Why Choose a Pediatric Dentist?
The difference between a general dentist who treats children and a pediatric dentist is additional education and specialized training to provide the best clinical care and a positive experience. Pediatric dentists are specifically trained to diagnose, treat, and manage conditions particular to children.
All dentists receive similar dental training and must earn an undergraduate degree and attend dental school where they receive either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD). Pediatric Dentists then complete another two to three years of additional intensive pediatric dental training specifically focused on treating the unique dental issues of children and teens, including those who are disabled or have special needs.
The pediatric dentists of Great Beginnings chose to focus their dental careers on treating children and adolescents. The office is designed with a child’s comfort in mind with a fun and relaxing atmosphere. Specialized pediatric dental instruments are used to provide optimal care for developing teeth. Staff members are experienced in working with children and know how to make kids feel comfortable and safe. The Great Beginnings Team lives the mission of working together to create smiles for a lifetime.
Reasons to Choose a Specialist
Family dentists practice general dentistry for people of all ages, but a pediatric dentist spends all day every day treating only kids. Here are a few reasons to take your child to a specialist:
- We’re kid experts! Pediatric dentists get an extra two to three years of special training to treat children of all shapes and sizes from itty bitty infants to growing teens. Read about the specialized training details from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
- Did you know our practices look more like playgrounds and amusement centers? Colorful murals decorate our walls. Toys and video games fill our play areas. It’s where all the cool kids hang out!
- Whether your child is super shy or super chatty, a specialist knows how handle every personality that walks through the doors.
- Worried about your tike’s pacifier use, thumb sucking or bottle feeding? They can show you how to tame your child’s bad habits.
- Baby teeth get cavities, too. A pediatric dentist is trained to work on tiny teeth.
When to see the dentist
As a rule of thumb it is time for a dental visit when your baby’s first tooth becomes visible or they reach 12 months old – whichever comes first. If you notice anything you think is out of the ordinary before this time it’s better to be safe than sorry, so book an appointment straight away. The earlier your child visits the dentist the better. Prevention is better than cure and early dental visits will help protect your child from tooth decay
THE 5 DON’TS OF DENTAL VISITS
1. Don’t tell your child to be brave (they already are)
2. Don’t bribe your child
3. Don’t tell your child that it won’t hurt (or it will)
4. Don’t use the dentist as a deterrent or punishment
5. Don’t be anxious yourself
Evaluating the Office
Once you’ve gotten the name of a dentist you want to try, meeting her in person and seeing the office can help you determine if she is the right fit for your child. Consider these questions from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
Before the visit, ask the office:
- Does the dentist have special training or interest in treating children?
- Is the dentist a member of the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry?
- Is the dental office set up for children? For example, does it offer toys, books, games, or child-sized furniture?
- How does the dental office manage emergencies? (Many practices have an answering service available during off hours.)
- Is the office conveniently located near your home or your child’s school?
- Does the practice accept your dental benefit plan?
After the visit, ask yourself:
- Was your child seen promptly?
- Were you asked for a complete medical and dental history for your child?
- Was the dentist gentle but thorough when examining your child’s mouth?
- Did the dentist or staff talk to your child, encouraging her involvement in dental health?
- Were you informed about your child’s tooth development, the causes and prevention of dental disease, and appropriate dental care at home?
- Were your questions treated with concern and respect?
- Was the visit positive for your child?
Pediatric Dentist Skills and Qualifications
Pediatric patients present some unique challenges. Fondness for children is a must, not to mention extensive patience and a warm, personable bedside manner. After completing a bachelor’s degree and dental school, specialty training is required to practice pediatric dentistry.The American Board of Pediatric Dentistry also offers additional (and optional) certification. Once fully trained, pediatric dentists have the following skills:
- Interpersonal skills – patience, adaptability, and compassion are critical to explaining complex medical topics toyoung patients and listening to their concerns
- Strong ethics -pediatric dentists must adhere to government regulations, such as those stipulated under HIPAA and OSHA, as well as any policies set forth by their practice
- Manual dexterity– smaller patients and smaller tools mean pediatric dentists need excellent hand-eye coordination to safely treat their patients
- Teaching – pediatric dentists instruct children and their parents on the best practices of oral hygiene, in addition to mentoring students and associates
- Critical thinking – good judgment and perception are necessary to accurately evaluate patients and devise treatment plans
- Administering medicine – anesthetics and sedatives must be used properly and with great care to ensure patient safety and comfort