Your child’s dental health is a crucial part of his or her overall health and wellbeing. Poor oral healthcare in children can lead to pain, infections, loss of teeth and bone structure, and potentially serious general health issues. Finding the best pediatric dentist for your child is an important part of helping your child achieve optimal dental health, but how are you supposed to know which pediatric dentist is the right fit?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed in your search for the best dentist for your kid, try considering the following questions as you narrow down your list of candidates.
Is Your Child’s Dentist A Pediatric Dentist?
First and foremost, you should know that not all kids’ dentists are pediatric dentists.
Many general dentists treat children in addition to adults. Some of these general dentists refer to themselves as “family dentists” or “kids’ dentists” to indicate that they are willing to treat children, but they are not the same as pediatric dentists.
In contrast to general dentists, pediatric dentists are dental specialists, which means that they are required to complete additional years of training after graduating from dental school. During their post-graduate residency program, pediatric dentists learn how to treat child-specific dental issues and are trained in areas such as child psychology, child-related pharmacology, conscious sedation, general anesthesia and dentistry for special needs children.
Follow the link to learn more about the differences between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist.
Is the Pediatric Dentist Board Certified?
To become board certified, a pediatric dentist must pass the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry’s oral and written examinations. As explained by the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry (“ABPD”), these examinations cover all topics on which a pediatric dentist should be knowledgeable. Board certified pediatric dentists earn the title of “Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry”. Look for this label on the pediatric dentist’s website, or search for a board certified pediatric dentist using the ABPD’s Diplomate roster.
Are Parents Allowed in The Pediatric Dental Treatment Rooms with Their Children?
Is it important to you that you be allowed in the treatment room with your child? While some parents enjoy having a bit of quiet time in the waiting room during their children’s treatments, others prefer to stay with their children throughout the entire visit.
If you fall into the latter category, call the pediatric dentist you’re considering to ask whether he or she permits parents to accompany their children during exams and treatments. For a variety of reasons, including space limitations and efficiency concerns, not all pediatric dentists are comfortable with parents in the treatment rooms.
At Hurst Pediatric Dentistry, we welcome parents to join their children in the treatment rooms for most procedures. In fact, we encourage interested parents to do so for several reasons:
- First, we place a strong emphasis on preventative dentistry at our office. Proper oral hygiene practices are essential for preventing gum disease and cavities in kids, and we have found that one of the best ways to promote good oral hygiene practices at home is to educate both patients and their parents on proper oral hygiene techniques.
- Second, we strive to ensure that both our patients and their parents fully understand and feel comfortable with any proposed dental treatments. We feel that when parents are present for their kids’ dental exams and treatments, they have more opportunity to ask questions and make sure all their concerns get addressed.
- Third, some children find it comforting to have a parent nearby during dental treatments – and many parents find it comforting to be close to their children! Sometimes dentists worry about allowing parents in the treatment rooms because any anxiety that parents show can potentially create unnecessary dental anxiety in their children. However, we have found that whether a parent’s presence creates or reduces anxiety truly depends on the individual child. We do ask all parents to try to remain calm and positive during their children’s dental procedures, but typically, if a patient and parent wish to be in the same room, we are happy to accommodate.
Does It Make Sense to See A Dentist Who Is Out of Network with My Insurance Plan? (Some Factors You May Not Have Considered)
If you have dental insurance, don’t assume that you will necessarily pay more if you visit a pediatric dentist who is out of network with your insurance plan. The difference in the amount you will have to pay out of pocket depends on your particular insurance plan, and you may be surprised to find that there is little or no cost difference to you between seeing an in-network or out-of-network provider. Check the terms of your insurance policy carefully to determine whether it makes sense for you to see a pediatric dentist who is out of network.
You should also keep in mind that, in some cases, in-network dental providers may be limited by their contract with your insurance company in terms of the treatment options they may provide for your child. Out-of-network dental providers do not face those limitations. For example, if your child needs a dental crown and your child has her heart set on a tooth-colored crown that will blend in seamlessly with her other teeth, check the terms of your insurance plan carefully to determine what is covered. You may find that a visit to an out-of-network provider suits your needs best.
If you are considering a visit to Hurst Pediatric Dentistry and want to find out whether we are in network or out of network with your insurance plan, please call our office at (817) 510-6400.
