Pediatric Versus General Dentist: What Is The Difference


There are a lot of questions that you may have as a parent when planning your child’s trip to the dentist. One the largest being, “Should I take my child to a family dentist or a pediatric dentist?” We are here to explore and explain the differences between family and pediatric dentists in order to help you decide which will be best for your family. 

What is a pediatric dentist? 

Pediatric dentists attend four years of dental school, as well as receiving a bachelor’s degree, just like other dentists. 

Pediatric dentists require specialized training in child development and psychology beyond dental school. The specialty training that pediatric dentists go through teaches them not only how to treat the unique dental needs and issues of children, but also how to make children feel more comfortable and at ease in their chairs. Some of these unique issues may include anything from problems with thumb-sucking to overuse of a pacifier. Pediatric dentists also receive training and qualifications for treating children with special needs. 

Pediatric dentist offices have a tendency to revolve around children and a child- friendly environment. The dentists use smaller and more understandable terminology so that they don’t come across as too scary or intimidating. They normally have a play area, they use smaller tools that look less daunting. Due to the fact that pediatric dentists only treat children, it is easier for them, in their experience, to quickly identify issues unique to children, and help solve those issues, as well. Because of all the special things added into this type of office (training, décor, play area), pediatric dentists may be more expensive than a general dentist. 

You may want to consider taking your child to a pediatric dentist if they have fear or anxiety about seeing a dentist. Also, if your child has special needs, they may feel better in an office that is geared towards them. 

What is a general dentist? 

General dentistry normally focuses on the entire family, adults and children alike, rather than only looking at the dental needs of children. The majority of their patients are usually adults, although they can treat people of all ages. 

In these offices, they may have newer or more sophisticated equipment because they are not worried about only treating and seeing children. Because of this, it may be a more overwhelming experience for your child(ren). 

Some of the benefits of seeing a general dentist are you and your child can visit the same dentist. Also, regardless of their office or that they treat adults, they are normally comfortable and okay with treating children as well, and if your child has further issues, you may be able to take care of it all in one office. 

You may want to consider a general dentist if your child has known dental needs besides the typical cleaning and minor problems, or if your family has been seeing a regular dentist for an extended period of time. Teens will most likely do better at a general dentist’s office as well. 

You can always call our office if you have more questions or would like our recommendation on this topic.