It’s crucial to your child’s oral health to form a good relationship with a pediatric dentist. By visiting early (as soon as the first tooth appears or by the first birthday), you will be creating a healthy routine your child will maintain into adolescence and adulthood. The more you work to encourage a friendly, comfortable relationship between your child and the dentist, the more likely your child will have positive formative experiences with good oral hygiene. Here are four ways to help create just that:

They Will Do As You Do
Many times, children have a fear of the dentist that is inherited from a parent, particularly a father figure. Whether intentional or not, a parent’s feeling toward visiting a dental office will convey to the child. Your child is looking to you to feel secure and know that they should trust the doctor who they will see a minimum of two times a year for the next 17-18 years. Therefore, take the time to explore your own feelings and be aware of the subconscious messaging you may be delivering to your child. 

Find a Pediatric Dentist
Pediatric dentists have extra training to help ease the nerves of young patients. They spend an additional 2-3 years learning how to work with babies, toddlers, grade school, and high school adolescents. In addition, their offices are often much more colorful, thoughtful about child-friendly design, and employ staff who are more accommodating to special requests and needs. 

When choosing a dentist, there are a lot of factors to consider, but don’t overlook the location. Long drives to an office might increase your child’s (and maybe even your) anxiety levels. Finding a practice that has several offices or one that has strong partnerships with other pediatric specialists (such as orthodontists) will ultimately help ease the tension.

Do Your Research
Who knows more about good pediatric dentists than other parents? Talk with your friends, neighbors, community groups, and coworkers to hear experiences they’ve had with professionals in the area. Also, use one of the most powerful tools available for research–the internet. Be sure to check trusted sources for patient reviews, social media platforms for prospective offices, websites of practices, and Google business reviews. 

When you’re on a website or social media platforms, be sure to see how frequently the office shares information (and what type). If you only see outdated posts or are only served with general information, rather than pictures of the staff and office, you might need to do more research. Look for a practice that works to engage with the online community–the time they spend to connect with families online is a good indicator of how they connect in the office.

Bonus: Start building the relationship between your child and the dentist by showing your kid photos from online posts that display happy kids, cheery environments, and friendly staff faces. 

Pick Up The Phone
Few things are more telling than calling the office. How easy is it to make an appointment? Do you have to call separate numbers to reach various locations of the practice? Is the staff member who answers friendly and helpful? Are you able to schedule a tour visit (where no exam occurs) to help your child feel at ease? Do you know what you should expect at the first visit? These questions, and any others that you or your child may have, should be readily and courteously answered.

Dr. David Moore has worked with countless families and kids in the Charlotte area (and surrounding communities of Davidson and Gastonia) to help create, nurture, and maintain healthy oral hygiene habits for over 25 years. He knows how vital it is to help shape a positive experience for children from the very first visit. The memories and feelings created in the early years will play a large role in the level of trust kids have in visiting the dentist for the rest of their lives.