How Are Pediatric Dentists and Family Dentists Different?


The benefit of going to a family dentist is that you and your child can both get care under the same roof, and maybe in back-to-back appointments. But even though family dentists do treat children as young as three or four, they don’t have the necessary training to treat children younger than that, especially children with special health needs. That’s where a pediatric dentist comes in.

Unlike family dentistry, pediatric dentistry is among the nine recognized dental specialties. The other eight include:

  • Endodontics
  • Oral and maxillofacial pathology
  • Oral and maxillofacial radiology
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • Orthodontics
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics
  • Public health dentistry

What makes one a specialty and not the other is the amount of training required. To become a pediatric dentist, it’s necessary to complete two or possibly three more years of training beyond the four required for dental school. During these two years of specialized training, a doctor will learn to meet the specific needs of infants, children, and adolescents. The student will also be taught how to treat special health care needs that a general dentist won’t receive training on.

Because of all this, a pediatric dentist will focus exclusively on the needs of the youngest patients. A family dentist, on the other hand, will treat children as well adults. Having a doctor who can treat you and your child will be convenient later in life, but finding a good pediatric dentist is important to the good care and development of your child’s earliest teeth.

Your child should have his first dental visit by the time he is close to one year old, or by the time his first tooth comes in. To ensure that your child’s smile is developing as it should, his initial visit may need to be as frequent as every four months. This kind of regularity will help our doctors become familiar with your little one’s smiles and its exact needs. Knowing exactly what a patient’s needs are is important to delivering excellent care.

Besides monitoring the development of teeth, our pediatric dentists can also talk to you about a variety of other topics related to oral care, including things like nutritional advice and topics like teeth grinding and thumb sucking. Creating a healthy oral environment is key to ensuring that teeth develop as they should without any special issues that will need to be corrected.

Is your child too young to have any teeth yet? Then for now, just be sure you care for his smile with a piece of gauze or a wet washcloth. Gently scrub his gums using one of these to keep his mouth healthy and clean. Once his first tooth emerges, call one of our Kidtastic offices. For your convenience, Kidtastic has locations in MesaGilbert and Queen Creek. We would be happy to reserve an appointment for your child, in addition to answering any questions you might have. Helping your little one care for his smile is important for encouraging healthy behavior that will need to last for an entire lifetime.