The initial relationship between a child and a dentist can set the tone for the way the child feels about dental treatment in the future. If a dentist understands how to relate to kids, children are more likely to feel at ease in the chair and to develop a positive attitude about treatment; a dentist that doesn't understand how to deal with kids may make them scared of future visits.
Often, you'll take your kids to your own dentist when they start to need check-ups. If you don't have a family dentist or aren't convinced that your dentist has what it takes to deal with your kids, you may need to find a new dental practice. Before you choose a dentist, ask around for recommendations and do some research.
Ask Other Parents for Recommendations
Other parents can be a useful source of information about local dentists, as they can tell you how the practice treats their children. Kids like dentists who are friendly and fun; parents appreciate dentists who understand how to make their kids feel comfortable.
While asking for advice, check how the practice manages younger patients. A good practice encourages kids from the waiting room through to the end of a visit. For example, children will feel more positive about a waiting room that has toys or books to keep them occupied; they may start to look forward to check-ups if they get a good behaviour sticker when they leave.
Check Out Local Dental Services
If you can't find a recommendation for a child-friendly dentist, check out the websites of local practices. If a practice has a section on treating children, its dentists are likely to have experience with managing younger patients. You can also check the bios of dentists, if available on the site, to see if they mention their experience with children or have paediatric qualifications. You can also call or visit practices to get a feel for how they'll deal with your kids.
Find a Dentist for Special Needs
If your child is anxious about dental treatment, has special physical or behavioural needs, or requires specialist treatment, consider registering with a qualified paediatric dentist. According to the Australasian Academy of Paediatric Dentistry, a paediatric dentist has an additional three years' training in child oral health on top of standard dental training. This gives them a deeper understanding of child dentistry and the skills to build positive relationships with younger patients.