What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a general dentist?

Posted Jan 29th, 2019

Pediatric dentists specialize in the the oral health care of children, from infants to teenagers. Here, our Edmonton dentists explain how pediatric dentists are different from general dentists.


Here at Azarko Dental Group, parents often ask us what the difference between a pediatric dentist and a general dentist is. In particular, they wonder if there is any benefit to bringing their children to a pediatric dentist instead of a general dentist.

Below, our Edmonton dentists outline the key differences between general and pediatric dentists, and explain when it might be beneficial to visit a pediatric specialist.

What is a pediatric dentist?

Qualifications & Training

Pediatric Dentistry is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the Canadian Dental Association

To become a dentist, you must go to dental school. Some dental school graduates move on immediately to practice as dentists, and these are general dentists.

To become a pediatric dentist in Canada, dental school graduates must complete an accredited advanced education program in pediatric dentistry. Once they have completed this program, they will attain a specialty designation from the Provincial Dental Regulatory Authority in their province.

What do pediatric dentists do?

Pediatric dentists have specialized training in the specific oral health care needs of children, ranging from infants to teenagers.

Pediatric dentists address the following dental care needs specific to children:

  • Baby teeth care
  • Preventive dental care children: oral hygiene cleaning. fluoride treatments, nutrition and diet recommendations
  • Infant oral health exams, including risk assessment for cavities
  • Early orthodontic assessment & treatment: straightening teeth and correcting an misalignment and bite problems (malocclusion)
  • Dental care for children with special needs
  • Habit counselling: thumb sucking and pacifier habit breaking
  • Fillings for tooth cavities or defects
  • Diagnosis of oral conditions associated with diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, congenital heart defect, hay fever, and ADD / ADHD

Does my child need to go to a special dentist for children?

General dentists have the skills and training necessary to care for children's teeth, so in most cases, sending children to a pediatric specialist is not necessary.

That means that you can bring your child to your own dentist, and he or she will be well qualified to care for your child's teeth.

For children with unusual or more serious dental problems, or for those with disabilities, the specialized training of a pediatric dentist may be required.

If you have more questions about pediatric dentistry, or would like to book an appointment for your child at Azarko Dental Group, please get in touch today!

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