How to Find a Pediatric Dentist

Do you have young children?  In addition to the many important aspects of parenting, you have to add finding a great dentist.  Your child’s dental development affects his speech, nutrition, sleep, and the proper growth of the face.  Ensuring that your child has proper dental care throughout his childhood is essential for healthy growth and development.

General Dentist vs. Pediatric Dentist

Just as you can take your child to a family doctor or a pediatrician, you can also choose to take your child to a general dentist or a pediatric dentist.  A pediatric dentist is a board-certified specialist, who limits his or her practice to treating children only.  Pediatric dentists undergo two to three years of additional training after completing their doctorate in dentistry.

A pediatric dentist specializes in behavioral management, developmental disorders, special needs dentistry, and sedation for children.  Because they cater to children only, the offices of pediatric dentists typically contain play areas, video games, and kid-sized dental chairs, making the environment much more kid-friendly.

Can My Child See our General Dentist?

Many general dentists love to see and treat children.  It often comes down to a simple personal preference.  If your general regularly sees and treats children, then it is logical to begin there.  You can make your child’s initial appointment with your general dentist.  This first appointment will give both you and the dentist more information about whether or not your child can remain there or should see a pediatric dentist.

We typically base this decision on several factors.

  • Is the child willing to sit in the dental chair?
  • Will the child allow the dental hygienist and dentist to look into his or her mouth?
  • Can the child tolerate a thirty-minute professional teeth cleaning and examination?
  • Is the child extremely apprehensive or tearful?
  • Does the child have any psychological or behavioral disorders that make sitting still difficult?
  • Does the child have severe dental problems that will require multiple visits for treatment?
  • Is the scope of dental treatment such that sedating the child would be the best option?

How to Find the Right Pediatric Dentist

If your general dentist recommends that you take your child to a pediatric dentist, he or she will give you a referral to one in your area.  Typically, we build relationships with various specialists and can vouch for the quality of their work.  A great option, if you have time, is to ask your dentist for two different referrals so that you can get two opinions and decide which you prefer.

Finding the right dentist for your child follows the same rules as finding one for yourself.  Read online reviews.  Other patients share what their experiences with a specific dentist was like.  Ask your neighbors whom their children see for dental care.  Nothing beats a personal recommendation!

When Should My Child See a Dentist?

The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that every child see a dentist by age one or when the first tooth appears.  This is much earlier than most people realize.  The average age of a child when the first tooth appears is six to seven months.  Many people wait until their child has a full set of teeth before making a dental appointment.  This is often too late!

At this age, it is best to see a pediatric dentist, as they are the experts in examining baby mouths.  The pediatric dentist will perform a “lap exam”, in which you, the parent, and the dentist hold the child together on your laps, allowing the dentist to see the child’s mouth clearly.  It is completely normal for your baby to cry!  It actually gives us a better view into his or her mouth.

The pediatric dentist will also educate you on best practices for oral hygiene and nutrition to help your baby’s mouth develop properly.  As this information is instrumental in your care for your baby’s dental development, the earlier you obtain it, the better!

More Questions about Pediatric Dentistry?

Call your nearest Premier Dental of Ohio location today to schedule a consultation with one of our dentists.  They can answer any question you have about treatment for children and refer you to see a board-certified pediatric dentist if needed.