When to Visit a Pediatric Dentist vs. Family Dentist in Lubbock

pediatric dentist

At Hancock and Johnston Dentistry, we are proud to really get to know our patients and treat entire families, working with multiple generations and connecting on a personal level. It’s the reason why our practice is recommended time and time again to anyone looking for a family dentist in Lubbock.

Of course, a big part of being a family practice is treating children, watching them grow up, and then bringing in their own children for checkups and treatments. As much as we would like to treat every childhood dental issue, there are a few times when family dentists refer patients to pediatric specialists.

Specialized Treatments

One common reason for a referral is for specialized treatments. Pediatric dentists receive two to three years of additional training beyond dental school specifically focused on treating children, including those with special needs. This additional training allows them to provide specialized treatments that may not be available from a family dentist. For example, a child who requires sedation for a procedure may be referred to a pediatric specialist who has experience administering sedation to children.

Pediatric dentists are equipped to handle age-specific conditions throughout children’s many development stages, starting with baby teeth. They take care of problems not typically seen in adult teeth, such as dental developmental issues and root canals on new adult teeth that aren’t fully formed.

Children are also at higher risk of dental and facial injuries due to sports and high activity levels. When a child knocks out a tooth at soccer practice, pediatric dentists are trained to treat the injury and monitor the results as the child’s mouth changes over time.

Children with disabilities are at higher risk of dental issues. For instance, children with cerebral palsy are more likely to have missing teeth, and nearly all developmentally disabled children likely have moderate gum disease. Because of their training in special needs, 99.5 percent of pediatric dentists report treating kids with these disabilities.

Behavioral Reasons

In addition to specialized treatments, the additional education for pediatric dentists includes studying child development, behavior, psychology and special needs patient care.

There is an emphasis on winning the trust of parents and age-appropriate communication, as children require simpler language and a friendly demeanor to understand what’s being done and how to take care of their own teeth. These first interactions lay the foundation for a lifetime of trust in the patient’s dental experience.

Orthodontic Treatment

Another reason for a referral may be for orthodontic treatment. While some family dentists may offer pediatric orthodontic services, including Hancock & Johnston Dentistry, sometimes they refer patients to a pediatric specialist for more specialized care.

Pediatric specialists can diagnose and treat complex orthodontic issues such as bite problems, crowded teeth, and jaw alignment. They can actively intervene to offer a long-term, multi step solution for a child as their mouth and teeth continue to grow and shift.

Second Opinion

Finally, a family dentist may refer a patient to a pediatric specialist for a second opinion. In some cases, a child’s dental issue may be complex or require a unique treatment approach. A pediatric specialist can provide a valuable second opinion and collaborate with the family dentist to create a personalized treatment plan for the child.

A Final Word

At our family dentistry, we believe that good dental health begins at an early age. This is why we offer a non-threatening environment for even our youngest patients. We encourage parents to bring children to the office when they have their baby teeth to let them test out the chair — with no treatments — and receive a toy at the end. Contact us to bring your child in for a visit.

And, down the road, should we refer your child to a pediatric specialist for a specific reason, it’s important to note that a referral is a sign of our commitment to providing the best possible care for your family. By working together with a specialist, we can ensure that your children receive the most comprehensive and effective treatment for their specific dental needs.