Finding the Ideal Dental Practice for Your Special Needs Child
The dentist you choose for your child has a significant impact on their experience during dental visits and their overall oral health. The impact is even more apparent for kids with special needs who deserve a dentist that’s not only experienced in pediatric dental care, but one that is knowledgeable and compassionate about helping children with ADS and similar needs.
Taking the time to find the best pediatric dentist for your child is well worth the effort and time you put in. The reward is a dentist and dental care team that look forward to working with your child, getting to know them on a personal level and helping them feel as comfortable as possible during dental checkups, cleanings, and treatment visits.
Here are five big things to do when searching for a new dentist for your child and a few additional tips to keep in mind.
1. Ask for references from family, friends, and local parenting groups.
Word-of-mouth recommendations are one of the best ways of beginning your search for a pediatric dentist who welcomes children with special needs. Reach out to family members, friends, and local parents to see which names or practices tend to be recommended.
- Recommendations don’t necessarily need to only be from friends or parents of children with special needs, though that is certainly helpful!
- Consider limiting your list to practices dedicated to pediatric dentistry. Family dentists are wonderful, but dedicated pediatric dentists have the additional education and skill in helping children with special needs feel comfortable and confident.
- If you’re new to an area and don’t have many local sources, consider asking for recommendations on social media sources like NextDoor or in local parenting groups on Facebook.
2. Check their website to see if they accommodate special needs children.
Pediatric dentists and dental practices should have a nicely designed website that outlines what services they provide, their approach to working with kids, and information for parents of kids with special needs. Once you have a list of a few prospective pediatric dentists, hop on Google to find their website and see if it reflects knowledge and a welcoming outlook for kids with different behavioral or medical needs.
- See if they mention dental care services designed for children with special needs, including kids on the autism spectrum or children with mobility limitations.
- Check the website for a virtual office tour to see if the practice will provide a welcoming atmosphere for your child (i.e. wheelchair ramp).
- For children with dental anxiety, options for safe sedation dentistry should be available.
3. Read reviews on a neutral platform, such as Google.
Even if family or friends have glowing recommendations about a specific pediatric dentist or dental practice, it’s still a good idea to see what others have to say too. Many dentists or practices will include their own testimonials on their website, but don’t forget to check for reviews from more neutral sources like Google.
- It goes without saying that a great dentist should have a majority of good reviews, but one or two poor reviews isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. Most importantly, see if the dentist or practice reached out to the poor reviews to see if they offered any sort of remediation.
4. Call and talk to the office staff about their experience with special needs kids.
You’ve settled on a dentist or practice that has wonderful reviews and a great website that shows they value and welcome kids with special needs. The next step is to contact the office and have a chat about their services and their approach to working with children that have unique needs. A phone call is the best way to do this as direct communication can give you a good idea of the experience and friendliness of the office staff.
- Ask the staff member about the practice’s approach to working with kids who have special needs, including the experience and education of the dentist(s) and the team.
- Ask the staff member how the practice accommodates children with special needs, including sensory or mobility limitations.
- If possible, see if you can chat with the pediatric dentist directly. Even if the dentist is busy at the moment, they should be eager to chat with you at a later time when they are available for a few minutes.
5. Request a “Happy Visit” to meet the team and see the environment.
If the phone call goes well and the practice seems like it should be a great fit for your child, consider booking a “Happy Visit” first before a typical new patient appointment. This is especially useful if your child has dental anxiety or tends to feel afraid or overwhelmed by dental visits or meeting new people. A great dental practice will welcome “Happy Visits” as these meet and greets are a valuable tool for helping parents find the perfect dentist for their child.
- If the practice outright refuses Happy Visits, this is a red flag that they may not be understanding of working with children who have special needs.
- Keep in mind that a dentist can be extremely skilled, super friendly, and genuinely a great pediatric dentist for kids with special needs but he or she may not be right for your child in particular. The best choice will have these characteristics but also match your child’s personality and needs.
Pediatric Dental Care for Kids with Special Needs in Waldorf, MD
Are you looking for exceptional pediatric dental care for kids with special needs in or around Waldorf, MD? The We Make Kids Smile team eagerly welcomes children with all needs. We provide gentle but effective dental care to help children achieve optimal oral health as comfortably as possible. We accommodate mobility and sensory needs and all of our staff have special training in working with children of all kinds of intellectual and medical diagnoses.
If you’d like to set up a Happy Visit or have questions for our team you can get in touch by calling your preferred location in Prince Frederick or Waldorf.