For your baby’s first dental appointment, you might have some questions—like which dentist to bring them to. And with the many specializations in the field, you might have a hard time choosing. Fortunately, when choosing a dentist for younger children, you don’t need to whittle away at the different -ists. You only really have two options: the family dentist and the pediatric dentist.
But wait! Can’t a family dentist do the things a pediatric dentist does? If they provide services for the whole family, then facilities for children should already be part of the package. Well, yes and no. While family dentists can check and treat your young ones, this doesn’t allow them the degree of specialization a pediatric dentist has.
Then what’s the difference between the two? And when can you choose one over the other? Let’s find out.
A family dentist offers more general services; a pediatric dentist specializes in treating children
Family dentists typically offer a variety of services. As the title suggests, this range is so they can provide treatment for the whole family. Other dentists may set a cap on the age demographic of their patients, but this cap is nonexistent with family dentists. At times, they can specialize in specific areas if need be. But for the most part, they cater to more common dental problems such as cavities, fillings, and the like. One of the main benefits of going to a family dentist is that you can get treatment for you and your child at the same time. This advantage saves up a chunk of time you might spend heading out to other dentists.
In contrast, a pediatric dentist’s practice is more geared towards children. To become one, aspiring pediatric dentists must take an additional two to three years in dental school. Here, they look to understanding children’s behaviors and how to deal with them accordingly. They also learn about the unique dental issues children face and how to treat them. This specialty then allows pediatric dentists to deal more effectively with their younger patients, making dental appointments a more enjoyable experience for them.
When should I head to a family dentist, and when should I head to a pediatric dentist?
Now that we’ve made the distinction between the two when is it best to schedule a family dentist? And when is it best to schedule a pediatric dentist?
Well, it depends on where your priorities lie. Here are some things to consider:
- Convenience. Most families might opt to get their children treated at a family dentist due to comfort and familiarity. If multiple members of the family require a check-up, they need to set an appointment with the same dentist.
- Type of treatment needed. While family dentists can specialize in certain areas, there’s only so much they could do in terms of treatment. If the dentist diagnoses an issue that they cannot treat, often they will refer you to a specialist to handle the problem. With pediatric dentists, on the other hand, these issues can be addressed right after the diagnosis.
- Your child’s comfort. You can make or break your child’s dental foundation at an early age. If a child formed healthy habits and has a positive experience with the dentist, they will likely continue to keep them as they grow up. And while both family dentists and pediatric dentists can give the child such experiences at the dentist’s office, it’s the pediatric dentist that is trained to provide this.
All this considered, should you take your child to a family dentist or a pediatric dentist? The choice is yours to make.