Choosing a pediatric dental specialist can seem like a complicated affair. How do you find the “right” dentist for your child?
Fortunately, there are practical ways to choose between many pediatric dental specialists in Los Angeles, CA.
Treatment Philosophy and Office Environment
Most important is finding a pediatric dentist whose approach to treating children (treatment philosophy) most closely matches your preferences and makes you feel comfortable that the dentist truly understands your style of parenting, your unique parent-child relationship, and the individual dental, medical, and/or special needs of your child. Parents who are highly involved in their child’s health and dental care and who do a lot of their own research are likely to benefit most from a pediatric dentist who devotes a lot of attention to learning about your child’s entire health experience (not just dental experience), from birth to present day. You may want to look for specialists who emphasize a “whole body” approach to oral care. Such specialists usually describe their practice philosophy (the way they think about patient care) as “integrative,” “holistic,” (in the sense of comprehensive, not just “natural”), and/or “multidisciplinary.” These specialists also tend to focus more on patient needs and desired treatment outcomes (due to patient health history, unique developmental issues, or more “complex” health issues) rather than on types of procedures, such as orthodontics or tooth whitening.
When looking for, interviewing, or “trying out” a pediatric dental specialist, it is helpful for the parent(s) to share as much detail as possible about the child’s pre-natal, delivery, and immediate post-natal health history, as well as details about the pregnancy in general, early feeding experience, and developmental or behavioral issues or experiences.
Reading Online Reviews
Of course, parents research pediatric dentists online. However, be aware that search results are heavily influenced by how much dental providers spend on online marketing (pay-per-click ads, search engine optimization, website design) and the algorithms that service, such as Google Ads, Yelp, etc., to direct traffic. Don’t be overly swayed by online visibility or rankings (“The 5 Best Pediatric Dentists in Near You”). Nor should they be overly influenced by credentials. Instead, focus on how pediatric dentists describe their treatment philosophy and practices. When reading reviews, look for consistency of comments about meaningful things; beware of excessively mean-spirited, petty, or highly personalized complaints. These rarely reflect common patient perceptions. Look for comments that convey thoughtful information (positive or negative!) about the dentist’s office, personality, and professionalism. Nevertheless, keep in mind that online reviews could be biased and dishonest.
Seeking Referrals and Recommendations
Pediatricians are an obvious source of referrals. Perhaps less obvious but very well-informed and “networked” are lactation consultants, speech pathologists, myofunctional therapists, and occupational therapists. Online parenting groups that share advice for like-minded parents can also be a good place to “ask around.”
Looking at Dentists’ Continuing Education & Certifications
Truly, the best pediatric dentists constantly pursue additional education, as well as certifications in innovative treatment methods and technologies. Acquiring advanced education takes a lot of dedication, time, and financial sacrifice. Look for pediatric dentists with specialized training and certifications in such areas as dental appliances (for example, the ALF Appliance) and laser dentistry (company training certifications, plus technique certifications, such as BabyLase and Oralase). Additionally, ensure that the dentist’s credentials are from an accredited institution.