Choosing a dentist – or any doctor – for your child can be very intimidating. You’ve probably combed through hundreds of reviews and compiled extensive profiles on each potential candidate. You want someone who will provide your child with the best dental care, has a good track record, and is good with kids. But how do you know which dentist is the best? Everyone will claim the title, and you’ll probably come across at least a few mixed reviews from each source.
If you’re a little stuck trying to find a dentist for your child, there are a few key things you’ll want to keep in mind that will aid you in your search. These can help narrow your list or even add some candidates you might not have considered.
Factor #1: The Child’s Age
Many parents don’t even think about taking their children to the dentist while they are still cutting their teeth. However, doctors and dentists recommend taking your child to the dentist within 6 months of getting their first tooth or at least having one visit before they are 12 months old.
It may seem silly to take your child to the dentist with only a few teeth, but it is very important. Oral health greatly impacts the rest of the body; the earlier an issue is caught, the better. Even if nothing is wrong, taking your child for a check-up is still recommended – much like you would with the regular pediatrician.
Now, not all dentists will see such young patients. You’ll want to look specifically for a pediatric dentist. Some dentists are family practitioners who will see older children, but a pediatric dentist is your best bet for babies and toddlers.
Another reason why pediatric dentists are preferable for children is that they tend to be better with children. They will have specialized, child-sized tools and equipment.
Even more importantly, pediatric dentists will use techniques to help ease children’s fears and calm them. Many children have a lot of anxiety about going to the dentist. It can quickly break down into tears and tantrums. It can make a trip to the dentist unpleasant for everyone involved. A dentist who can help prevent a meltdown is worth it.
If you have trouble finding a pediatric dentist, talk to your child’s pediatrician. They should be able to recommend a few.
Factor #2: Doctor Credentials – Focus Your Research
When you research a dentist or any doctor, it can be tempting to search for their name and practice online and comb through the articles that pop up. It isn’t necessarily bad, but you’ll probably get many mixed reviews and opinions, which might not provide the clearest picture.
First, you should look into the dentists’ credentials in the practice. They could have the best reviews in town, but none would matter if they lacked the proper credentials. A pediatric dentist must go through two years of additional training. If they don’t, they aren’t certified.
Reading their credentials first can save you time and help you narrow your list of potential candidates.
Factor #3: Results of a Consultation
Call and schedule a consultation when you find a dentist you think might suit your child. It is exactly what it sounds like an initial meeting where no dental work is done. It is similar to a pre-school interview. An initial consultation will give you and your child a chance to get a real feel for the potential dentist, gauge how they react to each other, and take stock of the overall environment.
A good pediatric dentist will:
-Be warm, friendly, and inviting
-Project a calming demeanour
-Be at ease when handling your child
-Take an interest in your child’s overall oral health
-Happily answer any of your questions
-Take time to explain oral care and what you should expect from your children
While at the consultation, ensure you get a good feel of the overall environment in the office.
The ideal pediatric dentist’s office will:
-Have a clean, child-friendly waiting room
-Have books and toys to keep kids occupied
-Be warm and welcoming, a place where children want to be
-Use child-sized tools and equipment – it should look smaller than what you’re used to seeing in your dentist’s office
-Have a friendly and approachable staff who are good with children
If the potential dentist or their office doesn’t check all the boxes, or there are any other glaring defects, cross them off your list and move on! However, a quick word of advice: as nerve-wracking as it can be to hear a lot of crying, this isn’t necessarily a sign of a bad dentist. Sometimes, kids will cry – don’t let this deter you from giving the office your full assessment.
Making Your Decision
Once you have found a dentist in NW Calgary that you want to stick with, you can call and establish your child as a patient. If you are having trouble finding one who is a good fit or are finding it difficult to narrow your list down, try talking to your child’s doctor. They are likely to have some trusted recommendations handy.
Here at Valley Ridge Dental Centre, our pediatric dentists will take the time to explain the basics and importance of proper oral hygiene to you and your child. They’ll talk directly to the child so they can understand and explain everything they’re going to do before they do it – to both you and your child. Call us today if you’d like to set up an initial consultation!
We look forward to meeting you and your little one. Contact our NW Calgary dental clinic today.