Ahhhhh... the dentist. I enjoy going to the dentist about as much as I enjoy eating blue cheese, smelling stinky feet and paying full retail. The charm of wearing a bib while having your gums and teeth gouged aggressively with sharp instruments is unparalleled. I don't care if your dentist offers your choice of programming on Netflix -- it's never a good time.
Needless to say, when it came time to drag my kids in for the same fun, I was in no hurry. But I also knew if I delayed taking them, they stood the risk of more invasive (and expensive!) trouble with their teeth later on. So, off we went.
Luckily, we found a marvelous local dentist who is a mom herself, and really gets what motivates kids in terms of attention span, trickery and bribery. The large screen TV that hovers over their heads while their mouths are probed is great at mesmerizing them into complacency. They get to choose from a vast array of enticing toothpaste flavors and are rewarded with a brand new cool toothbrush of their own and a little prize at the end. Bonus!
How can you luck out and find a great pediatric dentist? We considered the following:
- Lurk around your local parenting resource message boards or post a request for a recommendation. Other parents love to refer resources they are fond of.
- The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry website has a search function that locates member pediatric dentists in your zip code.
- Sometimes, local pediatric dentists will visit schools in the area and lecture kids on dental hygiene. Ask your local school if they do this and who they have come in.
Once you find a dentist, here's what to look for in a keeper:
Viv Schaffel is a freelance journalist and essayist who writes for a vast array of publications, including CBS Watch!, The New York Times, Working Mother and The New York Post. She writes/performs sketch comedy and is an upstanding member of US Weekly’s Fashion Police, poking fun at red carpet risks.
- Pediatric dentists have to log in years of specialized residency training. Don't be shy about asking about this!
- Is the office clean? Kid-friendly? Are the instruments made for tiny mouths? Is the dentist kind to scared or upset kids?
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.