What’s the Difference Between a Pediatric and Family Dentist?

team member working with young patient in chair

If you thought all dentists were the same, you’d be right. To a degree. While family or general dentists pretty much do the same thing when it comes to looking after your teeth, there are those who have chosen to specialize in a particular field of dentistry. For example, there are orthodontic specialists, periodontists, as well as endodontists. And the pediatric dentist.

What is the difference?

So what’s the difference between a pediatric dentist and your family dentist, you ask? A family dentist takes care of children’s as well as adults’ teeth, whereas a pediatric dentist focuses on oral health care for children exclusively.

As far as education and experience go, a pediatric dentist, like a family dentist, will have completed a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM) degree.

But a dentist wanting to specialize in children’s dentistry is required to study another two to three years. Also, organizations like the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry offer additional courses for dentists specializing in oral health care for children.

The Role of a Pediatric Dentist

The role of a pediatric dentist is similar to that of a family dentist, but there are a few noticeable differences between the two. Pediatric dentists need to know and understand the specific dental needs of children as young as eight months old and must be able to interact confidently with toddlers, tweens, teens and all ages in between.

They should also know how to make young children feel comfortable in what is often a very stressful situation.

A dentist that specializes in oral care for children will need to provide:

  • Preventative care such as sealants and fluoride treatments.
  • Dietary and nutritional advice.
  • Counseling for any habits that can affect the development of a child’s teeth, including the use of pacifiers and thumb sucking.
  • Restorative care for cavities.
  • The correct advice and care for any orthodontic issues, such as skew or misaligned teeth or improper bites including overbites and underbites.
  • Early diagnosis of any issues related to oral health such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and even attention deficit disorder.
  • Effective management of gum or periodontal disease.
  • Emergency treatment in the case of any dental injuries.

If you’re looking for a team of pediatric dentists that provide exceptional service in a safe and caring environment, then you need to book an appointment at Pediatric Dental Specialists. With offices in Hastings, Omaha, North Platte, and Grand Island, the pediatric dentists and coordinators are as passionate about dental care as they are about children, and it shows.

They offer a wide range of services from preventative care to cosmetic procedures as well as baby wellness, and they are qualified and equipped to treat children with special needs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Your Children’s Teeth

The Pediatric Dental Specialists team knows that visiting the dentist, especially for the first time, can be very traumatic for children and their parents. To make this less stressful for everyone involved, and to better understand the role of a pediatric dentist, we’ve included a few of the questions we get asked regularly.

What can we expect during our first visit?

At Pediatric Dental Specialists we want to make your child’s first appointment as stress-free as possible. We ask first-time patients to arrive approximately 20 minutes early so you can fill in the necessary paperwork, and we also give your little one a tour around the office, including the toy station and play area.

We also let them pop in and see one of our other young patients getting their teeth cleaned. This is a great way to get them comfortable and give them a better understanding of what they can expect.

My child has special needs. Can Pediatric Dental Specialists help?

Absolutely! The team at Pediatric Dental Specialists is trained to treat children with all sorts of special needs. In fact, the practices in Hastings, North Platte, Omaha, and Grand Island are some of the few places that specialize in treating children with special care needs.

Whatever your child’s needs, whether it’s physical or mental developmental issues or sensory, cognitive, emotional or behavioral impairments, our team of pediatric dentists will take care of your child’s needs every step of the way.

At what age should my child have their first dental check-up?

We recommend you make an appointment for your child as soon as their first tooth appears. Any kind of treatment at this age, generally speaking, will be preventative and will help your little one establish good oral hygiene habits early on.

How often should my child visit a pediatric dentist?

Just like mom and dad should be seeing their dentist every six months, the same goes for your child. This way we’re able to keep an eye on how their teeth are growing and address any potential problems.

I don’t remember having sealants as a child. Are they important?

One of the wonders of modern-day dentistry is preventative care. This allows pediatric dentists to keep your children’s teeth as healthy as possible, reducing the need for restorative treatment down the track. Sealants cover (or seal) the pits and gaps in teeth that are harder to reach when brushing. They are a simple and effective way to avoid your little one getting cavities and are recommended.

Whatever your child’s dental needs, we suggest you call Pediatric Dental Specialists or request an appointment online.


Read More