Visiting the Dentist with Kids
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Visiting the Dentist with Kids
Both my husband and I are self employed and therefore unable to benefit from
group medical and dental plans. At 2 it's time to take our daughter to the dentist but
not sure whether to pay out of pocket Or buy insurance. The dentist we want is dr
Matsuishi and I think his standard office fee is $185. Or i could buy delta dental
premium at $50/mo. Costly and it still diesnt cover it all. In fact it only covers up to
$1000 a year. But I know of two toddlers who've already had $7000 worth of work
in their little mouths! (both matsuishi clients). Or...should i scrap the idea of
premium dentist and premium dental plan and go where i can afford? Where is that
anyway? I have so many numbers swirling and need help making sense of things
from someone else in like position. Needless to say, money is an issue. In
answering this question, you also have a referral to your (cheaper) but as kid-
friendly dentist, I'd consider him/her too.
our kids are 2 and 4. Neither our dentist nor ped thinks they
need to see a dentist... happily, both my partner and I have
strong teeth (no cavities) which may contribute to their attitude
that the kids need not be seen. That said, the ped suggested we
carry dental insurance anyway in case of oral injury. we decided
not to and so far are hundreds of dollars ahead. So - make the
best decision for your family knowing YOUR dental health and diet.
If you are happy with your own dentist, just make an
appointement for your child with him/her.
Although I have dental insurance through work, I never took my
daughter to a pediatric dentist. It would have been just an
extra trip to the dentist when I could just bring her to my
dentist for regular exams when I had my exams. My dentist did
say that he couldn't treat her if anything was wrong, but that
he didn't mind doing the exam. A few years later, when she got a
cavity, she was big enough for him to treat.
-- a mom
Can I get a reality check on dental practices?
I found a dentist in the BPN recommendation archives several
years ago. I went in for a cleaning twice a year and had one or
two other dental procedures done, and was pleased with him and
Six months ago I went in for a cleaning, and was told that I
would not see him for the usual after-cleaning check
because ''the doctor only checks your teeth every other visit''
after the hygenist does her work. I was surprised and
disappointed because that had not been the case before, but
accepted that this was the new policy.
I made another appointment six months out, for the one Saturday
a month he works weekends. As I settled in the chair, I told
the hygenist that I was looking forward to seeing Dr. Forbes
because I had a sore tooth. She told me he had just left for
So now that he's blown me off twice, I am looking for another
dentist (I'll check the archives again).
But my question is, is this now common practice (the hygenist
says the ''every other appointment'' is)? All my life the dentist
has automatically done a quick check after the cleaning. What
am I entitled to expect these days? Not to shortchange the
hygenists, but frankly if all I need is a cleaning I could go
to a dental school and let the students brush my teeth for a
lot less money.
I recently had a similar experience with the ''every other check
up'' thing with a dentist. I REALLY like the place we go and
have been very happy with their care overall. After my last
check up, which was only my second one with them, there was an
additional $54 charge on my bill. When I called about it, I
was told that was for the dentist coming in and looking at my
teeth. I was pretty put off. I thought I got the usual ''do
you want the doctor to come in and take a look?'' and I said
yes, just thinking why not? When I asked about it, I was also
told that he only does that every other visit...and it costs
$54. That's a pretty steep charge for about 1-2 minutes of
work. Since I called and complained about it, they took the
charge off my bill. So I will probably keep going to this
dentist, but unless I have an issue, I will probably opt out of
the $54 look. As I said, I really do like the staff and the
dentist. His name is Douglas Gordon in Pinole.
teeth are clean
Nope, I've never run into the ''every other time'' policy. My
dentist always meets with me and looks at my teeth after the
hygienist is done, and so does my 10-year-old son's dentist. (And
if you need the referral, my son has been seeing Dr. Perry in
Alameda for 8 years; we think Dr. Perry's whole practice is
I go to the dentist regularly and almost never see the
dentist....I think she only comes in when the hygenist is unsure
about something (or if I am having a procedure done, of course).
Maybe they do actually have a schedule; if so, it is at most
every other visit. The hygenists are wonderful, though. I'd never
really noticed it until seeing your post!
I love my Dentist, Caroline Peterson on College Ave, near
Broadway- she only checks my teeth after cleaning about once a
year also- I think it is because my dental insurance (Delta) only
pays the extra charge for that once a year, though they pay for 2
cleanings per year. I hope that solves the mystery. However it
doesn't excuse your dentist for slipping out. Next time I would
call in advance and let them know you had an issue before the
appointment so they could plan on it.
happy with dental care
My dentist cleans my teeth himself, so he checks my teeth while
he is working on them. Dentists charge the same price when a
hygienist does your teeth, but they keep half of the money for
themselves, so the only reason to have a hygienist do the
cleaning is to make more profit. I would switch to a dentist who
will do the cleaning himself. Tell him/her you had a bad
experience with a hygienist in the past and are now deathly
afraid of hygienists.
