Why Choose a Pediatric Dentist vs a General Dentist?

Dentist and a young girl brushing a toy's teeth.

The simple answer:

pediatric dentist’s specialty is zeroed in on the unique needs of children – from prevention to treatment – like a pediatrician.

As a parent, you want the absolute best for your child.


Yes, all dentists want their patients to have excellent oral healthcare.


There are a few reasons why you should consider a pediatric dentist over a general dentist:

Pediatric dentists are dedicated to children and their health

Like a pediatrician, a pediatric dentist specializes only in the dental care of infants, children, and adolescents.

Which means:

Pediatric dentists chose additional education and training specific to kids.


If you chose to take your child to a pediatrician instead of a family doctor because they’re specialized – then you should consider a pediatric dentist.


A pediatric dentist’s education sets them apart

A general dentist performs dental work on both children and adults. They have a wide range of knowledge and training to take care of the whole family.

We understand:

This is super convenient when it’s time for everyone’s dental appointments.


Pediatric dentists are more familiar with the anatomy of young and developing teeth because of their post-graduate education.

You see:

A pediatric dentist has to complete a pediatric residency program after becoming a general dentist (DDS or DDM).

Courses educate candidates in the areas of:

  • Childhood growth and development
  • Childhood psychology
  • Childhood orthodontics
  • Infant oral healthcare
  • And so much more!

Which means:

1. They’re trained to understand the health risks children face with oral hygiene.

2. They learn to look for potential problems before they develop in children.


3. They must successfully complete and pass the pediatric residency and the National Board Dental Examination to receive a pediatric dentist license.

And you should know:

In the state of Washington, 21 hours of continuing education are required each year to maintain a license to practice as a pediatric dentist.

Also, their continuing education has to be pertinent to the professional knowledge and development of the dentist or enhance the services they provide to their patients.

So at the end of their education:

Your pediatric dentist has in-depth knowledge and experience to care for your child.


They can choose to become board certified.

A pediatric dentist has the option to be board certified

Board certification is optional, but it shows an even higher level of commitment to caring for your child.

How so?

Becoming board certified by the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry… This text opens a new tab to the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry website… means a ton of extra training and education.

Which means:

Your child receives high-quality oral healthcare based on a set of national standards for excellence.

We recommend you look for a dental office that specializes in pediatric dentistry and has board-certified professionals like the team at Smile Surfers.

Schedule a visit with us today to see if we’re a good fit for your child’s dental care needs.

“We absolutely love Smile Surfers. They were so good with my little one. I’d recommend them all day to anyone looking for a pediatric dentist.” Amanda R., 5-Star Google Review

A pediatric dentist undoubtedly focuses on preventative care

Both pediatric and general dentists want to prevent disease and illness for their patients.

We all know healthy habits help stop tooth decay and gum disease.


Because of their training, a pediatric dentist will teach your children oral hygiene in a way they’ll understand.

This means:

Successfully continued healthy oral hygiene habits for your child into adulthood.


Pediatric dentists know preventative care for kids.


Prevention means fewer problems and less stress – for you and your child!

Pediatric dentists are accommodating to children


A general practitioner has the equipment necessary to care for your child’s oral health.


Pediatric dental offices make the environment fun, playful and enjoyable for children.

If your child looks forward to watching a movie, playing on a slide, or getting to wear superhero goggles while they are at the dentist, they’ll be much more amenable to going.


Pediatric dentists better understand the fears children have.

They design practices to make your child feel safe and comfortable.

Pediatric dentists prevent overwhelm by:

  • Using kid-sized dental instruments
  • Introducing one piece of equipment at a time
  • Explaining how it helps your child

Taking your child to a dentist who focuses on treating children with their unique concerns, challenges, and perspectives will have a positive impact throughout their lives.

Going to the dentist should be something your children look forward to.

Choosing a pediatric dentist will give your child positive dental experiences from the very first interaction.

“A fantastic experience. Our five-year-old had a rough experience previously and was very nervous. The staff was very kind and patient and really worked hard to get her trust. I would highly recommend them for any kid but particularly any who are nervous!” Sarah D., 5-Star Google Review

Looking for a pediatric dentist near Kennewick, Richland, or Sumner, WA?

Pediatric dentists create an environment specifically for children and their treatment.

You’ll want to find a dentist’s office your child can connect with on a positive level.

Our board-certified pediatric dentists in Kennewick, Richland, or Sumner, WA are here to help your little surfers form a lifetime of happy and healthy smiles.

We’ll have your child looking forward to going to the dentist from the first appointment.

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Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2019 and has been completely revamped for comprehensiveness and timeliness.