Going to the dentist is a very common fear for adults and kids both. So it’s understandable when you are feeling stressed out trying to choose between a pediatric dentist or a family/general practice dentist for your children. Let me help you decide by laying out all the factors that make them different. I hope this helps make your decision easier. Please leave your reactions in the comments so we can help each other make an easier decision.
What is a Family Dentist
A family dentist, also known as a general dentist, sees patients of all ages. According to Dimayuga Family Dental, “This kind of dental professional has got the abilities and training to consider proper care of most fundamental dental needs of people of any age from childhood well to their later years. A general dentist has the abilities to deal with most dental problems, but may refer a client to a specialist. “
What is a Pediatric Dentist
Some people refer to a Pediatric dentist as kids dentist. Board Certified Pediatric dentists have 2-3 years additional training immediately following dental school. This specialized schooling focuses on child psychology and development.
I will compare the price, family involvement, staff and doctor bedside manners of both family and kids dentists. Then, at the end, I hope you are closer to making a more informed decision.
Which costs more – family dentist or pediatric dentist?
There is often no change in cost for a child at your family/general dentist office. Whatever you pay with your current insurance will be the same for your child.
Since they are more specialized, a kids’ dentist will often cost more for dental cleanings and procedures. Make sure and call ahead before you make an appointment. Some pediatric dentists only accept certain insurances and then also require payment in full upfront.
How welcoming are general and pediatric dentists about letting families go back to the exam room together? This can often make or break the decision for you.
Family or general dentist practices tend to be more relaxed and allow parents to sit next to their child(ren) during the teeth cleaning. It also helps that the same dentist treats the entire family and exams can be more relaxing, as if everyone knows each other.
Call ahead and ask what their policy is on parents sitting in the exam room. Many pediatric dentists do not allow parents to go back with their kids, claiming it causes added stress on the child.
Staff & Dentist Bedside/Chairside Manner
Above all, how friendly and comforting a dentist and their staff is can be the one factor that is most important of all. A rough dental hygienist is enough to make you switch dentists. Kids are already scared enough by dentists, it is so important to find one they can trust.
The best thing about your family dentist is that you already know how friendly they are. You know what to expect because you already know your dentist. That being said, some dentists are great with adults but not so patient with kids. If you aren’t sure, ask to go in with your child and don’t be afraid to find a new dentist if the personalities are not a good match.
The personalities and training of pediatric dentists and their staff is exactly why lots of parents choose to send their children. Candy from Mommypalooza said it best, “For my kids I like pediatric dentists because I feel like my kids respond better to that type of office environment. The space is usually more inviting and comfortable.” Most pediatric dentists will have offices set up specifically for children – TVs on the ceiling, playroom waiting rooms, and colorful walls.
It’s best to find somebody that you all mesh with. A dentist you can trust and feel like they will help guide you in making good decisions. Our experience with a pediatric dentist was less than exceptional. Like the time they tried to still give fluoride after I declined it, but still dispensed it on the tray and then threw it away. Or the time they were more concerned about cleaning a toy dispensing machine before helping me tend to my daughter’s injured and bloody finger. Or most importantly the time our kids’ dentist tried to rush us into getting cavities filled before really taking the time to assess everything.
That’s when we decided to get a second opinion and learned that the fillings weren’t really urgent or necessary and that we found our family dentist to be much better for our family. They also handled our oldest daughter’s missing teeth situation like it wasn’t a big deal and helped calm my worries.
On the flip side, I had a pretty bad experience with a generic dentist that was part of a chain.
So – Which is Best?
If you are still wondering if you need a kids’ dentist, let me reassure you that a family or general dentist will be just as effective as a pediatric dentist. Deciding which is best is a personal decision and neither one is better than the other. Some parents feel more comfortable with a dentist trained in how to care for children. Others have such a fantastic rapport with their current dentist that they want the entire family to go there. But, it definitely helps to see how they respond to our child and how your child responds to them and their staff.
At the end of the day, it’s all about what the dentist in which you are most comfortable.
Do you use a family dentist or pediatric (kids) dentist for your children?