Choosing a dentist – or any doctor – for your child can be a very intimidating task. You’ve probably combed through hundreds of reviews and compiled extensive profiles on each of the potential candidates. Obviously, you want someone who will provide your child with the best dental care, has a good track record, and who 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 on 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 done your list or even add some candidates that you might not have thought to consider before.
Factor #1: The Child’s Age
A lot of parents don’t even think about taking their children to the dentist while they are still cutting teeth. However, both 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 a little silly to take your child to the dentist when they have only a handful of teeth, but it is actually very important. Oral health has a massive impact on the rest of the body, and the earlier an issue is caught, the better. Even if nothing is wrong, it is still recommended to take your child for a check-up – much like you would with the regular paediatrician.
Now, not all dentists will see such young patients. You’ll want to look specifically for a paediatric dentist. Some dentists are family practitioners who will see older children, but for babies and toddlers, a paediatric dentist is your best bet.
Another reason why paediatric dentists are preferable for children is that they tend to be better with children. They will have specialised, child-sized tools and equipment.
Even more importantly, paediatric dentists will use techniques to help allay children’s fears and keep them calm. Many children have a lot of anxiety about going to the dentist. This 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 definitely worth it.
If you are having trouble finding a paediatric dentist, talk to your child’s paediatrician. 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 simply search their name and practice online and comb through the articles that pop up. This isn’t necessarily bad, but you’re probably going to get a lot of mixed reviews and opinions, which might not provide the clearest picture.
The first thing you should actually look into are the credentials of the dentists in the practice. They could have the best reviews in town, but none of them would matter if they lack the proper credentials. A paediatric dentist must go through two years of additional training. If they don’t, they aren’t certified.
Reading up on their credentials first can save you a lot of time and will likely help you narrow your list of potential candidates.
Factor #3: Results of a Consultation
When you find a dentist that you think might be a good fit for your child, call and schedule a consultation. This is exactly what it sounds like: an initial meeting where no dental work is done. It is somewhat 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 paediatric dentist will:
-Be warm, friendly, and inviting
-Project a calming demeanour
-Be at ease when handling your child
-Take 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 with your children
While at the consultation, make sure you get a good feel of the overall environment in the office.
The ideal paediatric dentist 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 are going to cry – don’t let this deter you from giving the office your full assessment.
Making Your Decision
Once you have found a dentist in Calgary that you like 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 paediatric dentists will make sure to take time to explain to you and your child the basics and importance of proper oral hygiene. They’ll talk directly to the child in a way that they can understand, and they’ll explain everything they’re going to do before they do it – to both you and your child. If you’d like to set up an initial consultation, call us today! We look forward to meeting you and your little one.