Why It’s Essential to Find a Pediatric Dentist for Your Baby (and what to expect at that first exam)
As a parent, you want to select the best medical and dental care for your child. It’s an enormous responsibility, and you don’t take it lightly. However, you might be confused about how to get started with taking your baby to the pediatric dentist. There’s a thought that you’ll put into the process.
There is so much information about this topic — both good and bad — floating around on the internet. So much so, in fact, that you might not be able to discern which info is reliable. Add to that your well-intentioned friends who offer one opinion, even as your relatives offer a conflicting one. Then, you read those Google reviews, and become even more confused on which is the best pediatric dentist in your community. It seems that everyone to give you advice.
The truth is that there are many qualified dentists in every area, but you need to select the best one for your child. We asked Dr. Holly Gregory, a pediatric dentist in Kingwood, TX to weigh in on the topic. Here is her advice to parents.
- When a Baby Should Have Their First Pediatric Dental Visit
You might even be unsure of when your baby should have his or her first dental visit. It’s surprisingly sooner than you might think, so early that it catches parents off guard!
Baby should see the dentist for his or her first exam when the first baby tooth erupts from the gums. Normally, this happens at about twelve months of age. Those first early visits help to determine the future dental wellness of your baby.
The pediatric dentist provides a comprehensive exam of the baby’s entire mouth. This exam includes a look at the health of the gums, those very first pearly white baby teeth, and a check for any jaw abnormality. She will also guide parents on proper dental hygiene techniques to preserve those baby teeth.
Finally, pediatric dentists will equip you with some strategies to coach you through the most dreaded phase of dental development–teething. And, she will advise you on tips on how to wean your baby off his or her pacifier and bottle once that time arrives.
- Look for a Board-Certified Pediatric Dentist
To become a pediatric dental provider, dentists attend extensive training beyond the standard dental accreditation phase. These highly specialized dentists attend at least two more years of additional education and training to gain official recognition by the American Board of General Dentistry.
This training is grueling and extensive. The candidates study pediatric anatomy, child psychology, and learn early onset dental problems. This training gives them a thorough knowledge of how to treat their tiny patients.
To earn the coveted Board-Certified status, a dentist must complete all training plus pass a rigorous test.
- The Dental Clinic Staff Should Adore Children!
So, we are now on the same page and agree that your baby should see the dentist early. And, you’ve found a board-certified dentist for your child.
Next, it’s time to make sure that the dental clinic staff adores working with young patients.
Children are both frightened and physically uncomfortable during those earliest dental exams and treatments.
Their mouths are minuscule, and it feels strange to them to have a strange person poking at their teeth! It can make them squeal with discomfort or cry.
Like other habits your child will develop, however, he or she will become more comfortable with time. Most children accept dental appointments as a routine part of life after just a few visits.
Let’s be perfectly honest, however. Not all dentists enjoy working on small children. Because they can be wiggly or whiny (or often both!) both dentists and dental assistants can have their nerves frazzled if they don’t have an authentic love for working with children.
The entire dental team–from the receptionist and billing office to the dentist–must have an affinity for working with pediatric patients.
- Find a Clinic with Emergency Treatment Options
Dental emergencies happen.
As a parent, I can tell you firsthand that the day my daughter tumbled head-first down a sliding board and broke her front tooth—it was a Saturday. The time that she got walloped in the face with a softball and we thought she fractured her jaw (thank goodness, she didn’t)—it was a Sunday.
Find a pediatric dentist with after-hours care. Many will partner with other clinics to ensure that a dentist is on-call.
Final Thoughts on Finding a Pediatric Dentist
When you’re retaining the services a pediatric dentist, ask as many questions as you feel you are necessary. The best practices don’t mind that; they love when parents are inquisitive and engaged with their child’s dental wellness.