General Dentist vs. Pediatric Dentist
Have you been questions whether you should bring your child to your dentist or to a pediatric dentist? As a pediatric dental hygienist, I am often asked the difference in a general dentist vs. pediatric dentist.
Dentists are oral health doctors who specialize in dentistry, the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of oral diseases. There are many different types of dentist.
There are general dentists and there are dentists that specialize in specific types of dentistry. Every dentist must have a bachelors degree plus 4 years of dental school. From there, a dentist can go on to specialize in a particular area of dentistry.
A dentist that specializes in dentistry specifically for children is known as a pediatric dentist. In this article we will discuss a general dentist vs. a pediatric dentist and which one your child should be seeing.
Should your child be going to your family dentist or to a pediatric dentist?
As an adult, you should be seeing a general dentist. But once you have a child, should they be going to that same dentist? It may seem that you want your child to continue in the same dental setting you are used to going to but children may do better in a different environment. First lets discuss the differences between a regular dentist and a pediatric dentist.
Types of Dentists:
There are several types of the dentist but in this article – we are focusing on two types. A pediatric dentist vs. general dentist. We will go over the differences between them.
The difference between a pediatric dentist and general dentist are:
A pediatric dentist is a dentist who has specialized training with children for more than 2 extra years beyond their general dentistry education. They specifically work with children and infants.
Pediatric dentists are the dentists who specialize in infants and children’s oral health care. They also provide care for people or children who have special needs and might need special care.
A general dentist is a dentist who has completed a degree in dentistry. They can provide a wide range of services and can treat any age patient. With that being said, since these dentists aren’t specialized in training specifically with children like a pediatric dentist, they often restrict the age they will treat. Oftentimes you will find that a general dentist will not treat a small child and will refer those cases to a pediatric dentist.
General Dentist vs. Pediatric Dentist
You may be wondering which type of dentist would be best for your child. It may be more convenient to have your child seen at your dentist, but oftentimes a pediatric dental setting is best for a child.
As a pediatric dental hygienist I personally believe that children should be seen by a pediatric dentist. In my humble opinion, pediatric offices are much better equipped to make your child’s dental experience a more pleasant one. And everyone wants their child to have a pleasant experience, right?
There are many benefits of using a pediatric dentist over a general dentist for your child. In this article, you will also get to know when is the best time to visit a pediatric dentist for your child.
With all of this being said, I myself never used a pediatric dentist. I always went to the same dentist my parents did and everything went fine. However, being in the pediatric dental field now, I see what a great benefit a pediatric office is for children.
Benefits of Pediatric Dentist:
So why should your child go to a pediatric dentist over a regular dentist? In this article we will discuss the benefits of a pediatric dentist.
The first benefit of a pediatric dentist is the specialty. Pediatric dentist specialize specifically in dealing with children. They have more experience and also have learned to tailor to children’s needs. They have more experience with children than a general dentist because that is their sole focus.
- Smaller tools
Their equipment and tools are better suited for smaller children thus making your child’s dental visit more comfortable. These offices typically have smaller x-ray equipment set ups as well.
- Fun environment
Children typically feel more comfortable whenever they visit the pediatric dentist because of the fun environment. The environment of a pediatric dental office is specially designed for children and infants. There are usually brightly themed colors and even a play area to make your child comfortable. Often the first impression of walking into an office geared toward children can make the rest of the visit go much more smoothly.
- Calms fears with kid appropriate dental terms
The pediatric dentist helps your children to see the bigger picture of oral health care and they promote lifelong good dental habits. The dental hygienists working in these practices often have spunky, cheerful personalities ease children’s fears. They are often trained to specialize in calming the fears of nervous children and make them feel comfortable.
Children may look for a role model and in this matter – a pediatric dentist is a perfect choice. They may help to improve the child’s oral health through their visits and they specialize in working with your child to help them maintain a good oral health routine. They are great at explaining things to children and using special words to help children understand.
- Specially trained in children’s oral development
Pediatric dentist can follow your child throughout their maturing and predict the dental and jaw development for long-term planning. Pediatric dentist work closely with orthodontist to judge if and when your child will need braces.
When to make an appointment
Now, we have discussed the benefits and differences of a pediatric dentist vs. a general dentist. It is now time to discuss when to go to a pediatric dentist for your child.
You should bring your child to the dentist within 6 months of the eruption of their first baby tooth. If they have not had a tooth erupt by age one go ahead and make a dental appointment for them. Discussing good oral habits and checking over teeth and development at an early stage is important.
When Does Your Child Stop Going to a Pediatric Office?
So now that we discussed why to bring your kid to a pediatric office and when to do it.
The next question is, when does your child stop going to a pediatric office?
You will often find that your child gets very comfortable with their office and wants to stay forever. But unfortunately, these specialized offices have to make room for new children to come. The age limit will depend on the dentist preferernce but most pediatric offices will see their patients until age 18 or they graduate high school.
There are times when some patients are referred out at an earlier age. This is mostly due to the child needing dental work that would be better suited at a general dentist office.
There you have it, a pediatric dentist vs. a family dentist. If you are still unsure of whether you want your child to see a general dentist or a pediatric dentist, you can schedule a tour visit at both to have your child take a tour of the office beforehand. You will probably see that your child will automatically go for the fun, child like environment of a pediatric office.
For more oral care tips be sure to check out more articles from Toothbrush Life.
Kelly Hancock, RDH
Kelly is a registered dental hygienist and oral health care provider. She is passionate about oral hygiene and encourages people to achieve optimal oral health. She has been working in the dental profession for 16 years and worked in many different roles in the dental industry. Kelly is currently a pediatric dental hygienist specializing in children’s dentistry. She is committed to helping others with their oral health care issues and helping others achieve a smile they love.