How to Find a Good Pediatric Dentist

Finding your child a dentist is something like hiring a lawyer – you don’t want to just pick one at random. That being said, it is recommended that kids see their first dentist when either their first tooth grows in or they reach their first birthday for their best chance at establishing healthy, lifelong oral hygiene habits.

How should you go about picking a pediatric dentist, however, and how can you be sure to find one that is experienced, professional and yet still great at making little ones feel at ease? When it comes to the initial search, consider the following.

Casting a Net to find a Qualified Pediatric Dentist

When on the hunt for a qualified pediatric dentist, you may find it helpful to:

  • Consult friends or family members. A personal recommendation from a long-time client is tough to top.
  • Check out the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry database and search it for professionals in your area.
  • Ask your pediatrician. Few people have a better grip on child health care needs and offerings in your community than your existing pediatrician.
  • Search local review sites. This is also a great way to gather more information about a potential pediatrician you haven’t quite decided whether to see.

Once you have a few prospective professionals, you can start to research them further by name.

Additional Considerations in Choosing a Pediatric Dentist

Some parents prefer to have their children visit the same dental office that they do. If this sounds like you, that may be fine, depending on the age of your children. However, many younger children benefit from cheery, brightly colored environments designed and intended for kids. They also may find that the waiting room in pediatric dentist’s offices generally have more to offer the younger set than a few old magazines.  

Finally, consider the unique needs and personality traits of your child. If they are generally timid or fearful of the dentist, you’ll want to factor this in in making your final decision and be sure to choose an office where he or she will feel especially comfortable and at ease. 

National Children’s Dental Health Month: Sugar Wars

As an adult, you’re probably well aware that your best chance at healthy teeth and gums involves brushing and flossing regularly, avoiding sugar and acidic foods, and making periodic visits to the dentist, but can you honestly say you gave your teeth and gums the same degree of attention when you were a child?

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, making it a great time to instill those healthy habits that you now know by heart. A lot of kids visit the dentist and then practice strong dental hygiene for several weeks, but all too often, the “importance” of maintaining healthy teeth and gums starts to fade, and the brushing and flossing instances become fewer and farther between. Here’s what your kids need to know this month and every month to maintain healthy teeth and gums and prevent tooth deterioration and related problems down the line.

The Longer Sugar Sits on Your Teeth, the Greater the Damage

When you eat or drink a lot of sugar, that sugar produces acids that dissolve and damage your teeth. Generally, the more sugar you eat, the higher your chances of tooth decay. While it’s not realistic to avoid all sugar altogether for the rest of your life, it’s wise to brush as soon as possible after consuming sugary foods and drinks in an effort to minimize the time sugar sits in your mouth – and therefore, the damage it does to your teeth. Brushing twice a day is great, but brushing after every meal is even better.

Brush (at Least) Twice a Day for Two Minutes at a Time

Teach your kids to brush in the morning, at night and ideally, in between. Brushing twice daily is critical for preventing tooth decay and eliminating embarrassing problems like bad breath, but it’s also important that you brush for long enough to make an impact. A full two minutes is the recommendation, so get your kids a timer or have them use a cell phone or clock to ensure they’re brushing vigorously for the entire two-minute period.

Follow these tips and make sure your kids visit the dentist regularly for their best chance at beautiful, long lasting and healthy teeth and gums.

How Is Oral Health Defined?

Everyone wants to have a healthy mouth and beautiful smile, but what exactly does it mean to have good oral health? Some individuals may think that a beautiful smile can be attributed to healthy teeth, but in some cases teeth whitening products can make a smile appear healthy even when it is not. If you are not certain what it means to have good oral health or what steps you should take to improve the health of your mouth, here is a brief definition of what you should be focused on.

Oral Refers to the Entire Mouth

The word “oral” has Latin roots that refer to the entire mouth; not just the teeth. This means that a person who wants to improve their oral health should focus on all of the tissues in the mouth, including the tongue, chewing muscles, teeth, gums, lips, and connective tissues. Based on this definition, oral health is achieved when all of the various structures in the mouth are taken care of and are free from painful conditions.

