People of all ages need to see dentists, from earliest childhood to the end of life. Proper dental care throughout life may mean the need to see more than one dentist. Choose a dentist based on your dental needs and your age for the best possible care.
Dental care for your kids starts the moment they get their first tooth, although you do not need to rush to find dentists at this point. You will want to clean and brush your children’s teeth from the moment they appear, so your first dental checkup will be less traumatic and more likely to give a clean bill of oral health. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you have the first checkup for your child’s teeth by age one, so the dentist can screen for common childhood problems with the teeth. At the latest, you need to take your child to the dentist by age three.
The best dentists for children are those trained in pediatric dentistry, which requires and additional two to three years after dental school. They understand the problems that affect children specifically, and are trained in dealing with the youngest patients and their fears about dental work. A family dentist can also see your child, but you may prefer one trained to work with children and baby teeth.
During the adolescent years, your child can continue to see a pediatric dentist, or can change to a family dentist. This is often the time in which you will need the services of an orthodontist to straighten your child’s teeth. If you do, talk to your child’s dentist first about the orthodontist he or she recommends, or consider switching to a dental office that has one on staff.
During your early adult years, you may be tempted to skip dental care because of the cost and the relative health of your teeth. This is a big mistake. Maintaining your routine checkups during this time is essential to ensure that you do not end up with bigger problems down the road. This is the time in which you will likely work with a general or family dentist, unless you need treatment from a specialist at some point, such as when getting your wisdom teeth pulled.
Your needs during your golden years will vary depending on the health of your teeth. Some individuals are able to continue seeing family dentists throughout their life. Others will need the help of specialists due to problems they experience, like gum disease or tooth loss.
An endodontist is a dentist trained to deal with the diseases of the nerves, tissue, and blood vessels inside your teeth. This is the type of dentist that will perform a root canal or diagnose oral or facial pain. An oral surgeon is one who will surgically treat the gums, jaws, teeth, and mouth. Older individuals often succumb to diseases of the gum or the bones that hold the teeth in place, and this is treated by a periodontist. Most individuals find these specialists through their general practice dentists, rather than seeking them out on their own.