What Is the Pediatric Dentist’s Office Like?
If the pediatric dentist’s website contains an office tour section, take a look and ask yourself whether you can picture your child feeling comfortable and relaxed in that office. Different children will feel comfortable in different types of environments. What features does the office offer that would make a visit to the dentist fun for your child in particular?
At Hurst Pediatric Dentistry, for example, we have
- TVs with children’s movies on the ceiling above each exam chair, bubble walls, color-changing lights in the ceiling, and child-friendly décor to keep patients entertained during treatments (and provide welcome distractions for patients with dental anxiety)
- Fun stuffed animals and models to demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques in child-friendly ways
- A children’s play room to keep patients entertained prior to their appointments
- A prize wall where children can pick out fun prizes as a reward for being good patients.
Where Did the Pediatric Dentist Train?
Each dental school has its own philosophy and approach to teaching dentistry, and different pediatric dental residency programs involve working with different types of patient bases. If you or your child have particular concerns or needs, it’s worth taking a look at where the dentist you’re considering trained to see if his or her background aligns well with what you’re seeking.
For example, if you have a special needs child, a pediatric dentist who has been trained to understand the ways in which dental healthcare is connected to other healthcare needs might be the right choice for your kid.
One school that focuses on this type of training is the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, where Dr. Lin earned his DMD degree. Harvard follows a unique educational model where dental students study clinical medicine with Harvard medical students for two years before pursuing additional years of intensive dental education. This model was designed in recognition of the fact that dental health is an essential component of a person’s overall health and teaches dentists to understand the ways in which the care they provide their patients affects other areas of their patient’s health.
To find out what type of educational model a dentist’s alma mater employs, take a quick look at the dental school’s website – it likely contains a short overview of the school’s teaching philosophy.
As another example, if you’re looking for a pediatric dentist to treat a trauma case, a dentist who trained at a major hospital that sees lots of emergency cases might make a good fit for your child. Do a quick search to see if the pediatric dentist you’re considering trained at a hospital that treats a lot of trauma cases, and what type of care the hospital provides.
Small, local hospitals often treat more basic cases, while tertiary care hospitals treat cases that require highly specialized equipment and a high level of expertise. For example, Boston Children’s Hospital, where Dr. Lin completed his pediatric dental residency training, is a tertiary care hospital and consistently ranks as the #1 Best Children’s Hospital in the U.S. This means that many children with complex trauma cases or unusual medical issues are sent to Boston Children’s Hospital for treatment. As a result, Dr. Lin was able to gain extensive experience working on dental trauma cases, including cases involving multiple specialty areas. He was also able to work with children with a wide variety of special medical and dental needs, including children with rare syndromes and serious health issues.
Does My Child Feel Comfortable with the Pediatric Dentist?
Even if you find a pediatric dentist who appears perfect on paper and who has received outstanding reviews from your most trusted friends, it is possible that dentist still won’t be the best pediatric dentist for your particular child. After all, dentists are humans, and sometimes two humans – even two humans who are both wonderful people – just don’t click. And that is okay.
Do your research to find a pediatric dentist who you think could be a great fit, and then make an appointment for your child. If your kid enjoys the dental visit and you both feel comfortable with the dentist, then congratulations – it sounds like you have found the right pediatric dentist for your child!
If your child doesn’t end up feeling comfortable with that particular dentist, then try another. Your child’s visit to the dentist should be a positive experience. With a little persistence, you will find that pediatric dentist who can help give your child a healthy, beautiful and genuine smile.
Board Certified Pediatric Dentist in Hurst, TX
Dr. Lin is a pediatric dentist in Hurst, Texas, and the owner of Hurst Pediatric Dentistry. He is a current Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and is passionate about helping children achieve healthy smiles and educating both children and their parents on preventative dentistry techniques.
To find out whether Dr. Lin is the best pediatric dentist for your child, feel free to spend some time reading through our site and to call our office at (817) 510-6400 to ask any questions. When you’re ready, call us or click here to request an appointment for your child.
This article is intended to provide general information about oral health topics. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition or as a substitute for the advice of a healthcare professional who is fully aware of and familiar with the specifics of your case. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with regard to any questions you may have relating to a medical condition or treatment.