What’s the Difference Between a Pediatric Dentist and a Regular Dentist?

Today, there are many branches of dentistry. From orthodontics, to endodontists, these doctors all specialize in many different forms of their trade. However, is there a difference between a pediatric dentist and a regular dentist? Well, to start, pediatric dentists usually only work with kids, but in this regard, what sets them apart from a regular dentist? Shouldn’t all dentists be able to work with children? To clarify, here is Dr. Deborah Himelhoch of Smiles in Framingham, a practicing pediatric dentist in Framingham, MA.

A pediatric dentist takes part in extensive training after graduating from dental school. Dr. Himelhoch says that they specialize in caring for kids with special health needs, as well as understanding the unique and complicated needs of children. Years of collective research and experience has taught us that children have needs apart from our own, and that working with a doctor and staff that are trained specifically to work with a child’s worldview is extremely important to laying the foundation to a positive visit.

General dentists do not consistently receive training in care of children in general, but some might have had extra training after dental school covering patients with special health needs. A Smiles in Framingham associate mentioned that pediatric dentists are also more likely to have associations with hospitals and recognized relationships with other child health specialists in Framingham, MA, which makes a network of health experts devoted to your child’s wellbeing. In addition, it’s also important to choose a pediatric dentist that has pursued extra voluntary accreditations by the Board of Pediatric Dentistry. Dr. Himelhoch says these dentists have finished supplementary hours of studies and training in order to prepare them to teach families and classify specialized treatment that many general dentists may not recognize.

Environment is especially important when it comes to creating a comfortable dental experience for children. One of our Smiles in Framingham friends said that their brightly colored offices provide all the special features you won’t see at the average family dentist – this is a place entirely dedicated to kids. It might sound crazy but they take pride in making your child’s appointment entertaining and satisfying, introducing good oral health practices from a young age. In short, pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. 

Some services that pediatric dentists provide include: oral health exams, preventive dental care (like brushing and nutrition suggestions), scheduled cleaning and fluoride treatments, and use of sealants to prevent cavities. Dr. Himelhoch says that in addition to those, they also may repair cavities or tooth defects, diagnose and treat dental developmental difficulties, assess and treat an improper bite (orthodontics), and treat dental injuries like a fractured, chipped, or knocked-out tooth.

So if your child is ready for their first visit to the dentist, the choice is clear- a pediatric dentist will be able to provide them with the best care possible. Are you looking for a specialized pediatric dentist in Framingham, MA with experienced and knowledgeable staff members? Then look no further than Smiles in Framingham! If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Deborah Himelhoch, feel free to call them at any time at (508) 872-0555. You’ll be glad you did!

To all my wonderful patients and their families:


The greatest pleasures of my career are watching children grow strong and healthy and seeing smiles become more beautiful. It has been a tremendous privilege to be a part of that growth and transformation. Now, however, it is time for me to slow down and share the care of my patients.


Starting in September 2022, Smiles in Framingham will merge with Moynihan Dental Specialists. I will remain with the practice, but will reduce my hours and give up administrative responsibilities. The wonderful team of people you and I have come to rely on will be staying. They will continue to help care for you. There will also be new faces, new people who will get to know and care for and about you.


Dr. Michael Moynihan is a second generation dentist and orthodontist practicing in Framingham. Dr. Mike, as he is known, is on the faculty of Boston University in the department of orthodontics. We spent two years as teaching partners supervising the Boston University orthodontic residents as they treated special needs children at Franciscan Hospital for Children. It was during that time I came to appreciate both how skilled Dr. Mike is and how much he cares about his patients. I retired from teaching prior to the pandemic, but Dr. Mike still puts much of his time and energy into teaching the next generation of orthodontists.


I met Dr. Daniel Moynihan when he was my student in 2017. Even at that time he was one of my most conscientious students. He cares deeply about all of his patients and I am proud to be associated with him. Dr. Dan is highly skilled with all aspects of orthodontics, including treatment using Invisalign and other aligners.


Dr. Katherine Moynihan and Dr. Christine Chiao are other members of the Moynihan team. Dr. Katherine Moynihan finished her orthodontic training at Boston University in 2021. Dr. Christine Chiao is a pediatric dentist, who also teaches at the Boston University School of Dental Medicine.


Life is an adventure with many chapters, twists, and turns. I enter this chapter of my life looking forward to what comes next and feeling some sadness that this phase of my life is changing. For now, we will be keeping all appointments as scheduled. We will contact you individually about any appointment changes. All orthodontic contracts will be honored with care provided by the orthodontists. I have every confidence that the doctors of Moynihan Dental Specialists will provide you with excellent care for many years to come.


My very best wishes to all of you,


Dr. Deborah Himelhoch