The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children have their first dental checkup by age one. When it’s time to find a dentist for your child, you may wonder what the difference is between a family dentist and a pediatric dentist. Is it better to see a pediatric specialist? Or would it be easier to have the whole family go to the same dental practice? Here’s what to consider when making this important decision.
What Does a Family Dentist Do?
A family dentist is similar to a general dentist, except that some general dentists only treat adults, while most family dentists also see children, typically starting around age 5. As their name suggests, they treat the whole family.
Like a general dentist, family dentists focus on preventive and restorative care, such as filling cavities and providing dental crowns. If your child needs orthodontics or a surgical procedure, most family dentists will refer you to a specialist.
What Does a Pediatric Dentist Do?
Pediatric dentistry is a dental specialty, which means that a pediatric dentist must undergo two to three additional years of education beyond dental school. In addition to studying the unique dental needs of children, pediatric dentists learn how to make kids feel comfortable at the dentist and how to treat patients with special needs.
Pediatric dental practices are designed specifically for children. Unlike a family dentist, pediatric dentists usually have play areas and a colorful, inviting environment. Pediatric dentists use smaller dental tools that increase comfort and help lessen children’s anxiety. The pediatric dentist and their staff are specially trained in how to talk to kids about dental procedures so that they are at ease.
Family Dentist vs. Pediatric Dentist: The Bottom Line
What is the right choice for your family? It’s important to take a closer look at the advantages of each type of dentist and evaluate which factors matter most to you.
Advantages of a Family Dentist:
- Your entire family can go to the same dental practice.
- Family dentists are comfortable with treating children, although they have less experience doing so than a pediatric dentist and do not typically see children starting at age one.
- A family dentist may provide multiple specialties under one roof, but not always.
Advantages of a Pediatric Dentist:
- Pediatric dentists have two to three years of additional education that focuses only on treating children.
- Pediatric dentists have more experience working with children.
- Kids feel more welcome and excited about visiting a pediatric dental practice, which is designed with them in mind.
- Pediatric dental tools are more kid-friendly than those used by a family dentist.
- Pediatric dentists have in-depth knowledge of the unique preventive care needs of children.
- Training for pediatric dentists includes education on how to treat children with special needs.
There is nothing wrong with choosing a family dentist for your child, but the bottom line is that pediatric dentists can provide specialized care. It’s the same reason you take your child to a pediatrician—there’s a level of knowledge that only comes from specialization.
Schedule an Appointment With ABQ Pediatric Dentistry
We’d love to welcome you and your child to our pediatric dental practice! Please contact us today at 505-888-3520. Our friendly staff will be happy to schedule an appointment at a time that is convenient for your family.