What is a “Pediatric Specialist”?
A lot of local Dentists around me call themselves “pediatric dentists.” This is completely untrue. This is even illegal in most states, but many Family Dentists still market specifically to children.
Many parents are unaware of the extra precautions that should be taken when searching for the right pediatric dentist for their children. Although finding a new pediatric dentist may appear to be a straightforward task, however it actually requires a proactive approach.
It is common for parents to assume that if a practice’s name includes the term “kids” or any other related word that the firm is qualified and competent enough to render services. Many of the Dentists in practices that market heavily to children are not acknowledged by the Government as Pediatric Specialists. They are actually General Dentists.
A General Dentist is required to complete General Dentistry school in order to receive a license to practice. A General Dentist is trained and educated to treat both children and adults, however a “Pediatric Specialist” is required to complete additional studies. In most states it is actually illegal for a General Dentist to falsely refer to him or herself as a “Pediatric Specialist.”
A desire to increase the number of patients is certainly a source of motivation for practices to engage in this misleading manner. It is easier to increase your patient base when you provide services for both adults and children. This is appealing to families because a “Pediatric Specialist” tends to have a higher cost of care than a Family Practice. The reality is that many General Dentists provide adequate services for children, but this is typically limited to basic care. Much of the problems occur when serious work is needed.
As an actual Pediatric Specialist I have heard stories of these fake specialists making serious mistakes. One example is when a fake pediatric dentist almost pulled 5 adult teeth after trauma because he did not know they were savable. This is a situation that the parent could have avoided by finding a real Specialist.
Ask the Right Questions
It is important to ask qualifying questions to ensure that your child receives the best care. If you have any questions, DO NOT hesitate to ask. The key when asking questions is to be SPECIFIC. Asking specific questions will ensure that the Dentist gives specific answers. Be very direct and ask if the Dentist is a specialist in Pediatric Dentist. Be weary if you receive a response that does not include the specific term.
If you find out that they are a Pediatric Specialist you should ask where they completed their required post-dental school education and training. It may seem extreme, but it may even be beneficial to research the validity of the information you receive.
It is also important that I note that many dentist offices are actually Group Practices that have one or two Pediatric Specialists dentists on staff. This can allow the dentist to market as a specialist, but still use non specialist dentists to serve more patients. Always remember to make sure that your child is seen by one of these doctors, and not a General Doctor.
These are things steps that every parent should take when finding a dentist for your child. It may require a little extra work on behalf of the parent, however, it is must be done!