The Difference Between A General Dentist And A Pediatric Dentist

Did you know that kids’ teeth are structurally different from adult teeth? Kids begin to grow teeth when they are six to seven months old. These are called deciduous teeth or primary dentitions. These teeth start to fall off naturally when children reach six years of age. A new set of teeth, called permanent dentition, replaces them. 

There are 20 teeth in the primary dentition and 32 in the permanent dentition. Besides the difference in their number, the two sets of teeth differ in their biology too. Kids’ teeth are smaller, shorter, and thinner than permanent teeth. The roots of the permanent teeth are also shorter and thinner. Thus, taking care of kids’ teeth needs doctors with specialized training, also known as pediatric dentists. This article will explore the difference between a general dentist and a pediatric dentist. 

General Dentist vs. Pediatric Dentist: 

How do they differ in their education and training?

Both general dentists and pediatric dentists have to complete their undergraduate studies at an accredited university and then enroll in dental school. After four years of dental school, some people begin their residency or practice immediately. They are registered as general dentists. Some people choose to pursue a specialty in dentistry. Those who choose to be in pediatric dentistry have to study pedodontics. 

While general dentistry typically focuses more on adult teeth, pedodontics focuses more on primary dentition and mixed dentition. In addition, pediatric dentists also learn about special needs patient care and pediatric sedation. Pedodontics training also includes comprehensive, in-depth knowledge and experience in child development, behavior, and psychology. 

What kind of equipment do they use?

Visits to a dentist can seem overwhelming even to adults. The chair, the instruments, and the ambiance can feel scary. Often children find it uncomfortable to sit through a dental examination and treatment as the appliances are too big for them. But, a pediatric dentist uses kids-friendly tools that are less comfortable and often fun to look at. They even have instruments to suit the needs of a tiny baby.

How Different is their Office Environment?

If you have been to a dentist’s office, you might have found it cold and sterile. But,  the kid’s dentist is designed to be playful and inviting. A pedodontist makes sure their clinic has a fun atmosphere to help the children feel comfortable. The dentist’s assistant and the dental hygienist are also trained to understand the psychology, behavior, and unique needs of the little patients who come in. 

Why should you consult a pediatric dentist?

A pediatric dentist can help provide the necessary treatment and guidance your kids might need from their infancy through their adolescence. They will be able to identify, evaluate, prevent, and treat oral health conditions in your kids before they progress to more advanced stages.

Pediatric dentists are trained to take care of kids with special health needs. If your kid is diagnosed withKid and Dentist Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), going to a general dentist might be hard for them. Fortunately, pediatric dentists are equipped and trained to help them get comfortable at their offices and provide the treatment they need. 

Can general dentists treat children’s teeth?

Yes, general dentists can treat your child’s dental problems. However, as pediatric dentists are trained specifically to treat people under 18 years, they might have a better perspective on your kid’s teeth issues. A pediatric dentist is also qualified to treat adult dental problems, but as their knowledge and experiences are directed toward treating kids, they usually do not offer services that are popular among adults. 

Take Away

One cannot undermine the importance of taking care of your oral health, and the sooner it starts, the better. If you are thinking of consulting a dentist for your child, you are surely on the right track. However, choosing whom to consult might be a daunting task. While you might be aware of a general dentist, pedodontics might be a new concept for you. We hope this has helped you understand who pediatric dentists are and how they are different from general dentists. 


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