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How to Find a Dentist for Your Child

A child’s first dental visit should typically occur within his or her first year—sometime after getting the first tooth and before turning one. If you like the dentist you see and he or she works with young children, then you probably have a clear idea of where the first and consecutive visits will take place. If not, you may need help finding a dentist who not only sees young children but also feels like the right fit.

Choosing a dentist can be a lot like choosing a pediatrician. You want the best possible care from someone who can work consistently with your child through his or her development. Here are six tips to help your search:

1. Ask around

Get referrals from people you know. Start with your child’s pediatrician. Then, talk to family members, friends, neighbors and coworkers to find out where they take their kids for dental care and if they are satisfied with the dentist and clinic staff. If your dentist does not work with children, ask if he or she can recommend someone who does.

2. Check with your dental plan

It’s important to select a dentist covered by your insurance. Find out what dental providers are included in your dental plan’s network by calling your carrier or using your carrier’s website provider lookup to locate in-network dentists. Because provider lists can be out of date, avoid surprises by double-checking with the dentist’s office to make sure they accept your plan.

3. Consider the location and hours

Make sure the dentist’s office is conveniently located and is open on days and times that work for you and your child. Needing to take time off of work or school, or having to drive out of your way for appointments can create a barrier to care. You may not mind the inconvenience for the right dentist; however, it may also discourage you from scheduling exams, cleanings and other work as often as recommended. Furthermore, it is important to find out how the office treats dental emergencies—do they provide emergency dental care or can they direct you to another clinic that does?

4. Get more details

Once you’ve narrowed your options down, dig further. Visit clinic websites to get a feel for the providers and read their bios. What kind of education and additional training did they receive? How long have they been in practice? Are there reviews on their website or others? Do they belong to your state’s dental society?

5. Visit the clinic

You may want to see the office in person and meet the dentist and his or her staff. Establishing that the clinic environment and care providers will mesh well with your family can help ease your mind and make visits smoother for your children. The right fit will obviously vary from child to child. People and places that seem warm and inviting for one child may be too over-stimulating for another. All of this can influence whether trips to the dentist’s office are a positive or negative experience for kids.

6. Take your child’s individual needs into consideration

A dentist adored and trusted by one family may not be right for another. Beyond whether the staff personality and clinic environment work well, there may be physical and mental needs to consider. For instance, if your child has celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivities, you may need to find a dentist who practices gluten-free dentistry. If your child has special needs, you may want to take him or her to a dentist who has received additional training and has set up his or her office to accommodate those needs. Whatever your specific concerns, call ahead and talk to the dentist to ensure they can be accommodated.

On a final note, a lot of parents wonder if they should take their children to a pediatric dentist. This is an individual decision. Many general dentists accept young patients and work well with them. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, pediatric dentists have received two or three years of additional training following dental school and limit their practices to treating only children. They are “primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.” To locate a pediatric dentist near you, visit

For more information on dental insurance from The IHC Group, contact 866-645-6630 or get a free quote from

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