Finding a pediatric dentist in Kolkata is hardly a tough ask. There are multiple dental clinics in virtually every locality, with many of them actually specializing in pediatric dentistry. However, not all of them are equally good – and the qualities and professional expertise of the doctors have a lot to do with whether a kid gets the type of dental treatment (s)he requires. Here are some must-have qualities of any decent dentist for children:
Proper qualification and experience – It’s not that newly-passed out doctors are necessarily incompetent – but why risk the well-being of your child’s teeth in the hands of a novice? Look out for a oral care center in Kolkata, where the doctor(s) available for consultation are well-qualified (look out for the degrees). Ask the staff, or a fellow parent, about how long the doctor(s) has been practicing as a pediatric dentist. That will give you a clear idea of the sort of experience and general goodwill the doctor has.
Patience – Oodles of it. For any average kid, one of the biggest mortal fears is going to a dentist for a check-up. On top of that, if surgical procedures like dental replacement or root canal treatment are involved – children automatically become apprehensive about the associated pains. It is the responsibility of a kids’ dentist to patiently explain the procedure and alleviate the fears of the little ones. It is only natural that some time will be required to convince a child and get rid of his/her fears. Many dental treatment centers organize one-on-one consultation sessions precisely for this purpose.
Speak the language – Empathy is a big virtue in any pediatric dental practitioner worth his/her salt. (S)he has to be able to interact with children in a way that the latter understands, and in fact, finds friendly and comforting. Complicated medical jargons have to be reserved for the parents, as well as the details of risks (if any) associated with necessary oral surgeries. In essence, a dentist for children has to love kids – simply putting on an artificial behavior won’t help.
Proficiency in using kids’ dental equipments – Just because someone is ranked among the top dentists in Kolkata does not necessarily mean (s)he will be the best person for your son/daughter too. A children’s dental care provider needs to have in-depth knowledge of working with customized (read: smaller sized) medical tools and equipments, which are required for performing check-ups inside the mouth of children. For instance, machines with digital x-ray sensors have to be used for testing the tooth and gums of kids, instead of the average dental x-ray machines for grown-ups. The pediatric dentist should know thoroughly how to operate such sophisticated tools.
Have a strong personality – Smiling with the kids, patiently hearing to their concerns and showing loads of compassion is all very fine, but at the end of the day, children have to follow the instructions of the dentist. This, in turn, makes it absolutely necessary for a doctor to have just the right blend of politeness and authoritativeness in his/her attitude. (S)he should not come across as too strict, but should be able to command respect and obedience from children.
Be aware of common pediatric dentistry problems – While problems like bleeding gums, toothaches or mouth sores/ulcers can afflict people of any age, there are certain mouth problems that are specific to infants, kids and teens. These include baby bottle tooth decay, delayed formation of teeth, improper teeth alignment, widely spaced teeth, and the like. The dentist you choose for your child should be aware of how these pediatric dentistry complications can be treated in the best possible way. A dentist for children has to know how to provide lasting relief to kids, right?
Sincerity – A child should be taken for dental checkups on a regular (say, once every two months) basis. The person you choose as the regular dentist for your kid should be proactive about conducting all the necessary diagnostic tests and scans. Proper awareness of all the dental problems that a child might have is essential, since that would help the dentist to prescribe the series of tests required. Curing a kids’ dental problems is good, but being able to prevent them is even better.
Easy availability – Getting an appointment at Kolkata dental clinic is a major headache for parents, who have busy lives of their own. Often, this results in postponement of the kids’ dental check-up dates. An easy way out of this problem would be looking for a doctor with whom appointments can be scheduled online. Thankfully, most leading dental treatment centers in Kolkata have dedicated websites, offering online appointment booking options. You should be able to choose the day and time-slot that would be the most convenient for you and the little one.
