The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) explains that pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years of specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.
While a general dentist can provide care to your child, there are several advantages of seeing a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists are qualified to meet the dental needs of infants, toddlers, school-age children, and adolescents. Pediatric dentists are required to undertake an additional two or three years of child-specific training after fulfilling dental school requirements.
In addition to specialized dental training, pediatric dentists specifically study child psychology and child development. This background enables a pediatric dentist to communicate and treat children on a level that is consistent with their understanding and developmental needs in an effective, gentle, and non-threatening manner.
Pediatric dentists are advocates for children. The pediatric dentist focuses on several different forms of oral care:
- Prevention – Tooth decay, which is often accompanied by pain, swelling, and infection, is a common childhood ailment. Advice and recommendations relating to home care, sealants and wise use of fluoride can help protect teeth and minimize the risk of dental decay. Starting this process in the young child prepares them for a lifetime of great oral health.
- Early detection – Examinations and X-rays allow the pediatric dentist to evaluate current and future oral problems. In some cases, optimal outcomes are best achieved by starting treatment early. Regular evaluation of the bite and eruption of teeth can help guide and direct the developing dentition. Pediatric dentists work closely with other specialists, like orthodontists, to assist in this process.
- Treatment – Pediatric dentists offer a wide range of treatments to treat decay, trauma, and diseased or broken teeth, including fillings, pulp therapy, crowns, extractions and space maintenance.
- Education – Education is a major part of any pediatric dental practice. Not only can the pediatric dentist help the child understand the importance of daily oral care, but parents can also get advice on toothpaste selection, diet, thumb-sucking cessation, and other information specific to the needs of their child.
Pediatric dentists are to a child’s oral health like pediatricians are to their overall health. A pediatric dentist is the oral health care provider who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of the dental problems of children from the age of one or two to early adulthood.
A pediatric dentist has two to three years of specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs. (AAPD)
Typically, pediatric dentists provides a “dental house” for children and adolescents from the eruption of their first tooth until maturity which is approximately 18 years of age.
Early Dental Care
The AAPD recommends that in order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears or no later than his/her first birthday.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests a dental check-up every six months is recommended in order to prevent cavities and other dental problems.
Regular dental exams and cleaning visits are essential in preventing dental problems and maintaining the health of teeth and gums. At these visits, your child’s teeth are cleaned and checked for cavities. Additionally, there are many other things that are checked and monitored to help detect, prevent, and maintain your child’s dental health.
- A medical history review will help the pediatric dentist know the status of any current medical conditions, new medications, and illnesses, and gives insight to your child’s overall health and your child’s dental health. Please inform your pediatric dentist about any changes in your child’s health.
- When appropriate, diagnostic x-rays (radiographs)are used to evaluate the detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
- An oral cancer screening exam is done to check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
- Gum disease evaluation is performed to check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of disease.
- All teeth are checked for decay, growth, and development.
- The teeth are cleaned of any hard and soft deposits and the teeth are polished. Your child is given instruction of how to care for the teeth at home.