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Should your kids see a pediatric dentist?

When the time comes for your little one’s first dental exam, should you make an appointment with your own dentist, or should you consider one who specializes in treating children? There is no right answer to this question, but one option may be better for your family.

Most of us are familiar with regular dentists and already have experience with a local dental practice or dentist. Take some time to think about how your child would react to that dentist or dental office. In many cases, everyone in the family can see the same dentist, including young children.

However, sometimes seeing a pediatric dentist might be a better choice. Let’s take a look at how a pediatric dentist differs from a regular family dentist.

What is a pediatric dentist?

A dentist for young children is called a pediatric dentist. These dentists have an additional two years of training specific to treating infants, children, teens, and children with special needs. They are experts in tooth development, human physical development, and child behavior, which makes them specially qualified to help children.

What can a pediatric dentist do for my child?

With their skills and experience, pediatric dentists can provide all of the dental care your child might need including:

  • Exams
  • Preventive care (cleanings and fluoride treatments)
  • Risk assessments for tooth decay and teeth straightening
  • Treatments for cavities and gum disease
  • Repair of dental injuries
  • Recommendations on diet and nutrition
  • Advice about pacifiers and thumb sucking
  • Alerting you to signs of dental issues that may be related to other conditions (such as diabetes, asthma, hay fever, congenital heart defects)

Why choose a pediatric dentist?

While it may be easier to take your child to your own dentist, there are some good reasons to consider a specialist.

Some kids, as well as some adults, suffer from dental anxiety. They can get very nervous about going to the dentist, which can make it more difficult to examine and treat them. A child-friendly dentist often has more patience and more skill working with kids. He or she knows how to ease fears and get cooperation. You can learn more about how to help make tooth care more fun in the article Seven Ways to Make Dental Care Fun for Kids.

These offices are also equipped with kid-sized equipment and supplies to make any exam or treatment as comfortable as possible for your child.

Also, the environment is often much less intimidating. A kid-friendly dentist office is often bright, colorful, and full of things like toys and books to help occupy and entertain children.

Where can you find a pediatric dentist?

The best way to find a good pediatric dentist is to ask for recommendations. Your pediatrician will likely have a suggestion. You can also ask your own dentist for a recommendation. Local medical centers or dental schools are also likely to have one on staff.

Unless your child has a unique issue or condition, going to the family dentist may be fine. But you know your child best. If he or she tends to be fussy, frightens easily, or just has trouble sitting still, a pediatric dentist will likely have more patience and experience to help make the visit go smoothly.

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