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What is the Difference between a Pediatric Dentist and a Regular Dentist?

Did your child recently get their first tooth and you just started to think about seeing a dentist? There are many factors to consider when deciding on a good dentist for your child. Despite what many Americans believe, taking children to the dentist at a young age is essential to maintaining the health of their baby teeth and establishing good lifelong oral health habits. So how do you pick a good dentist for your child and do you really need a pediatric dentist, or will a regular dentist do? Below is more information on the difference between a pediatric dentist and a regular dentist to help you make the best choice for your child and your family.

Family Dentistry

In a family dental practice, a regular dentist will provide a range of services and treatments to patients of all ages. Usually, they are a graduate from a general dentistry program, where they will have had some coursework and training in pediatric dentistry techniques. Depending on your family dentist, they may regularly see children as patients, or they may not treat children too often. Regular dentists have a mission focused on preventative oral health care and providing services such as regular exams and cleanings to help avoid tooth decay and gum disease to patients of all ages.

Pediatric Dentistry

Just like a regular dentist, all pediatric dentists attend four-year dental schools. However, to become a certified pediatric dentist they also complete two to three years of additional specialized training in pediatric dentistry after graduating from dental school. This additional training includes techniques to care for children and treat their unique dental needs. Pediatric dentists also receive training to treat children with special needs or behavioral issues who may need specialized care. Pediatric dentist offices often have waiting rooms that are geared towards making their young patients comfortable and relaxed with toys, books, or a play area. Additionally, the exam rooms will also be more kid-friendly with bright colors, fun artwork, and smaller tools.

Deciding Between a Pediatric Dentist and a Regular Dentist

There are advantages to both pediatric dentists and regular dentists in a family practice. So how do you choose what is right for your child?

Benefits of a family dentist:

  • Everyone in your family can visit the same dentist.
  • They are in a family dentistry practice because they typically have experience and comfort in treating patients of all ages, including kids.
  • They may provide multiple specialties in one family dentistry practice.

Benefits of a pediatric dentist:

  • They have completed additional training and specialize in treating children.
  • They only treat children and therefore are have gained experience in treating kids.
  • Their dental office will likely be a fun environment where your child is comfortable.
  • They have expertise and knowledge in preventative oral care for kids.

If you have a family dentist you really like and are not sure if you want to have your child visit a pediatric dentist, you can simply schedule a consultation with a pediatric dentist and start with a meet and greet and see how you feel. This may help you decide what is the best fit for your child and your family.

More on Pediatric Dentistry : Pediatric Dentistry FAQ

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