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5 Things to Consider Before Opening a Pediatric Dental Office

Opening a new pediatric dental practice? Follow these five tips for new dental startups.

Considering all kids have preventative dental care and overall dental wellness needs, opening a pediatric dentist’s office may seem like a no-brainer for entrepreneurial dental professionals. However, there is more to creating a lasting pediatric dental establishment than you might think. Here’s how to start a successful pediatric dentistry practice.


1. Pediatric dentists require additional qualifications

To open a pediatric dentistry, you’ll need to have specialized qualifications. It requires two to three additional years of training apart from a standard dental curriculum to treat children. Pediatric dentists need to understand how tooth and gum development occurs from infancy through adulthood.

If you are a dental professional, you’ll need to ensure you meet all criteria for pediatric licensure. Anyone you hire also needs to meet suitable qualifications. It can be harder to find children’s dentistry professionals compared to general practitioners. While there are nearly 600,000 doctors treating adults, there are less than 9,000 who specialize in pediatric dentistry.


2. Working with children can pose unique challenges

A pediatric dental office is not a business you open because you’re hoping for high profits. You must have a passion for treating children if you want to be successful long-term.

Young kids don’t have the logical or emotional capacity to understand why they need check-ups and dental procedures. Walking into any doctor’s office can get nerve-wracking, regardless of how friendly and colorful you make the environment. While many adults also get nervous when going to the dentist, kids have an even harder time hiding their fears.

New experiences can lead to dysregulation and meltdowns that the entire office can hear. This can happen multiple times since kids often only need to see a dentist every six months. While that may not seem like much time for an adult, it can be an eternity for a small child. They could forget that dental check-ups are safe.

If they don’t cry and scream, they might get silent and closed off. They might need to sit on a parent’s lap and often won’t respond when asked questions. For scared and shy kids, you’ll be lucky to see their mouths without causing a frightening experience. Pediatric dentists need to be able to perform a check-up quickly and effectively.

Kids who aren’t nervous aren’t always the perfect patients either. Some love to talk, which can make for fun conversations but aren’t very conducive to examining and cleaning their teeth. Whatever the situation, pediatric dentists must be patient with all the little ones who come through their doors.


3. Parents can be difficult, too

It’s a parent’s job to protect their child and coming to a new dentist’s office can be like going into a battleground for some. They want to ensure you are taking the best care of their kids and might ask questions while you’re trying to concentrate.

Nervous kids can lead to nervous parents, but it also works the other way. Often, kids can become more anxious by feeding off their mother or father’s nervous energy. When a child expresses their nervousness and frustration, it can worsen those emotions in the parent. This leads to a stressful time for everyone.

Well-meaning parents understandably ask a lot of questions. That’s not a bad thing but the timing can sometimes be inconvenient. If you’re trying to concentrate on cleaning or repairing their squirming child’s mouth, it can get distracting.

Over time, experienced pediatric dentists learn to answer questions while performing delicate procedures — but it takes time and patience to get there.


4. You’ll need plenty of distractions

Kids have a short attention span, particularly if they’re not into what’s happening. Not all kids get nervous, but most get bored at dental visits. Sitting in a chair while a stranger works in their mouth isn’t an exhilarating experience. To keep visits on track, pediatric dental offices need to offer distractions.

Offering toys, books, and games in your waiting area can keep kids entertained before their visit, keeping them in a good mood when they enter the exam room. You can hang screens from the ceiling, so kids can watch movies and TV shows in the correct position for exams, cleanings, and fillings. The headphones they wear can also drown out otherwise scary machine noises.

A great distraction for all ages is the goody bag patients receive at the end of their visit. While adults are often happy with a new toothbrush and floss, it can take more to excite your young patients. Consider keeping a supply of stickers, pencils, fidget toys, or stuffed animals you can offer them at the end. Getting these treats can make going to the dentist an exciting experience.


5. Marketing for pediatric dental offices is esssential

To have a successful pediatric dentistry, you need to market your office well. For adult offices, it’s easy to say, “We have qualified professionals offering top-tier dental services at a reasonable price.” That doesn’t interest kids. You want kids to want to come to your office. As previously mentioned, getting kids to the dentist is often stressful with parents. If you can market so kids want to go, their parents will be more inclined to take them to your office.

When you open, you’ll need to advertise. Contact local news stations for your grand opening where you can show off a fun, welcoming environment. Consider having a mascot for the office that kids can remember. Incorporate characters kids love, like superheroes, princesses, and animal friends on the walls and in your commercials. Many studios will let you license popular character images for a fee, but the return can be worth it.

People consume media differently. You’ll need to run print, video, and digital advertisements to reach the most people. Promotions like free first dental check-ups can get newcomers through your door. Providing a good experience can get them coming back for more.


Starting a pediatric dental practice

There are several great reasons to start a pediatric dental office. Make sure you know what you’re getting into ahead of time and you’ll be ready to create a welcoming environment for kids of all ages.


Beth Rush is the career and finance editor at Body+Mind. She has 5+ years of experience writing about time management strategies and the power of human design to reveal entrepreneurial potential. She also writes about using the emotion of awe to activate our leadership prowess.


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