At a recent visit to my daughter's dentist, the dentist asked
that I not be in the room with her during her dental procedure.
I also had my 17 month old son with us, so I could understand
that he might be too much of a distraction. The dentist
mentioned however that this is the practice at most pediatric
dental offices, as the parent might, through gesture or
emotional response, suggest more fear or apprehention for the
child than if the child were alone. While I can understand this
to a certain degree, my daughter is only 5 and I had not until
this appointment been asked to not be present with her. It is
not that I don't trust this dentist, as I have known her for
years, however, the dentist did not like me coming in at the
end of the appointment to check in and see how my daughter was
doing and I feel that I had a right to check on my daughter.
My questions are: Does anyone know if it is ''normal'' practice
for a child to see their dentist without the parent in the
room? Does anyone have a recommendation for a dentist for a 5
year old in the Oakland/San Leandro area? Thank you.
It is absolutely NOT protocol to ask the parent to leave the
room during a medical or dental procedure (except for
procedures like xrays, obviously) I've fallen for this ploy
exactly twice in the 15 years and 2 kids that I've been a
parent and will never fall for it again. In my experience it
usually means the provider is insecure about their ability to
work on your child and I don't want anyone who is insecure
about their capabilities working on my children. I also very
much resent providers making assumptions about how my kids will
respond. Just say NO and find another dentist for your child.
There is a great pediatric dental office at Solano and
Ensenada. Can't remember the name, we outgrew the practice
awhile ago. They are often recommended here and are very good
with kids though on the expensive side.
just say no and leave
We recently started seeing Dr. Laurie Shepherd, on advice from
friends. I have taken both my four-year-old and my six-year-old
for their first appointments. I was in the room for both. My
six-year-old went to a different dentist two years ago, whose
name I can't now remember, but I was in the office then, too.
So I think your dentist may be handing you a line of hooey. If
you're not comfortable not being in the room (and I know I
wouldn't be), I'd recommend looking for another dentist, and
specifically asking that question when speaking with the
That is not the norm at my son's dentist and, my thought is, if
it makes you uncomfortable, don't go back there. In fact,
because of some bad experiences I had at a dentist when I was a
child, I was adament that I be in the room with my son for all
procedures when I was calling around to find a dentist for my
son. The place he goes to is awesome and many of my
friends/family are now taking their children there. My son had 5
cavities filled on one visit and my husband and I both were there
the whole time. When my husband showed up as well, they didn't
even flinch and just got another chair for him. It is called
Alamada Pediatric Dentistry and his dentist is Dr. Perry. I
don't have the number handy, but if you want it, please feel free
to e-mail me. If you can't make it to Alameda, I do recall that
there were a few other offices I had called that said it was fine
to be in the room. But, I absolutely think it's worth the drive
to Alameda. Good Luck!
Both of my kids have been seeing dentist Dr. Neil Katsura in Berkeley
for years. Parents always are welcome to sit in the exam area (which is
completely open with several stations, and includes chairs for the
parents to sit in as well)...talk to both the kid and the dentist during the
exam or procedure...and there are games for the kids to play, etc. We've
all felt comfortable and welcome...able to come and hold a child's hand
if needed...The transparency of the whole scene actually has the affect
of decreasing stress and normalizing going to the dentist...a far cry from
my own experiences as a child.
We also see the orthodontists at Berkeley Orthodontics (which is located
upstairs from Katsura's office on Ensenada in Berkeley), and the same
protocol exists. Parents can sit in chairs right by their kids and talk
directly to the orthodontist and other staff people.
I don't know about other offices.
The last time a children's dentist told me I couldn't be in the
room with my child during a procedure was the last time we saw
I've NEVER been told by our other dentist/s that I couldn't be
in the room.In fact there were times when I sat in the chair and
my child sat in my lap.
A DDS experience can be really scarey for a little person. I
think it's essential to have mom or dad right there. My 2 cents.
As a dentist who treats children, I sometimes find that the
patient does better without the parent in the room. But as a
parent it would also alarm me that the dentist was upset with
you coming in at the end of the visit. There might be another
explanation but I don't have enough information to let you know
if something was out of line. You don't mention whether your
daughter handles appointments well and whether it was for an
easy procedure (cleaning/checkup) or something more challenging
(filling,extraction, etc). My recommendation for an excellent
pediatric dentist is Neil Katsura although he is in Berkeley 510-
Whether this is standard practice or not, you certainly don't
have to agree to it if you are not comfortable with it. If the
dentist refuses to allow you in, I would advise seeing another
I take my 7 year-old daughter to Madelyn Ballard in Berkeley
(510) 845-2350). Her offices are ''open'' (no doors!) and I have
always come in with her. I even brought my 18 month old son to
her most recent appointment. After my daughter's check-up and
cleaning, Dr. Ballard had me sit in the dental chair with my son
on my lap and just looked in his mouth so he could get used to
the idea of going to the dentist. My daughter was initially very
afraid of dentists, but has really warmed to Dr. Ballards gentle
touch and child-friendly techniques.
