Differences between a pediatric dentist and family dentist are explained by their education, years of training and type of training related to child development. A pediatric dentist has two to three years of specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.
What Makes a Pediatric Dentist Different Than a Family Dentist That Sees Kids?
The difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist or general dentist who sees kids hinges on education and experience in dealing with and treating the oral healthcare issues of children, from infants to adolescents and teenagers. All dentists are doctors of oral health. A general dentist typically completes an undergraduate degree, then goes on to complete four years of dental school to become a dentist, Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD).
Additional Education and Training for Pediatric Dentists
In order to become a pediatric dentist, a general dentist must then complete a minimum of 2 years of full-time residency training in all manners of pediatric dentistry and surgery.
This 2-year intensive pediatric dental training includes:
- Treatment of medically compromised and special needs children
- Management of developmental and growth issues, as they relate to the mouth, jaw, face, and head
- Treatment of children under anesthesia and sedation by dental sedation services
- Management of preventive and invasive oral care of children
During this time, a pediatric dentist is honing his or her skills to provide dental care in the least traumatic, most child-friendly and sensitive way possible. Child psychology, childhood development, and understanding and recognizing conditions which require orthodontic care are also a part of their continuing education.
Benefits of Choosing a Pediatric Dentist
Pediatric dentists are often called the pediatricians of dentistry. Many parents want their children to be cared for by a doctor who specializes in children and children’s medical conditions when it comes to their primary care. Children’s dentistry warrants the same kind of concern. Children have very different dental issues than adults do. Pediatric dentists are the most highly trained and uniquely qualified medical professionals to treat children’s dental problems and maintain their good oral health.
Other benefits of using a pediatric dentist include:
- Nurturing temperament: Pediatric dentists choose to work with children. They enjoy it! Working with children every day, all day, allows them to keenly understand how to make kids feel comfortable and how to explain procedures and oral care in a way that they can understand.
- Staff are trained specifically on management techniques geared toward infants, children, and teenagers
- Pediatric hospital affiliations: Pediatric dentists are more likely to be affiliated with pediatricians, children’s hospitals, and other specialists who can work as a team in managing your child’s overall health, should the need arise.
- Specialized pediatric equipment: Smaller equipment is needed for children due to the size of their mouths and the fragile nature of their primary teeth.
- Training for special needs children: Pediatric dentists are trained to treat children who are disabled, chronically ill, or mentally challenged. Some conditions require specialized dental care which a pediatric dentist is experienced at giving. Because of this experience, they can also be helpful in treating adults with mental or physical disabilities.
- Exceptional knowledge of childhood dental developmental stages: They have extensive knowledge on how children’s teeth and jaws should develop. They can provide comprehensive, definitive treatment on all aspects of childhood dental disease, as well as recognize orthodontic concerns. They are highly familiar with the rapid growth and developmental changes associated with adolescent oral care, that is dental care for teenagers.
- Kid-friendly environment: Pediatric dental offices are specially designed with children in mind, from the furniture décor to the flavors of toothpaste offered. When children experience a pleasant, comfortable, child-centered environment during a dental visit, trust is established and confidence is promoted. Oftentimes, they even look forward to visiting the dentist!
Services Provided by a Pediatric Dentist
Pediatric dentists provide initial oral health exams, typically recommended to begin as soon as a child’s first tooth appears or by his or her first birthday, and continuing every 6 months into adulthood. Your pediatric dentist will advise you on your child’s dental development and how to care for your child’s teeth. As your child grows, your dentist will help you with teaching your child proper methods of preventive care to encourage a lifetime of good dental health.
Other services provided by a pediatric dentist include:
- Repairing dental caries (cavities)
- Counseling for habits that may affect teeth, such as pacifier use or thumb sucking
- Diagnosing and treating developmental problems with teeth
- Assessing improper bite and other orthodontic concerns
- Providing sports mouth guards to prevent dental injuries
- Diagnosing and treating pediatric periodontal disease
- Diagnosing and managing oral conditions that can present in association with childhood diabetes, ADHD, asthma, and other medical issues
- Providing care for dental trauma in children or injuries, such as broken, knocked out, or fractured teeth
While general dentists do offer many similar services, a pediatric dentist is specially trained to diagnose, treat, and manage these conditions particular to children.
Dr. Paul Rubin has also achieved pediatric specialty board certification by the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and has worked extensively in children’s hospital dentistry at Children’s Medical Center and Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. He often works closely with other pediatric specialists to provide high-quality child-focused dental care for his patients.
If you are ready to choose a team of pediatric dental specialists that offer state-of-the-art treatment and highly personalized care, contact Frisco Kid’s Dentistry by Online Appointment Request or call 214 618 5200. For orthodontic care, Dr. Rubin will refer you to a highly qualified orthodontist specialist.