It’s recommended that children see a dentist shortly after their first tooth erupts, which is usually between 6-months to a year old. So, by the time your little one reaches toddlerhood, regular dental check-ups will become a normal part of their annual routine.
It’s normal for children (and even adults!) to be nervous about the dentist, which is why you need to find a doctor that your child feels comfortable with. The following 10 signs can indicate your toddler’s dentist isn’t a good fit and it might be time for a change.
10 Doctor Isn’t A Pediatric Dentist
If possible, it’s preferable to choose a dentist that specializes in pediatrics. Ask the Dentist explains that while all dentists are experts in oral health, pediatric dentists specialize in treating children. They often had to complete 2-3 years of additional schooling beyond the standard four years of dental school to earn this qualification.
Not only will pediatric dentists have more experience treating oral conditions specific to children, but they’ll be more familiar with working with nervous children and will likely have more patience and anxiety-reducing strategies.
9 The Office Isn’t Child-Friendly
Your toddler will feel a lot more comfortable at the dentist’s if the environment is inviting and friendly. Look for a dentist that not only specializes in children but has created office space, especially for them. For example, they may have a play space in the waiting room and/or toys and TV in the dentist’s booth.
8 Child Is Anxious Before Appointment
If your toddler is nervous before going to a dentist that they’ve seen in the past, it can be a sign that there’s something about the doctor that makes them uncomfortable. Maybe the dentist is rough or impatient, adding to the child’s stress.
Signs of anxiety in toddlers can include:
- Tense muscles
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes in eating habits
- Complaints of not feeling well
7 Dentist Isn’t Patient With The Child
Often, when children are under the age of 10, the parent will be able to sit with them while the dentist does their work. This gives you a chance to observe the dentist’s interaction with your toddler.
A big warning sign is if the dentist isn’t patient with your child. Kids – especially younger ones – can be squirmy and restless at the doctor’s office. This is heightened if they feel anxious about what’s going on.
If the dentist is growing impatient with your child rather than taking the time to explain things and go at your toddler’s pace, they’re likely not a good fit.
6 Your Child Leaves Upset
Your toddler may be fine before the dentist’s appointment, but if they leave upset or anxious, then something is likely amiss. This is a sign the dentist doesn’t mesh well with your toddler – maybe they’re not gentle or patient enough. Either way, you don’t want your child to associate the dentist with stress and fear, so it’s best to find a dentist that parts with your child on good terms post-appointment.
5 Recommends Invasive Procedures First
Your toddler’s teeth are still growing and developing, and a lot of things can change over the course of their childhood. If the dentist’s first recommendation is invasive, you may want to seek a second opinion.
For example, if they want to use full anesthesia to treat a cavity, a different dentist may tell you there’s a simpler option that doesn’t require putting your child under.
4 Dentist Rushes The Appointment
If you feel that your child’s dentist is giving them their full attention, they may not be a good fit. You never want a doctor to rush an appointment – it heightens the chance they’ll miss something. In general, children require more time at the dentist’s since they can be more nervous or restless. So, a dentist that’s rushing things may only worsen your toddler’s experience.
3 Their Technology Is Outdated
In general, newer dental technology tends to be less invasive and intimidating, at least when it comes to regular check-ups and cleanings. As Prevention explains, if your dentist is using old technology, it can jeopardize the efficacy and efficiency of their treatment.
For example, digital x-rays are more precise than traditional x-rays, allowing dentists to diagnose cavities and other oral problems with more ease.
When it comes to choosing a dentist for your toddler as well as the whole family, prioritize one that uses state-of-the-art technology, if possible.
2 The Reviews Aren’t Positive
When finding a dentist for your family, always read the reviews. Try to search for reviews based on certain keywords, like ‘toddler’ and ‘pediatric.’ You want to see what people specifically say about the dentist’s ability to work well with young kids.
If there are too many bad reviews (or something just feels off), you may want to look for a differential dental office.
1 Other Parents Don’t Say Good Things
Finally, don’t just limit yourself to online reviews. Ask other parents for their opinion on a dentist. You can chat people up in the waiting room or ask at your child’s school if fellow parents have any recommendations. Even consider going on social media (like a Facebook group) and asking for recommendations.
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