In today’s modern world, dentistry comes in all forms. How do you know which dentist is right for you and your growing family? There are various specialties in dentistry and many of them overlap between different populations of patients. This overlap is very pronounced between family dentists and pediatric dentists. If you have  children, do you choose a dentist for yourself and a different one for your children?

What Is Family Dentistry?

Family dentists are trained to treat patients of all ages. Family dentists care for your child’s baby teeth, older child’s mixed dentition, adult teeth, and senior dental care. Everyone in the family going to the same dentist can be quite convenient. A child can become easily acclimated to the family dentist by simply watching and modeling another family member. It is usually a very easy transition.

Family dentistry provides preventative dental care, such as regular professional cleanings and oral cancer screenings, and other basic dental care that may be needed. It is important to schedule regular appointments for checkups, so that your dentist can catch any problems before they require the care of a specialist like an oral surgeon or orthodontist. Specialists offer advanced services like treatment of difficult root canals, periodontal surgery, bone surgery, braces, etc. While specialists are still used routinely many of these procedures can be done at the family dental practice. Most dentists will also take x-rays of the teeth on a timely basis to examine for cavities, TMJ problems, diseased tissues, and infection. Your family dentist can fill the cavities, use dental sealants to help to prevent cavities, monitor growth and development to evaluate need for braces, tooth extractions, etc.

If you see your dentist every six months, you will be less likely to have severe breakdown and tooth loss. Your family dentist is trained to help you keep your teeth healthy and can even provide cosmetic dentistry services to keep your smile bright and healthy. Your dentist will educate you and give recommendations for brushing, flossing and rinsing to prevent plaque and tooth decay between appointments. Finding a family dentistry practice that your whole family is comfortable with can take a lot of stress out of making and keeping your regularly scheduled appointments with a variety of dentists.

What Is Pediatric Dentistry?

Where a family dentist will see patients from age 2 to 102, pediatric dentists only see patients from approximately 2 to 18 years old. The pediatric specialty is only related to a young population and does not offer many advanced services of dental care for permanent teeth. Root canals, crowns, impacted teeth, and braces are generally not treated by a pediatric specialist. Many of the services offered do overlap with the family dentist such as x-rays, exams , fillings, sealants, dental cleanings, tooth extractions, baby root canals/crowns, space maintaining appliances. The Pediatric dentists role is important for patients who need specialized care like children with disabilities, those that need sedation, children with severe, full mouth breakdown, and those with behavior issues.

Conclusion

When making the choice between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist, it comes down to you and your child’s comfort levels. Feeling scared or uncomfortable in the exam chair or being scared of the dentist can ruin a child’s confidence and create a situation of dental anxiety or dental phobia. A good dentist, whether family or pediatric, will understand your child’s needs, make the experience a good one, and give great dental treatment. You want a dentist who will  provide a smooth, positive experience so that the little patient is motivated to continue good oral hygiene habits and regular appointments. When she/he is older and has to make health decisions on his/her own, they should have learned to establish a rapport and ease with their dentist. Choose wisely, but realize that a pediatric dentist may or may not be the best choice for your little ones if you have a good family dentist now.

Most family dentists will be happy to see your child even just to meet them and bring them back to get comfortable with the office.If you already have a family dentist that is experienced and willing to take on young children, you may want to start out in this environment to save the the hassle of going between various offices. Selecting a dentist who will treat your child throughout his or her growth has its distinct advantages, and a steady knowledge of patient history is one of them.  Family dentistry is a good choice for many due to the ease of having everyone in the family treated by the same doctor or at least in the same office.

When making any decision for your family it is always best to be informed and have options. There are many dentists with varying personalities, abilities,and skill levels. Find the one that fits you best, and you and your family will be much happier with your choice!