Parents often ask our team what the difference is between a pediatric dentist and a general dentist. In particular, they wonder if there is any benefit to taking their children to a pediatric dentist instead of a general dentist.
Below, our Brooklyn dentists outline the key differences between general and pediatric dentists and explain when it might be beneficial to visit a pediatric specialist.
What is a pediatric dentist?
Qualifications & Training
Pediatric Dentistry is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the Canadian Dental Association.
To become a dentist, you must go to dental school. Some dental school graduates move on immediately to practice as dentists, and these are general dentists.
To become a pediatric dentist in Canada, dental school graduates must go on to complete an accredited advanced education program in pediatric dentistry. Once they have completed this program, they will attain a specialty designation from the Provincial Dental Regulatory Authority in their province.
What do pediatric dentists do?
Pediatric dentists have specialized training in the specific oral health care needs of children, ranging from infants to teenagers.
Pediatric dentists are able to address the following dental care needs specific to children:
- Baby teeth care
- Preventive dental care for children: oral hygiene cleaning, fluoride treatments, nutrition and diet recommendations, etc.
- Infant oral health exams, including risk assessment for cavities
- Early orthodontic assessment & treatment: straightening teeth and correcting misalignment and bite problems (malocclusion)
- Dental care for children with special needs
- Habit counselling: thumb sucking and pacifier habit-breaking
- Fillings for tooth cavities or defects
- Diagnosis of oral conditions associated with diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, congenital heart defect, hay fever, and ADD / ADHD
Does my child need to go to a special dentist for children?
In most cases, general dentists have the skills and training necessary to care for children's teeth and any issues that may arise, which means that sending children to a pediatric specialist is often unnecessary.
That means that you can confidently bring your child to your own dentist and that your dentist will be well qualified to care for your child's teeth.
For children with unusual or more serious dental problems, or for those with disabilities, the specialized training of a pediatric dentist may be required or recommended.