50 LONGISLANDPRESS.COM • FEBRUARY 2020
FAMILY & EDUCATION
HOW TO FIND A PEDIATRIC DENTIST
continued from page 49
FIND A DENTIST
Many parents cherish their child’s
pediatrician. Apply that same reverence
to the dentist. Parents who
search far and wide for a pediatrician
should exert the same efforts to find
a pediatric dentist.
What’s a pediatric dentist? They are
the pediatricians of dentistry. They
have two to three years of specialty
training following dental school and
only treat children. They are primary
and specialty oral care providers
for infants and children through
adolescence, including those with
special health needs.
While a general dentist can treat
a child, having someone whose
expertise is children is a bonus.
Parents know their little ones are in
a kid-friendly environment.
TAP LOVED ONES
Nothing puts parents at ease like a
referral from a friend or family. But
parents without personal references
can ask their pediatrician or turn to
the American Academy of Pediatric
Dentistry (www.aapd.org). Search its
directory for a dentist in your area.
“Sometimes parents go strictly by
who takes their dental insurance,”
says Dr. Benjamin Dancygier, founder
and CEO of Valley Pediatric Dentistry
in Jefferson Valley, N.Y. “This
can backfire because that dentist may
not be the best fit. There are online
reviews and online parent groups
where one can find candid accounts
of experiences. Word of mouth is
Care for a toddler’s teeth should
begin as soon as the child’s first baby
tooth comes in. This typically occurs
at 6 months but can vary both earlier
“Proper care and good habits can
set the tone for your child’s dental
health for a lifetime,” says Dancygier.
“Take your child to a pediatric dental
specialist as soon as their first tooth
erupts into their mouth or by the age
of 1 year.”
What should parents expect? He says
at this early visit, a risk assessment
is normally done to determine what
specific recommendations are needed
to best assist you in preventing
tooth decay for your little one.
SET THE TONE
When a child is one year old, getting
them in a chair may be easier because
they are clueless. But as they get
older, it can get trickier. How best to
handle a child’s qualms?
“Don’t relay any personal fears or
memories of past experiences,” says
Dancygier. “A positive attitude by you
sets a good tone for them.”
He suggests reading books to
your child or watching videos of
good dental experiences made for
children to get them ready. Avoid
words like “hurt, pain, needle or
shot,” which will scare the child
before they set foot in the dental
Look for a dentist who is sensitive.
“A general dentist can sometimes
be intimidated by children. They
get impatient and frustrated when
the child starts crying,” says Dr.
Abrams. “A pediatric dentist is
used to working with children and
knows how to approach them. They
also have smaller instruments for
“The best thing a parent can do is not scare the
child,” says Dr. Elizabeth Abrams.