Many people grow up seeing a family dentist for dental care and when they have children themselves, they wonder if a pediatric dentist is necessary. Is it really better to have your children seen by a pediatric dentist? Isn’t it less of a hassle to bring the entire family to the same dental practice? What’s the difference between family dentist and pediatric dentistry? Here’s what you should consider.
What Is a Family Dentist?
You might think that a family dentist and a general dentist is the same thing, but many general dentists only treat adults—a family dentist also treats children, although they might not necessarily treat children of all ages. Some only see children over the age of 5.
Just like a general dentist, a family dentist usually focuses on preventive and restorative dental care, including routine dental exams, filling cavities, and fluoride treatments. When a patient needs orthodontic treatment or oral surgery, family dentists refer them out to a specialist.
What Is a Pediatric Dentist?
A pediatric dentist is a dental specialist, which means that after they graduate from dental school, they receive two to three additional years of education on their area of focus—in this case, the unique dental needs of children, with an extra emphasis on preventive care. A pediatric dentist’s training extends beyond caring for children’s teeth, though, and also includes how to make kids feel comfortable when visiting the dentist and treating patients with special needs. It’s our job to give children the tools they need for a lifetime of strong teeth and healthy smiles.
A pediatric dental practice is a special place designed just for kids. A family dental practice might have a corner of the waiting area set aside for younger patients, but a pediatric dental practice is completely dedicated to young patients, with play areas, colorful art on the walls, and inviting, engaging surroundings. Pediatric practices have smaller dental tools made specifically for children and our entire team is trained in how to talk to kids about dental procedures and help them feel at ease.
Making the Right Decision for Your Family
We recommend choosing a pediatric dentist for your children for the same reason most parents bring their children to a pediatrician instead of a family doctor—a specialist has more knowledge and experience. Kids feel more welcome at a pediatric dental practice and may even get excited about their visits. (Yes, believe it or not, when you choose a pediatric dentist, your child might look forward to getting dental care!)
That said, you may have other reasons for choosing a family dentist instead, and that’s okay too. If your child ever needs specialized care that your family dentist doesn’t offer, we still welcome you to our practice and we will work with your child’s regular dentist to provide the treatment they need.