In addition to gingivitis and tooth decay, other conditions that affect oral health include:

  • Soft tissue lesions in the mouth area
  • Pharyngeal and oral cancers
  • Cleft palate
  • Cleft lip
  • Other painful oral diseases or conditions

Why Oral Health Is So Important

The health and scientific communities are continuously discovering links between oral health and other dangerous physical conditions, such as:

  • Premature births
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease

If you are concerned about the health of your body in general, you should also be concerned about improving your oral health. In addition to being linked to various physical ailments, poor oral health can also make it difficult for individuals to participate in daily activities, such as eating, drinking, and conversing with others.

Improve Your Oral Health Today

You can take matters into your own hands and improve your oral health by regularly brushing and flossing your teeth, rinsing your mouth with mouthwash, eating a healthy diet, and receiving regular dental checkups. 

Managing Children’s Anxiety at the Dentist

Whether you specialize in pediatric dentistry or want to make sure your family practice is child-friendly, it’s important to have a wide repertoire of techniques at your disposal to calm children when they are having dental work done. You may even find that some of these techniques also work for skittish adults.

Engage and Educate

Although it isn’t necessary to turn your entire waiting area into a playroom, having activities that engage children while they wait for their appointment can go a long way toward keeping the anxiety at bay prior to their appointment time. You can choose to go the educational route, and use the waiting time as an opportunity to explain some things about the visit and their teeth and what to expect during their appointment, or you can provide movies, games, and toys.


It’s important to address fears children might have by allowing them to talk about those fears, and by letting them know what to expect. Fully explaining what will happen during the visit gives them the opportunity to ask questions and can ease some of the fear of the unknown. Make sure they have a way to communicate with you throughout the procedure, or check in with them periodically to let them know how much longer they’ll be in the chair.

Involve Parents

Sometimes just the presence of a parent or familiar face in the exam room may help the child feel more safe and comfortable, especially if it’s their first time. Collaborating with the parent to demonstrate what will happen during the visit is an excellent strategy. You can explain to the child what will occur, demonstrate it on the parent, and then do the procedure with the child.

Parents also have a role in ensuring that children see the dentist for the first time at an early age (preferably by the time they turn 1) so children can have positive experiences from the beginning and learn that the dentist is not a place they should fear. If parents wait until a child requires extensive treatment, visits to the dentist will likely be viewed as fearful or painful events.

Using some or all of these techniques should help children manage their anxiety at the dentist. Doing so can visit more productive and enjoyable for everyone.

Dental Emergencies: Tooth Injuries

A child losing a baby tooth is considered to be a rite of passage, but a child, teen, or adult losing a permanent tooth is considered a dental emergency. If you or someone you know ever loses a permanent tooth, a dentist may be able to save the tooth if it’s replaced within about an hour. Learn what to do when someone is involved in an accident and dislodges a permanent tooth.

Babies, Toddlers and Young Children Tooth Injuries

If the gums or baby teeth are injured, use a piece of cold, wet gauze to apply pressure to the affected area. If the child is capable of following directions, have him bite down on the gauze. Reduce swelling with an ice pop or an icepack wrapped in a clean washcloth and held to the cheek. Use ibuprofen or acetaminophen (according to package and dosage directions) to help ease the pain if needed after you call a dentist to schedule an appointment. In the meantime, you’ll want to keep an eye out for signs of fever, pain, inflammation or tooth discoloration.

For broken or chipped permanent teeth, gather as many pieces of the tooth as possible and rinse the child’s mouth out with warm water. Contact the child’s dentist and make an appointment for the next available appointment.

Dislodged Permanent Tooth

Take your child to an urgent care dental clinic as soon as possible if a permanent tooth is knocked out (if it’s late and your dentist is not open you may consider going to the emergency room, although the doctors will likely only be able to treat the bleeding and control the pain; they probably will be unable to replace the tooth).

If possible, find the tooth and bring it along with you, holding it by the “chewing end” rather than the root. To preserve the tooth, place it in a solution of water with a pinch of table salt or a container of milk. For older kids, teens, or even adults, you can attempt to place the tooth back in the socket, taking care that you don’t touch the root of the tooth.

If the tooth is dirty, rinse it with water prior to placing it back in the mouth. Have the person bite down on gauze to keep the tooth in place. If the tooth has to be stored in a container, add a little bit of milk or some water with a pinch of table salt, then put gauze or a clean handkerchief or towel in the person’s mouth to slow the bleeding on your way to the dentist. 

Act quickly and keep calm if your child ever loses a permanent tooth. Follow the above steps and get to the dentist as soon as possible to help your child keep his or her smile.