Here at Kids’ Healthy Teeth, we specialize in pediatric dentistry! This specialization allows us to tailor our space, practice, equipment, and staff to the specific needs of our awesome patients. While many pediatric dentistry practices offer cool prizes at the end of each appointment, toys to play with while patients wait in the lobby, and fun kid-friendly decorations, these are not the only distinctions between general and pediatric dentists. To help you learn more, we have put together this guide to understanding exactly what a pediatric dentist is and does!
What is a pediatric dentist?
A pediatric dentist is a dentist who specializes in treating younger patients. Most children see their pediatrician, a more generalized medical doctor who specializes in caring for younger patients, long before they go to the dentist. While your child’s pediatrician can monitor their overall health and recommend specialists when necessary, they are not typically able to spend time looking for cavities or other oral health issues that are difficult to detect in general checkups. Pediatric dentists get to spend the whole appointment on the patient’s oral health every time! Pediatric dentists can show your child how to properly care for their teeth. They also have the equipment necessary for dental cleanings, treatments, and x-rays.
What kind of education is required for board-certified pediatric dentists?
Pediatric dentists actually complete all of the training necessary to become general dentists, along with a couple of extra years spent on their pediatric specialization. Pediatric dentists must first obtain a bachelor’s degree, often in a subject like biology or another related field. From there they must attend dental school, which typically involves an additional four years of classroom and practical learning. After dental school, aspiring pediatric dentists must attend an additional training program focused specifically on treating pediatric patients. This means that your child’s pediatric dentist has spent at least nine to ten years thoroughly preparing for their career!
What is the age range of the patients pediatric dentists can treat?
Children can typically go to the pediatric dentist for the first time very early in their lives. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children visit a pediatric dentist by age one or within six months after their first primary tooth erupts. Primary teeth, or baby teeth, typically begin coming in around 6 months of age. Generally speaking, most pediatric dentists focus on patients who are eighteen and younger. While pediatric dentists are qualified to treat adult patients, they typically choose to focus solely on pediatric patients in order to remain focused on their patient population and best serve them. There are some exceptions to this rule, however. For example, some dental offices are ‘family practices,’ meaning they have the staff, equipment, and accommodations to treat both pediatric dentists and adult patients. In these cases, patients can actually stay with their pediatric dentist into their adulthood if they so choose. In some other cases, pediatric dentists will make exceptions for long term patients and continue to see them a couple of years after they turn eighteen as they transition into adulthood. However, not every insurance policy will allow this, so talk to your dentist and insurance company if this is something you may be interested.
Why should I take my child to a pediatric dentist?
Along with the specialty training that they undergo in order to properly treat young patients, pediatric dentists have experience in working with kids to make sure they feel comfortable in their office while receiving dental treatment, which is something that can cause some kids a lot of stress. Pediatric dentists also design their offices with their young patients in mind, so the equipment, decor, and amenities are geared toward the effective treatment and comfort of young patients in a way that general dentistry practices are not. In addition, while pediatric dentists are technically qualified to treat adult patients, most generalized dentists are not qualified to work with pediatric patients.
We hope this guide helps you better understand your child’s pediatric dentist. If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact our office today!