What every dentist wants for their youngest patients is a terrific oral health foundation. We work to create good habits early and keep them going for life. Another goal is to build a sense of trust and comfort with dental care that will last a lifetime. Both pediatric dentists and general dentists can provide excellent care to children. But 21st Century kids are getting dental care earlier in life than in previous generations, and pediatric dentistry is on the rise. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the number of practicing pediatric dentists nearly doubled between 2001 and 2018 and continues to rise.
What Is A Pediatric Dentist?
Pediatric dentists specialize in treating children, while general dentists see patients of all ages. It’s similar to the difference between a family practitioner and a pediatrician. A pediatric dentist specializes in oral healthcare for children from infants to teens or young adults and has additional training in meeting the unique needs of children. Pediatric dentists complete the traditional four years of dental school, earning a DDS or DMD degree like general dentists. Then they complete a two-year pediatric residency, including care for children with special needs. Their specialization gives them a unique understanding of both the behavioral and oral health needs of children. But how do I know if a pediatric dentist is the best choice for my family?
Do I Need A Pediatric Dentist for My Child?
Family dentists can provide excellent care for patients of all ages. However, a pediatric dentist’s extra training can often help create successful outcomes. More and more families are choosing pediatric dentists for their little ones. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Kids need dental care earlier than in decades past. Tooth decay in children ages 2 to 5 is on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control. So it’s essential to get children into the dentist’s office early. Pediatric dentists are well prepared to meet the needs of the youngest patients.
- Pediatric dentists offer oral health care to infants and toddlers, including pain-free treatments for tongue and lip ties and helping with habits like thumb sucking and pacifier use.
- Pediatric dentists are skilled in treating dental injuries common in children, focusing on optimal long-term outcomes.
- Pediatric dentists have expertise in identifying potential orthodontic issues early.
- Pediatric dentists get training in child psychology, including working with patients with anxiety, children on the autism spectrum and children with other special needs.
- Pediatric dentists develop communication techniques that work with young children, including motivation and positive reinforcement.
- A pediatric dentistry practice offers equipment and technology designed with children in mind. Dentists are familiar with the latest techniques like silver diamine fluoride treatments for cavities in young children.
- Pediatric dentists’ training includes sedation dentistry, including nitrous oxide, for children with anxiety or special needs.
Are Pediatric Dentists More Expensive?
Pediatric dentists are specialists, so pricing may be slightly higher than a general dentistry practice. Pediatric dentists have extra training and offer specialized equipment designed with children in mind. The technology and treatments used for children are often different from adults and may have a higher price tag. Keep in mind that price differences are usually not dramatic for similar services. Also, most pediatric dentists accept insurance. As demand for pediatric services rises, more insurance companies are including them in-network. Talk with your insurance provider about what services are covered. For services your insurance doesn’t cover, pediatric dentists accept a range of payment options that make it possible for you to get the best possible care for your little one.
How Long Do Children See Pediatric Dentists?
Most pediatric dentists see patients into early adulthood. The usual age to transition to a general dentist is 18 to 22 years, a move that often corresponds with graduation from high school or college. However, many special needs patients continue to see their trusted pediatric dentist into adulthood.
At Noble Pediatric Dental, we love watching our young patients develop great oral health habits. From infants to teens, we focus on preventive care for children and catching problems early while building a sense of trust. Going to the dentist really can be fun. By creating an environment where kids feel safe and comfortable, we set them up for a positive outlook on dental care that will last a lifetime.