Proper dental care is extremely important for a child’s overall health and well-being. Choosing a dentist with experience working with children can help minimize the child’s anxiety and promote a better overall outcome. Both pediatric and family dentists can work with children, but there are some clear advantages to choosing a pediatric dentist for your child’s dental care.
What is the Difference Between a Pediatric Dentist & a Family Dentist?
The main difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist (also called a general dentist) is specialized training. While both types of dentist must complete a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) after their undergraduate degree, only pediatric dentists must then complete an additional 2+ years of child-specific training during their residency. These years of specialty training give pediatric dentists a distinct advantage when working with children, focusing on the unique dental health needs of children from infancy through late adolescence. Family dentists have a great general dentistry foundation and can do routine preventative care and minor restorative procedures for children, but anything beyond these will require the expertise of a trained pediatric dentist.
Reasons to Choose a Pediatric Dentist
Pediatric Dentists Have Years of Specialized Child-Specific Training
As mentioned above, pediatric dentists undergo an additional two or more years of training after dental school, focusing exclusively on dental care for children and teens. During this training the dentist will explore much more than just dental techniques for children. Curriculums commonly include coursework on child psychology, child anatomy, growth and development milestones, and extensive study into child-specific oral and dental conditions.
Pediatric Dentists Design Their Offices With Children in Mind
Fear and anxiety are common in children visiting the dentist, especially if it’s their first visit, they don’t visit often, or they’ve had a previous negative experience. Pediatric dentists tailor their entire offices to help ease this fear and anxiety. From colorful child-sized furniture to activity centers with lots of games and toys to TVs on child-friendly channels, pediatric dentist offices are full of things to distract children and make them forget they were ever scared in the first place.
Pediatric Dentists Focus on Child-Specific Dental Issues
Children have different dental issues and needs than adults, and pediatric dentists have extensive knowledge of these child-specific dental concerns. Issues like pacifiers, bottle use, thumb-sucking, permanent tooth eruptions, and fluoride use are all specific to children and adolescents, and a pediatric dentist will be the best source of advice and guidance on these topics. Additionally, children and teens need even more focus on learning proper dental hygiene techniques and education about the consequences of poor dental hygiene than adults, which is why pediatric dentists spend many hours learning the most effective ways to relay these topics to younger minds.
Making the Right Choice for Your Child
Pediatric dentists are great for any child up to 18 years old, and some patients even choose to stay with their pediatric dentist through their college years. Pediatric dentists have the education, training, and experience to care for your child’s dental needs with knowledge and specialization you just can’t get at a family dentist office. However, if the convenience of having all your family members go to the same dental office for basic care is a priority for you, using a family dentist may be a good choice. It all depends on your child’s needs and your family preferences.
Frequently Asked Questions about Pediatric Dentists
What happens if my child knocks out a baby tooth from an injury or accident?
If the baby tooth was already loose and fell out without any pain or bleeding, then there’s no need to worry. Just mention it at your child’s next dental visit. However, if the baby tooth wasn’t already loose, or your child has a lot of pain or bleeding where the tooth is missing, it’s important to be seen by your pediatric dentist as soon as possible.
How can I strengthen my child’s teeth?
There are several ways you can help strengthen your child’s teeth at home:
- Brush and floss twice daily and after meals
- Use a toothpaste with fluoride (for children 2 years old and up)
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks
- Take a multivitamin with calcium
- Visit the dentist regularly for exams, cleanings, and fluoride treatments
Long Island’s Premier Pediatric Dental Offices
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