Does Your Child Really Need to See a Pediatric Dentist? Maybe, Here’s Why:

Little boy learning about healthy dental habits and brushing the teeth of dental model while sitting in the dentist chair at a pediatric dentist office.

Parents know how it feels eating at a fancy restaurant not set up for kids. The carpet is too nice. The mood is too quiet. And, sides are ordered separately. But, kid-friendly diners are great. The helpful servers rush to bring crayons and cups with lids. They laugh when toddlers throw the menu on the ground and fries come with everything.

Put simply, families are more relaxed and have more fun at kid-friendly restaurants. The same is often true at health care practices that focus on caring for children. Should your child see a pediatric dentist? That depends on your family’s needs. Let’s take a look at how a pediatric dentist differs from a regular family dentist. 

What is a Pediatric Dentist?

All dentists complete a bachelor’s degree and attend four years of dental school. An additional two years of training treating infants, children, teens and children with special needs is required to become a pediatric dentist.

Pediatric dentists (also called pedodontists) specialize in caring for children’s teeth and gums throughout the many different stages of childhood. This care includes:

  • Exams
  • Preventive care (cleanings and fluoride treatments)
  • Treatment for cavities and gum disease
  • Care for dental injuries (like a knocked-out tooth)
  • Recommendations on diet and nutrition
  • Advice for creating healthy habits (brushing tips or what to do about thumb sucking)
  • Alerting parents to signs of dental issues that may be related to other conditions (such as diabetes, asthma, etc.)

Pediatric dentists spend extra time with young mouths and know how to keep children relaxed. They know that small children are not always patient, and they know how to examine and talk with kids in a safe and comforting way. Pediatric dentist offices are created for children and often include:

  • Fun office themes like dinosaurs, trains, or rock and roll
  • Kid-friendly staff that enjoy working with younger patients
  • Smaller dental tools for tiny mouths
  • A comforting environment to treat special needs children with different care requirements

What is a Family Dentist?

A family dentist or general dentist completes dental school but does not specialize in a certain type of dentistry. A general dentist provides a wide range of services to people of all ages, including kids. These services can include:

  • Preventive care (exams, cleanings and X-rays)
  • Restorative care such as fillings, crowns or denture fittings
  • Teeth whitening
  • Talking with patients about health concerns (like diabetes, sleep apnea and good nutrition)

Should Your Child Visit a Pediatric Dentist?

While there are benefits to visiting a pediatric dentist, there is no right answer to this question. Every family has different needs. It might make sense for everyone in your family to visit the same dentist, especially if there are multiple specialties in the same office. Or you might have older children or teens who are comfortable with a family dentist and don’t need the same approach as a young child. But, if you have little ones or children with special needs, the kid-friendly atmosphere might be just what the doctor ordered.

Where Can You Find a Pediatric Dentist?

The best way to find a good pediatric dentist is to ask for recommendations from other parents, your general dentist or your pediatrician. You can also use our provider search tool to find a pediatric dentist in the Delta Dental network.

Whether you choose a family dentist or a pediatric dentist, it’s important to you’re your children to the dentist early and often. Learn why by watching the video:

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