Pediatric Dentistry

As a parent, one thing you need to focus on is good dental care for your child – not only do they need their teeth for eating food, they also need them for confidence throughout their lives. Dental care for children is provided by a pediatric dentist. This is a kind of dentist who has undergone specialized dental care training – apart from 4 years of dental school they have to do an additional 2 years where they learn how to deal with all sorts of dental issues for children.

Pediatric dentists work on both children and teens. Here are some of the issues that they deal with:

• Oral health care for infants.
• Preventative dental health such as fluoride treatments to prevent tooth decay.
• Providing advice to both parents and children.
• Teeth straightening.
• Teeth cavities.
• Diagnosing conditions that may be related to serious conditions such as congenital defects.
• Dental injuries.
• Treatment of oral diseases.

Why does my child need a pediatric dentist? Won’t a regular dentist do?

The truth is that any dentist who is properly trained can perform dental care for children, but the reason why you want a pediatric dentist is because they are specifically trained to deal with children. Visits to the dentist are daunting for any child – the sight and sounds of the tools alone is enough to make them feel scared and reluctant. This can scar them for life – there are many people who will not see a dentist as adults because of their childhood experiences. A pediatric dentist has been trained to approach children in such a way as to reassure them. They work in a setting that is calming for children and they know what to say and do to make children feel safe during oral procedures.

How do I find the right pediatric dentist?

You can easily find a pediatric dentist by looking online – just search for one that is near you. Many parents, however, are reluctant to find dentists for their children this way because they don’t come specially recommended. If you feel this way you can ask other parents around you to guide you to a pediatric dentist that you can trust. You can also ask your dentist to guide you to a good pediatric dentist. If you are not able to find one that way ask your child’s school if there is a good pediatric dentist that they can recommend – many schools have programs where dentists come in from time to time to check on children’s dental health.

Recommendations are not enough; you have to do your homework to make sure that the pediatric dentist you are looking to engage is the right one.

Here is what you should be looking for:

• Find out whether the dentist has the required training to deal with children – there are some dentists who claim to be pediatric when in actual fact they only learnt on the job. Find out where the dentist got his training and whether he has attended any additional courses such as conferences and seminars – it helps to keep them current. Good pediatric dentists will display their credentials openly in their offices and also state them on their website. Also, make sure that the dentist is a member of the American Dental Association.
• Never use a pediatric dentist who actively advertises his practice. A good dentist will let his work speak for him. Visit their website to see what kind of information they have to offer – if they are all about the sales pitch it is an indication that they are desperate for patients. They should be more about providing useful information to parents about oral health for their children.
• Make sure that their offices are sanitary before you take your child in for their appointment.
• The dentist that you hire should be a good communicator to both you and your child. They should be friendly and able to make your child feel relaxed. The rest of the employees in the practice should also be amiable.
• Find out if the practice is set up for children – does it have brightly colored walls, children’s books, games and so on?
• It is never a good idea to engage a pediatric dentist who is far away. Try and find one who is either near your home or your child’s school – it makes it much easier to keep appointments.
• How does the practice get paid? Do they accept your dental plan? Do they offer financing for procedures such as Invisalign?
• It is very important that you choose a pediatric dentist who can handle emergencies – dental emergencies in children are common and you don’t want to be scrambling when they happen.

After the visit you need to evaluate the experience. Ask yourself whether the dentist was able to make your child relax enough for the procedure. Did they ask for a complete dental and medical history? Were you given any helpful advice and tips? Were your issues well addressed? Was the dentist thorough in his examination of your child’s teeth and gums? If you answer yes to these questions you have found the right pediatric dentist for your child.