If you’re looking for a good dentist for your child, there are probably several things you’re considering. You want to ensure your child’s teeth are cared for, you want your child to be comfortable around the dentist and to have a good experience, and you want to ensure that you have a positive relationship with the dentist.
One common question people ask is, “Should I take my child to a family dentist or a pediatric dentist?” In this article, we’ll explore the differences between family and pediatric dentists so you can decide which one is best for your child.
What is a Family Dentist?
A family dentist is similar to a general dentist. Rather than specialize in a specific field of dentistry like endodontics or orthodontics, they provide a range of services. Although general dentists might sometimes restrict the age of people they will treat, family dentists provide dental care to people of all ages.
Although a family dentist might have some special skills, they typically focus on the more general issues like reducing plaque buildup around teeth, eliminating tooth decay, filling cavities, and ensuring that gums remain healthy. For more severe problems, a family dentist will often refer you to a specialist.
What is a Pediatric Dentist?
Like all dentists, pediatric dentists attend four years of dental school in addition to receiving a bachelor’s degree. Unlike other dentists, pediatric dentists undergo an additional two to three years of training. The specialty training teaches them how to deal with children’s behavior, make kids feel comfortable, and treat the unique dental needs and issues of children. Pediatric dentists also receive training and qualifications for treating children with special needs.
Pediatric dentist offices also tend to revolve around children. They have a play area, they use smaller tools that look more kid-friendly, and they are great at explaining dental procedures and terms to their patients. Because pediatric dentists only treat children, their experience enables them to quickly identify issues unique to children, and help solve those issues, as well.
Advantages of Both Family and Pediatric Dentists
When choosing between things, it’s often helpful to weigh the advantages of each. To start, let’s look at the advantages of choosing a family dentist over a pediatric dentist for your child:
You and your child can visit the same dentist.
They are typically comfortable treating children, even if they have less experience with kids than pediatric dentists.
They sometimes can provide multiple specialties under one roof.
Now, we’ll compare that to the advantages of choosing a pediatric dentist for your child:
They have an additional 2-3 years training, enabling them to specialize in treating children.
Because they treat only children, they have more experience with kids.
Their offices tend to be more fun environments designed to ensure kids have a great time.
They use smaller and more kid-friendly dental tools.
They have extensive knowledge when it comes to preventative care for kids.
They are better equipped to provide optimal care for children with special needs.
While a family dentist can certainly care for your child’s teeth and help prevent cavities, they cannot provide the same specialized care your child would receive at a pediatric dentist. In the same way that you would take a child to visit a pediatrician, we always recommend taking your child to a pediatric dentist.
Making the Final Decision
If you’re still not sure which is best for your child, the best thing you can do is schedule a consultation. Speak with a quality pediatric dentist and a family dentist, visit their offices, and see which feels right to you.
Most are happy to schedule a consultation, which will give you and your child a good feel for each option. Taking this step can give you confidence that your child will have a great experience at the dentist.
If you are in the Tuscaloosa, AL area then Children and Teen Dental is a great place to investigate the benefits of pediatric dentistry. Many of our pediatric dentists have also spent time as family dentists before receiving their specialization training. This gives them a unique perspective and gives you the best of both worlds.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation - we’d love to meet you and your child!