The right pediatric dentist is key to kids' health
by Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List
Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that a child’s first dental appointment be by her or his first birthday, but as a mother of three young children, I know: getting your kids to go to the dentist can be – well, like pulling teeth.
For many young children, going to the dentist for the first time can be a distressing experience. Think about it — you're lying in a chair in an unfamiliar setting with your mouth open, a bright light shining in your face and people in masks poking around your mouth with sharp instruments.
Good dental hygiene for children contributes to an overall healthy lifestyle, but a bad experience with a dentist at an early age can quickly remove the shine from your child's smile.
How the dental staff handles that first appointment can go a long way in determining how well your child will handle future visits. At Angie's List, we're here to help make picking your pediatric dental practitioner the least painful part of the process.
We receive more reports on dentists than in any other medical category, which is good news for parents. On the List, you can read about other experiences of parents and their children to help you determine if a particular dentist might be the right — or wrong — fit for your family.
I recently searched some reports myself, and came across two from Schererville, Ind., member Afua Boiquaye. The mother of two had recently moved and was searching for a new dentist for her children.
In the first report, Boiquaye detailed her young son's first experience with a pediatric dentist, whom her dentist had recommended. In that visit, the 3-year-old did very well until he had to lie back in the chair. Then, he became frightened and began to cry.
"The dentist came in from the other exam room, asked me to leave the room and started speaking in a raised voice at my son," Boiquaye wrote in her report. "The dental assistant held him down in the seat. They were all so upset that he was crying. (They) raised their voices at him to get him to quiet down and open his mouth. No one took the time to ask him why he was scared. I never went back."
Boiquaye found another dentist she says is "excellent."
"My preschool-age son loved it," Boiquaye wrote in her report on the new dentist. "He was a little anxious going in, but they were fantastic."
Obviously, each person's experience is different, but after reading Boiquaye's reports, I would be hesitant to take my child to the initial dentist and more inclined to visit the latter.
So, if you're looking for a dentist for your child, check Angie's List to see what other parents in your city are saying. And if you have recently taken your child to the dentist, please share your story by submitting a report. You just might help a family avoid an upsetting incident like the Boiquayes.
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