What is a Pediatric Dentist?

Nov 9, 2022

Why should you take your child to a pediatric dental practice instead of a general dental practice? This is a common question parents ask when considering Castle Creek Pediatric Dentistry for their child’s dental needs — and it’s a good one! Many people assume that pediatric dentists are similar to general dentists with the only difference being that they see predominantly younger patients. While it is true that both dentists provide similar services, there is a pretty significant difference in training and specialization when it comes to providing dental services for pediatrics. Let’s take a look at the differences between general dentistry and a pediatric specialist dentist and why they matter when it comes to selecting your child’s dentist.

What Makes a Dentist a “Pediatric Dentist?”

  • A pediatric dentist specializes in dentistry that is specific to the unique needs of young dental patients.
  • They treat children beginning in infancy (a pediatric dentist and an infant dentist are the same) and serve patients into their teen years, as well.
  • They utilize tools and equipment designed for treating smaller teeth and working in smaller mouths.
  • A pediatric dentist attends the same four-year program as a general dentist, plus two to three additional years of training and education via a pediatric dental residency. In comparison, a dentist with a different focus may only participate in a residency of two to three weeks while in dental school.
  • Their residency allows them to establish thousands of hours of supervised experience in working with children.
  • They work with young patients ranging from newborn to teen each day during their training to gain a wide breadth of experience in pediatric dentist services.
  • They see thousands of patients with cases ranging from the occasional cavity to severe oral distress during their training.
  • They are accountable to multiple mentors and supervisors who ensure they are fit to serve children and families in their practice at the end of their residency.

The extended training for a pediatric dentist is intended to provide a comprehensive education in treating young patients. From managing behavioral challenges in the chair during treatment, to supporting families in creating whole-household oral wellness habits, a pediatric dentist is experienced and dedicated to providing quality care to adult smiles in training.

What Does a Pediatric Dentist Do?

A pediatric dentistry specialist provides many of the same dental services that are provided to adults, plus advanced care that supports healthy development. Dentistry for children focuses on establishing a healthy foundation for their adult teeth. Your child’s pediatric dental care team also educates your child on developing great habits for a lifetime of happy smiles.

Pediatric Dentistry Services

  • Twice-yearly cleanings and examinations
  • Infant oral exams, assessments and care
  • Tongue and lip tie correction
  • Emergency dental care
  • Assessment for advanced services such as braces
  • Care for cavities, pediatric gum disease, or other persistent issues
  • Support for breaking oral habits like using a pacifier, thumbsucking, chewing on non-food items or grinding of teeth
  • Diagnosis of airway issues or sleep issues
  • Ongoing education on dental care
  • Compassionate care that centers on child comfort
  • Child-friendly offices, dental chairs, and dental tools

Why Use a Pediatric Dentist Instead of a General Dentist?

A pediatric dentist does not just focus on critical dental care scaled down for small, developing teeth and mouths. They also specialize in the unique requirements that come with caring for children. As with adults, going to the dentist can be a scary experience for children. Some parents may even accidentally pass along their own dental phobias by accident.

It takes a patient and kind pediatric team to work with a child afraid of the dentist. A pediatric dentist gains years of experience in how to work with fearful children during their pediatric residency. They understand how to reduce or manage the fear of the unknown so that a child is not traumatized by their experience. Pediatric dentists design their practice environment and their dental procedures in a way that is less intimidating and more friendly for young patients.

Even young patients who are not afraid of the dentist can benefit more from a pediatric dentist. For example, young children may struggle with sitting still through an entire cleaning. Older children may grow bored and fidget or become complete chatterboxes while receiving care. Pediatric dentists, technicians and hygienists are trained to gently redirect an enthusiastic child to avoid injuring them during care. They are also incredibly patient and they build time into treatment to account for breaks during treatment or time to answer questions or educate young patients on proper dental care.

Discover the Difference for Yourself

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of pediatric dentistry for your child, give Castle Creek Pediatric Dentistry a call to set up an appointment. We will show you the difference an experienced pediatric dentist can make in your child’s oral health now and for the rest of their lives.