Pediatric dentistry mainly deals with children from birth through adolescence. Pediatric dentistry is recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA) as one of several dental specialties, and thus requires that dentist complete additional two to three years of intensive training after acquiring a degree in dentistry. At the completion of the training, a unique diploma (Diplomate ABPD) will be issued by the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. Some pediatric dentists choose to specialize in oral care for children with various levels of cerebral palsy or mental retardation, especially autism.
Child psychology is a critical component of pediatric dentistry. Pediatric dentists are equipped to create a fun atmosphere for children coming to visit, and always avoid the use of words such as “injection,” “needle,” and “drill.” Children with phobia in childhood usually maintain it into adulthood, so it’s of utmost importance that children find a suitable dental home as early as possible.
What Does a Pediatric Dentist Do?
Pediatric dentists perform many functions regarding the overall hygiene and oral health of a child. There is a lot of emphasis on caring for deciduous (baby) teeth, which promotes good chewing habits and good speech production.
Other important functions include:
Education – Pediatric dentists adopt the use of child-friendly terminology, computer technology, and models to educate the child, laying emphasis on maintaining healthy and strong teeth. Also, they advise parents on good eating habits, trauma prevention, disease prevention, and other home hygiene routine.
Monitoring growth – tracking development and growth allows pediatric dentists anticipate dental issues and move quickly to intervene before it exacerbates. Also, focusing on earlier corrective treatment helps in preserving the self-confidence of the child.
Prevention – helping children and parents instill good oral care and eating habits can prevent tooth decay. Also, aside from providing dental cleanings and check-ups, pediatric dentists can apply topical fluoride and sealants to young teeth, provide proper demonstrations of flossing and brushing, advise parents on thumb- sucking, etc.
Intervention – on occasion, pediatric dentists may discuss with parents on the possibility of early oral treatments. In the case of bad bite (malocclusion), oral injury, or grinding (bruxism), a nighttime mouth guard may be recommended, space maintainers may be fitted, or reconstructive surgery may be scheduled.
For questions about pediatric dentistry, please get in touch with our office.