When you consider a doctor for your children’s medical needs, you go to a pediatrician because that’s the health practitioner who is specially trained to treat children. But when it comes to dental care, you have a choice between a family dentist, who provides care to adults as well as youngsters, or a pediatric dentist, who works only with children.
Whatever your decision, the best dentist for a child is one who will make themfeel most comfortable during a check-up. Friendly, easy-going conversation goes a long way toward easing a child’s anxiousness. It draws attention away from the dental procedures and develops trust in the practitioner. Praising the child’s patience and good behavior also helps to make them comfortable with their surroundings.
Starting in babyhood, going to the dentist should be a normal part of a child’s routine. Experts say regular exams should start when a child is age 1, or when his or her first tooth appears, whichever comes first.
“Is it absolutely mandatory to see a child by age one? Not always, but this guideline certainly exists for a reason,” Kristin Elliot, D.D.S., a Chicago pediatric dentist told Hinsdale Magazine. “At this first visit, we can gently introduce the child and parent to the pediatric dental environment, discuss proper home care and diet, and evaluate the child’s growth and development.”
For families who cannot afford the high cost of premiums for dental insurance, a good alternative is a discount dental plan. Many dentistry services are provided under such plans at reduced prices.
Specializing in Pediatric Dentistry
By opting for a pediatric dentist, you’re choosing a more specialized practice run by someone who has made a conscious choice – and spent two or three additional years in dental school – to take care of solely young patients. Pediatric dentists often spend part of their training at a children’s hospital to learn about children’s issues in more depth, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
Pediatric dentists are used to communicating with children on their own level by explaining procedures in terms they can understand and at a pace that will make them part of the process. At the same time, they need a genuine interest in youngsters as well as the patience and special skills required to treat very young children who may be fidgety and crying during their time in the dentist chair.
When you visit a pediatric dentist’s office, you’ll notice there’s an atmosphere that’s more in tune with young patients – colorful decor, toys and games to play with in the waiting area and dentist chairs that are suited to their size. Many family dentists also have some of these elements in their practices. It helps children relax if they can play in a setting where they feel comfortable.
Getting Your Child Ready
If you choose instead to bring your children to a family dentist, they can get acclimated more easily when you’re having your dental exam. They’ll already be familiar with the dentist office when it comes time for them to meet the dentist who may be working on them at their own appointment.
The benefits of having your children go to the same local dentist who cares for you is familiarity with the dental practice, trust that’s built up over the years with the dentist and the convenience of one-stop family dentistry.
It’s important for everyone to talk to children about dental care honestly. They may experience some discomfort, so it’s best not to promise them that nothing will hurt. But stressing the good health and cleanliness that comes from a dental visit will help them see it as a positive experience.
Pediatric dentist or family dentist- which do you prefer? Let us know why in your comments.