From 2001 to 2018, the number of pediatric dentists in the US has almost doubled from 4,213 to 8,033! This is excellent because it gives you more choices when it comes to dental healthcare providers for your little ones.
However, it can sometimes feel like you have too many choices. You might feel overwhelmed with options, but so long as you ask the right questions, you’ll be able to make a good decision.
To help you out, here are 7 questions you should ask a potential pediatric dentist to see if they’re the right fit for your kids.
1. When Should My Children Have Their First Dental Visit?
Most parents think that they don’t need to bring their little ones into the dentist’s office until they get a few of their first teeth in. However, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) says that children need to see the dentist by their first birthday or within 6 months of their first tooth erupting.
So see how the pediatric dentist answers this question. If it’s on par with what the AAPD says, then that’s a good sign.
They should also mention that your older kids need to be seen ASAP. It’s never too late to start going to the dentist!
2. What Happens at the First Dental Visit?
A good pediatric dentist should be able to answer this in a confident and patient way.
Typically, younger children (aged 1 to 2) will sit in your lap for the initial exam. The dentist will then gently examine both their teeth and gums, then clean their mouth. They’ll also apply a fluoride varnish to protect your little one’s teeth.
For children who are 2 to 3 years old, you can expect the pediatric dentist to give them a regular teeth cleaning and exam. It’ll be quite similar to the ones you get.
When choosing a pediatric dentist, you want to get one that’ll accommodate any anxiety you and/or your children might have about visits. So mention these concerns and see how they’d handle things.
3. Are X-Rays Safe?
Understandably, you might be worried about x-rays being harmful to your little ones. So make sure you ask this question to get peace of mind.
The pediatric dentist should be able to explain how x-rays work and the risks involved. A good dental office will have the latest in technology, which will ensure that radiation exposure is kept to a minimum.
Rest easy knowing that x-rays are actually safe for kids of all ages. Also, pediatric dentists will only recommend x-rays if it’s absolutely necessary. They’ll also ask for your consent before proceeding.
4. Do Baby Teeth Really Matter?
We all grow a set of baby teeth that eventually grow out and make room for our permanent adult teeth. So if they fall out, baby teeth shouldn’t really matter, right? After all, we get to “start over” with our adult teeth.
However, you’d be surprised to learn that baby teeth do matter! So out of all the pediatric dentist questions you should ask, this is one of the most important ones.
Your pediatric dentist should take some time to explain the function of baby teeth and how they help set the stage for adult teeth. They’re also important in eating and speaking properly, so if your kids don’t take good care of their baby teeth, it can cause problems later down the line.
5. Do Baby Teeth Need to Be Brushed?
Along those lines, you might be wondering if your child’s baby teeth even need to be brushed. The simple answer is “yes” since plaque builds up on any type of teeth.
By brushing your little one’s teeth early on, it benefits them in several ways. First of all, it gets them used to the process so it’s easier to transition to brushing on their own in a few years.
Your pediatric dentist should be able to advise you on how often your child’s teeth need to be brushed. Generally, this is at least twice a day.
6. When Should I Discourage Thumbsucking, if Ever?
You might’ve heard that thumbsucking, drinking from bottles, and using pacifiers can mess up a child’s teeth. So you might be concerned about your kids doing this.
It’s true that all of the above can cause issues with bite alignment and speech. But they’re also good for your child to self-soothe.
The experts say that it’s fine for your little ones to perform these actions and most will outgrow them anyway. But you should actively stop them from sucking their thumbs and using pacifiers by age 3. If you need cessation help, you can always turn to your pediatric dentist.
This might be a good time to ask them what methods they suggest. That way, you can see if their attitudes align with yours.
7. Do You Offer Sedation?
You’re an adult and you probably have some anxiety over your dental appointments. So naturally, your children might as well. In this case, sedation is vital, as it might be the only way for treatments to be done.
The best pediatric dentist will have sedation available and will explain each to you. For example, they might have both nitrous oxide sedation and general anesthesia.
Find the Right Pediatric Dentist for Your Kids
By asking these questions, you’ll be able to pick the perfect fit for your children’s dental healthcare.
Make sure you take your time to really get to know these professionals and how they handle things. If you do so, in the end, you’ll find a gem of a pediatric dentist that’ll help your kids with oral hygiene, all without making them feel scared of the dental office. And this will make it worth every minute you spent vetting these dentists!
Now that you know what to ask a pediatric dentist, why not start off Elizabethtown Dentistry for Children? Get in touch with us today to ask questions and schedule an appointment!