When my daughter's previous pediatric dentist made the same request
of me (to not be in the room when a procedure was being done) I voiced
my complaint, left the office, and never returned. I found a wonderful
pediatric practice in Berkeley (Drs. Wampler, Katsura et al) where
parents are always allowed to remain with their children, and we have
been happy ever since. Trust your instincts! If this doesn't feel right to
you, it's not right for your child. My daughter has had a lot of dental work
done and I've always been with her. Ditto for medical procedures. It
probably makes it easier for the dentist, but it's not your job to make it
easier for the dentist. Your job is to be available for your child's needs.
What group of pediatric dentists has yours polled to come up
with his ''protocol''? My daughter has been seeing Dr. Denise
Bass Allen in Oakland (763-2022) for more than 6 years, and I've
always been invited to stay with her during the exam. In fact,
at the age of 3, she was placed on my lap as I sat in the
patient's chair because Dr. Allen could see it would calm my
daughter's first-dental-exam anxiety. Now she's 9-1/2, and I
suppose I could sit in the waiting room, but I want to know what
the hygenist and dentist are telling her about dental care. I
don't know if Dr. Allen or her partner are taking new patients,
but it's a wonderful practice.
I have been to three different pediatric dentists and I was
encouraged and expected to be in the examination room with every
one. One was down in Los Gatos, but the others were Dr.
Bass-Allen and Dr. Miyahara. We preferred Dr. Miyahara's office
and will continue to see her. Good luck finding a dentist that
works for you.
I am considering taking my child (3yrs.old) to my dentist for the regular
checkups. I took her to a pediatric dentist the first time, and I thought my own
dentist would be just as good and half price. She wasn't to impressed with
tricks and toys anyway. I figure that if a problem arises I can always take her to
a pediatric one.
It would be helpful to have some inputs from people that do it too!
The first time my daughter saw a dentist, I took her to my
dentist, figuring it would be nice for her to see me having my
teeth cleaned first. And she was tolerated it just fine, but
after reading the reviews here about Dr. Bob Khalil, a
pediatric dentist, I took her to him for her next checkup (age
3) and she LOVED him. I think she was much more comfortable
with the staff, who were used to dealing with kids, and happier
in the chair, which was smaller. Now she talks about how much
she likes Dr. Bob and how much she loves going to the dentist.
Your child might not care, or she might not care until she is
older--mine was fine with the adult dentist, but much happier
with the pediatric one.
A Believer in Pediatric Dentists
I took my 3-year-old son to my regular dentist, and he did just fine. She
was calm and matter of fact with him, and he allowed her to do all the
necessary procedures with no fuss.
Hi - I'm with you on switching to a non-pediatric dentist. It
seems to me that they've got quite a scam going that they can
charge twice the prices for the same services as adults get.
All for extra toys (like we don't have enough junk around the
house to stumble over) and bubblegum flavored toothpaste.
After one trip to the ped-dentist I bailed and took my kids to
my regular dentist. I figured the same as you, if something
comes up that requires someone specialized in pediatric
dentistry then I'll go back, but not for regular check-ups and
cleaning. Not worth it in my book.
- Tired of being overcharged
My dentist said he wouldn't bother taking a child in to a
dentist before they are 4 or 5 (he has a toddler like I do).
The only reason he recommended taking one in would be if you
detected brown spots on the teeth, which would indicate tooth
Hi - if you dentist is not experienced with children, I would go
to a pediatric dentist. We took our daughter to one for her
first visit at 3 y old and they were really good with her and
very understanding when it absolutely did not work the first
time (they didn't even charge us) -- thankfully, it did work the
second time and they were able to examine and clean and polish
her teeth (with her lying on top of her father).
My take on this is that you don't need a pediatric dentist.
Much of their pull is gimmickry and marketing, to make parents
belive that they have something special to offer their
children. We have 2 children and took them to 3 different
pediatric dentists in the East Bay in the past 8 years, before
taking them to our own ''regular'' (non-pediatric) dentist in
Berkeley who my son has dubbed the ''nicest grownup'' he has ever
met. We began with a pediatric dentist in a well-respected group
in Berkeley after our son chipped his tooth at the age of 12
months. Then when they didn't ake our insurance anymore, we
tried Dr. Matsuishi in El Cerrito, with all of his ceiling TV's,
video games, balloons, x-rays, etc. It was a tad demoralizing
to be called into the ''business office'' of his suite while his
employee determined how much of our visit would be covered by
our insurance even before our son saw him. A couple of years
later, we took our 3 year old daughter to a different pediatric
dentist in Berkeley who found numerous cavities and had staffers
administer a strong sedative to her in a very traumatic,
insensitive manner. We have since learned that much of this work
Go to the pediatric dentist. They have tricks to disarm your
little one, and even if you think your child doesn't care, it
will make your life easier. Plus they know what to look for,
what kinds of questions to ask, how to educate you, how to
educate the child. It's very intrusive to have a stranger poke
around in your mouth. At least forthe first time, make it a good
experience. If it doesn't seem worth it to you, you can always
try your own dentist afterward.
