Parents frequently ask us at Toddlers To Teens what the difference between a pediatric dentist and a general dentist is. They are particularly curious as to whether there is any advantage to taking their children to a pediatric dentist rather than a general dentist.
Below, our dentists outline the key differences between general and pediatric dentists and explain when it might be beneficial to visit a pediatric specialist.
What is a pediatric dentist?
Below, we'll list the qualifications and job descriptions of a pediatric dentist.
Qualifications & Training
Pediatric Dentistry is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the Canadian Dental Association.
To become a dentist, you must go to dental school. Some dental school graduates move on immediately to practice as dentists, and these are general dentists.
Dental school graduates must complete an accredited advanced education programme in pediatric dentistry to practise as pediatric dentists in Canada. They will receive a specialty designation from their province's Provincial Dental Regulatory Authority once they have completed this programme.
What do pediatric dentists do?
Pediatric dentists have specialized training in the specific oral health care needs of children, ranging from infants to teenagers.
Pediatric dentists address the following dental care needs specific to children:
- Baby teeth care
- Preventive dental care for children: oral hygiene cleaning, fluoride treatments, nutrition and diet recommendations, etc.
- Infant oral health exams, including risk assessment for cavities
- Early orthodontic assessment & treatment: straightening teeth and correcting misalignment and bite problems (malocclusion)
- Dental care for children with special needs
- Habit counselling: thumb sucking and pacifier habit-breaking
- Fillings for tooth cavities or defects
- Diagnosis of oral conditions associated with diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, congenital heart defect, hay fever, and ADD / ADHD
Does my child need to go to a special dentist for children?
General dentists have the skills and training necessary to care for children's teeth, so in most cases, sending children to a pediatric specialist is not necessary.
That means that you can bring your child to your dentist, and he or she will be well qualified to care for your child's teeth.
For children with unusual or more serious dental problems or those with disabilities, the specialized training of a pediatric dentist may be required.