We live in a day and age, thankfully, where options and information abound. This encompasses all manner of life decisions big and small, and for our purposes here today, it includes specifically choices and options in dental care. If you have small children, odds are high that your daily tasks revolve around meeting their needs and whether you’ve thought a lot about it or not you have options when it comes to choosing a dentist for your kids.
It’s not unusual for new parents to assume that their family dentist would be a logical choice when it comes time for their kids first dentist office visit, but before you make that first appointment let us inform you about the differences between your general dentist that meets your adult dental hygiene needs, and a pediatric dentist.
What is a Pediatric Dentist?
The educational path of a pediatric dentist is perhaps more involved than you might have assumed. A pediatric dentist must first obtain a four-year bachelor’s degree, typically in a field of science, and then be accepted to a dentistry school (similar to the path of a doctor obtaining a bachelor’s degree before being accepted to medical school). Just as medical school is highly competitive, the same is true for dental school.
Dental school is a four-year program in which the future dentists choose a path of either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM). In order to become a pediatric dentist, once their DDS or DDM is obtained, further education and training is required.
Pediatric dentists complete an additional two-year or three-year residency program following their DDS or DDM. This additional two to three years focuses on applying the training and knowledge from their doctorate program to the specific differences of dentistry procedures, techniques, behavior, psychology, and biology of infants, children, and teens.
It’s important to note that the biological and behavioral differences between adults and children are significant. For that reason, in our society we have pediatricians in the field of medicine who study specifically to monitor, diagnose, and treat children as they grow to adulthood. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the field of dentistry should further specialize for the dental healthcare of children as well.
Once a dentist completes their pediatric dentistry residency, they must become board certified which is a rigorous testing process including written, oral, and practical elements. All five of our pediatric dentists have board certification to practice as pediatric dentists.
A general dentist or a family dentist has the DDS or DDM but has not taken the additional residency program to specialize in pediatric dentistry. A general dentist may limit the ages of their patients to adults only, whereas a family dentist will provide certain dental services for children such as dental cleanings and possibly composite fillings (cavities). However, a family dentist will likely refer you to a pediatric dentist for more involved or serious pediatric dental concerns.
One obvious benefit to taking your child to your family dentist is the convenience factor. We can’t argue the truth that if you can schedule your own cleaning and that of your child to happen at the same time under the same roof that it’s certainly advantageous. So by comparison, what are the benefits to utilizing a pediatric dentist?
- Pediatric dentists treat only children, consequently they have a treasure trove of experience working with kids of different personalities, behaviors, and fears.
- Because their work revolves around children, pediatric dental offices are typically designed with an eye to what feels safe, inviting, and interesting to a child.
- The equipment, tools, and machines are designed specifically to be used for children, which means the size is typically smaller and thereby more comfortable for kids.
- Part of the two-year specialization training for a pediatric dentist focuses on working with special needs patients.
- Pediatric dentists are specially trained for dental services that utilize anesthesia.
- Pediatric dentists have detailed and focused knowledge about preventative dental care, specifically for infants, children, and teens.
As previously mentioned, a family dentist may provide some basic dental services for children, but more involved or serious concerns they will refer to a pediatric dentist. Which begs the question, what types of services do pediatric dentists provide?
- Dental Sealants
- Composite Fillings
For more information about these services, please visit our services page where we’ve provided a summary for each of the services and what you can expect when you choose us as your pediatric dentistry.
Our pediatric dentists have dedicated their lives to the dental care of the children in our community. Combined they’ve performed over 30,000 in office sedation and have over 40 years of experience. Our offices are designed with your child in mind to be warm and inviting. We are trained to work with special needs patients and can make the dental office visit a positive experience for all children regardless of their needs.
When it comes to making the decision, information and options are important, but so are first impressions! Our group is comprised of five pediatric dentists: Dr. Jason, Dr. Chuck, Dr. Walker, Dr. JD, and our newest addition to the team Dr. Blake. They rotate working in our three fully-staffed and equipped pediatric dental offices in the area: Bountiful, Taylorsville, and Herriman. Each of our locations can provide in-house sedation services as well.
Give us a call at 801-948-8880. We’d love to have you in for a consultation to meet your kids and let them meet us and see our office space. We are devoted to seeing happy, healthy smiles on the children in our communities, and look forward to adding yours to the group.