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When Kids Outgrow the Pedodontist

June 3, 2013

When should teens, accustomed to the pedodontist, switch from that specialist to a general dentist? Is it easier to have all members of your family see the same dentist? Is your child ready to see the family’s general dentist? Have their dental needs evolved to where they would be better served by the skills and procedures provided in a family dentist’s practice?

The question I am asked most is when is my child old enough to see the general dentist? I always reply: “it depends.” The determining factors are the child’s maturity, specific needs, comfort level with dental care, and the family’s scheduling needs.

As a General and Family Cosmetic Dentist, I see too many adult patients that were not introduced to dental care in the positive environment pedodontists work so diligently to provide for their young patients. Although I offer dental care for the entire family, I encourage all my parents to take their very young children to the pedodontist so that a positive introduction to dental care is more predictable. If having all members in the family seen during the same visit is more convenient, I am open to seeing most kids, if the children in question can demonstrate an ability to confidently participate in the visit. The last situation that makes it easier to determine a child’s readiness to see the family general dentist is their dental needs. A family dentist is much more familiar with cosmetic restorative treatment.

My daughter, who is seven, sees a pedodontist. I have sat in the waiting room with her at both her pediatrician and pedodontist and seen many uncomfortable teens waiting to be seen, acting embarrassed once their name is called. I believe that these individuals are prime candidates for the calmer setting provided in the general dentist’s office.
Pedodontists, or pediatric dentists, are dentists specializing in dental care for children. In order to deliver their specialized care pedodontists utilize miniturized equipment, psychology, distraction and rewards systems to gently foster compliance throughout the visit. I would say these are the main differences between children and family dentistry.
There are numerous reasons this specialty exists, however, most parents seeking dental care for their children are simply relieved to find a doctor who can provide a basic level of dental care, while avoiding a traumatic experience that can make the bi-annual trip a major headache (and in extreme cases, make seeing the dentist a lifelong challenge of overcoming fear). On the other hand, the family dentist will focus on comfort and relaxation as a backdrop to providing a high quality dental experience.

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