The main difference between the two is that a pediatric dentist specializes in children's dentistry and a general dentist doesn't. Like orthodontists or periodontists, pediatric dentists have special training and education that makes them more qualified to work with children than other dental professionals. Pediatric dentists receive a lot of additional training because children experience different dental problems than adults. Just as a pediatrician knows how to address children's specific medical needs, a pediatric dentist knows how to address children's specific dental problems.
While general dentists care for adults and children alike, a pediatric dentist specializes exclusively in children's oral health. A pediatric dentist has a specialized degree (first DDS or DMD, then 2 years of pediatric dentistry residency) in understanding, diagnosing, and treating children's oral health problems. Children as young as six months can start seeing a pediatric dentist and can continue to see a pediatric dentist until they are teenagers. As a general rule, many people will turn 18 and change from pediatric dentist to general dentist.
At this stage of life, children's mouths and teeth are almost fully developed and have often undergone orthodontics. A pediatric dentist understands that each child's oral care needs are different, which means personalized treatment or preventive plan for each individual in a child-friendly environment. In addition, pediatric dentists tend to treat patients up to 18 years of age, but they can also treat adults with special needs. The overall goal of pediatric dentists is to educate their patients to prevent oral diseases, cavities and other oral health problems in the future.
Children's dentists may also need to provide emergency dental services if a child suffers a dental injury due to poor accommodation or playing sports. Technically, only true pediatric dentists should be labeled as such, but sometimes the wording used in advertisements can be confusing. The difference between these offices is attributed to the fact that each dentist serves a cohort of patients of different ages. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry2, patients should take their child to a pediatric dentist as soon as they are six months old.
Pediatric dentists should be able to teach their young patients the basics of dental care and the importance of establishing a dental care regimen. This requires additional attention, time, and sometimes patience for which a general dentist might not have been trained in the same way as a pediatric dentist. However, thanks to improved technology and a better understanding of how our bodies work at different stages of our lives, there are specialized dentists who are experts in different dental fields. Pediatric dentists treat the mouth of young patients, while general dentists usually treat young adults and older patients.
However, parents should be aware of the fact that pediatric dentists almost always provide superior treatment to little ones compared to general dentists. While general dentists certainly present some of these subtleties in their offices, these spaces have a more professional look, as patients are in their teens or older. Certain general dentists are willing to treat children, but these dentists have not specialized in treating young people like pediatric dentists. From the initial visit onwards, it is ideal for children to visit the pediatric dentist at least once every six months.
Those who plan to become pediatric dentists require additional training, as these professionals are basically pediatricians of dentistry. .