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Pediatric vs. General Dentist? What is the difference and how do I decide where to take my child?

Consider a time in which your child was sick or had a medical issue in which you sought

a doctor’s diagnosis and care. You likely thought to contact your child’s pediatrician first, rather than your own physician because you know that pediatricians have expertise in dealing with babies on up to our teenagers. Pediatricians make decisions about care with the child’s utmost interest in mind because young humans vary in many ways from adults.


Similarly, children demonstrate either a primary set of teeth or a mixed dentition of

some primary and some permanent teeth. Primary teeth develop differently than adult teeth

and thus, treatment options are unique. Pediatric dentists complete an additional two years of training specifically focused on these differences and learning to treat at the highest standard of care. Of even more importance is to note whether the specialist you choose is board certified or not. Attainment of Board Certification means that the pediatric dentist went beyond his or her training and completed a series of written and oral exams to be considered an expert in the field.


Since children’s demeanor ranges on a wide spectrum from easy-going to combative,

pediatric dentists also gain wide experiences managing behavior with various techniques and

sedation methods. A child’s medical history may also be extensive and it’s imperative to keep

all systems in mind – one cannot just treat the teeth; one must consider a comprehensive

approach to the body. Often it is necessary for the pediatric dentist to consult and coordinate care with other medical specialists to ensure safety and efficacy.


Certainly there are not enough pediatric dentists in the world to treat all the kids.

Therefore, we absolutely need general dentists to see children and thank goodness they do.

When a more specific need for behavior management or extensive treatment arises, a board-

certified pediatric dentist is the appropriate choice in diagnosing and treating your child.


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