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The Differences Between General and Pediatric Dentistry

The physiology of adults and children varies greatly, so their medical needs are different as well. Oral care for young patients is incredibly unique when compared to the care given to adults. When caring for children’s teeth, dentists use special treatments and alternative materials to fit their needs. Here are the differences between general and pediatric dentistry you may not know.

Specialized Professionals

First and foremost, a pediatric dentist has undergone training to gain expertise in childcare and cater to children’s specific needs. Becoming an expert in oral care for the youth requires loads of schooling and experience (often two to three years of specialized programs). This is because understanding children’s health issues is often more complex than for adult patients. The most challenging obstacle a pediatric dentist faces when dealing with kids is that children’s mouths are still developing and demand personalized treatment.

Furthermore, children require more regular preventative and reactive care for their teeth. Kids who play organized sports or roughhouse damage their teeth often, and many kids suffer from cavities thanks to poor hygiene and diets. In short, the number of times a child visits the orthodontist is far greater than when they enter adulthood.

Unique Equipment

Oral equipment at a general dentistry practice comes in a more “one-size-fits-all” form than the tools at a pediatric office. X-ray and teeth cleaning machinery must fit the smaller, more malleable mouths of young patients. Operating this equipment takes additional training for hygienists and dentists.

Kid-friendly equipment makes operating on children more manageable and less traumatizing for young patients. Tools are softer, smaller, and sometimes available for over-the-counter use. Parents can use them on their young children or babies at home. Pediatric practices must often consider implementing televisions or friendly distractions to ease the minds of their young patients as well.

Alternative Treatments

The treatments and operations performed on children are among the differences between general and pediatric dentistry. For example, when dentists remove “baby teeth” prematurely from a child’s mouth, they do the procedure in a way that ensures their adult teeth can grow back with minimal complications.

Pediatric dentists also use x-rays on children’s mouths more frequently. They might call for an x-ray reading every six months if a child is prone to developing tooth decay. However, these x-ray machines give off a fourth of the usual amount of radiation they do for adults. For most pediatric operations, dentists administer lower levels of medicine to match a child’s physiology. Pediatric treatments even use newer restorative materials without Bisphenol A (a resin-producing chemical).

Positive Demeanor

Pediatric dentists and hygienists must receive training in early childhood care, much like a daycare worker or teacher. This way, they can handle children and their anxieties. A pediatric practice must provide a calming space by presenting a positive demeanor that convinces children to move less during cleanings and reduce their fear of a dentist visit.

When considering the difference between adult and child oral care, you should recognize the additional factors that a pediatric dentist must adapt to. Children are physically and mentally different from adults. Therefore, they require specialized care from highly educated professionals.

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Written by Logan Voss

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