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What’s the Difference between a General Dentist and Pediatric Dentist?

When it comes to looking after your family’s health, you want to enlist the help of the best medical professionals. You have a pediatrician for general health concerns, so why not find a specialized pediatric dentist, too? The benefits to your kids, their health, and your family’s dental experience can’t be overlooked.

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While general dentists do a fine job with children, choosing a pediatric dentist means your kids are getting the age-appropriate care and information that will lower their fear of the dental chair and improve their overall relationship with oral health.

Here’s how a pediatric dentist differs from a general dentist.

Specialized Training

Pediatric dentists go through the same schooling general dentists do; however, once this education is complete, they also take more courses to specialize in working with children.

Often, this means two more years of training after dental school. These additional years focus on the treatment of developing teeth, special requirements of children’s dentistry, as well as child behaviour and psychology.

Child-Friendly Environment

As soon as you walk in the door of a pediatric dentist’s office, you know you’re in a different space. There are toys, video games, pictures, and lots of colour that make going to the dentist a fun experience for kids. The goal is to get kids excited about their next visit.

You’ll also find that dentists for children use equipment geared for kids, which means smaller tools to help minimize discomfort and fear.

Minimizing Fear

Even adults are afraid of going to the dentist. For kids, especially if it’s a new experience, this fear can be traumatizing. Taking them to a children’s dentist means you’re working with a professional who has spent years learning how to talk to children about their oral health.

Before starting any procedure, the dentist will discuss with the child what the tool does, why they use it, and what to expect, using child-friendly language.

The goal is to take away the fear of the unknown, which for children, is what most of the fear is about.

Educational Experience

Kids are at a crucial stage of their development, especially when it comes to their oral hygiene. The habits they develop now are likely to be with them for the rest of their lives; you want to make sure they’re good ones.

Pediatric dentists are well-versed in how to build positive habits with your kids. They’ll discuss proper techniques for brushing, give demonstrations, and provide fun tools (e.g. colourful toothbrushes) to get the job done. They can also work with you to create helpful plans that encourage oral hygiene and proper care of growing teeth.

They’ll also talk about preventative measures with you and your kids. Children are highly susceptible to tooth decay, so you want them to learn good habits and have access to professionals who know the best treatments for kids. Learning to prevent tooth decay is much easier than treating it, and dentists for children know exactly what types of problems children deal with and are equipped to help educate them.

Knowing What Children Need

Children’s needs are very different than adults, especially when it comes to oral hygiene. Pediatric dentists work with kids every day. There’s no substitution for hands-on experience of that level. They’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, and they have the education to back it all up.

When it comes down to it, dentists for children have the education and the experience to provide your family with the dental care that you are looking for.


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Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
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