What does a family dentist do?
A family dentist is your traditional, general dental practitioner. However, unlike some traditional dentists who refer children to a pediatric specialist, family dentists choose to provide comprehensive services for all ages under one roof.
Family dentistry encompasses pediatric dental treatments on up to restorative therapies for seniors, and everything in-between.
Having a family dentist means that you can enjoy the convenience of taking everyone in your household to the same dental provider. Scheduling checkups is easier, because you don’t have to drive back and forth across Calgary taking everyone to different dentist’s offices. And since your children grow up with the same dentist that you see, the office is familiar with your unique circumstances, any hereditary dental issues, and can better accommodate any specific needs.
Growing up with a great family dentist in Calgary can help your child experience a positive outlook on their dental care. Early preventative visits in a comfortable atmosphere do a lot for reducing the risk of dental phobia or anxiety as your child gets older.
What is a general dentist?
General dentists are traditional oral health practitioners. They have a four-year degree in dentistry that qualifies them to provide comprehensive family, restorative, and preventative dental services. A general dentist provides multiple services under one roof, rather than choosing to specialize in a specific type of treatment. You could compare them to a primary care physician (PCP) who practices family medicine, as opposed to a specialist such as a pediatrician, who went back to school for 2-3 years to study children-specific issues and will only see young patients.
All dental specialists first started out as general dentists, but not all general dentists choose to go into one area of care to become a specialist.
You can find nearly any dental service you need available at a general or family dental practice. Examples include cleanings, fillings, crowns, dental implants, cosmetic dentistry, and root canals. But if you have a particularly challenging situation that may require more resources to repair, your general dentist might choose to refer you to a specialist for further evaluation.
What does a pediatric dentist do?
Pediatric dentists are general/family dentists with an additional few years of education in children’s dentistry. They do not provide care to all ages but are rather restricted to practice on young patients. Your family dentist might refer you to a pediatric dentist if your child has special needs that make it difficult for them to sit through a traditional procedure, they require extensive restorative care, or suspect that sedation dentistry such as IV anesthesia will be needed to get them the care that they deserve.
A pediatric dentist will see children from birth up through the late teen years. However, they’ll probably send your older child back to a general dentist once they develop any issues with their wisdom teeth, require extensive restorative treatment on fully formed permanent teeth, or simply head off to college.
Most pediatric dentists specialize in a technique called “behavior management.” That is, they work well with children who might be uncooperative or find it difficult to sit still. They usually have visiting privileges at area hospitals as well, making it possible to treat children under general sedation when it isn’t an option inside of their private practice.
When should I switch from a pediatric dentist?
If you’re already bringing your children to a pediatric dentist, you might be considering making the switch to a Calgary family dental office. Some of the instances when it’s appropriate to move your child to another dentist’s office might include examples like:
- Your child is old enough that he or she may not want to go to a “kid’s dentist” and wants to see the same dentist that older members of their family does.
- When your teen is approaching their fully developed smile, which is usually just before they head off to college.
- A fully developed permanent tooth requires reconstruction or a procedure not offered in a pediatric dentist’s office (such as a root canal or ceramic crown.)
- Your child is comfortable sitting through a regular checkup and cleaning without getting anxious, and they don’t have any pressing dental concerns such as untreated decay.
If you’re switching to a Calgary family dentist, be sure to ask your pediatric dentist’s office to transfer any records such as digital X-rays or photographs, which are useful for evaluating the overall course of your child’s oral development.
What should I look for when choosing a family dentist?
If you’re looking for the best family dentist in Calgary, some of the things you’ll want to consider are the services available in their practice, what age patients they will see (are young children accepted?) and their hours of operation. As long as all of these criteria meet your family’s needs, you’ll have the information you need to narrow down your selection.
Additionally, you might want to consider visiting the dentist first to get a feel for the office. Is the dentist and his/her staff friendly? Do they accept your dental insurance? Is the practice clean? If you want to get a general feel for the environment, it never hurts to ask them for a brief consultation or second opinion. In most cases, your first encounter with the office as a whole will give you an idea as to what to expect in the future.
When all else fails, it helps to ask your friends, neighbors, and co-workers who they see for their family’s dental needs. The best Calgary dentists can always be found via word-of-mouth!
Do general dentists see children?
Although general dentists are trained to treat children, some of them prefer not to see kids in their office. Or, they might have a policy that they do not see children younger than a certain age. So, if your family dentist doesn’t see infants or toddlers, you would need to locate one who does.
Other general dentists prefer to offer comprehensive family dentistry under one roof. In such instances, they offer preventative and restorative treatments for all ages. That way you and your children can be seen by the same Calgary dentist instead of booking appointments at separate offices on either end of town.
General dentists offer basic children’s dentistry treatments, but there may still be times when they need to refer a child to a pediatric specialist. For example, if your child has severe anxiety or requires nerve treatment on a baby tooth, it’s best that they see a pediatric dentist who offers children’s sedation or has hospital visiting privileges. Otherwise, it’s completely fine to keep bringing your entire family to see the same dentist!