Pediatric Dentists: What’s the Difference?

As a parent, you’re probably dedicated to making sure your little ones brush twice a day and make it to their dental exams. But who should you take them to see? If you’re like many parents, you might find yourself trying to decide between taking your children to your normal dentist or scheduling an appointment with a pediatric dentist in Indianapolis. Although many parents wonder how helpful a children’s dental specialist would really be, there are some very compelling benefits to choosing a pediatric specialist for your child.

Years of Additional Schooling

Although many dental clinics advertise themselves as “family dentists” who cater to families, most of these practices are run by general dentists, not specialists who have been trained in pediatric dentistry.

The American Dental Association only recognizes nine professional dental specialties. They include endodontics, oral and maxillofacial pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, periodontics, prosthodontics, and pediatric dentistry. To become a pediatric dental specialist, doctors must first graduate from a licensed dental school, take and pass their certification exams, and then find a pediatric residency. After working alongside professional pediatric dentists and completing their pediatric residency of two years, candidates can take certification exams to become a board-certified pediatric dentist.

Many pediatric dentists also receive additional training that can be helpful in the field of pediatrics, including anesthesiology to administer sedatives to small children, and techniques for making dental visits go more smoothly. These additional years of formal training help to prepare pediatric dentists for the challenges of working with children, so that they can offer the best care possible.


Pediatric Dentists Love Working With Kids

Sure, your family dentist might be “good with kids,” but how much does he or she actually look forward to your child’s visits? Another thing that sets pediatric dentists apart from general dentists is that they have chosen a specialty based around kids because they genuinely love working with children. Dr. Adam Shisler, DDS, explained this key distinction in an interview with the American Dental Student Association:

“You don’t get into pediatrics unless you really, really love what you do. If you don’t, you deal with kids that can sense whether you want to be there or not.”

– Dr. Adam Shisler, DDS

When you make an appointment with a pediatric dentist, your child will be able to look forward to working with a professional that truly enjoys talking to, joking with, and treating small children. In addition to offering services for babies, toddlers, and young kids, most pediatric dentists treat children clear through adolescence, which means your child will have the chance to get to know your dentist and feel comfortable around them.

A Deeper Understanding of Children’s Oral Health

Little mouths have a different set of needs, which is another reason working with a pediatric dentist is so important. Pediatric dentists have a deeper understanding of children’s oral health concerns. Here are just a few services pediatric dentists offer that your normal family dentist may not feel comfortable with.

Habit Counseling

Pediatric dentists offer habit counseling for parents and children alike regarding issues like thumb sucking, sending children to bed with bottles, and pacifier use. In addition to helping parents to learn strategies for teaching their children the best practices, pediatric dentists can also give early assessments for orthodontic care.

Diagnosing Oral Conditions Tied to Other Medical Problems

Sometimes, children have dental problems that may be linked to other health concerns such as diabetes, hay fever, ADHD, or heart conditions. Because of their additional years of specialized training, pediatric dentists can spot problems that could affect your child’s overall health.

Treatment of Dental Injuries

If you have happy, active kids, then you are probably familiar with daily injuries and first aid protocols at home. But when children have injuries to their mouths or teeth, you may need a pediatric dentist to help. From knocked-out teeth to fractured molars, pediatric dentists know how to keep kids calm while they restore their teeth.

Offices Geared Towards Children

Last but not least, pediatric dental offices are typically geared towards children from the moment you walk in the door, which can make the entire experience much more manageable for nervous kids. Some pediatric dental offices have rooms painted in exciting age-appropriate themes, while others have toy chests stacked to the brim with goodies for kids who are willing to sit still during exams. Kid-friendly offices are warm, welcoming places where children can kick back, relax, and be themselves.

As you can see, pediatric dentists can play a vital role in successful dental care for your little ones. To find a pediatric dentist in your area, visit the website of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. In addition to providing parents with crucial early dental care information, they also have an easy-to-use pediatric dentist finder that makes it incredibly easy to find the right dentist in your area. By understanding the role of pediatric dentists and taking your kids to a qualified provider in your area, you can ensure their health and happiness—while making appointments a lot more fun.