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How To Choose Between a Family or Pediatric (Kids) Dentist Without Losing Your Mind

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. I MAY EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES.

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.

How To Choose Between a Family or Pediatric Dentist

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.

Kids Dentist vs family dentist

Price

Which costs more – family dentist or pediatric dentist?

Family 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.

Kids Dentist

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.

kids dentist versus family dentist

Family Participation

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 Dentist

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.

Pediatric Dentist

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.

Family Dentist

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.

Pediatric Dentist

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.

Our experience

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?


THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. I MAY EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES.

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50 Comments

  1. I really appreciate the pediatric dentist that cared for my kids when they were younger. The kids seemed very relaxed and even had fun during their dental checkups.

    Their experiences were so much better than you dental visits when I was a kid.

    1. Oddly, our girls are way more relaxed at our family dentist. I’m glad that are options for everybody.

  2. I had braces as an adult. Got them two weeks before my high school graduation – that was quite a time to have a lisp, let me tell ya.
    I remember it being so weird going to my same dentist I had as a kid for braces.I mean, I was practically an adult being treated as a baby. The waiting rooms were full of kids toys and rambunctious little ones.
    I eventually switched to a family orthodontist. The whole process sucked, but I think I was just mad about having braces into college rather than it having anything to do with the kid dentist over family dentist.
    Moral of the story, get braces young. People are mean!.
    Thanks for this post, though! Could have saved me some time back then!

    1. So far, our 11 year old will have to have them, thanks to the missing teeth. And yes, we are planning on staring early. Thanks for the tip! I didn’t have braces, so it’s all new to me.

    2. i have braces for the second time as an adult (my teeth are too big for my head!) and I’m at a general dentist. And yeah, people CAN be mean about it. I had a friend ask me, “Why would you do that to yourself?” and nearly dropped her like a hat. I’m at the end of my journey, so I hope you end out with a good experience!

  3. I agree about the pediatric dentist for the comfort level, they make it less scary and more fun. Children’s programs on and a special surprise at the end. Smaller chairs and equipment too.

  4. Escorting my kids back was a big one. We also value good dealings with kids, but accepting our whole family at an appointment to save time.

  5. Hi Krystyn, this is a great topic to explore since it’s a common question parents face. It does all end up depending on the comfort level the parents have with the dentist, whether or not they are pediatric dentists or family dentists. Checking up on reviews online and even coming in to see the doctor are a couple of ways to help make the decision.

  6. Jordan Miner says:

    I’ve been looking for a good children’s dentist for my kids. I’m glad you talked about a pediatric dentist and how the office is catered to kids. I’m going to have to look for a good children’s dentist and see what we can find!

  7. Levticus Bennett says:

    I think in general, it can be hard to get some kids to the dentist. Going to a family dentist is likely to be easier since kids are calm when their parents are around. You could probably make your kids even happier by rewarding them.

  8. Midtown Plaza says:

    Hey Krystyn, thanks for sharing such an useful information of choosing a dentist. I just loved this article especially you covered different points. It’s really helpful to me.

  9. Bethany Birchridge says:

    I like that this mentioned that family dentists may not be as patient with children as pediatric dentists, as they are more accustomed to having older patients. My friend will be moving soon, and she wants to find a great dentist for her son. I’ll share this article with her so she can see the pros and cons of each type of dentist.

  10. Port Moody says:

    Very expressive and easy understandable blog you have shared. I think you are one of them who are very clear about how to express the ideas and views. In this post have how to choose between family or kids dentist. Thanks for this best information.

  11. Rosie Beckett says:

    I recently moved to a new state and I am looking for a family dentist who will be able to take care of the teeth of my husband and my children. You make a great point that a family dentist will be able to handle all of the fundamental dental needs and I will make sure that the dentist I choose has proper training and experience. Also, the fact that a family dentist will allow me to sit in the room while they are cleaning my kids’ teeth gives me peace of mind that I will be there if they get scared.

  12. Taylor Anderson says:

    I like how you mentioned that a general dentist is someone who has been trained to do dental care for people of any age. My aunt and her family will be moving soon, so they’ve been looking for a dentist in their new area. These tips will really help them, so I’ll be sure to share this with them.

  13. Kit Hannigan says:

    I really like the part where you talked about how a pediatric dentist office is more inviting and comfortable for children. A friend of mine recently moved into our state, and they need a dentist that can do regular checkups on their kid. I’ll be happy to tell him that pediatric dentists are the way to go if his children are reluctant to go to dentist appointments.

