what to look for in a pediatric dentist

As a parent, you try hard to keep your kids healthy and happy. Part of helping a child stay healthy is caring for their teeth and taking them to regular dental appointments. But, as many parents know, this may be easier said than done. Children are not always excited to visit the dentist, and the very thought of it can cause feelings of fear and anxiety. Parents can help their child overcome their fears by selecting a trustworthy, friendly and qualified pediatric dentist. Finding the right dentist can make a positive impact on your child’s oral health throughout childhood and the rest of their lives.

There are certain things to consider when choosing a pediatric dentist, and it’s critical to select a professional who helps your child feel at ease. You’ll want your child to feel comfortable returning for future appointments, so they can follow through with current treatments and prevent dental issues. With all the options available, it may feel like a daunting task to find the best dentist for your children, but we’ll provide some tips. In this post, we’ll show how to find a dentist for your child and answer some of your questions.

What Is a Pediatric Dentist?

A pediatric dentist is specially trained in providing oral health care for children. Like a general dentist, pediatric dentists complete four years of dental school. Unlike a general dentist, pediatric dentists continue their education for another two to three years to study the prevention and treatment of childhood dental issues. During this time, they learn how to detect conditions that only affect children, such as ton togue thrust andoth growth issues. They also learn about childhood development and psychology to better understand how to interact with kids and make them feel at ease.

Pediatric dentists perform a range of services to help kids have healthy smiles. These typically include:

  • Cleanings and exams
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Sealants
  • Cavity fillings
  • Orthodontic procedures
  • Prevention and treatment of gum diseases
  • Fabrication of Sports Guards for Teeth
  • Emergency dental care

Pediatric dentists also spend time educating parents and patients, answering questions and providing guidance. They are committed to helping patients understand the purpose of their treatment and encouraging oral hygiene habits that they can practice at home.

Although pediatric dentists are qualified to treat patients of any age, they typically only provide care for individuals under the age of 18. However, they may continue to treat children with special needs throughout adulthood, so the patient can return to a dentist who is familiar with their medical history. Since pediatric dentists focus on treating children, they usually have greater experience interacting with kids than general dentists.

When Should Kids Have Their First Pediatric Dentistry Visit?

first dentist appointment at 1 year old

What is a good age for children to see a dentist? Many dental professionals would agree that a child is never too young to visit a dentist. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends children visit the dentist by the time they are 1 year old. A child’s baby teeth are susceptible to tooth decay, which can cause pain and keep a child from eating healthy foods. It could also lead to an infection or the need for emergency treatment, both of which are preventable. Baby teeth are essential because they help a child speak and chew, and they create a path for permanent teeth.

Overall, dental health affects a child’s development and well being. If they can get used to going to the dentist when they are young, they will be more likely to take their oral health seriously as adults.

Taking a child to the dentist before their first birthday can also help parents save money. According to the AAPD, a study found that children who visited the dentist in their first year had 40% lower dental costs in their first five years, due to avoiding the need for medical and dental procedures. Therefore, you’ll want to take your child to a pediatric dentist as soon as possible. Once you start taking your child to the dentist, it’s recommended they continue visits once every six months, though this can vary depending on their needs.

What Should I Look for When Choosing a Pediatric Dentist?

Finding a pediatric dentist who will help your child develop a beautiful, healthy smile and lifelong hygiene habits is a critical decision. A pediatric dentist will get to know your child and their history and will play a major role in supporting their health and overall well being as they grow. It’s important to choose a pediatric dentist who helps your child feel respected and comfortable. Once your child gets used to their dentist and learns the value of a healthy smile, they might even look forward to dental visits. Here are qualities that make a good pediatric dentist:

pediatric dentist



First, you’ll want to look for a professional who completed the education required to become a licensed and certified pediatric dentist. This should include dental school and training in pediatric dentistry. The training pediatric dentists receive after dental school gives them the skills to manage children’s behavior and help them feel comfortable. They also learn about childhood-specific issues and treatments.

Another factor to consider is if the dentist is a member of the AAPD and the American Dental Association (ADA). This means they stay informed about the latest news and advancements in dentistry so they can provide the most effective treatment.

Lastly, find out how many years of experience the dentist has in practice. While you can consider a dental professional who recently graduated, it’s safest to go with a new dentist who shares a practice with more experienced dentists. Otherwise, it’s worth choosing a pediatric dentist who has real-world experience working with children.


Your child’s dentist must make a good impression to create a positive experience. Therefore, you’ll want to choose a pediatric dentist who is gentle and praises cooperative behavior. Also, the dentist and his staff should go above and beyond to help your child feel comfortable. All of this will help a kid cope with the new experience and anxiety they might feel. After a while, they’ll come to realize that going to the dentist isn’t so scary after all.

