According to experts, we should be going to the dentist once every six months. This suggestion applies to children, too, who should start seeing a pro as soon as they get their first tooth. 

Perhaps your little one is ready to visit a dentist, or you’re looking for a new practitioner to take care of their teeth. As you search, though, you’ve come across two different types of dentists who can care for your child’s smile: a pediatric dentist and a general dentist. 

That leaves you to decide if you’d rather see a pediatric dentist vs. general dentist. What are the differences? What type of practitioner will best care for your child’s teeth? 

Here’s everything you should know. 

What is a General Dentist?

When you see a dentist, you likely visit a general dentist. They care for your overall dental health: everything from preventative care to cavities to bridges and crowns.

A general dentist spends four years in postgraduate training, at which point they can head into practice. They are well-trained, of course, but if they want to specialize in an area of dentistry, they have to continue their studies. 

A pediatric dentist falls into the latter category.

What is a Pediatric Dentist? 

As the name suggests, a pediatric dentist specializes in caring for your child’s teeth from infancy all the way through their teenage years. So, your child’s pediatric dentist will provide services including: 

  • Gentle dental exams and cleanings, as well as fluoride treatments to strengthen and safeguard growing teeth
  • Counseling for habits such as thumb-sucking
  • Early assessment of crooked teeth
  • Cavity repair 
  • Diagnosis of oral conditions that may have links to diabetes, asthma, ADHD, and more

A general dentist may be able to provide much of the above. Plus, it may seem convenient to have your children go to the same dentist as you. But you’re better off selecting a pediatric dentist to care for your child’s teeth. 

Pediatric Dentist vs. General Dentist: Which One is Better? 

A general dental practice can, indeed, provide dental services to children. But there are so many reasons why trainee dentists choose to specialize in pediatrics — reasons you should consider as you weigh up the type of dentist you want treat your children. 

1. Training

For starters, you can’t just graduate from dental school and decide to be a pediatric dentist. After studying general dentistry — that’s four years in dental school post-grad — a pediatric dentist will have to enlist in a specialized training program. These programs last for two to three additional years. 

This training provides a pediatric dentist with in-depth knowledge of dental issues and treatments that children specifically have and need. For example, a general dentist won’t study the ways to encourage children to stop sucking their thumb and remedy teeth affected by the habit. A pediatric dentist will learn this and more. 

Choosing a pediatric dentist means selecting someone with the experience required to care for your child’s teeth. They’ll be able to diagnose any oral issues and suggest remedies with ease.

As we said, a general dentist can help, too. However, for more in-depth issues, they may point you to a pediatric dentist anyway. You might as well start with the experts in children’s dental care. 

2. Equipment

Next up, your pediatric dentist will have an office that’s well-equipped to care for your child’s teeth. For starters, your little one won’t be squirming around in an adult-sized exam room. Instead, they will be in a seat that fits them and helps them stay still — and there will be an exam room that’s just their size as they grow from infancy into their teenage years. 

That’s not all, though. A pediatric dentist will typically make their office look and feel inviting for children. Don’t expect to walk in and see the stark look of a cookie-cutter general dentist’s office. 

Instead, pediatric dentists will have colorful decor that welcomes your child inside. They might have toys, books or even movies playing that will make your little one feel comfortable. 

3. Patience and Friendliness

A general dentist will always be friendly and caring, of course. But keep in mind that a pediatric dentist has chosen to dedicate their lives to children’s health. As such, you can rest assured that a pediatric dentist will be patient and kind to your little one throughout their treatment. 

It’s not just about the pediatric dentist, of course. They will enlist a staff who’s just as comfortable with children and able to put them at ease. This applies to the front-desk staff, the hygienists, and everyone else working at the office. 

If your child has an aversion to going to the dentist, knowing they’ll be met with friendly faces can provide both of you with comfort. And that could be enough to put you at ease during your son or daughter’s appointment. 

How Can I Find a Pediatric Dentist? 

Now that you know the differences between a pediatric dentist vs. general dentist, you should be ready to find a pediatric dentist to care for your child’s teeth. How can you find a practitioner in your area? 

If you live in Suwanee, Georgia, we’re ready to welcome you into our practice! Click here to contact us today to schedule your appointment with Dr. Hogan or Dr. Berganske.

If you’re not in Georgia, start by asking your child’s pediatrician for suggestions. Chances are, they know pediatric dentists in the area who can look after your child’s teeth for the next several years. 

Start by asking your pediatrician!