The Difference Between Pediatric Dentists And General Dentists

There are meaningful differences between pediatric dentists and regular dentists. Dentists, in general, are best defined as doctors of human oral health. Most people visit with regular dentists, also known as general dentists. Pediatric dentists treat the mouths of young patients while general dentists typically treat young adults and older patients. Let's take a closer look at what distinguishes regular dentists from pediatric dentists.


In order to work as a general dentist, one must complete a minimum of three years of undergraduate college and four years of dental school. Those who plan on becoming a pediatric dentist require additional training as these professionals are basically dentistry's pediatricians. Pediatric dentists require an additional two or three years of specialized training after dental school. Pediatric dentists in the United States must finish at least two years of full-time residency training in each phase of pediatric dental surgery and medicine. This treatment encompasses care for regular children as well as those who have challenging medical problems.

Pediatric dentists are also trained to treat children under sedation, children with head/facial trauma and patients with development/growth challenges related to the mouth. Plenty of pediatric dentists are required to complete training in hospital environments, treating young patients with severe oral health challenges. This experience is important as it prepares pediatric dentists to treat highly sensitive youngsters who might be visiting the dentist for the first time or have a crippling fear of dental treatment.


Pediatric dentists1 limit the scope of their treatment to children. General dentist treat teens, young adults, working-age adults, and senior citizens. If you have an infant or child, do not schedule him or her for an appointment with a general dentist. Infants and kids should be treated by a pediatric dentist all the way through adolescence. The same is true for patients with special health needs.

Pediatric dentists are charged with managing young patients' essential invasive and preventative dental treatment in a manner that causes the least possible trauma. Select the right pediatric dentist and you will undoubtedly be pleased with how this professional interacts with your child. The top pediatric dentists are well aware of the fact that these young patients are highly sensitive and need to be treated in a delicate manner.


Elite pediatric dentists are master communicators. It takes a different type of person to successfully interact with a rambunctious and nervous youngster who wants to be just about anywhere but the dentist's office. Though general dentists certainly do a fair amount of patient education, these professionals interact with comparably mature patients. Pediatric dentists must be able to teach their young patients the basics of dental care and the importance of establishing a tooth care regimen. The overarching aim of pediatric dentists is to educate their patients to prevent oral disease, cavities and additional oral health problems down the line.

Can a General Dentist Treat Kids?

In short, yes. However, parents should be aware of the fact that pediatric dentists almost always provide superior treatment for the little ones compared to general dentists. Certain general dentists are willing to treat children yet these dentists have not specialized in treating youngsters as pediatric dentists have. When in doubt, err on the side of caution by bringing your child to a pediatric dentist specifically trained to treat the teeth and gums of young patients.


Walk into a pediatric dentist's office then make your way to a general dentist's office and you will almost certainly notice a substantial aesthetic difference between the two. The difference between these offices is attributed to the fact that each dentist serves a different patient age cohort. A child-friendly space is essential to the success of every pediatric dental practice. These offices typically have warm colors, toys, TVs, wall art, kid-sized furniture and other sources of comfort. The aim is to relax young patients before bringing them to the dental chair. Even the exam equipment used to analyze and treat these young patients is smaller than that used in general dentists' offices.

The best pediatric dentists go as far as altering the exam room aesthetic to appeal to child patients. Anything from a wall mural to bright paint, a TV positioned in the corner of the room or even a small aquarium will put highly sensitive young patients at ease. Though general dentists certainly feature some of these niceties in their offices, these spaces have more of a professional look and feel as the patients are either in their teenage years or older.


People often ask if pediatric dentists are just as busy as general dentists. As time progresses, more and more parents are learning about the importance of bringing their little bundle of joy to a pediatric dentist sooner rather than later. Pediatric dentists really do play an important role in setting the stage for successful dental health across posterity. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry2, patients should bring their child to a pediatric dentist as soon as six months of age. Parents are advised to wait no longer than the child's first birthday to meet with a pediatric dentist as the child's baby teeth emerge during this period. The assistance of a pediatric dentist is important to fully analyze the child's oral health.

From the initial visit on out, it is ideal for children to visit with the pediatric dentist at least once every six months. This frequency is the same as that for most adults who meet with general dentists. Unfortunately, both patient age cohorts sometimes deviate from the 6-month dental visit increments as time progresses. If you have not been to the dentist in the past six months or longer or if you are the parent of a youngster who has not been to the dentist in a while, schedule an appointment at our office.


Are you looking for a pediatric dentist or a general dentist? AnaBella Dentistry is here for patients of all ages. Give us a call at (425) 230-4308 to schedule your appointment.




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