How to find a Good Family Dentist

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My son getting his teeth polished with help from Timmy Turtle.

Yesterday we were off to the dentist for my son’s regular checkup. I am so glad to have found a phenomenal dentist office to take him to – they are so good with kids and I have my whole family going there now as well as some friends.

On my son’s very first visit to the dentist ever two years ago, Cheryl, the amazing hygienist for kids, dressed up like the tooth fairy.

The tooth fairy made our first visit lots of fun!

My son, while a little nervous to try something new, was completely won over. The visit was mostly to take a look at his teeth and introduce him to the concept of going to the dentist – sitting in the chair and playing with the water sprayer, suction, and tooth polisher which are adorned with plastic animals with names like Timmy Turtle. There is even a treasure chest of small toys for each child to choose from at the end of the visit.

Since then, my son has asked me “Mom, when is it my turn to go to the dentist?” He really wanted to go with me for my recent visit.

Our dentist has a young child and so it’s easy to communicate with him about the challenges of getting your child to brush and god help me, floss. We are in a pretty good routine for brushing but we talked about flossing for the first time yesterday and we will try to start flossing just between the back teeth for now.

There is enough space between his teeth in the rest of his mouth that we don’t need to do more. Cheryl suggested I lay my son’s head in my lap to do the flossing and we’ll be using a dental floss stick like these Kids’ Flossers by Crayola to make it easier.

The dentist was very understanding saying at the very least introducing the idea of flossing now will set up our son for a lifetime of good habits.

It’s extremely important to me to have a family dentist that is kid-friendly, kind and supportive. When I was young, probably between 10 and 12, I went to a dentist who scarred me for life emotionally. He was so rough and I had 8 extractions done – yes, teeth ripped from my body. I wouldn’t recommend this for any child. Pay for the braces people. To this day, I tense up even for a cleaning. I don’t want my son to ever go through that kind of fear and anxiety!

Tips for Finding a Good Family Dentist

1. My best tip for finding a good family dentist is word of mouth. I was referred by a fellow mom in my local mom’s group. Ask your friends, family, doctor, or pharmacist who they love. Who is fantastic with children?

2. Do some research. There is a great site on the internet called that you can use to rate or look up any doctor or dentist in Canada, the US and a few other countries. Check out the websites for dentists you are interested in to see what information you can find out and get a feel for their services.

3. Call with your questions and to make an appointment. Here’s your chance to see how friendly the staff are and to find out how easy it is to make an appointment. Ask about logistics like hours, parking and transportation, and what to do in a dental emergency. If your call doesn’t go well, perhaps it is a good idea to try somewhere else.

4. Attend your first appointment and see if you feel comfortable there. Does it reek like Lysol like my old dentist’s office? Ugh? Do you like the feel of the waiting room? Is it neat and clean? Do they have toys to entertain your children? What kind of equipment do they have? I really appreciate being able to look at my x-rays on the computer screen and see for myself what Dr. V is talking about. I also like the preventative cancer scanner and low radiation x-ray  machines.

5. At your first visit, talk with your dentist about your expectations and any questions you might have. Find out what they do to make children feel comfortable.  Make sure you feel comfortable communicating with the dentist and/or hygienist. Much as my old dentist was very nice, it was a bit like pulling teeth (ha ha) to get him to explain what he was doing. If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t be afraid to try another dentist in the practice or another dental office altogether.

6. If you have a bad experience, don’t go back. Revert to step 1.

What was your best or worst experience with a family dentist? Do you have a good one now?

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8 thoughts on “How to find a Good Family Dentist

  1. What an awesome visit to the dentist! My younger boys go to a pediatric dentist as the family one the rest of us see just didn’t ‘click’ with my 9 year old. And, I’m hoping my 3 year old is off to a good start with the practice, too.

  2. Find a dentist that is good with children. Obviously, a family dentist needs to be good with kids, especially if you have multiple children. You don’t want your child to grow up hating the dentist, so you should find one that gets along with your son or daughter and makes him or her feel comfortable about being in a doctor’s office. In most cases, a dentist that has children themselves will be a great candidate as your family’s dentist.

  3. I think the experience in my childhood is the reason why I always wanted to have a dentist who is also good with kids. I had to go for a cavity problem when I was kid and the treatment left with me fear in my heart. The pain of cleaning and all sort of instruments the dentist used, I never felt relaxed, instead cried and was very frightened. Because of this I never went to dentist till I got a job and the pain caused by a tooth was severe. After I moved to Oakville after my marriage, I researched and got reviews from the family friends and came to know about Phelan Dental and Dr. Phelan was really a sweet person and my kids found him very easy going. He have all this small games for kids, and sometime my elder kid ask whether we could go to uncle Phelan to play those games. I should say I am lucky that my kids are not afraid from dentist.

  4. Sounds like you found a diamond of a dentist. That’s really cool that they dress up like the toothfairy I think if that had been my first experience with the dentist that it would have made those visits a lot easier on me as a kid. I’m glad you found a dentist that is good with kids.

  5. I appreciate your tip on checking how friendly a dentist’s staff is when you call to set an appointment. It seems that if the staff is nice and friendly it would be a good sign that the dentist would be good with your whole family as well. My wife and I recently moved and have been looking for a family-friendly dentist, maybe we should pay attention to the staff’s reactions when we call them.

  6. These are some great tips for finding a good dentist. I like how you talked about trusting the word of mouth (no pun intended). If my neighbor or friend has had a great dentist for a long time, then you can probably trust them.

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