  14. Mark Murphy says:

    I really appreciate your tip to try and find a dentist who has a good crew. My wife and I have been thinking of getting a new dentist. I will be sure to find someone with a good crew!

  15. Ellie Davis says:

    Thank you for pointing out that you should look at how welcoming the dentist is. My daughter is getting some new teeth in and I think she should go to a dentist. I’ll have to look into finding the best children’s dentist in my area.

  16. Thank you for pointing out that pediatric dentists have 2-3 years additionally after dental school. My family just moved to a new are and I want to make sure I find my children a pediatric dentist. I’ll have to look into finding the best one in the area.

  17. It sure is nice to know that kids respond better to pediatric dentists’ offices. If my kid was old enough for his first dental checkup, I definitely want him to feel safe on new and scary environments like a dentist office. Thanks for this really informative article about family and kids’ dentists!

  18. Tiffany Locke says:

    I like that you mention how a family dentist will be just as effective for your kid’s dental care as a pediatric one. When choosing one, you might want to figure out what’s best for your family and then research local dentists. Finding one that is local could ensure you can easily take your child to their appointments for regular cleaning or any issues in order to keep their teeth clean and healthy.

  19. Amy Winters says:

    Thanks for pointing out that pediatric dentist will usually have a more friendly and comforting chair-side manner, which will help kids respond in a positive way. My family just moved to a new area, so we’ve been trying to decide between a family dentist and pediatric dentist for my son’s dental care. I want him to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible, so I think a pediatric dentist will be a good fit.

  20. Hazel Owens says:

    Thanks for the tip to call a kids’ dentist beforehand to make sure they accept your insurance. My daughter is three and his back molar has been hurting so I’m trying to find a dentist to go to. I’ll have to see if there’s a kids’ dentist in our area that accepts our insurance since they’ll know how to deal with her teeth.

  21. Jocelyn McDonald says:

    My husband and I just moved to a new area, and we’re on the lookout for a good dentist that will be good for both of us as well as our young children. You had some great tips for choosing a place like this, and I liked how you said to choose a family dentist that accepts our insurance and allows our level of family participation. Thanks; we’ll keep this in mind when choosing the new dentist best for us.

  22. Olivia Pearson says:

    I didn’t know that children’s dentists actually have training and qualifications that allow them to better understand child psychology and development! I think it’s so important that any professional providing treatment for a child is knowledgeable in performing specific procedures. My husband and I are trying to decide whether or not we ought to find a children’s dentist in our area for our kids to get their regular cleanings. After reading this, we’ll look for a reliable and experienced children’s dentist in our area, that they can lend their specialized expertise to help our kids’ smiles stay healthy and bright.

  23. I really appreciate your tip on how some dentists will only accept certain types of insurance. My wife and I have been thinking of getting a new house, and we are concerned that we won’t be able to find a dentist in our new city. I will be sure to tell my wife that we should try and find a dentist that accepts our insurance!

  24. I like your suggestion about calling beforehand to ask what a dentist’s policy is on parents sitting in. Locating a pediatric dentist with a good reputation is the best way to make sure your child has optimal oral health. My little one is getting ready for a dentist visit, so we’ll make sure to find the best dentist in our area to get the best treatment.

  25. Gary Puntman says:

    It’s good to know that a family dentist won’t charge for your child after a checkup, like you said. It’s nice that they will take your insurance coverage for kids too. I think I’ll end up finding a family dentist for me and all of my kids.

  26. I really appreciate your tip to check and make sure that a dentist will take your insurance. My wife and I have been thinking of getting a children’s dentist to help our son get braces, but we need to afford it as well. I will be sure to check that they accept our insurance!

  27. Dean Phillips says:

    I thought it was interesting how you said that pediatric dentists have 2 to 3 additional years of training after dental school. My son has been complaining about pain in his back teeth. It may be beneficial for us to take him to a pediatric dentist.

  28. Steele Honda says:

    Thanks for pointing out that when choosing a dentist for you kid your family dentist can be good because you know what to expect because you already know them. I think that a family dentist would also be nice because they can perform exams on everyone in your family so that you wouldn’t have to go to one dentist for your kid and then another one for you. It would also be nice because if they were treating all of you then they would probably have more knowledge and your family’s history and could probably help you prevent things based on that as well.

  29. Daphne Gilpin says:

    Thanks for explaining that pediatric dentists have to have an extra 2-3 years of training after dental school which focuses on child psychology and development. My husband and I want to move to a larger home soon, and we’ll need to find a new dentist in the area for both ourselves and our two kids. I’m glad I read your article because you helped me see the unique skills that pediatric dentists have.

