What’s the difference between a family dentist and a pediatric dentist?


Answers About Dentists for Kids

From the moment they’re born through to puberty, your child will undergo extraordinary changes. By two years old, for instance, your child may have already quadrupled their birth weight, and by age five, your child’s brain will have reached 90% of its adult size. Alongside physical growth and changes, your child will also move, at their own pace, through a wide range of behavioral phases. While your three-year-old may refuse to share with anyone, your 10-year-old may enjoy spending time with a tight circle of friends.

During this time of expansion and transformation, your child’s smile will also undergo several phases of growth and change that are vital for their physical development and long-term wellbeing. While your child’s baby teeth give them what they need to learn to chew and speak, your child’s permanent teeth will be with them for every meal and grin from their school years to old age.

“Kids Dentist Near Me”

One of the best ways to ensure your child has a positive relationship with oral health and dentistry is to find a dentist that delivers exceptional service and aligns with your child’s unique needs. As you start Googling “kids dentist near me,” you’re likely to encounter both family and pediatric dental practices, leaving you wondering which direction to take.

To help you gain the information you need to make the decision that feels right for your child and family, here’s the difference between a family dentist and a pediatric dentist, along with the advantages of bringing your child to their own oral health specialist.

What is a family dentist?

Also known as a general dentist, a family dentist offers standard dentistry services—such as preventative care and restorative treatments—to patients of all ages. Alongside receiving a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree, many family dentists have also received additional training in other areas of practice.

What is a pediatric dentist?

Like a family dentist, a pediatric dentist has received their DDS or DDM degree and can practice general dentistry—though that’s just the beginning. Once they’ve received their four-year dental degree, a pediatric dentist then pursues an additional two or three years of specialized training that focuses specifically on child development and psychology. Board-certified pediatric dentists have also passed a face-to-face exam before a panel of distinguished pediatric dentists.

Advantages of Bringing Your Child to a Board-Certified Pediatric Dentist

You’re going to a kid expert…

While any dentist is able to work with children, pediatric dentists have received the most training on a child’s dental, behavioral, and emotional needs and are the most experienced when it comes to creating positive and successful dental experiences for infants, kids, and teens.

…who is skilled at treating children with special needs.

Pediatric dentists specialize in providing personalized dental care to all children, including those with special needs. With training on how to effectively provide preventative and restorative care for children with special needs, pediatric dentists are highly skilled at offering tailored, in-office dental care and at-home guidance for a child who has a physical, developmental, mental, sensory, behavioral, cognitive, or emotional condition. (At Must Love kids Pediatric dentistry, Dr. Mo help set up and run a Providence specialty dental clinic for four years before transitioning full time to her practice).

Pediatric dental offices are welcoming and kid-friendly.

Making children feel comfortable is an essential element of pediatric dentistry, which is why many offices are stocked up with books, toys, games, TV, Wi-fi, and a staff that will make your child (and you!) feel like they’re in a fun, safe place.

A pediatric dentist can help your child make (or break) oral health habits.

People of all ages benefit from getting professional support to form positive habits or discontinue unproductive ones (think personal trainer, life coach, or doctor). When it comes to helping your child make positive oral health habits (like flossing) or suspend unhelpful habits (like prolonged pacifier usage), a pediatric dentist can provide personalized, knowledgeable, and age-appropriate guidance to help you and your child move toward the desired direction.

How Dr. Mo and Dr. G Provide Your Child with Exceptional Care

Drs Monisha and Prashant Gagneja—known affectionately as Dr. Mo and Dr. G by their patients—have as much passion for working with kids as they do high recognition for their accomplishments in pediatric dentistry. While their accomplishments in pediatric dentistry are too long to list (you can read more here), here’s a peek at their dedicated dental careers.

Dr. Monisha Gagneja, BDS

After 15 years as a general dentist, Dr. Mo became a board-certified Pediatric dentist in 2009. Dr. Mo trained at the Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU) School of Dentistry, and at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital to treat kids with special needs. Alongside teaching dental students and pediatric dentistry residents as a faculty member of OHSU, Dr. Mo was the founding dentist at Providence Specialty Dental Clinic in Portland, OR, which specializes in offering dentistry services to those with special healthcare needs.

Dr. Prashant Gagneja, BDS, MDS

Dr. G hasn’t stopped refining his dentistry expertise since he received his first dental degree in 1994 (he’s since gone on to complete not one but two residencies in Pediatric Dentistry). Alongside serving as the youngest department chairman, Dr. G shared his passion for pediatric dentistry, research, and teaching as both chair and associate professor of Pediatric Dentistry at OHSU for seven years.

Together, Dr. Mo and Dr. G are honored to share their passion for kids and their extensive pediatric dentistry experience with their beloved Vancouver, WA, community. To ask questions, learn more about Must Love Kids, or to schedule your child’s next appointment, contact our office today.