Pediatric dentists treat only children, and have undergone additional schooling to become a specialist. That means that they are knowledgeable about childhood dental concerns, such as tooth development, thumb sucking, childhood tooth care and pre-orthodontic care.
And most of them adapt their offices to meet children’s needs, providing a child-friendly teaching environment and a sensitive approach to the patient. When selecting a pediatric dentist, use your preliminary contacts to get a feel for the office. You may be able to tell whether or not the staff seems friendly and responsive to patient needs. For a young child whose never visited a dentist, ask about an initial “get to know you” appointment. For an older child, schedule a regular appointment. During your child’s first appointment, talk to the dentist about any concerns. When you’re finished, he or she should clearly inform you of your options and explain their advantages and disadvantages.
Ask about payments, insurance and office hours. For example, will the dentist be available before or after school or during evening hours? Finally, select a dentist with whom you and your child will feel personally comfortable. If you so wish, our office will be happy to provide you with a Board Certified (highly qualified) Pediatric Dentist if your family dentist is unable to do so.
It’s important that your child’s first visit to the dentist be a happy one. A positive initial experience can set the scene for a lifetime of good dental care. Ideally, you’ll schedule that first visit when the child is very young. Many pediatric dentists prefer to see children even before they have all their teeth, and usually before the age of 2 ½. If you wait until the child is older, they’re more likely to feel anxiety. Unless your child needs some immediate treatment, the first visit is usually just for familiarization.
The child gets a chance to see the office, sit in a chair and meet the staff. The dentist or hygienist may show the child how to brush their teeth and may do a quick initial exam. As long as you are positive, cheerful and matter-of-fact about going to the dentist, your child probably will be too. Don’t let your own fears or past experiences color your child’s expectations.
If your child has a dental emergency, contact your dentist and follow the instructions you will be given. If your dentist isn’t available, ask the answering service to be connected to whoever is covering emergency calls. Here’s some general advice: If a tooth has been knocked out, rinse it gently in a cup of warm water. Don’t scrub. You don’t want to remove tissue that may still be clinging to the tooth. Handle the tooth only by the crown. If possible, gently press the tooth back in the socket and have the child gently bite down on a piece of gauze to hold it in place. If this isn’t possible, save the tooth in a cup of milk or cool water, or wrap it in a clean, wet cloth. Get to a dentist as soon as possible, preferably within 30 minutes of losing the tooth.
Take the tooth with you. If something is caught between your child’s teeth, try to remove it with dental floss. If this doesn’t work, go to the dentist. Never try to pry anything out with a sharp instrument. For a toothache, rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out, then use dental floss to remove anything stuck between the teeth. To relieve swelling, place a cold compress on the outside of the cheek. For a broken tooth, bite down firmly on a clean piece of gauze to stop the bleeding. Use warm water to clean the tooth if possible, and cold compresses to reduce swelling and contact your dentist promptly.