  30. Ashley Johnson says:

    I liked that you explained that it is important to find a dentist that you trust and that your child will trust. I would imagine that children would be nervous to go to the dentist at a young age. I will be sure to go to a dentist that is kind and friendly with my family so that we all feel comfortable taking care of our dental health.

  31. General Essendon says:

    Great article on how to choose between a family or pediatric dentist without losing your mind. Thanks for sharing.

  32. I had no idea that pediatric dentists had 2 to 3 extra years of training after graduating from dental school. My family just moved to a new city, and my son has been complaining about pain around his back teeth. It might be time for us to take him to a dentist to find out what is causing his pain.

  33. Gillian Babcock says:

    My sister is worried about her daughter because she teething already. It was mentioned here that a pediatric dentist has added years for specialization. Furthermore, it’s recommended to go to a trusted pediatric dentist for quality oral care.

  34. Larry Weaver says:

    I didn’t realize that family dentists allow parents to sit next to their children during teeth cleaning. My kids have never been to the dentist, and I want to change that as soon as possible. I’ll start looking for a family dentist and do all I can to make sure my kids have a positive experience going to the dentist without any fear.

  35. Thomas Jameson says:

    It’s good to know that pediatric dentists have 2-3 years of additional training in child psychology and development so that they can better help children. My daughter needs to go to the dentist, and she’s uneasy about having someone look into her mouth. I’ll be sure to look further into her options for a pediatric dentist who can help to keep her calm during her visit.

  36. Thanks for the info. I will bring my son to our nearest and most trusted Pediatric dentist here in Gilbert AZ for those who have kids who needs to dental care.

  37. Angela Waterford says:

    My nephew is about to reach his first birthday, so he may need to see a specialized dentist. I think I should tell my sister that they should visit a pediatric dentist since they can help relieve his stress on his first visit. Thanks for adding that he’ll respond better to this kind of dentist, so I’ll help her find a good one.

  38. Alice Taylor says:

    Damn informative!! Well, your child’s dental health is an important aspect. When it comes to kids, things get tough. Having regular dental checkup is damn important. I suggest everyone to visit their Family Dentist on a regular basis. Thanks!!

  39. anna gloria says:

    Thanks for sharing all the nice tips to choose the right dentist for kids. As it is a big concern for all the parents. Please keep sharing such informative articles.

  40. I liked that you mentioned a pediatric dentist will the best choice for your kids due to his specialized training in child psychology and development. My husband and I are new in town, and we are thinking about how to find a dentist for our kids. I will recommend him to find a pediatric dentist to have the confidence that he knows how to deal with kids.

  41. Safdar Ali says:

    Starting your child early with a pediatric dentist is a good way to ensure the development of good habits that will benefit him or her for a lifetime. A pediatric dentist is trained to treat any young person.

  42. Drake Welsh says:

    I love that you mentioned that a family dentist generally has a lower cost than one that is specialized. We have been talking about finding a dentist to help our son, and it would be important that we could find one that will be affordable. When we choose one, I will be sure to consider hiring a family dentist.

  43. Jay Jorgenson says:

    My cousin can’t decide if to take his daughter’s to a family dentist or a periodontist. I like how you mention that family or general dentists allow parents to sit next to their child(ren) to help them relax during the procedure. Thank you for the information. I’ll recommend my cousin to visit a family dentist with my nieces.

  44. I like taking my kids to a children’s dentist because their whole staff is just wonderful and makes going to the dentist a relaxing situation.

  45. Awesome info. I have a different dentist because I believe that my children’s pediatric dentist in Gilbert are trained to handle kids to avoid the trauma of going to dentist. I’m happy that https://timberfallspediatricdentistry.com is handling my kids well.

  46. rachel frampton says:

    Dropping my kids to their dentist and heading to mine after has been a struggle. Therefore, I’ve decided to start looking for a family dentist that will be able to cater to my whole family’s dental needs. I’m just glad to learn that a family dentist’s practices tend to be more relaxed and allow us, parents, to sit next to our kids.

  47. My son Enzo has been complaining about a toothache, that’s why I’m currently looking for a dentist that may attend to his dental needs. I never knew that a family dentist can treat the whole family’s dental needs, therefore I agree with you that the exams will be more relaxing since we all know each other. I agree with you that, there are dentists who are great with adults, but not with children, that’s why I think a family dentist is a perfect choice.

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