Pediatric dentistry is a specialization that focuses on the treatment of children ranging from infancy until they reach their teen years. From the time babies start to get their baby teeth at six months, it is important that they get proper dental care to ensure that they get strong and healthy permanent teeth, and enjoy good oral health throughout their lives. If they do not get dental care from an early age, children risk developing dental problems such as early childhood dental caries, which can result in problems such as cavities and tooth decay continuing to haunt them throughout their adult lives.
The types of treatment the pediatric dentist provides include:
- Preventive care, including regular check-ups, fluoride treatments to strengthen teeth, and cleaning (prophylaxis). The dentist will also provide diet and nutrition recommendations to help keep teeth healthy.
- Oral health exams, including screening for diseases such as dental caries, for both the child and the mother.
- Early assessment to determine if the child will need to undergo orthodontic procedures to straighten their teeth.
- Counseling on habits that can have an impact on the childâs dental health, such as thumb-sucking.
- Diagnosis of dental conditions developing due to diseases such as asthma, diabetes and congenital heart defect.
- Management of dental problems such as gum disease and pediatric periodontal disease, as well as repair of defects and cavities.
In order to become a pediatric dentist, apart from completing dental school, the dentist must also complete a minimum 24-month residency program, which must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association. Certain states may also impose other requirements that your credentials must meet in order for you to be allowed to practice.
In addition, the pediatric dentist can adjust their specialization to focus on a particular age group, such as focusing on the specific dental needs of adolescents or infants. They can also specialize on dealing with the needs of children who are developmentally challenged.
Why should parents choose a pediatric dentist over a general dentist? Specialists are more qualified to deal with the specific dental needs of children in a way that general dentists may not be able to. They are trained to be able to put children more at ease during appointments, to ensure that visits are as pain-free as possible, and that children do not develop dental phobia. Their clinics are designed to be child-friendly, and they have equipment specifically made to ensure the comfort of children.
These days, pediatric dentists are also focusing more on aesthetics, so that children who need to have fillings or crowns do not need to have silver put in their mouth, as well as introducing sedation into their practice so that young patients would not experience distress or pain during their visit.