5 Top Tips for Choosing a Dentist

By Jennifer Bright

October 6, 2020 5 min read

Did you know there are dental specialists, called pediatric dentists, who specifically treat kids? Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians for dentistry. They have to complete two to three years of specialized training following dental school. They treat infants up to teens, including kids with special health needs.

This choice might not be entirely yours to make. There might not be a pediatric dentist in your area, or this type of specialist might not be covered by your insurance. It's a good idea to first check with your dental insurance company, if you have one, to see what's covered.

Here's what our Mommy M.D.s — doctors who are also mothers — do to choose their own kids' dentists.

"Having a pediatric dentist or a regular dentist who is kid-friendly makes all the difference," says Marra S. Francis, M.D., a mom of six children and an OB-GYN in Helotes, Texas. "Our dentist and her entire staff were wonderful with kids! It was important that I could schedule all of our appointments around the same time, and they were willing to work with me on that."

"We live in a very small town," says Cheri Wiggins, M.D., a mom of two daughters, a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation at St. Luke's Magic Valley, and the co-founder of the Mommy Doctors Bakery (makers of Milkin' Cookies) in Twin Falls, Idaho. "There's only one pediatric dentist, so that's where my husband takes our girls. I'm very glad that he takes them because I'm afraid of the dentist! The pediatric dentist really does a great job with kids, and my girls love to go there. Just the other day, my older daughter asked, 'When can I go to the dentist again?'"

"We live in a small town, so we don't have the luxury of a pediatric dentist," says Jennifer Bacani McKenney, M.D., a mom of two and a family physician, in Fredonia, Kansas. "The closest regular dentist is 45 minutes away! That's the dentist my husband and I go to, and I think there's value in taking our children there. It will be more like a family event than if they were going to their own pediatric dentist. We'll also save time and gas by taking everyone to the dentist at once."

"When I was looking for a dentist, I asked my family and friends where they take their kids," says Heather Orman-Lubell, M.D., a mom of two sons and a pediatrician in private practice at Yardley Pediatrics of St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Pennsylvania. "I started taking my boys to the dentist when they were 2 1?2 years old. In the end, I chose a pediatric dentist for my sons. Certainly, you don't have to take kids to a pediatric dentist, but they know kids. They know how to cajole kids and get them through the visit. Our pediatric dentist is so patient and amazing. You don't want to take your kids to an old-school dentist who's going to strap them down and make it an awful experience!"

"I took all of my boys to the dentist when they were toddlers," says Rallie McAllister, M.D., MPH, mom of three, co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby's First Year," nationally recognized health expert and family physician in Lexington, Kentucky. "I had heard great things about a pediatric dentist in our town, and she definitely lived up to her reputation. She had a kid-friendly waiting room with a playhouse and lots of toys, and my boys always looked forward to going to her office. She was very kind and incredibly patient, and she had lots of really neat tricks to keep my sons entertained while she was examining their mouths. She gave them cool sunglasses to wear and headphones so they could listen to music while they were sitting in the exam chair."

"Afterward, she always took time to answer my questions and teach me what I needed to know to keep my boys' teeth healthy," McAllister continues. "The only bad thing about visiting her office was that my children didn't want to leave! I don't think it's absolutely necessary to take children to a pediatric dentist, but it is important to find a dentist that you and your toddler feel safe and comfortable with. Those early visits will help determine how comfortable your child feels visiting the dentist and having dental work done for years to come."

Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, co-founder and CEO of family- and veteran- owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years." She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: Bru-nO at Pixabay

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