Pediatric Dentist vs. Family Dentist: Which is Right for Your Child?

As a parent, you want the best care for your children’s health. Choosing the right health professional is an important part of providing that care.

You may not realize it, but you have two choices when it comes to choosing a dental professional for your child: a family dentist and a pediatric dentist. While the two types of dentists seem similar at first glance, there are significant differences between the two.

Here is some information that can help you understand the differences between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist, and make an informed choice about which may be better for the dental health of your child.

Family Dentist

A person’s dental needs change throughout life, so a child’s dental needs are quite different from those of a senior citizen. A family dentist addresses oral health issues for patients at every stage in their lives. This means a family dentist focuses on oral hygiene and health of teeth for patients of all ages, from childhood to adulthood.

Family dentists provide a number of services for patients, including:

  • Regular cleanings
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Cavity identification and filling
  • Orthodontics
  • Treatments for gum disease

These are important services for people at every age and most family dentists do a good job of caring for your entire family.

Pediatric Dentist

Children are not simply small adults – kids have special needs when it comes to dentistry. They may not always be able to cooperate during a dental exam, for exam, or sit quietly for other treatments. Pediatric dentists know how to examine and treat children in ways that makes the dentistry experience more comfortable for kids.

Pediatric dentists have special qualifications and experience in the care of a child’s teeth, gums, and mouth throughout the various stages of childhood. These dental professionals specialize in providing care to children from infancy through the child’s teen years.

If your child is like most kids, baby teeth began appearing during the first six months of your little one’s life. By the age of 6 or 7 years, your child will lose his or her first set of teeth. Permanent teeth, also known as secondary teeth, eventually appear in their place.

Even though baby teeth are temporary, they still require proper dental care. Tooth decay can affect permanent teeth and baby teeth, and this decay can cause a lifetime of pain and complications.

Young children are at special risk for a condition known as early childhood caries, which is an infectious and painful condition. Children with this condition suffer from decayed teeth, missing teeth, or have had fillings in one or more primary teeth. The condition affects kids from birth until the age of 71 months, or nearly 6 years old. America’s Pediatric Dentists says that early childhood caries is the most common disease in young children, and that the number of children with this form of rapid tooth decay is on the rise.

Pediatric dentists undergo special training to detect, diagnose and treat early childhood caries. In fact, pediatric dentists have completed at least four years of dental school then two more years of residency training in dentistry for infants, children, and teens. Pediatric dentists also work with children with special needs.

Pediatric dentists also look for and treat other dental problems that affect children more often, or differently, than adults. A pediatric dentist may have special insight into dental problems relating to thumb sucking, for example.

Pediatric Dentists Provide Different Services than does a Family Dentist

Pediatric dentists provide treatments not always available through family dentists. These treatments may include:

  • Regular Check-Ups
  • Teeth Cleanings
  • Sealants
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Crowns
  • Tooth-Colored Fillings
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Space Maintenance
  • General Anesthesia
  • I.V. Sedation
  • Emergency Dental Care
  • Thumb, Finger and Pacifier Habits
  • Lip Tie and Tongue Tie Laser Revision
  • Orthodontics

Your pediatrician may have even recommended that your child see a pediatric dentist. You can find pediatric dentists practice in a variety of locations, including private practices.

Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida offers a number of treatment options for your child’s dental care. Our pediatric dentists have the training, experience and expertise to care for your child’s teeth, gums, and mouth. When your pediatrician suggests that your child receive a dental exam, make an appointment with a pediatric dentist rather than a family dentist to ensure the best possible care.