Pediatric vs. General Dentists: Which is Right For Your Child?
Pediatric dental practices have a knack for putting the fun in a trip to the dentist. From building blocks in the waiting room to Disney videos in the dental chair, pediatric practices are equipped to distract and entertain kids so early stage oral health care is a little easier and more fun!
If you have young kids, do they have to see a pediatric dentist? And if your children already visit a pediatric dental practice, when and how do you switch to an adult dentist? Here are some tips and guidelines to follow:
What is the Difference Between Child Dentists and Adult Dentists?
Pediatric dentists limit their practice to treating children only. They receive two to three years of special postgraduate training in their field, focusing on preventive care for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special needs. Many general dentistry offices also treat children, but they don’t focus solely on the needs of young patients. Adult dentists are typically better equipped to treat adult teeth and more complicated issues like fillings, root canals, crowns, and dental implants.
Why Do Some People Choose to Visit a Child Dentist?
While many general dental practices treat both children and adults, some parents prefer a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists are specially trained to communicate with patients and families to learn how to create a calm atmosphere for young patients. These skills come in handy because children often struggle to explain problems with their teeth and can lack the ability to advocate for themselves. At Loudoun Smile Center, we’re committed to easing both adult and pediatric dental distress and anxiety.
Should Teenagers See a Pediatric or General Dentist?
Adolescence marks a major turning point for young people in their physical development. Both pediatric and adult dentists are trained to look for changes in the mouth as permanent teeth erupt, often recommending early orthodontic treatment when appropriate.
They’ll monitor changes to your child’s wisdom teeth via annual x-rays and exams and let you know when to consider having them removed. If your child has been seeing a pediatric dentist until now, adolescence is often when they want to make a switch. As teenagers long to become more like adults, they want a more “grown-up” visit to the dentist without the hoopla of pediatric dental practice.
When Does it Make Sense to Make a Switch to a General Dentist?
On this front, there are no hard and fast rules. Most pediatric dentists will see patients until they turn 18, but many recommend switching to a general dentist when a child has all of their adult teeth, by around age 14. Parents will often switch their children to an adult dentist in middle or early high school, depending on the individual child’s needs and comfort level. Bottom line: Your child will need to graduate eventually from their pediatric dentist. Adolescence can be a great time to establish an ongoing relationship with a general dentist.
How Should I Approach the Transition with my Child?
Ask your child if they’re ready to see a dentist that treats adults or if they are still happy going to a children’s dentist. Be sure to research and contact the dental practice you’re considering to find out if they treat patients under 18, and if they recommend an age to transition out of pediatric care. If your child is heading to college and planning to transition to an adult dentist before leaving the area, ask your pediatric dentist for some referrals. Finally, make sure your child has completed unfinished restorative dentistry treatments before moving on to your new dentist and make available any key records, photos, and x-rays.
Looking for a Child Dentist in Ashburn, VA?
Our team at Loudoun Smile Care treats both children and adult patients – but we’re also experienced at making the transition from a pediatric dentist to an adult dentist as smooth as possible for your child. Contact LSC to schedule a consultation or appointment!