My daughter is almost 5 and has been going to my dentist since
she was 2. She has never been to another dentist. My dentist
says that if he finds a problem he will tell me to take her to a
pediatric dentist. Funny thing, my dentist is sort of gruff and
all business with me, but much friendlier and animated with my
I assume you've talked to your dentist about bringing your
little one. If he, she?...forgot..sorry..isn't phased by the
cutsey stuff in a ped. dentist office, then your family dentist,
assuming he/she is good with kids should be fine.
Our kids started seeing our family dentist when they were 5 ish.
He's an older guy, very gentle and savvy to kids ways. My older
son never knew he was getting a shot because of the way the DDS
handled my son and the injection. I say go for it.
I was always skeptical about pediatric dentists. I took my first
two kids to the same dentist I was going to, but my third child
has been going to a pediatric dentist. Now I have to say, I
really like the pediatric dentist better. Not so much because I
think the dentist is more skilled, but more just the little
things. Like, all the chairs are kid-sized, so the kids aren't
reclining on a huge chair having their teeth looked at. The
waiting room is kid friendly. The examining room is open, so
that several kids can be in there at the same time, which I think
is comforting to kids. There are chairs and magazines for the
parents in the examining room, so your child has you there, and
you can watch, without getting in the way of the dentist. The
dentists are good with kids - that's their specialty - and they
see kids all day long, day after day, so they really know how to
talk to them, and make them feel comfortable. We go to the
Wampler/Katsura group - I think they are great.
When my son turned three years old I took him to a much
recommended pediatric dentist in Berkeley (Regent St) and it
cost me $125!!! The dentist and his staff spent less than 15
minutes on my son's teeth. Well, enough of that waste of money
and racket! I sent him to my dentist, Dr. Barry Kami, who
charged $70-$80 to clean my son's teeth. They provided him a
fun, pampered atmosphere and a great goody bag. He loved it,
and I now schedule our appointments together, which so much
easier on my schedule. My advice, don't waste the money on a
pediatric dentist(unless your child as some pretty serious
dental problems) especially if your dentist can serve children
i just took my 2.5 year old to the dentist for the first time and
was slightly alarmed by suggestions of flouride treatments and
x-rays. i'm wondering A) what any holistic health practitioners
and/or knowledgable folks out there think about this and B)if
there are other more holistic pediatric dentists that people know
about. also, how necessary (and how often) does the dentist need
to occur at this age, from a holistic viewpoint, and what about
the regular cleanings? my son just barely let the dentist look in
his mouth at his teeth (of course it was his first time, but
still-- the dentist and assistant were very charming and he liked
them), and i wonder about having some kind of mechanical thing in
his mouth. by the way, i was very positive (both inwardly and
outwardly) about the visit, so i don't *think* his reluctance was
picking up on any of my reservations. any suggestions?
I just had a dental visit for myself and asked my dentist when
I should bring in my 2 year old. He said point blank that he
wouldn't bring in a child until he is at least four, that
before then you can't get a child sit still and be treated.
And he wouldn't even think of giving them flouride before 5
years. The only time he would recommend bringing a young child
in is if the teeth were going brown or black (which would be a
sign of cavities).
I definitely would never allow x-rays at this age!!
In general, I'm fairly conservative about exposing my kids to
unnecessary x-rays and treatments. However, when my son was
four, we were planning to move, didn't know how long it would
take to find a good pediatric dentist in our new place, and we
would be losing our dental insurance. So - I let the dentist do
his x-rays then (I had planned to wait until 5 for the first
set), shortly before our move. Well, it turned out that although
his teeth looked very healthy on exam (no black spots, no pain,
etc.), he had cavities in between almost every pair of back
teeth! The sad ending is that since we were moving so soon, the
dentist couldn't fill them before we left. It took quite a while
to find a dentist I was satisfied with in our new place, and by
the time the cavities were treated, one tooth required a
pulpotomy and crown. So - while I don't advocate frequent
x-rays, I wouldn't necesarily rule out doing it just once during
the pre-school years to see what's going on between those
healthy-looking teeth. (We've since moved back here, where we
LOVE our pediatric dentist!)
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