Article by Dr. Clayton Zeidler
A dental office visit can be a scary experience for many adults, so imagine how your child must feel. Unfortunately, children can be affected by oral health problems too, so it’s important for them to see a dental practitioner regularly, and starting from a young age. Regular visits will not only put your child at ease; a dentist that specializes in pediatrics can also help instill good oral hygiene habits in your child that will last a lifetime.
How They Differ From A Family Practice
A pediatric dentist specializes in the oral health of children from infants to adolescents. They must undergo an additional two years of training after completing their four-year degree to become a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery). During this time, dentists learn about the special oral needs of children including the process of tooth replacement, how to teach children good oral hygiene skills, and how to calm children’s nerves.
Children should start seeing a dental practitioner as soon as their first teeth come in, at around 6 months. Because so much change occurs in a child’s mouth, it is recommended that they continue to see a pediatric dentist through adolescence.
The Search Process
A good first step when choosing a pediatric dentist for your child is to ask for recommendations. Ask other parents at your child’s daycare or school. A reputable dentist is one that has an established clientele and receives new patients via word-of-mouth: the best kind of advertising that money can’t buy.
Next, schedule a consultation with a pediatric dentist that is a potential candidate. No work should be done during this visit. Take this opportunity to see how he or she interacts with your child. They should take a personal interest in your child’s oral health, and should be warm and friendly. Take note of how your child reacts to the dentist. To make your child as comfortable as possible, it is best to establish a relationship with a dentist that your child can continue to see throughout his or her adolescent years.
What To Expect
Take a look around the office. It should be kid-friendly, warm and inviting; the staff should be the same. To make children feel comfortable, the office should have books, games, kid-sized furniture and children’s television shows on. Next, take a look at the equipment the dentist uses to perform dental procedures. It should be small, just as a child’s mouth is smaller than an adult’s.
If you have found a pediatric dentist that takes a personal interest in your child’s oral health, it will be evident from the beginning. A good professional will take extra time to explain procedures to your child in a way he or she can understand. They will also show your child how to practice good oral hygiene habits such as brushing, flossing and rinsing. Habits that will las