Dentistry is considered among the 10 most trusted and ethical professions in the United States. But when it comes to finding the right family dentist, you can never be too safe. Just because you’ve been with the same dentist for years doesn’t necessarily mean they have sufficient experience working with children, and considering the fact that more than 40% of children have dental cavities by the time they reach kindergarten (yikes!), parents need to take every step possible to ensure that their dentist has their best interests in mind.
Here’s a quick guide to help parents make the right choice when choosing a dentist that can ensure healthy smiles for the entire family!
1. Start With Word-Of-Mouth Research
If you live in a densely populated area, there are probably countless family dentists to choose from. That’s why getting prior input from friends and family members can often help to provide you with a much-needed head start. Think of friends or family members who may have children slightly older than yours and or live in the same area. How did they find their dentist? What do they like about their office, and what would they change?
This input should be far from the deciding criteria, but it will definitely lead you in the right direction.
2. Take To The Internet
Once you’ve compiled a list of possible leads, sit down at your computer and dedicate some time to research these offices online. First, check out their website quality and overall web presence. Ideally, they’ll have a list of procedures and treatments they provide, as well as other pertinent information for their target audience. Rule any out that seem low-quality or may not offer a wide range of options for necessary services such as tooth replacement. It’s estimated that 69% of Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 have at least one missing tooth, and you want to choose a dentist that offers options for a wide range of budgets, including veneers, implants, and crowns, in case you run into a dental emergency in the future.
Of course, don’t neglect pediatric dentistry services either. Though not necessarily considered a pediatric procedure, there’s a very good chance your child will need their wisdom teeth removed as a teenager or young adult. Impacted wisdom teeth are third molars at the back of the mouth that don’t have enough room to emerge or develop normally. But despite the type of procedure, it’s often easier and more comforting to work with a professional who has an understanding of the patient’s previous dental history.
Part of your Internet research phase should also include reading patient reviews. While they shouldn’t be a primary factor when making your final decision, reading unbiased patient reviews can help to provide clarity and realistic expectations for each dentist you’re still considering. If possible, look for reviews in places other than just the dentist’s website, where they’re likely only relaying the most positive feedback.
3. Conduct Interviews
Finally, call the few remaining dentists still being considered and request personal consultations. Not only does this allow you to meet face-to-face to evaluate demeanor and expertise, but it also gives you a look into their physical office space and its level of kid-friendliness. If possible, take your children to meet potential dentists and see how they interact together — kindness and patience are key.
“Children want (and need) a dentist and dental hygienist who are gentle, patient and accustomed to working with kids. Video games in the waiting room and toy prizes after the appointment are great, but kindness is what will help a child feel comfortable and encouraged. Help your kids gain a positive attitude toward dental visits by finding a professional who makes them feel good about taking care of their teeth,” writes Brenna Stone on Colgate.com.
Ultimately, 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease, and it’s no secret that proper dental care should be an absolute priority, regardless of age. Finding the right dentist to provide for your family can truly make all the difference in helping your children develop positive dental hygiene habits for life!