A checklist for choosing a pediatric dentist
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that kids should visit a pediatric dentist when their first tooth comes in or by their first birthday. Our checklist will help you pick the best pediatric dentist to fit you and your family’s dental needs.
Finding a pediatric dentist that takes good care of your child's teeth while making the experience relaxed and fun sets the stage for a lifetime of healthy teeth. Use our checklist to help you find the right dentist for your family.
Finding pediatric dentists
Where can you find a pediatric dentist and how can you be sure they have the right training?
- Ask for recommendations from friends and family.
- Ask for a referral from your pediatrician.
- Search local websites or magazines for recommendations.
- You will find pediatric dentists working in medical centers, private practices and dental schools.
- Ask about training: A pediatric dentist has two additional years of residency training for babies, kids, teens and kids with special needs.
- The AAPD has a great pediatric dentist search tool to help you find a dentist in your area.
Care provided to your child
Your child will see a pediatric dentist from infancy through adolescence. Here is what kind of care you can expect:
- Oral exams and risk assessment for cavities for infants.
- Knowledge of dealing with dental habits, such as thumb sucking, teeth grinding or pacifier use.
- Repair of tooth cavities or other tooth defects.
- Preventive dental care, including cleaning, sealants and fluoride treatment.
- Assessment of normal tooth development.
- Assessment of the need for orthodontics to straighten teeth or correct improper bite.
- Manage and prevent gum diseases, including periodontal disease and gingivitis.
- Manage dental and oral conditions, including short frenulae and ulcers.
- Care of knocked-out teeth, fractured teeth or displaced teeth.
Parent and child education
It is important your dentist and his/her staff educate you and your child on proper dental care at home. Your pediatric dentist should talk to you about the following:
- Education on how diet and drinks affect teeth.
- Educating parents on the proper care of infant or baby teeth.
- Educating kids and teens on the proper care of teeth.
- Demonstration on the proper way to brush and floss.
- Education on the proper handling of knocked-out teeth or fractured teeth.
- Education for the parents on when they can expect their child's permanent teeth to come in.
The pediatric dentist offices should be catering to children, with colorful paint and hands-on toys in the waiting room to make the experience fun. Your dentist should also come across as friendly and welcoming.
- Is the dentist office kid-friendly?
- Are the instruments appropriate for your child's mouth?
- Is the office staff friendly and accessible?
- Is the dentist friendly and accessible?
- Do the dentist and staff explain to your child what to expect?
- Is the atmosphere friendly and positive?
- How does your dentist respond to a scared or crying child?