Dentists Kind of Like Children – After All, Kids Are the Patients of the Future

Post your comments about pediatric dentistry to our blog. Read the children’s dentistry survey press release.

86% percent of dental practices report that they accept child patientsIn this poll, we asked dentists: Do you encourage your adult patients to bring their children in for treatment?

Well, it’s good news for the children, as the clear majority of dentists are happy to accept pediatric patients. Eighty-six percent of dental practices report that they accept child patients. The remaining 14% prefer to treat patients over age 14. Rural and female dentists were most likely to practice pediatric dentistry.

Read the dentists’ comments

Urban, suburban and rural dentists


Geographic differences were notable. Urban dentists are nearly twice as likely as suburban dentists and three times as likely as rural dentists to refuse to treat children.

This pattern is one we’ve seen before. In general, rural dentists are more likely to have a broad general dental practice. Urban dentists, on the other
hand – even urban general dentists – are more likely to specialize in certain kinds of treatments or patients. Additionally, cities are more likely to have
specialized pediatric dentists than are rural areas.

Male dentists compared to female dentists


Gender results were also remarkable. There exists a popular notion that female doctors are better with kids than male doctors. Although that statement is clearly a gross generalization, our survey did find that female dentists were especially likely to treat children. In fact, male dentists were eight times more likely to turn away pediatric patients than their female colleagues.

General dentists versus specialists


Differences between specialists and general dentists were not significant. A dentist’s specialty is particularly likely to dictate whether he or she accepts patients under age 14. Pediatric dentists and orthodontists treat lots of kids, whereas prosthodontists and endodontists not so much so.

For more insight into what our respondents are thinking, check out their comments!

We Treat Kids But Prefer Adults

  • “We treat kids, but most of our marketing, both print and internet (plus cable TV when we did that), is geared toward adults 35-65. We don’t turn kids away, but we don’t encourage them either.” (New Hampshire dentist)
  • “I have another DDS in the office who is great with children.” (New York dentist)

The Cost/Benefit Analysis

  • “I prefer to treat adults. You have to take longer and charge less on kids.” (Colorado dentist)
  • “If we are truly taking care of the needs of our patients, we should take care all of them, regardless of their age or profitability.” (North Carolina dentist)

Kids Are Fun…

  • “Family dentistry is more fun! Pediatrics leads to ortho which leads to wisdom teeth which leads into restorative and cosmetics.” (Georgia dentist)
  • “I love it when patients bring their children in. I think I am a kid at heart and really can relate to them. Thankfully, my staff loves children of all ages, especially if we can get to them before their uneducated peers or well-intentioned parents get to them explaining dentistry in a negative way. We love the humorous stories we hear from them. Most of them are about their parents. We keep the stories and give them to them when they graduate. It is so much fun.” (Minnesota dentist)

…Except When They’re Not

  • “No! I want to live a long life.” (North Carolina dentist)
  • “No. We have a dental spa environment, and it isn’t appropriate for small children. We also believe children should see pediatric dentists so they will have a positive experience and prepare them to go to the dentist as adults without fear or procrastination.” (Texas dentist)

Kids Need Good Dental Experiences

  • “Acquaintance is a good thing for little people to get familiarity in a new surrounding.” (Pennsylvania dentist)
  • “I can’t imagine NOT saying it! Most parents still send their children in to us to see if we are winners with their little ones. Then they make the appointment. I also always allow my parents to observe. Some may be in the room if they do not interject and some have to sit in a chair outside the door so they don’t interject and faint. (I have had a few parents faint on me, and their children were angels.) It’s a big practice builder. HUMOR GOES A LONG WAY. I always make sure I am talking with the child and THEY are the most important person in the whole world at that moment.” (Minnesota dentist)

Who Sees Kids?

  • “Only 1.8% of all dentists are pediatric dentists. Most dentists will see children under the age of 5 years.” (Ohio pediatric dentist)
  • “We encourage patients to follow the Am Ac of Pediatric Dent recommendations: that is, to bring the child in for their first visit within 6 months of the eruption of their first tooth.” (Michigan dentist)
  • “Most of my practice is children.” (Florida dentist)
  • “No. We have a pediatric dentist who comes to our office 6 days per month.” (Arizona dentist)

Kids Are Fine, as Long as They Don’t Act Up

  • “Why not? If they are manageable, they can become your dental patients for life.” (Florida dentist)
  • “We see kids. If they are at all difficult, fearful, or come in with a lot of decay (which we are seeing more and more), we refer them to a pediatric dentist.” (Rhode Island dentist)
  • “Not quite all ages, but certainly about 7 and up, with one proviso: The child can act up only one time; after that, they get referred out.” (New York prosthodontist)
  • “We treat children as long as they are well-behaved and need only routine care. Everyone else is sent to the pediatric dentist.” (California dentist)

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