Children typically go to their first dentist appointment when their baby teeth begin to come in. Choosing a dentist can be a challenge, so it helps to know some things to look for.
1. Expertise vs. Convenience
You have two main options for a child's dentist—a specialized pediatric dentist that only works with children or a family dentist that has been trained to work with both children and adults. A pediatric dentist is good if you want highly specialized care for your child through their teen years, but a family dentist can see your whole family and continue to care for your child's dental health even after they reach adulthood. Both types are qualified, so it is up to you to decide which you prefer.
2. Extended Hours
When your child is young it may seem like no big deal to head to a dentist appointment in the middle of the day, but this will become a major issue as your child gets older. You will have to miss work and the child must miss school for standard mid-day appointments. Choose a dentist with extended hours, such as early morning, evening, and weekend openings, so that you will have more options when it comes to scheduling.
3. Associated Practices
Eventually, your child may need more than a dentist, especially if they ever need braces or oral surgery. Choosing a dental office that contains all the associated practices, such as orthodontics, under one roof can make future dental care both more convenient and easier to navigate. Having everything in one practice also means you won't have to worry about referrals later on.
4. Anxiety Techniques
Childhood is an important time in dental health as it sets habits for a lifetime. One habit you don't want to be instilled in your child is dental anxiety. Talk to any prospective dentist about what techniques they use to allay dental anxiety in normal office visits as well as when more involved work is needed. Offering treatment options like sleep dentistry for invasive work, for example, can help prevent anxiety from becoming an issue.
5. Office Atmosphere
The general atmosphere of the office and waiting room should be congruent with keeping children entertained and at ease. Play areas and activity centers will help keep anxiety away while you await your appointment. You also want it to be a good experience for the adults, with clear signage and helpful support staff to aid with paperwork and billing concerns.
Finding the best dentist for your child and family will pay off in the long run for your child's dental health and your peace of mind.
Contact a local dentist for more information.