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The Difference Between a Family Dentist and a Pediatric Dentist

August 15, 2017

A pediatric dentist and a family dentist can both provide quality care for your family. The biggest difference between the two is who they treat and how they approach dental care. Consider it as a different methodology, even though the ultimate result is the same – to keep patients’ teeth and gums healthy. A pediatric dentist specializes in treating infants and toddlers, who need professional care to grow up with healthy teeth.

Treating Children At A Young Age

The biggest difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist is in the ages that they treat. A pediatric dentist may treat children as young as one year old and continue treating them until they are eighteen or twenty. This makes a pediatric dentist the best option for parents who want to start their children on a regular dental care routine before getting into school.

The American Dental Association recommends that children visit the dentist as soon as they have their first teeth. This can ensure that they remain healthy since a dentist can begin to clean teeth from a very early age. Many parents are unaware that toddlers can experience tooth decay just like older children can. In fact, Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is incredibly common.

Visiting a pediatric dentist early can help to prevent decay, even if a family dentist is selected for care later on. It is important to note that a pediatric dentist can continue providing a continuity of care until patients are in college but not afterward.

What Does The Family Need?

On the other hand, a family dentist can treat everyone in the family but may not begin providing treatment until a child has reached elementary. For families who want to have their children treated at the same office that they are, a family dentist is going to be a better solution. Everyone can schedule their appointments for the same day to make life more convenient.

There is no end date for when a family dentist will stop providing treatment. Children, parents, and grandparents can receive treatment in the same local dental office. The only issue is that a family dentist may not provide care for younger members of the family, so they will need to seek treatment elsewhere.


Both offices may offer light sedation like laughing gas. However, if a young child needs significant medication or to be put to sleep, a pediatric dentist is going to be the best solution. Most family dentist offices do not offer this level of medication to younger patients.

Office Atmosphere

A family dentist treats patients of all ages so the office atmosphere is going to have a variety of things to cater to them. There may be books for younger children, magazines for teens and reading materials for older adults. The atmosphere is generally comfortable but more subdued. A pediatric dentist office may be more colorful and is likely to be decorated with cartoon characters, animals and other fun things that could interest a child.

They may have more toys and the overall atmosphere is likely to be noisier due to children playing. This is ideal for anyone with young children but may be uncomfortable for families with teens only.

Oral Surgery

If a child needs oral surgery, it is important to find out if a local pediatric or family dentist offers it. A family dentist may not perform surgery on young patients where a pediatric dentist will.

Pediatric Dentist Vs. A Family Dentist

You can expect to receive a high level of care from both a pediatric and family dentist so select the one that best meets your family’s needs.