the minds of children, it becomes extremely essential to find a dentist who is gentle and compassionate. Right from the ambiance of the dental clinic to the tone of the dentist’s voice, and the behavior of the staff; everything has to be such that the child and the parents feel extremely comfortable. It is always preferable to find a pediatric dentist, as the specialized training of pediatric dentists includes the study of child development and psychology.
Even better would be to find pediatric dentists who keep themselves updated with the latest procedures, techniques, and technology available in dentistry by attending educational classes or seminars. This enables them to provide the children with the best oral health care right from infancy through teenage years.
Finding a Pediatric Dentist
First of all, you have the task of finding dental clinics in your area. Pediatric dentists may work in medical centers, dental schools, or private dental clinics. Here’s what you could do.
➞You could ask your friends and family members for recommendations.
➞There’s always the option of consulting your child’s pediatrician.
➞You could also find the location of dental clinics through the Internet.
How to Choose a Pediatric Dentist
Here are some pointers on what to look for while finding a pediatric dentist.
➞ It would be a good idea to find a dentist who is a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Dental Association, or American Academy of Pediatrics.
➞ The pediatric dentist search tool of AAPD could help you locate the dental clinics in your area.
The most important task is to find a pediatric dentist who will make the dental experience for your child as comfortable as possible. Don’t take a hasty decision, as you need to find a dentist your child can see from childhood through his/her teenage years. Here are the things that you should keep in your mind.
➞Don’t hesitate in scheduling a consultation with the dentist. Though a crowded dental clinic might imply that the dentist is good at his/her job, but his/her busy schedule must not make the task of getting appointments a difficult one for you. Do ask about the dental emergency hours.
➞ Look around to make an assessment about the ambiance. Is the clinic child-friendly? Do you see child-sized furniture in the waiting area? If the dental clinic has a play area, it certainly is a good sign.
➞ Children get bored easily, and you need something to keep them engaged. They will certainly feel good if they can watch cartoons on television, or have toys, coloring books, games, pillows, blankets, etc., to play with. The needs of the children of all ages should be addressed.
➞ Take a look at the dental equipment to see whether the equipment is appropriate for children.
➞ You must closely observe how the dentist interacts with your child, and how your child responds. Is he/she able to deal with a child who is crying or scared?
➞ It’s not just the dentist, even the staff should come across as friendly, and make your child feel comfortable. They should be able to put you and your child at ease.
➞ Does the dentist listen patiently to your queries? Does he/she understand and address your concerns immediately? These are questions you need to ask yourself.
➞ He/she should build up trust, and prepare the child before any procedure by telling him/her what should be expected. This way the child will not feel scared during the dental procedure.
➞ For any dentist to be able to encourage the children to follow an oral hygiene regimen, he/she should be able to establish a bond with children. The dentist should talk to children in an age-appropriate manner, telling them information on ways to care for their teeth in as simple and gentle a manner as possible.
➞ He/she should give demonstrations on the right way to brush and floss teeth. His/her job also includes telling the children how food and drinks affect their teeth.
➞ Besides assessing the condition of the teeth, and resolving dental issues, pediatric dentists also need to educate the parents of newborns on caring for baby teeth, and what to expect when the permanent teeth develop.
➞ They should also address the issues like bruxism (teeth grinding), thumb sucking, etc., besides providing preventive dental care and treatment for such dental problems.
Their most important task is educating children about the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene. A good dentist is concerned about the overall health and well-being of the child and should ask the parents about the child’s medical history and other relevant questions. He/she should also be willing to address the concerns of parents.
On a concluding note, finding a good pediatric dentist is very important. So, do keep the aforementioned aspects in mind while looking for a pediatric dentist for your child. Though most dental associations recommend a dental check-up every six months, only a dentist can tell you how often you need to take your child to the clinic. While pediatric dentists can inform you if your child’s tooth development is taking place properly, or tell you about the dental problems that need to be fixed, parents also need to ensure that they contribute their bit by encouraging children to follow the suggested oral care regimen religiously.