Have you ever gone to an ice cream shop with your child and then allowed them to pick any flavor they wanted? They were probably so excited to choose one flavor out of the twenty-one laid out in front of them. It also probably took what felt like forever waiting for your child to choose their perfect flavor for their one scoop. When given a large number of choices, it can be challenging to figure out what is the best option for you. The same can be said when trying to figure out how to choose the right pediatric dentist. 

Proper oral care is critical for everyone, but even more so for your children. Children’s teeth, compared to adult’s teeth, are more prone to cavities and fractures. As a parent, it is your job to make sure your child maintains good oral hygiene, and that you take your child for dental check-ups at least twice a year. If you do not already have a pediatric dentist picked out, the choosing process can seem overwhelming. We want to help make that process easier for you, so we want to give you the information needed to help you choose the right pediatric dentist. 

What is a pediatric dentist?

A pediatric dentist is a dentist who specializes in the oral health care needs of children from infancy through young adulthood. Pediatric dentists are specialty oral providers for infants and young children through adolescence. That also includes patients with special needs. They are trained to treat young children and have completed four years of dental school as general dentists as well as an additional two years of training in pediatric dentistry. 

Pediatric Dentist vs. General Dentist

General dentists serve a wide range of services and different aged patients. A regular dentist can see children with no problem. However, general dentists focus and primarily train on adult teeth. General dentists have the same medical degree and same professional responsibilities as every other dentist. Choosing a general dentist is easier for parents because family dental visits can be done at the same time at the same dental office. The good thing is that general dentists often serve as a family dentist. Your family dentist can often be a guide for referring children to a specific pediatric dentist. 

Pediatric dentists have additional training, as previously mentioned. Pediatric dentists also have training in patient behavior guidance. This includes learning different options or approaches to examining and treating children in ways that make them comfortable. It also includes care of the medically and developmentally compromised patients. This training that pediatric dentists receive is necessary for the safety and comfort of young patients. Along with the training for patient care, pediatric dentists also have training in supervision and evaluation of facial skeletal growth and development, early cavity prevention, and sedation for children. 

Should my pediatric dentist be board certified, accredited, or licensed?

When choosing your pediatric dentist, it is crucial to choose one who is board certified. A board-certified pediatric dentist has gone through further training with the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. They have gone through the necessary steps to become a specialist, and they can perform at a superior level. They can demonstrate expertise and knowledge that other dentists cannot. 

It is also essential to keep in mind that the pediatric dentist you choose should have completed their course from an accredited institution. Proper training will help ensure that your child is in the right hands, and they are in the appropriate care of someone who fully understands what they are doing. 

Another way to see if the possible pediatric dentist is a good choice is to see if they are licensed to practice in your area. A pediatric dentist should have a license that permits them to practice their dental profession in your state. Professional dental licenses are approved and given by the state board, so that board should have previously approved that office. The majority of the time, the dentists will display their certifications and licenses in their practice area or reception area. If you do not see it, do not hesitate to ask the dentist. 

Choose the right location

When choosing a pediatric dentist, you should keep in mind the location of their offices from your home. For busy parents, you can find a great dentist, but they happen to be in the next town over and can take over forty minutes to get to. This can cause issues for a busy lifestyle. For children with anxiety or fears, a forty-minute car ride can lead to uncomfortable temper tantrums. 

If you have an autistic child, you should also consider the distance you and your autistic child must travel to see the dentist. Making sure that the distance between the office and your house is being considered can help your child in the long run. 

Do they have good behavior management skills?

Children that have ASD are prone to having difficulty in communication and social skills. In this situation, it is vital to have a pediatric dentist that has strong behavior management skills. A good start is finding a dentist who can greet your child with a welcoming smile, so they feel comfortable. Pediatric dentists are specially trained to use communication that is built on a dynamic process of dialogue, facial expression, and voice tone. Your dentist should never be aggressively forceful, especially on the first visit. Finding a dentist who will allow your child to observe how things work and will explain it to them in a caring manner is a good idea. 

Things to Consider

An excellent way to find the right pediatric dentist for your child is to ask for recommendations from family and friends who also have little ones. You can also ask your family dentist or even your pediatrician. Another important detail is to check whether or not the dental office is well equipped with the proper materials. During your tour of the dental clinic, you can check and ask if they have the appropriate equipment for specific procedures. If your child requires sedation, the needed materials such as an oxygen tank should be readily available. 

We hope this information helps you choose the right pediatric dentist for your child. We are readily available to answer all your questions and are more than happy to sit and explain anything you wish. Do not hesitate to give us a call as well! If you are ready to book an appointment for your child, you can visit our Hacienda Pediatric Dentistry website.

We look forward to seeing you!