General dentistry is the branch of medicine involving the care and prevention of oral health conditions, diseases and disorders. A dentist’s job is to use preventative care and patient education to preclude the need for treatments and instead promote a healthy smile for life. Dentists are also responsible for diagnosing conditions that affect the mouth, teeth, gums and jaws, as well as develop the most effective treatment plan with the patient’s best interests in mind.
General dentists attend and complete dental school to achieve a Doctor of Dental Surgery or a Doctor of Dental Medicine. At that time, dentists may take national and state certification exams, which prove a dentist’s proficiency to practice. Upon passing the exams, state licensure is awarded on an individual basis.
General dentists typically do not focus on any particular specialty, instead opting to provide generalized dental care to patients. In some cases, general dentists may refer a patient to a specialty provider for care or treatment that is beyond the scope of general dentistry. However, most general dentists are capable of providing complete examinations, cleanings, root canals, restorations, extractions and tooth prosthetics.
General dentistry is best when patients use it for preventive care, rather than for corrective treatment. By visiting a dentist and his or her team of hygienists and dental technicians twice annually for cleaning and examination, patients can avoid decay and identify potential oral health conditions, such as periodontal disease, in their earliest stages.
Pediatric dentistry is a specialized field of dental treatment, revolving around the dental care needs of children. A good pediatric dentist has taken specialized classes and additional training beyond that of most regular or general dentists, in order to learn about the best treatment for pediatric or children’s dental problems.
What Does a Pediatric Dentist Do?
A pediatric dentist provides many dental treatments to children, ranging from routine dental care – such as cleanings – to x-ray examinations and working to determine if a child’s jaw and teeth are developing properly. For most pediatric dentists, there is a lot of emphasis on preventative dental care. This is because early intervention and proper dental practices can make a child much less likely to develop dental problems – such as cavities or occlusions – as they progress into adolescence and then adulthood.
Your child’s pediatric dentist will likely spend a lot of time with your child, teaching the child how to properly care for their teeth and gums. This dental education – at an early age – can stay for a child for a lifetime, establishing regular, healthy dental habits such as flossing and proper tooth brushing. The pediatric dentist may also choose to perform procedures such as tooth sealants, which work to prevent cavities.
Pediatric Dentists Comfort Children
You know that some adults have an exaggerated fear of seeing the dentists. Some children experience the same dread. A dental office can be a scary place for a child, with all of the specialized dental equipment and the sounds made by some of the dental machines. However, an experienced pediatric dentist – your child’s pediatric dentist – knows how to work with a frightened child, comforting them and relaxing them before proceeding with an exam or any treatment processes. A good pediatric dentist will set your child at ease, explaining everything that is going on, and never creating an atmosphere of fear.
A positive dental experience – especially for a young child – is likely to result in the child growing into an adult who is comfortable with routine dental care and who regularly get dental checkups. Establishing a good relationship with their own dental needs, at a young age, means your child is going to have less dental problems as they age, avoiding many of the dental pitfalls of their peers.