Pediatric Dentistry vs. General Dentistry: What’s the Difference?

Posted on January 18th, 2021 at 9:35 AM
Pediatric Dentistry vs. General Dentistry: What’s the Difference?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between pediatric dentistry vs general dentistry? You’re probably aware that pediatric dentists specialize in working with children and the developing mouth. That’s not to say that general dentists do not work with young patients or aren’t familiar with these subjects — however, their focus is much broader. A pediatric dentist receives additional training to provide an office experience and care more specifically catered to children and adolescents. 

Who can be considered a pediatric patient?

According to the FDA, a pediatric patient is an individual 21 or younger. One detail that distinguishes pediatric dentistry from general dentistry is that a pediatric dentist exclusively works with those 21 and younger. Pediatric patients are categorized into the following subdivisions: neonates, infants, children, and adolescents.

The different ages can be categorized as follows:

  • Neonates - from birth through the first 28 days of life 
  • Infants - 29 days to less than 2 years
  • Children - 2 years to less than 12 years
  • Adolescents - aged 12 through 21 

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children should start seeing a pediatric dentist as early as six months. As a parent, you should not wait until your child's first birthday. During the first year of your baby's life, their teeth will come in. A pediatric dentist will examine the health of your child’s first few teeth. It is recommended that a child should visit the dentist every six months.

Becoming a pediatric dentist

Becoming a pediatric dentist is not easy. Children's teeth require a lot of work. As such, there are a few extra steps involved in getting certified in pediatric dentistry vs general dentistry. There is much to know about the development of the mouth (such as the eruption of teeth) and the nuances of caring for young patients, who may be fidgety, fickle, or even defiant. This translates into years of additional study.

As soon as someone realizes that they want to become a licensed pediatric dentist, their path will start as an undergraduate. Pediatric students need to work hard to keep their marks high and work their way up the ladder. It takes a few years of college before you can move on. After college, they proceed to dental school and follow up with a residency program.

Pediatric dentistry focuses

Pediatric dentists have several common challenges they work through every day, most of which naturally come with the developing mouth. Their responsibilities include but are not limited to: the examination of jawbones, gum tissue, and teeth, x-ray scanning, oral surgery, repair and treatment of dental cavities, and initial dental examinations.

The foremost role of a pediatric dentist is preventative dentistry. It is their job to educate children from a young age on their daily teeth-cleaning routines and habits. If patients are not taught from a younger age, they tend to have more and more serious dental problems as they grow older. Scheduling regular dental appointments and checkups also normalizes the experience and minimizes the chance of major (painful) issues developing, which are the kind of things that can lead to dental anxiety or phobias

Caring for children, caring for families

Dr. Kevin Mahoney has over 35 years of experience in dentistry with patients young and old. He has a passion for dentistry and making dental visits easier for younger patients, in particular those who may suffer from dental anxiety. The dentist’s chair may be a scary place for some, but Dr. Kevin Mahoney takes great care to make it a friendly place (especially with our dental therapy dogs Dogtor Gizmo and little brother Gadget!)

Dr. Kevin Mahoney is ADA certified, with extensive professional experience in the areas of pediatric dentistry and special needs dentistry, specializing in both restorative and cosmetic dental treatments.  Patient comfort and pain control are our priorities!

Book an appointment with Sleep Dentistry Erie today, and meet Dr. Kevin for your family's dental needs!