What Is a Pediatric Dentist?

by | Feb 22, 2020 | Pediatric Dentistry

Have you wondered what the difference is between a pediatric dentist, a family dentist, and just your local dentist? These terms get thrown around quite frequently will little to no explanation, and it is up to the patient to decide who they are seeing. This can create mass confusion, especially for those with small children looking for the right dentist to meet their needs.

Pediatric dentistry is the area of dentistry that is reserved for children, typically under the age of 18. The dentist will not only work with the minor patients for any dental work they may need to be done but also go over the basic dental care to improve and maintain their oral health. It is recommended that children start seeing the dentist somewhere between six months and a year.

Pediatric dentist with her child patient

What kind of training do pediatric dentists have?

For a dentist to specialize in pediatric dentistry, they will need to do extra work above the standard dental degree. They will need to complete four years of education to earn their dental school degree. After this, they will need to complete a two-year intensive residency program that focuses on children, teens, infants, or those with disabilities.

What types of treatments can a pediatric dentist perform?

Pediatric dentists deliver comprehensive care for children’s teeth and gums. They are present from the very beginning as the first primary tooth erupts. The pediatric dentist can solve issues before they become larger ones. For example, learning the best way to brush and floss a prevent tooth decay. Building lifelong good habits are essential. Take a look at the other treatments a pediatric dentist can do.

  • Comprehensive exams for infants, children, and teens.
  • Preventative dental treatments like cleanings, exams, fluoride treatments, and discussion of diet and brushing habits.
  • Habit counseling with child and parent (going over pacifier use or thumb sucking).
  • Correcting improper bites, treatments for straightening teeth.
  • Repairing broken or chipped teeth.
  • Filling Cavities.
  • Diagnosing oral conditions with diseases.
  • Management of gum disease.
  • Address and treat injuries to the teeth and gums.

As you can see, a pediatric dentist can do many of the things a regular dentist will do for adults. However, the significant difference between growing and losing primary teeth has to be taken into account. A pediatric dentist also provides education to their patients, both the parent and the child, to start them on the right path for keeping their teeth and gums healthy.

Can a pediatric dentist treat adults too?

While one might assume that a pediatric dentist will only work with children, they aren’t limited to treating only children. In order to become specialized in children’s dentistry, the dentist would first need to go through all the traditional teachings to become a licensed dentist to work on adults.

After completing the training to become a dentist, would they then learn techniques and services dedicated to smaller patients? Many of the things are the same as working on adults, just in a smaller body. However, some aspects vary, primarily working on primary teeth and not adult, and dealing with alignment issues that can arise from new teeth coming in. Pediatric dentists will also look at many conditions that only occur in children, which could be the jaw not forming correctly, causing a bad bite, which could affect them the rest of their life.

So while pediatric dentists can work with adults, most often, they don’t. Keeping their specialty separate is what creates a divide in service and honing the skills. But you might ask, what is the difference between a family dentist and a pediatric dentist?

A family dentist will have a background in both children and adults. This allows them the flexibility to serve both patients. Not only do they hold the basics of educating young patients and how to brush correctly, but they can also handle more in-depth treatment, including the replacement of missing teeth.

Stephen Nozaki

Stephen Nozaki

Dr. Stephen Nozaki is the owner and lead dentist at Image Dental in Stockton, CA. He has received his training at California State University and Loma Linda University, then completed his fellowship with the International Dental Implant Association. Today, Dr. Nozaki specializes in same-day crowns and dental implants. He is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA), California Dental Association (CDA), San Joaquin Dental Society (SJDS), as well as a diplomate with the International Dental Implant Association, which allows him to always stay current with the most current information and training on these procedures.

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