How to Find Pediatric Dentist for Your Special Needs Child

Here are some suggestions to help you find the right pediatric dentist for your special needs child. With a bit of time, research and knowing what to look for, you’ll be happy when you find the perfect fit between a dental office and your child because this is a relationship that can last years.

Be Sure that the Dentist is a Pediatric Dentist. Some dentists, even those that work primarily with children, are not pediatric dentists. They may have completed a Pediatric Mini Residency instead. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry:

A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.

(You can also use the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry site to find a pediatric dentists by zip code.)

Dental WorkGet Recommendations. Ask other parents for recommendations for dentists that they have chosen for their special needs children. You can ask friends, look online, and ask support groups.

Check for Complaints: Each state has a Board of Dentistry. You can check online, call or request the information in writing about an individual dentist or practice.

Interview the Dentist: Ask about the dentist’s and staff’s strategies for children who are fearful of the dentist office, procedures, etc. Ask about parental involvement i.e. are parents allowed to be with children during exams and specific procedures? Discuss your child’s specific disability and needs. Learn if restraints (especially papoose boards) are used instead of anesthesia or other means of care.

Visit the Dentist: Take along your child and visit the dentist office. It can be just to see the waiting room and get a feel for the place, or for your child to sit in the chair, meet some of the staff, see some of the tools that are used, etc. The best first dental visit is when your child doesn’t need one – there’s not a cavity, or a toothache, etc.

Oral health care is important for the overall health of all children, but some children with special needs may fear going to the dentist, need modifications during dental visits, and may require more frequent and intensive visits. Finding the right pediatric dentist for your special needs child will lessen anxiety and worry for both you and your child and prevent serious dental problems.

What have you done to find the perfect dentist for your child?

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Connie Roberts

Professional Blogger
Living in the Tampa Bay area, I'm lucky enough to see beautiful sunsets almost every day. Although life can be difficult at times, focusing on the positive and being with my family is what gets me through.

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  1. Great advice. I take my two girls to a pediatric dentist to get that extra special touch that experience can give.

    • Thanks, Susan. We had a bad experience with a dentist that we thought was a pediatric dentist so I wanted to share this information.

  2. Choosing a dentist is one of the most important choices you’ll make for your child’s health.This post can be very helpful for those parents who don’t have any idea on how to find a dentist.

  3. A very good advise, everything you mentioned are important from recommendations of trusted friends up to interviewing a dentist. It’s really important that we provide the best dental care for our children and at the same time, educate them the importance of proper dental cleaning. 🙂 This is a worth reading article. ^^


  1. […] cleaned. Just about a year ago, we learned that the kid’s dentist we took her to wasn’t a real pediatric dentist and we missed out on important information to avoid dental […]