Welcoming Environment

Your dentist and their staff should create an environment that feels welcoming, soothing and filled with positivity. Every staff member you encounter should understand the nervousness your child may be feeling, and treat them with patience, kindness and empathy.

dental office with toys to calm child


Fear of going to the dentist can be a major hindrance when it comes to oral health care. According to one study, 42% of children aged 10 to 14 experience dental fear. It’s crucial to find a pediatric dentist who is friendly, relatable and understanding of each child’s unique fears and needs. They should explain each procedure to the child using easy-to-understand words before acting, so the patient knows exactly what to expect. Pediatric dentists should also try to get the child interested and involved in their oral health care.

As a parent, your goal should be to find a dentist who puts your child at ease and is someone your child will be happy visiting again in the future. Simply put, the right pediatric dentist for your child is the one they like.


Part of a pediatric dentist’s job is answering parents’ questions, addressing their concerns and sharing helpful information. A suitable dentist is happy to educate patients and parents about proper oral health care so the child can develop healthy habits. They will tell you the details of your child’s tooth development and how treatment can prevent issues.

The right pediatric dentist will make you feel comfortable asking questions, and they should take the time to answer each one respectfully, honestly and with genuine care for your child’s well being. Remember, it’s the dentist’s job to guide you so you can help your child. You have a right to ask as many questions as needed to make the best decisions about your child’s health.

Offers a Range of Services

Look at the services provided by the pediatric dentist and determine if they offer the treatments and preventive care your child needs. Think about what services your child might require in the future as well, so you can potentially stick with the same dentist throughout their childhood.

Accepts Your Dental Plan

According to the ADA, one of the top reasons adults skip going to the dentist is cost. Patients of all ages should know that there may be a range of payment options available to make dental visits more affordable. First, check if a pediatric dentist accepts your dental insurance. If you do not have a dental plan for you and your child, see if the dentist offers reasonable rates, in-office value plans and payment plans. Make sure they also accept various forms of payment.


Another factor to consider when choosing a pediatric dentist is convenience. Try to find a dentist who’s located near your home or child’s school, if possible. Also, consider their office hours and if it works for your schedule. You’ll want the appointment process to be as easy as possible to minimize stress.

Tips for Finding the Best Pediatric Dentist

Choosing the right pediatric dentist for your child takes some time, but it’s worth every minute of effort. Here are ways to approach the search, so you can find a dentist who is bound to become your child’s new friend.

find the best pediatric dentistCheck Online Reviews

After you’ve done a little research and compiled a list of pediatric dentists in your area, find out what other parents have to say. You might read reviews online to get an idea of patients’ experiences. While reviews can be helpful, keep in mind, they can also be biased. So, it helps to find a reliable source whenever possible.

Seek Recommendations

Asking family, friends and coworkers for recommendations can be a great way to find a good pediatric dentist. Family and friends will give you trustworthy information and lead you in the right direction fast. Another way to find a pediatric dentist is to ask your child’s pediatrician for their suggestion.

Schedule a Consultation

While recommendations and online reviews can help narrow your choices, nothing beats your own experience and intuition. Once you have a few dentists in mind, contact each one and schedule an appointment to visit the office, meet the staff and get a feel for the environment. Try to have a positive experience with your child during the tour, so they are willing to return for an exam. During the consultation, ask questions such as:


  • What ages do you treat?
  • How many years of experience do you have?
  • How do you deal with emergencies?
  • Are you a member of the ADA and AAPD?
  • Do you have experience to caring for kids whose needs are special.

While you’re there, take note of how the dentist interacts with your child and how it makes them feel. Also, check out the waiting room and see if there are child-friendly books or toys to keep your little one happy.

Ask Yourself Questions

After the consultation, you’ll want to ask yourself questions, such as:

  • Did the dentist make your child feel at ease?
  • Were your questions answered respectfully?
  • Is the staff warm and friendly?
  • Do they accept your dental insurance or offer affordable payment plans?
  • Did your child have a positive experience?

Don’t forget to talk to your child and get their opinion. Children are skilled at going with their instincts.

Where Is the Best Pediatric Dentist Near You?

If you live in the Howell area and wish to find a good pediatric dentist near you, reach out to us at Family Dentistry of New Jersey. Our pediatric dentist, Dr. Neal Hammer, is a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (FAAPD) and Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. Dr. Hammer has over 30 years of experience specializing in pediatric dentistry and has been chosen as a New Jersey Monthly Magazine Top Pediatric Dentist, multiple times. Dr. Hammer focuses on treating every patient with respect and kindness and is on a mission to create a generation of children who love going to the dentist.

schedule a dentist appointment for your child

Schedule a Pediatric Dentistry Appointment Today

Finding the best dentist for your child can feel overwhelming. There’s a lot to consider to ensure your child has a positive experience. At Family Dentistry of New Jersey, you can trust we will do everything possible to help your child feel comfortable and relaxed. We are 100% patient-centric, which means we are committed to treating each patient with respect, empathy and patience. And, we offer a range of dental services to ensure your child gets the care they need. If you would like to schedule a consultation to visit our office and meet our staff, please reach out to us today or call us at 732-458-2288.



Contact Us Today