What’s Different About Pediatric Dental Specialists?
Getting your child specialized dental care.
Early impressions of the dentist can impact your child’s view of dental appointments and oral health for their entire life, so it’s important to take the time to choose the right dentist for your child—one who has the expertise to treat them as well as the compassion and friendliness to keep your child calm and help them have fun during their appointment. As you’re beginning your search for a dentist, however, you might find yourself wondering, “What’s the difference between a family dentist and a pediatric dentist? Which one is better for my child?” There’s actually quite a big difference between the two types of dentists, especially regarding their level of training and expertise. To help you determine which option is best for your family, we’ll discuss what sets pediatric dental specialists apart as well as the unique level of care they can offer your child.
Pediatric dentists receive extra training.
All dentists, from general dentists to specialists, receive a bachelor’s degree and then attend four years of dental school to complete a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM). Pediatric dentists, however, are specialists, so they go through two or three years of education after dental school that general and family dentists don’t go through. This education provides pediatric dentists with specialized knowledge on everything from how to diagnose and treat oral health issues in children to how to keep your little one calm throughout their appointment.
Additionally, a board-certified pediatric dentist must put in extra effort to be certified, including gaining additional experience with pediatric patients, and stand before a testing panel to take written and oral tests. To stay certified, pediatric dentists must meet continuing education requirements to qualify for the yearly renewal of their certification. As a result, you can be sure that a pediatric dentist has specialized, up-to-date knowledge that will help them give your child the best possible dental care.
Pediatric dental specialists use tools and techniques designed specifically for kids.
Pediatric dentists tailor every aspect of their practice to treating children, so they use smaller tools and specific techniques designed for them. Baby teeth are very different than adult teeth, with a much thinner layer of protective enamel, so cavities often form and spread much faster. Pediatric dentists know the best ways to prevent and treat these issues, from simply filling cavities to applying sealants or fluoride treatments, and what will have the best long-term outcome for your child’s oral health.
They know what issues to keep an eye on.
While family dentists treat kids and are often quite comfortable doing so, pediatric dentists only treat kids—all day, every day. This level of daily experience works with their extensive, specialized education to ensure that pediatric dentists are better able to gauge the seriousness of a potential oral health issue. Children’s mouths and teeth change a lot throughout their childhood, so there are numerous details that dentists need to pay attention to—from the way your baby’s teeth are erupting to whether or not your teen will need their wisdom teeth removed.
Family dentists have a more generalized knowledge base, so they may not be as familiar with each of these issues; but pediatric dentists’ education and personal experiences ensure that they know these issues inside and out. They have more experience judging when a potential issue needs to be treated right away and when it’s best to simply wait and see. This means that pediatric dentists aren’t going to put your child through unnecessary, often stressful dental treatments for minor issues that may resolve on their own, but they’ll also know which issues require prompt, early treatment, even if they don’t seem major now.
They’re experts at handling children.
Working with children all day, every day also means that pediatric dentists and their staff are experts at handling kids of all ages, developmental stages, backgrounds, and personalities. They have a wide range of strategies for treating each kid and have a lot of experience soothing nervous or overwhelmed children. Pediatric dentists and their staff pull out all the stops to make sure your child feels comfortable and relaxed during their appointment—and they work hard to ensure your child has fun, too! They want to see your child leaving with a huge, healthy smile on their face!
Since pediatric dentists love kids and are passionate about working with them, they’re much more equipped to handle your little one’s nerves—even potential melt-downs—with expertise and patience. While staff at a family dentist’s office might have no idea how to handle a situation where a child becomes distressed or may even make it worse by accident, a pediatric dentist and their staff have the training and real-life experience to it handle it calmly and effectively, soothing your child and helping to turn the appointment around so that they still leave with a smile on their face.
Pediatric dental specialists make sure their offices are designed around kids.
While family dentists might have a little corner in the waiting room with a few toys to entertain your kids while you wait for their appointment to start, pediatric dental offices are designed around kids. The waiting areas are comfortable, colorful, and welcoming, helping kids feel relaxed, and they tend to be full of fun activities and games to entertain them while you wait. These areas serve as a great distraction for kids who might otherwise be nervous about their appointment, and prevent your child from being bored, all of which makes the appointment more enjoyable for both of you.
They have the answers to all of your questions.
The wealth of education and experience under pediatric dentists’ belts means that they’re perfectly equipped to answer all of your pediatric dentistry questions. Whether you have questions about teething, when you should wean your child off their pacifier, how to encourage your child to invest in their oral hygiene routine, or even questions for slightly older kids about braces or wisdom teeth, your pediatric dentist will have the answers! They can even give you advice on your child’s diet and how nutrition affects their oral health. Pediatric dentists deal with these issues on a daily basis, so they can provide you with plenty of advice on basically any question you can think of—which can be a vital part of helping you maintain your child’s oral health at home, between appointments.
While family dentists are convenient because you can schedule everyone’s dental appointment on the same day, pediatric dentists are specialists who have undergone additional training and testing that equips them to give your children the best care possible. You’ll receive added support from your pediatric dentist’s extensive knowledge. Your child will leave each appointment healthy and happy, establishing a level of comfort at the dentist that will benefit your child for their entire life—and that makes it all worth it!
When you’re ready to book a consultation for your child, feel free to get in touch with us—we’ll be ready to answer all your questions, and start your child on a lifetime of healthy smiles.