Parents often ask our team at Carrington Dental about the differences between a general dentist and a pediatric dentist. To be more specific they want to know if there are benefits to taking their children to a pediatric dentist rather than a general dentist.
Here, we explain the key differences between pediatric and general dentists and when you may want to schedule an appointment with a pediatric specialist.
Training & Qualifications
The Canadian Dental Association recognizes Pediatric Dentistry as one of its nine dental specialties.
In order to be a dentist, you have to attend dental school. Some dental school graduates move on immediately to practice as dentists, and these are general dentists.
To become a pediatric dentist in Canada, dental school graduates must complete an accredited advanced education program in pediatric dentistry. Once they have completed this program, they will attain a specialty designation from the Provincial Dental Regulatory Authority in their province.
The Job of a Pediatric Dentist
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:
- Infant oral health exams, including risk assessment for cavities
- Fillings for tooth cavities or defects
- Preventive dental care for children: oral hygiene cleaning, fluoride treatments, nutrition and diet recommendations, etc.
- Baby teeth care
- Dental care for children with special needs
- Habit counseling: thumb sucking and pacifier habit-breaking
- Early orthodontic assessment & treatment: straightening teeth and correcting misalignment and bite problems (malocclusion)
- Diagnosis of oral conditions associated with diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, congenital heart defect, hay fever, and ADD / ADHD
Will my kid have to go to a dental specialist for children?
General dentists are suited with the training and skills they require to care for the teeth of children, therefore it's not usually necessary to take your child to a pediatric specialist.
Meaning you can take your child to your own dentist, and they should be able to care for your kid's teeth.
For children with unusual or more serious dental problems, or for those with disabilities, the specialized training of a pediatric dentist may be required.