What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a general dentist?


Pediatric dentists specialize in the oral health care of children, from infants to teenagers. Here, our Kamloops dentists explain how pediatric dentists are different from general dentists.

Here at  Grasslands Dental Care, parents often ask us what the difference between a pediatric dentist and a general dentist is. In particular, they wonder if there is any benefit to bringing their children to a pediatric dentist instead of a general dentist.

Below, our Kamloops dentists explain the key differences between general and pediatric dentists and explain in which scenarios it might be beneficial to visit a pediatric specialist.

What is a pediatric dentist?

Qualifications & Training

Pediatric Dentistry is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the Canadian Dental Association.

To become a dentist, you must go to dental school. General dentists are graduates who move immediately on to practice as dentists after dental school. 

To become a pediatric dentist in Canada, dental school graduates must complete an accredited advanced education program in pediatric dentistry. Once they have completed this program, they will attain a specialty designation from the Provincial Dental Regulatory Authority in their province.

What do pediatric dentists do?

Pediatric dentists have specialized training in the specific oral health care needs of children, ranging from infants to teenagers.

Pediatric dentists address the following dental care needs specific to children:

  • Baby teeth care
  • Preventive dental care for children: oral hygiene cleaning, fluoride treatments, nutrition and diet recommendations, etc.
  • Infant oral health exams, including risk assessment for cavities
  • Early orthodontic assessment & treatment: straightening teeth and correcting misalignment and bite problems (malocclusion)
  • Dental care for children with disabilities 
  • Habit counseling: thumb sucking and pacifier habit-breaking
  • Fillings for tooth cavities or defects
  • Diagnosis of oral conditions associated with diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, congenital heart defect, hay fever, and ADD / ADHD

Does my child need to go to a special dentist for children?

General dentists have the skills and training necessary to care for children's teeth, so in most cases, sending children to a pediatric specialist is not necessary.

That means that you can bring your child to your own dentist, and they will be well qualified to care for your child's teeth.

For children with unusual or more serious dental problems, or for those with disabilities, the specialized training of a pediatric dentist may be required.

If you would like to book an appointment for your child at Grasslands Dental Care, please contact us today!

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