Finding a good dentist for your child is an important step in maintaining his or her dental health, as well as overall health. But since not all dentists treat children, how will you know when you have found a good dentist for kids? There are some specific differences between dentists who treat children and those who focus on adults. These 5 signs will help take the guesswork out of identifying a kid-friendly dentist in your area.
Kid-Friendly Office and Waiting Area
A dentist who caters to kids should have a waiting area that shows this (compared to a dentist who works only with adults). For instance, does the waiting area include toys and books? Is it colorful, and does it help kids feel at ease? Because going to the dentist can be stressful for children, just as it can be for some adults, the decor and overall atmosphere should be geared toward making children as comfortable as possible. This may include posters or pictures, hung low on the walls, of cartoon characters, animals, or other kid-friendly images. There could also be a fish tank or even child-sized furniture and items like small slides.
The treatment area should continue to help children feel comfortable. Again kid-friendly decorations help. But also check to see if instruments are kept out of sight until they are needed. A kid-friendly dentist will usually try extra hard to keep instruments tucked away, knowing they can seem strange and even threatening to a child on first sight.
Engaged, Helpful Staff
The way the office staff treats both parents and children says a lot about whether you have found a good dentist for kids. Ask yourself:
- Do they greet you and your child when you walk in?
- Do they seem to enjoy working around children?
- Do they use a tone of voice and words appropriate for your child?
- Are they generally cheerful and upbeat?
The receptionist and other front-office workers in a kid-friendly dental practice should be friendly, polite, and happy to answer any questions you or your child may have. They should also demonstrate an understanding that, despite parents’ best efforts, young children can sometimes be loud and rambunctious. In some offices, the staff offer stickers, sugar-free gum, or other small treats for children who successfully complete a treatment or exam.
Patient, Friendly Chairside Manner
A good dentist for kids will have a calm, patient, friendly chairside manner. He or she will take extra time to explain to the child exactly what is going to happen during the dental exam or procedure, in kid-friendly terms. This may include showing the child the instruments that will be used and explaining their names and how they work. It can also include explaining to the child why dental exams are important and how they benefit the child’s health.
If the child has questions, the dentist should be patient with him or her and provide age-appropriate, honest answers. The dentist should also take the time to answer any questions parents may have, and discuss any concerns about the child’s dental or overall health.
Positive Recommendations from Other Families
A strong reputation among families with children speaks volumes about whether a dentist is good with kids. Ask your friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors which dentist they take their children to, and what they like about him or her.
Another way to find out what other families think of a dentist is by searching for online reviews. While not every satisfied family will necessarily take the time to leave a positive review, a large number of negative reviews will be a red flag that a particular dentist might be one to avoid. Additionally, many dentists post patient testimonials and reviews on their website, which may give you a good idea about whether they have a large number of happy patients.
A Love for Children
It isn’t necessarily easy to quantify, but a good dentist for kids should have a genuine love of working with children. If he or she seems happy to see your child and seems to enjoy helping your child improve his or her dental health, then you know you have found a good dentist for kids.
Finding a Good Dentist for Kids
Still, it always helps to have you, the parent, work to prepare your child for that first dental visit. Until then, let us assist you in finding a kid-friendly dentist near you.