If your child is nearing their first birthday, then it is time to start thinking about scheduling their first visit to the dentist. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children see a dentist within six months of their first tooth erupting, or by age one. Before you schedule that first appointment, be sure to read the top 10 reasons why you should choose a pediatric dentist for your little one’s oral healthcare needs.
1. Pediatric dentists receive specialized training to work with children. Pediatric dentistry focuses on the oral health of young people from infancy all the way through adolescence. After completing four years of dental school, pediatric dentists receive two to three additional years of specialized and rigorous training designed to give them hands-on experience with children of all ages, from infants and toddlers to school-aged children and teenagers.
2. Children with special needs are welcome. Pediatric dentists are specially trained to treat children and adolescents with special needs. In fact, a pediatric dentist may see a young adult with special needs long after their 18th birthday, as the dentist knows the patient’s dental history and treatment needs and has built trust with the patient.
3. The offices of pediatric dentists are designed to put children at ease. From colorful murals on the walls to television monitors playing the latest and greatest in children’s programming, the office of a pediatric dentist is specially designed to be warm and inviting. Pediatric dentists want children to think of going to the dentist as a fun adventure.
4. Pediatric dentists are specialists in dealing with all different types of personalities. Your child may be chatty and confident, or they may be shy and anxious, but have no fear, pediatric dentists are trained to handle it all. Pediatric dentists understand that children may respond very differently than adults to dental visits. Children may be anxious or fearful in unfamiliar surroundings. This anxiety can be especially severe when extensive treatment is required. Pediatric dentists can provide safe and effective sedation to children if necessary. They are also trained to handle difficult behavioral situations.
5. They know how to treat problems that are specific to children, such as pacifier use, thumb sucking or extended use of the bottle. Pediatric dentists work with parents and children to curb these bad habits before they become major oral health issues.
6. Pediatric dentists understand the importance of establishing good oral healthcare habits from a very early age. Prevention is one of the cornerstones of the pediatric dental community, and pediatric dentists are constantly doing research to develop innovative technologies and techniques to help prevent cavities and other oral health issues in children. Studies show that children with poor oral health don’t do as well in school and often don’t have strong social relationships with their peers. Working with parents and caregivers, pediatric dentists can help establish good brushing and flossing habits, as well as healthy eating habits, from an early age.
7. Kid-friendly communication is the name of the game for pediatric dentists. From explaining each step of a dental treatment in simple terms to showing children each instrument that will be used, pediatric dentists are well-versed educators. They are also trained in positive reinforcement, as well as speaking in a soothing tone to build trust and lessen anxiety.
8. The equipment and tools in pediatric dentist offices are specially designed for children. Pediatric dental practices use smaller tools and equipment, such as child-size X-rays and kid-friendly dental instruments that are just the right size for a child’s mouth and jaw.
9. Pediatric dentists work closely with orthodontists. If your child needs braces or other orthodontic treatments, your pediatric dentist will recognize the signs and refer you to an orthodontist right away. Pediatric dentists are also trained to monitor jaw growth and development and the eruption pattern of permanent teeth.
10. Pediatric dentists are trained in having fun! From prizes at the end of each visit to friendly and welcoming teams, the goal of a pediatric dentist is for children to look forward to their next visit. Positive and fun visits to the dentist promote a lifetime of trust and healthy smiles.