How to Choose the Best Pediatric Dentist or Orthodontist in NYC in 2024

Upper East Smiles is a comprehensive dental practice in Manhattan that includes General Dentists, Periodontists and an Endodontist.
Upper East Smiles is a comprehensive dental practice in Manhattan that includes General Dentists, Periodontists and an Endodontist.
3/19/24 - By Jessica Laird

When searching for a good pediatric dentist or orthodontist in NYC, there are a number of factors to consider–from location to credentials to anxiety-reducing practices. We spoke to Dr. You-na Kim and Dr. Junginn Choi from Manhattan’s Upper East Smiles for guidance on choosing the best pediatric dental practice for your kids in 2024.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that infants see a dentist for their first checkup within six months of getting their first tooth or by age one. “A dental home should be established by the first birthday to help children and their families institute a lifetime of good oral health,” pediatric dentist Dr. You-na Kim explained to us.

But, where do parents begin to look for this “dental home” in a city full of dentistry practices? And how do you find the best fit for your family? After showing us around Upper East Smiles’ brand new pediatric office on East 78th Street and 2nd Avenue–just around the corner from its first Upper East Side location–we sat down with Dr. Kim and orthodontist Dr. Choi for some much-needed expert advice on what to look for in a pediatric or orthodontic dental practice in 2024.

A pediatric dentist should have special dental equipment and tools for young patients.

How to Choose a Pediatric Dentist or Orthodontist in NYC in 2024

Understand Family Dentist vs. Pediatric Dentist - While some general or family dentists will see children, that doesn’t make them pediatric dentists. “Pediatric dentists are dental specialists who are specifically trained to provide the most appropriate treatments for patients ranging from infants to adolescents,” Dr. Kim told us. “They go through 2-3 years of extensive additional training on top of 4 years of dental school.”

Do Your Homework - While a personal referral for a dentist goes a long way, reading online reviews and testimonials can really help you get a feel for other families’ experiences. Also, before seeing any dentist or specialist, make sure that they’re board certified by searching on the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry’s website.

Look for Kid-Centric Accommodations - Special dental equipment and tools may be needed to accommodate children’s smaller teeth and bodies. For instance, Dr Kim recommends asking if a practice offers low-dose digital x-rays that allow minimal radiation.

Consider Orthodontics - Expanders and braces might feel far off when you first join a dental practice, but easy access to an orthodontist can make a big difference in early dental care. As Dr. Kim explained, “Early detection of crowded teeth, an overbite, or other skeletal growth problems by a pediatric dentist can lead to a timely evaluation by an orthodontist. And close collaboration between these two specialists results in better outcomes, less invasive treatment, or no treatment if not needed.”

Find a Comprehensive “Dental Home” - Many kids do wind up needing dental care beyond cleanings, sealants, and fillings, and a multidisciplinary practice assures that they can be treated by the practice they’re already familiar with. In addition to orthodontist Dr. Choi, the team at Upper East Smiles includes General Dentists, Periodontists and an Endodontist–all of whom are prepared to collaborate on a pediatric patient’s care, whether they need a palate expander or gum surgery. No need to be referred elsewhere.

A warm and inviting dental office can really help kids feel at ease.

How to Reduce Kids’ Anxiety at The Dentist

Find a Kid-Friendly Office - From a play area in the waiting room to kid-friendly language used during exams, like “sleepy water,“ “sugar bugs,“ and “ice cream air,” Upper East Smiles works hard to make sure children feel safe and comfortable.

Allow Children to Have Some Control - “I use the Tell-Show-Do technique, where I verbally explain procedures and demonstrate dental tools before completing my work,” says Dr Kim. “And I give kids the chance to get involved by choosing their favorite flavor of fluoride or laughing gas nose–allowing them to gain some sense of control.”

Look for Modern Conveniences - A modern pediatric dentistry office may offer additional conveniences like in-office televisions, headphones, and sunglasses, which can be really helpful when it comes to reducing stress during exams and procedures.

Focus on Prevention - Positive and consistent dental visits help make the dentist way less scary. “Many kids come for their first visit after already missing the ideal window for x-rays and a comprehensive exam,” Dr. Kim explained. “Most families aren’t aware of the need to start flossing daily at age 3 or 4 when back teeth start closing, and cavities in between teeth are easily preventable.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Choi pointed out that “Kids undergoing orthodontic treatment tend to have poor plaque control and require more attention since they’re at a higher risk for cavities. They can benefit greatly from regular checkups and Fluoride varnish application.” Both specialists agreed that healthy habits can be taught and reinforced at every visit. All the more reason to take those first steps to find a pediatric dental practice with board-certified pediatric dentists and orthodontists who checks all the boxes. It’s the best way to ensure that your kids are getting the top-notch dental care they need!

If you’re searching for a kind of communicative team of board-certified pediatric dentists, orthodontists, and other specialists at a comprehensive practice, visit Upper East Smiles to learn more or schedule your first appointment at their new UES office at 1502 2nd Avenue between East 78th and 79th Street by calling (646) 864-1808 or booking online.

Upper East Smiles’ new pediatric office is conveniently located at 1502 2nd Avenue.

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

All photos courtesy of Upper East Smiles

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