Do your children see a pediatric dentist? Some dental offices specialize in pediatric dental services, some are family dental practices that treat patients of all ages, and others treat only adults. Pediatric dental offices specialize in children’s dental needs and will have child-sized equipment to accommodate them. The decor is typically child-centered and the staff are trained to work with children.
As you know, children grow quickly. If your child has been seeing a pediatric dentist and is getting older now, you may be wondering at what age they should transition to a general dentist. There is not an official age that applies to all children and all dental practices. The short answer to what age your child should stop seeing a pediatric dentist is when it is appropriate for them. Here’s what you should take into consideration when making your decision.
Discuss the Subject with your Child
Start by broaching the subject with your child. Ask them if they are still happy going to a children’s dentist or if they are ready to start going to a dentist that treats adults. They might be starting to feel like they are too old for the pediatric dentist and the aspects of it that are geared toward younger children. On the other hand, they may express nervous feelings about switching dentists, in which case there may be no reason to change right now.
Consider the Number of Primary and Permanent Teeth
If your child has lost most of their baby (primary) teeth and the majority of the permanent teeth have come in, it may be time to transition to a general dentist. There is not necessarily a need to switch to a general dentist just because the permanent teeth have all come in, nor is there a need to stay with a pediatric dentist simply because your child still has baby teeth. This is not a definitive factor, it’s just one of many potential determining factors.
Ask the Current and Potential Future Dentist What Ages They Treat
You can start by asking your pediatric dentist if there is a certain age that they recommend switching or if they stop seeing patients when they reach a certain age. Some may have a specific cutoff age, and others not. Some see patients until they are teenagers, others until they are 18, and others into early adulthood.
If you are thinking of transitioning your child to a certain general dentist, whether it is the one you yourself see or another dental office, it is important to ask what ages of patients they will accept. Some dentists won’t treat children until they are a certain age or won’t treat children at all. Check into it first before attempting to make the switch.
Special Needs Patients
Many pediatric dentists continue to treat special needs patients well into adulthood. Patients who are autistic, mentally delayed, physically disabled, have extreme anxiety, or many other conditions may benefit greatly from the familiarity of their pediatric dentist. Making any sort of change can be catastrophic to some patients, and if coming into the same dental office and seeing the same faces can help ease a patient’s mind, many dentists are glad to continue to treat adult patients.
Dental Insurance and In-Network Providers
Another consideration is your dental insurance and what local in-network providers are available. Insurance should cover services from both pediatric dentists and general dentists, but you can save money by going to a dentist that is in-network with your insurance provider. So if there is not a pediatric dentist in your area that is in-network, you may be able to save money by switching to a general dentist.
What’s Best For Your Child?
If you’re wondering when to make the transition from a pediatric dentist to a general or adult dentist, the answer is whenever it is best for your child. Use the above suggestions to help you determine when or if your child is ready.
ABQ Pediatric Dentistry Has Your Child’s Best Interest at Heart
At ABQ Pediatric Dentistry, we believe that your child should see a pediatric dentist as long as they feel comfortable doing so. We don’t withdraw care at any specific age or send a patient away due to age. If you have any questions regarding your child’s dental care, we would be glad to discuss it with you.