As you already know I am a general and pediatric dental hygienist. I spent 10 years in general dentistry and 5 years in pediatric dentistry. During this time, I found many differences between a pediatric and a general dentist.
Pediatric Dentist vs. General Dentist
The main difference between a pediatric and general dentist is that pediatric dentists primarily work with children and "baby teeth". General dentists can work with children also but primarily focus on working with adult patients and adult teeth.
What is it Like Working with a General Dentist?
The general dentist I had worked for is still one of my favorite people on the planet. He is a fantastic dentist with, a great sense of humor, and a terrific bedside manner. However, when it came to kids he was a fish out of water. He liked kids and had kids of his own but he found it difficult to manage kids that were less than thrilled to be at the dentist. So, often he would automatically refer kids to a pediatric dentist when they needed treatment.
What is it Like Working with a Pediatric Dentist?
When I started working at Haas Dental Associates in the pediatric department it was like entering a completely different profession. From the colorful, fun environment down to the language that is used was new to me. In this kid-oriented environment were games, TVs on the ceilings, fun prophy paste flavors, a fun travel theme, stickers, and prizes. Every child is unique and it’s the best feeling in the world when you are able to get their first x-rays done or their first time hopping in the chair all by yourself. The kids get a boost of confidence as well when they can overcome their fears and anxiety. A pediatric dental world is designed with a child’s best interest in mind, from the very beginning to the very end of the appointment.
So, I was very comfortable with my 4-year-old coming in to see our pediatric specialist, Dr. Jim. He has over 26 years of pediatric experience and he specializes in pediatric sedation. Tommy had been able to take his x-rays but did have a gag reflex so Dr. Jim recommended we use nitrous for his fillings. If you are not familiar with nitrous oxide, it is a mixture of oxygen and nitrous gases that are breathed in through the nose causing a sense of calm and relaxation. So, Tommy picked a bright pink bubblegum-scented nitrous nose, he hopped right in the chair, excited to watch the t.v. on the ceiling. My busy 4-year-old was laying still and relaxed. He didn’t seem to notice as they began to fix his teeth. When he was done, he was just slightly upset that he couldn’t finish watching the Incredibles movie. He quickly recovered though when they offered him a prize for doing such a great job. So all and all it was a successful visit.