Image of a pediatric dentist with child

When it comes time to start scheduling your children for their own dentist appointments, it may be tempting to sign them up for your family dentist. After all, if you have a longtime dentist you can trust, wouldn’t it be simpler to have them take care of your children’s needs, too?

Actually, there are many benefits to bringing your children to a specially-trained pediatric dentist. While, from a bird’s eye view, the two may seem interchangeable — after all, they’re both experts in taking care of your teeth! — there are plenty of differences between a general and pediatric dentist.

Let’s explore the nitty-gritty of the services these two types of dentists provide and see how long your child should visit a pediatric dentist.

How General and Pediatric Dentists Differ

Of course, general and pediatric dentists are both trained to care for your teeth and offer you excellent dental care. But there are many differences between the two, including these aspects of care:

  • Services and treatments offered: Pediatric dentists provide care for children, which includes a long list of services! From infant oral health exams to preventive dental care, early orthodontic assessment and treatment, tooth repair, and care for dental injuries, pediatric dentists cover it all. General dentists (or family dentists), on the other hand, offer preventive, restorative, and cosmetic dental care to people of all ages. While they can and often do treat children, they are not specially trained in pediatric dental care.
  • Who they see: General dentists typically see patients of any age. Also known as family dentists, they frequently care for the whole family. Pediatric dentists specialize in children only, providing tailored care to all children from infants to older adolescents. This promotes a kid-friendly environment, along with a host of specialty child-sized instruments and tools for maximum comfort.
  • Specialties available: Pediatric dentistry is considered a specialty field, with additional 2-3 years of training that makes them experts in their field. General dentists have not completed this specialty.
  • Education required: Both pediatric and general dentists require four years of dental school. However, pediatric dentists must go on to complete 2-3 additional years of residency training focused on infants, children, teenagers and special needs kids. Thus, they are specialized in these age groups and have expertise in treating, calming, and caring for children under 18. They are also experienced in handling and easing common issues like a child’s dentist anxiety.

How Long Can Your Child Go to a Pediatric Dentist?

Pediatric dentists typically care for your child from infancy to young adulthood. They are specialized to provide expert care from their very first infant appointment, ensuring that your child can grow up with a dentist who knows them and their history inside-out. This provides a wide array of important benefits, particularly once they reach their teenage years and may need braces.

Most patients will “graduate” from their pediatric dentist around age 18.

Fox Kids Dentistry offers a robust dental program for their Portland pediatric patients, starting from when they are young babies. We have an orthodontics specialist on staff, ensuring that as your child grows up and needs special orthodontic care, they can stay within familiar settings to receive their braces.

Can Pediatric Dentists Treat Adults?

In addition to their specialty, pediatric dentists have received all of the same education as a general dentist — so, yes, they are fully equipped to treat adults! However, many pediatric dentists will choose to only treat children. This exclusive focus allows them to treat more children and continue to hone their specialty.

While most pediatric dentists won’t start seeing adult patients, many don’t have a strict upper age limit for when their former child patients must transition to a general dentist. This is typically up to the family’s preference.

Contact Fox Kids Dentistry for a Pediatric or Orthodontic Consultation in Portland

Now that you understand some of the key differences between a general vs. pediatric dentist, you might be ready to get started with your own pediatric or orthodontic consultation! Fox Kids Dentistry is here to answer any questions you may have and get you started with a professional consult.

Contact us online today to learn more or give us a call at 503-223-5039.


This blog serves to provide general information about dentistry topics to help answer your questions. The above content is for informational purposes but is not intended to be a replacement for medical advice from a licensed pediatrician or pediatric dentist. If you have a dental concern for yourself, your child or another adult, please schedule a consultation with us so you can speak with a dentist.

Leave Your Reply