If you are a new parent searching for a dentist for your child’s first appointment, you may be wondering what the difference between a regular dentist and a pediatric dentist is.
A pediatric dentist is a dentist that has completed additional years of schooling to specialize in treating children.
I will explain the difference between a general dentist and a pediatric dentist and go over some reasons why you may want a pediatric dentist for your child.
What is a General Dentist?
A general dentist, sometimes referred to as a family dentist, is a dentist who can treat both children and adults. Aside from completing dental school and their state exam, there is no additional training for a family dentist to treat children.
What is a Pediatric Dentist?
A pediatric dentist is a dentist who treats children specifically. They usually complete a two-year program in addition to dental school, where they learn many advanced diagnostic and surgical methods for children.
Often they will take classes in child psychology and child development as well. A pediatric dentist will learn more about oral or facial trauma and how to care for children with disabilities.
Why Should I Take My Child to a Pediatric Dentist?
Just as a pediatrician knows how to treat children specifically, a pediatric dentist knows how to treat children’s teeth specifically. Some of the things that a pediatric dentist specializes in are:
- The growth and development of a child’s mouth and jaw, along with how certain treatments will affect that development
- Whether or not baby teeth need to be removed to make room for adult teeth
- Possible intervention to prevent future mouth and tooth problems
- Procedures that are specific to baby teeth or to permanent teeth that aren’t quite mature yet, such as a baby root canal
- Natal teeth, an issue in which teeth are present at birth
- Babies or toddlers who are tongue-tied and have difficulties nursing or eating
- Tooth decay in children under age 6, which can lead to serious problems if not treated
Pediatric Dentists Provide a Caring and Friendly Environment
As with doctor’s visits, most children react to the dentist differently than adults. To understand this, a pediatric dentist has been schooled in child psychology.
They learn techniques that can help ease the fear of the dentist and help children understand that the dentist is a warm, caring individual.
Pediatric dentists are schooled on how to make visiting the dentist a positive experience where they can also educate children on proper oral hygiene.
Pediatric dentists are also schooled in dealing with a child with disabilities and children with a range of temperaments. They understand how to use appropriate words and language to communicate.
The Dental Office is Geared to Children
As soon as you walk into a pediatric dentist, you will know that the office is geared to children. You will often find kid-friendly decorations and fun colors, and some offices have video games or a play area.
Many offices have televisions on the ceiling above the exam chair and use stuffed animals to explain procedures to children.
Almost all offices offer a prize at the end of treatment, which gives your child something to look forward to!