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Pediatric Dentist vs. General Dentist: What's the Difference?

When considering your child's dental care, you may be wondering why it's important to choose a pediatric dentist instead of a general dentist. With experience comes knowledge, and each dentist type offers specific advantages for your child's oral health. If you want more information about the difference between a general and pediatric dentist, carry on reading this article.

What is a General Dentist
A general dentist provides dental treatment for patients of all ages. They are trained to treat, diagnose and manage various conditions affecting the teeth and gums. Because general dentists are not specialists in any type of dental problem, they sometimes work closely with endodontists (root canal specialists), periodontists (gum disease specialists), oral surgeons, and orthodontists to fix other issues affecting oral health.

What Is A Pediatric Dentist
Pediatric dentists are specialists in children’s oral health and are equipped to deal with the psychological aspect of a child's needs when it comes to dental care. According to America’s Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, pediatric dentists complete a residency program that takes about two years to qualify them as pediatric dentists.

Within the program, the dentists are trained in child psychology, child-related pharmacy, radiology, child development, clinical management, management of oral/facial trauma, care for patients with special needs, conscious sedation, and general anesthesia.

Why Take Your Child to a Pediatric Dentist
A pediatric dentist is trained to handle children's dental needs. They perform dental treatments in a child-friendly environment so your kids feel relaxed, which makes all the difference in whether your child likes going to the dentist or not. Here are other reasons why you should take your child to a kids dentist:

Training and Experience
Pediatrics are trained (and experienced) to treat children's dental problems. Many different types of dental conditions (thumb sucking, tooth decay, early tooth loss) can affect children. Some of these conditions might require advanced treatment techniques that only a trained pediatric dentist can provide.

Child-Friendly Equipment
One of the things you'll notice when you visit a kid’s dentist’s office is that it often looks like a kid's playroom. The room is filled with toys, books, and games, so your child is relaxed and entertained while they wait for their appointment. Once your child enters the dental room for treatment, the child is treated with child-friendly equipment, such as a mirror that is suited for the size of the child's mouth.

Help Cultivate Good Oral Hygiene Habits
A pediatric dentist can teach your child how to properly brush their teeth and use dental floss to clean where the food particles tend to accumulate. Thumb sucking is also a common habit among toddlers, so dentists can educate them on and deal with these habits to prevent potential tooth development issues.

When to Take Your Child to a Pediatric Dentist
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents take their children to a pediatric dentist when they first have teeth (around six months of age).

Taking your child to the dentist as soon as they start teething allows for early detection of potential dental issues and allows your child to start building a positive relationship with the dentist. The first visit should include an examination and cleaning, which may involve removing some plaque from the teeth and assessing your child’s oral wellbeing.

When comparing pediatric dentists to general dentists, it’s vital to consider a few things such as your child's age. You should also take into account what you are looking for in a dentist, and what types of dental care you expect them to provide. Both types of dentists have their own set of specialty services so choosing one over the other will depend largely on what each situation calls for to ensure your child receives the best care possible.

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