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What Makes a Pediatric Dentist Different Than

a Family Dentist That Sees Kids?

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Little Mouths

are a Big Deal.

The differences between a pediatric dentist and family dentist are explained by their education, years of training and type of training related to child development. A general dentist typically completes an undergraduate degree, then goes on to complete four years of dental school to become a dentist, Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). A pediatric dentist has two to three years of specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to only treating children and are providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs. 

To become a pediatric dentist, a general dentist must complete a minimum of 2 years of additional full-time residency training in pediatric dentistry and surgery. Training includes:

  • Treatment of medically compromised and special needs children

  • Management of invasive and preventive oral care of children

  • Management of developmental and growth issues related to the mouth, jaw, face, and head

  • Treatment of children under sedation by dental sedation services and anesthesia

During their training, a pediatric dentist is perfecting his/her skills to

provide dental care in the least traumatic, most child-friendly and

sensitive way possible. Child psychology, childhood development, and

understanding and recognizing conditions which require orthodontic

care are also part of their continuing education.

Benefits of Choosing a Pediatric Dentist

Many parents want their children to be cared for by a doctor who specializes in children’s medical conditions when it comes to their primary care. Likewise, children’s dentistry warrants the same kind of concern. Children have very different dental issues than those of adults. Pediatric dentists are the most highly trained and qualified medical professionals to treat children’s dental issues and maintain their good oral health.

Other benefits of using a pediatric dentist include:

  • Nurturing temperament: Pediatric dentists choose to work with

       children - They enjoy it! Working with children every day allows

       them to understand how to make kids feel comfortable and how

       to explain procedures and oral care in a way that they can understand.

  • Kid-friendly environment: Pediatric dental offices are specially designed

       with children in mind, from the furniture to the flavors of toothpaste

       offered. When children experience a comfortable, pleasant, child-centered

       environment during a dental visit, trust is established and confidence is promoted. 

  • Staff are trained specifically on management techniques geared toward infants, children, and teenagers.

  • Pediatric hospital affiliations: Pediatric dentists are more likely to be affiliated with pediatricians, children’s hospitals, and other specialists who can work as a team in managing your child’s overall health, should the need arise.

  • Specialized pediatric equipment: Smaller equipment is needed for children due to the size of their mouths and the fragile nature of their primary teeth.

  • Exceptional knowledge of childhood dental developmental stages: They have extensive knowledge on how children’s teeth and jaws should develop. They can provide comprehensive treatment on all aspects of childhood dental disease, as well as recognize possible orthodontic concerns. They are highly familiar with the growth and developmental changes associated with adolescent oral care for teenagers.

  • Training for special needs children: Pediatric dentists are trained to treat children who are disabled, chronically ill, or mentally challenged. Some conditions may require specialized dental care which a pediatric dentist is experienced at giving. They can also be helpful in treating adults with mental or physical disabilities due to this experience.

Services Provided by a Pediatric Dentist

Pediatric dentists provide initial oral health exams, recommended to begin when your child’s first tooth appears or by their first birthday, and continuing twice per year into adulthood. Your pediatric dentist will advise you on your child’s dental development and how to care for your child’s teeth. As your child grows, your dentist will help you with teaching your child proper methods of preventive care to encourage a lifetime of good dental health.

Other services provided by a pediatric dentist include:

  • Repairing dental caries (cavities)

  • Counseling for habits that may affect teeth, such as thumb sucking or pacifier use 

  • Diagnosing and treating developmental problems with teeth

  • Assessing improper bite and other orthodontic concerns

  • Diagnosing and managing oral conditions that can present in association with childhood diabetes, asthma, ADHD and other medical issues

  • Providing care for dental trauma in children or injuries, such as knocked out, broken or fractured teeth

  • Providing sports mouth guards to prevent dental injuries

  • Diagnosing and treating pediatric periodontal disease

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