Ability to keep kids engaged – This boils down to the overall demeanor of a pediatric dentist, and his/her little gestures towards kids. A warm smile, a friendly handshake, a kind ruffling of the hair – each of these apparently minor things contribute to allaying the understandable fears of a child on his/her first visit to a dental clinic. Before starting actual tests/surgeries, telling a funny anecdote would be nice. If you find a pediatric oral healthcare expert to be too serious, look out for another, more compassionate person. A dentist for children should be able to understand the psyche of the kids coming in for a visit.
Understanding that not all kids are the same – This is important. Some kids are playful, some are naughtier than others, while some are more of the shy and demure sort. It is relatively easy to treat the latter – but for the former, a dentist should have some colorful toys and such stuff at the clinic to keep them entertained. All children cannot be of the same nature, and hence, adopting the same behavior towards everyone is not likely to work.
Be able to offer valuable medical inputs – Problems like dental cavities, gum bleeding (a symptom of gingivitis), and mouth sores often crop up due to irregular/improper brushing and flossing habits. A good pediatric dentist in Kolkata should be able to ‘educate’ a child (as well as his/her parents) about the correct way to brush and floss his/her teeth. The doctor would also prescribe the fluoride-rich toothpastes that would be best suited for kids. What’s more – a dentist for kids should be able to prescribe the right diet for the latter. This, in turn, means having knowledge of the types of food that are good for the tooth surface/enamel.
Have a kid-friendly office – All the smiles in the world can come a cropper, if a dentist’s office is dingy and unhygienic. You need to find a dental clinic in Kolkata which has a spacious, clean and hygienic reception area – complete with soft toys, colorful wall hangings, comfortable sofas, and such other nice room decor. It would probably be too much to expect a child to feel ‘at home’ at a dentist’s chamber – but at least (s)he should feel comfortable there. A couple of popular cartoon magazines won’t hurt either.
Have time on his/her hand – At no point during the dental checkup and treatment procedure, should a child feel rushed (that, understandably, would make them feel nervous). A caring dentist will always chalk out his/her schedule in such a manner that, enough time is available for treating each individual patient. Avoid the doctors who have the reputation of squeezing in as many dental appointments as possible. A pediatric dental clinic with a long queue of patients near the entrance might be good, but your child may not get adequate attention over there.
Encourage kids to talk – Of course, you would be able to explain the oral problems of your child better – but the kid should also feel that (s)he has a say (after all, it is his/her problem!). A good pediatric dental consultant generally asks questions like “What are the problems you are facing?” or “Is there any discomfort in your teeth?” to children, notes down their responses, and then turns to the accompanying parents for a more detailed description of the ailment. It is all about building the confidence of a kid before an arduous experience (at least children look upon dental tests as one!) – and doctors have to pay attention to this factor.
Prepared to handle emergencies – If a child has a heavy fall on the playground and gets a broken tooth, his/her parents won’t get the time to look for pediatric dentists online and book an appointment. A children’s dentist should always have provisions for treating dental trauma, tooth fractures, and such other potentially serious injuries. Having a team of support stuff goes a long way in helping in this regard. A doctor who cannot/will not move out of regular appointment schedule to treat emergency cases is best avoided.
Not charge exorbitant fees – There are certain unavoidable charges associated with availing the services of a top dentist in Kolkata on a regular basis. However, you need to stay away from the ones that charge hefty payments and/or prescribe tests from specific laboratories (more often than not, they have tie-ups with these labs). No parent in the world would think about saving money when it comes to his/her child’s dental treatment – but being prudent about expenses is always a good idea. Like any profession, the field of pediatric dentistry also has its fair share of fraudsters.
Surgical procedures like tooth replacement, root canals, dental scaling and smile redesigning should not be simple ‘open-and-shut’ cases for pediatric dentists who care for their li’l patients. They need to provide all the important postoperative tips and advice. Ability to diagnose dental problems at an early stage is yet another must-have quality of a good teeth and gum care specialist. Choose the dentist for your child with care…there is nothing quite as valuable as the smile of your little darling!