Referral to a Pediatric Dentist

Dr. Frenda Williams

Most often than not, parents are not sure when they should first take their children to see the dentist. According to the American Academy Of Pediatric Dentistry, parents should take their child in for a dental examination when the first tooth appears or no later than their child’s first birthday. Most parents however, believe that baby teeth are not that important because the teeth get loose and fall out, right? In other cases parents simply don’t know.

Statistics support a lack in knowledge concerning oral health care in children, by showing on average parents take their children for their first dental visit by age 2. As a result of not starting dental visits early enough, over 42% of children ages 2 to 11 have had cavities in their baby teeth, this according to a 2014 CDC report.

Once a parent does decide to take their child for their first dental visit, the most common question asked is should they take their child to a General dentist or to a Pediatric dentist. There is actually no straight forward answer to that question. In other words, it all depends.

First, if a child has special needs or has displayed fear of a dentist in the past, a Pediatric dentist is better equipped to provide a positive experience for the child. Because let’s face it, Pediatric dentists have two to three extra years of training to deal with the special behavior needs of pediatric patients and pediatrics is geared 100% towards kids.

Second, insurance plans give different guidelines as to what age they will provide coverage for a child to see a specialist like the Pediatric dentist and if an attempt to see the child with a General dentist is requested.

Finally, a consideration must be given as to how well the General dentist is with working with younger patients. All of these aspects must be given careful consideration in order to assure that the best possible care is provided.

The primary goal of this article is not just to answer questions about pediatric referrals, it is also meant to stress the importance of early childhood dental care. The advantage of starting dental visits early is that young patients are introduced to their dental health care early on while exposing them to dental health care professionals and dental procedures. Finally, an all-important advantage is that parents become educated in the oral care of their children thus avoiding many of the common mistakes parents make in the area of their children’s dental health that increase the risk of cavities including:

  • Solo brushing
  • Putting babies to bed with a bottle (sugary drinks)
  • Hydration with sports drinks
  • Not understanding or little knowledge on mouth healthy foods

Starting and understanding the importance of early childhood oral health care is paramount to the overall health of our children.

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