Is my family dentist a pediatric dentist?

Aug 18 2013

Is my family dentist a pediatric dentist?

What’s the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family or general dentist?

If you’re a parent, its no news to you that kids are not just small adults. Certainly in the dental office, they have very different needs. They are not always able to be patient and cooperative during a dental exam. Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of oral health. They  know how to examine and treat children in ways that keep them comfortable. In addition, pediatric dentists use specially designed equipment in a setting that is designed for kids to feel safe and have fun.

Pediatric dentists also have specialized training that is typically two years beyond the Happy Kid at Dentistnormal four years that general and family dentists get in dental school. In fact, pediatric dentistry is one of only six recognized specialties in dentistry.

Having the first dental check up in a fun environment and before the onset of cavities allows the child the best chance at establishing confidence and trust in a dental setting and they can be comfortable dental patients as adults. Also,the proper coaching and habit building gets established early on for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

Most Pediatric dentists will see children between ages 6 months through 18 years.  According to the CDC, a child is 5 times more likely to have dental decay than the second most common disease in children, asthma. Do you have the most qualified team in helping you protect your child?

Here’s what many parents need to know:

Q. What kind of education do pediatric dentists have?
A: Pediatric dentists have completed at least:
1) Four years of dental school to become general/family dentist
2) 2-3 years of additional residency training dealing only with toddlers to teens as well as medically compromised or special needs individuals

Q. What type of services could pediatric dentists provide?
A: This really depends on the specific training and experience of the specialist.
Much of the expertise are because they do common procedures hundreds of times more than a general dentist. Other than that, the following areas are pretty much exclusive to pediatric dentists:
1) Oral and IV sedation for children with anxiety
2) Formal hands on training with medically compromised kids
3) Ability to provide orthodontic treatment when orthodontists can not manage a child due to age or behavior
4) Dental care for children in the hospital setting with general anesthesia

Q. What Does it mean for a pediatric dentist to be “Board Certified”?
A: The American Board of Pediatric Dentistry (ABPD) is the certifying body for all Pediatric Dentists.

It validates a pediatric specialist’s abilities and knowledge based on standards of excellence in patient care and continuing education. Certification by the ABPD provides an additional layer of assurance for the parents that their child’s provider has voluntarily reached for and achieved the highest recognition and certification possible in the field of pediatric dentistry. To remain a Diplomate of the American Board of pediatric Dentistry, the doctor continues to excel in their field through education.

Q. Aren’t all pediatric dentists “Board Certified”?
A: No
Only those that successfully pass the multi-part (oral and written) examinations after residency become certified.


Q. If I dont have a pediatric specialist as an option, how can I tell if my general or family dentist is able to care of my child?
A: Some factors to look into include:
1) How early does the general dentist see children?
When you ask them, if they say to hold off until your child is 3 years old, its confirmation that your dentist is not up-to-date with latest guidelines.
2) How comfortable is the staff with kids?
You know the difference between a nurse that is good with kids, and one that is impatient and annoyed by kids. Your dental assistants should be welcoming and warm to your child. Also, they should use proper language to communicate dental terminology with them. If the assistant does not show the tools before using them or can not explain them to the child on Kiddy terms, that office probably isnt the best option for children.
3) How comfortable is the doctor with kids?
Generally, it takes much longer to ease an anxious child. If your general dentist is patient and cheery with your child, that’s a real good sign. Also, the first visit should include lots of education for the parents about topics like keeping the child cavity free, use of fluoride, and dealing with trauma. Likewise, the first visit should include a really good exam and/or a professional cleaning. If your first visit is not much more than a “chair ride”, your general dentist likely does not have the experience and comfort with seeing kids.

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