Selecting Your Child’s First Dentist
When it comes to your child’s teeth, it’s never too early to start promoting oral health. Even very young children benefit from regular dental visits. The sooner you start taking your children to the dentist, the sooner they will feel comfortable in the dental chair.
If you’re planning to book your child’s first dentist appointment, you are probably wondering how to choose the right dentist for your family. Keep reading to discover five things you should consider when choosing a pediatric dentist.
When should a child have the first dental appointment?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children’s first dental visit should take place before their first birthday – even if they don’t yet have any teeth.
You should call a pediatric dentist to book an appointment as soon as your child gets the first of his baby teeth. If your baby’s teeth haven’t erupted by the time he turns one, you should call and book an appointment anyway.
Pediatric dentistry isn’t just about looking into mouths; it’s also about oral health education and ensuring parents understand how to prevent tooth decay.
To learn more about the timing of your child’s first dental visit, you can read When Should I First Take My Baby To The Dentist?
How to choose a pediatric dentist
Before making an appointment, you must choose a dentist for your child.
Pediatric dentists specialize in children’s teeth. They are the experts in children’s oral health and the best people to care for your kids’ teeth.
Pediatric dentists do additional training after dental school to ensure they are experts in children’s dentistry.
Here are five things to consider when choosing your child’s dentist so you can be sure to select the right pediatric dentist for your family:
#1. Opt for a pediatric dentist
It’s possible to be a family dentist without specializing in pediatric dentistry, but many parents choose a pediatric dentist for their child. A pediatric dentist is best placed to care for your child’s oral health because of the extra training and experience they have in this specialized area of dentistry.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their qualifications, training, and experience. Any decent dentist will be pleased to have parents making informed choices about who cares for their baby’s teeth.
#2. Get personal recommendations
As with all things to do with parenting, one of the best ways to learn about a product or service is to ask lots of other parents what they think. Ask your friends and family members to recommend dental practices; remember to ask what they particularly love about them.
If you canvass enough people, you’ll probably learn which places to avoid, too.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to ask people you know personally and can trust, but asking questions on local forums is also a good idea.
Once you’ve asked enough people, you will find certain names and practices keep coming up, and you’ll know which to include on your shortlist.
#3. Find out about the appointment schedule
Once you’ve made a shortlist of dental practices to check out, you can ask for further information. For example, some practices offer more regular appointments than others; if this is important to you, gathering this information in advance makes sense.
Ask how regularly your child will see a dental professional and at what age the practice will begin to offer your child dental cleaning appointments.
Find out how easy it is to get appointments, especially at short notice, if your child is experiencing a toothache. If you’re likely to struggle to get appointments at convenient times, that dental office might not be the right one for you.
#4. Think about how you’ll get there
Although it might seem worth traveling to see a top dentist, it’s essential to consider the practicalities. The further you need to travel, the less convenient dental visits will be. The increased traveling time might also be frustrating – especially if you need to book an emergency appointment at short notice.
Think about how the location of the dentist’s practice fits into your life. Is it nearby? Is it easy to get to? Is there plenty of parking or good public transport access?
Think ahead to those times when you have to pick your child up from school and squeeze in a dentist appointment before soccer practice starts.
#5. Do you and your child feel comfortable with the dentist?
If dentists you’re considering give you bad vibes or if you feel uncomfortable around them, they might not be the right choices for your family.
To get the most out of each dental appointment, your child needs to feel comfortable with the dentist. Children need to want to do as they’re asked – in terms of opening their mouths to show off their pearly whites – but they must also be prepared to listen to the dentist’s advice.
Pediatric dentists should be good with kids. After years of working exclusively with children, they will be good at coaxing even the most unwilling visitors into participating in an appointment. Dental visits should be fun, stress-free, and productive.
Find a dentist you like and make sure it’s somebody you trust to oversee your child’s oral health.
Remember, you need to feel comfortable too. The more relaxed you seem during each dental visit, the more relaxed your child will be.
How can you ensure the dental health of a child?
Regular dental visits to the dentist are essential if you’re keen to ensure your child enjoys good dental health.
At each dental visit, your dentist will not only check your child’s teeth but provide important education surrounding oral hygiene. From that first dental appointment, a qualified healthcare provider will help prevent tooth decay and protect your child’s teeth.
For your child’s smile to be fully protected, the teeth must also be cleaned by a dental hygienist. The first dental visit will probably be too early for this but by the time your child celebrates his third birthday, he will be ready to have a dental clean.
Want to teach your child good dental habits? Read How To Teach Children To Practice Good Oral Hygiene.