Most general dentists do treat children, even though they do not specialize in this age group. However, pediatric dentists only treat children. They have more specialized training and experience in this regard. As such, they typically offer a number of services that most general dentists don't provide. Here's a look at some of those services.
Sealants are basically pieces of plastic that are fitted into a molar's chewing surface. Sealant begins in a liquid form. The dentist paints it into the tooth and then they use a UV light to cure the sealant, causing it to harden.
The purpose of sealants is to protect the chewing surfaces of molars from cavities. While adults will occasionally get sealants, they are most useful for kids, which is why pediatric dentists tend to offer them. Most kids are not very skilled at brushing their back molars well. The sealants help ensure no food debris gets lodged in the molars long-term, leading to cavities. By the time the sealants fall out after a few years, the child will have improved their brushing techniques, and they'll no longer need sealants.
Orthodontics is the field of dentistry that deals with straightening and moving the teeth. Interceptive orthodontics is the specific branch of orthodontics that focuses on realigning the teeth and influencing the development of the jaw. This process helps to prevent bigger orthodontic problems as the child continues to grow. For example, if the dentist notices a child's lower jaw is growing faster than their upper jaw, they may recommend a palate expander for the upper jaw as your child continues to grow. Since this type of service can only be performed on children who are still growing, it is typically only offered at pediatric dental offices.
It's normal for children to suck on their thumbs and fingers up to a certain age, but if this habit continues much past the age of two, it can influence the way the teeth are positioned in the jaw. Pediatric dentists can help put an end to thumb-sucking with what's known as a habit appliance. This is basically a retainer with some pokey pieces behind the front teeth. If your child puts their thumb in their mouth, the pokey pieces will bother them, encouraging them to stop sucking their thumb. This is better for their teeth in the long run.
Pediatric dentists offer a wide range of services. These are just a few of the more unique or interesting ones you don't typically see at a general dentist's office.
For more information, reach out to a local pediatric dentist.