What is a Pediatric Dentist?

A pediatric dentist specializes in the oral health care needs of children from infancy through young adulthood. In addition to four years of standard dental school, pediatric dentists complete an additional two to three years of advanced pediatric dentistry specialty training to prepare them to treat younger patients.

Pediatric Dentists vs. General Dentists

Pediatric dentists have additional training in patient behavior guidance. They have additional options or approaches to examine and treat children in ways that make them comfortable. Also, they are trained to meet the dental needs of medically complex patients and those with developmental disabilities.

It is important to note that pediatric dentists also have additional training in supervision and evaluation of facial skeletal growth and development, early cavity prevention, and sedations for children. When practicing pediatric dentistry, doctors deal with different problems than general dentists. It is important for them to be highly educated about both baby teeth and adult teeth, the transition from baby teeth to adult teeth, overall development and growth spurts, and other factors that general dentists don’t typically encounter in their regular practice.

A board certified pediatric dentist has gone through a rigorous testing process with the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. They have demonstrated exceptional knowledge and expertise at a standard not possessed by other dentists.

Can Pediatric Dentists Treat Adults?

Technically speaking, pediatric dentists are qualified to treat adult patients because they have completed dental school. However, most pediatric dentists choose to only focus on younger patients. Pediatric dental offices are simply different from most general dentistry practices. In order to ensure the comfort of young patients and help children feel welcome, pediatric offices are typically decorated very differently from general dental offices. Some of the equipment and tools are often sized differently to accommodate for younger patients.

Pediatric dentists intentionally completed additional training in order to be qualified to work with children, which is another reason many of them choose not to see adult patients. Some doctors make exceptions, especially for patients who have recently turned 18 and are still looking for a general dentist to transition to. If you are in this situation, talk to your pediatric dentist to learn more about your options!