A pediatric dentist is a dental specialist that specializes in the care of children, teenagers, and young adults. Although general dentists may call themselves a family dentist, a children’s dentist, or a kid’s dentist, only a pediatric dentist has undergone an extra two years of training to become a specialist. During this training, the dentist has extensive dental and hospital training to become an expert in the treatment of infants, children, adolescents and also patients with special healthcare needs. It is important to realize that children are not just small sized adults and as such have differing dental needs. Pediatric dentists also look beyond just your child’s teeth and stress the importance of oral health as part of your child’s growth and development. This is why a pediatric dental office is more than just a children’s dentist office, it is a dental home.
How do I become a Pediatric Dentist?
- Complete a 4 year degree at the college or university level
- Gain entrance and complete 4 years dental school and obtain a doctoral dental degree (DMD or DDS)
- Be accepted into a post doctoral (after dental school) pediatric training program
- Successfully complete a 2 -3 year pediatric dental program or residency
In addition, some pediatric dentists elect to complete their board certification in pediatric dentistry. This requires successful completion of the written board examination and then completion of the oral board exam. Only by successfully completing both parts of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, may a dentist state that they are a board certified pediatric dentist.
What Treatments do Pediatric Dentists Provide?
- Infant oral health and dental exams including caries (cavity) risk assessment for parents and children
- Preventative dental care including dental cleanings, fluoride treatment, and sealants
- Establishment of a Dental Home
- Diagnosis and treatment of tooth related diseases such as cavities and abscesses
- Diagnosis and treatment of gum related diseases such as gingivitis, gum disease, ulcers, and tongue and lip ties
- Early diagnosis and treatment of jaw growth and dental spacing issues
- Management of dental concerns that arise with medical conditions in children such as asthma, ADHD, congential heart disease, genetic conditions, and special healthcare needs
- Care for dental emergencies and dental injuries such as sports injuries or falls
- Treatment with other medical and dental professionals such as pediatricians or dental care under sedation and anesthesia with our anesthesiologist
When Should My Child See a Pediatric Dentist?
It may be appropriate for your child to see a general dentist. General dentists are able to perform treatment and examinations on kids. This is similar to having your child see a family physician instead of a pediatrician. However, sometimes your child needs a dentist that is an expert in the care of children. This is when it is important to see a pediatric dentist. Reasons include high risk for cavities, extensive dental needs, crowding of teeth, concerns over medical needs, concerns regarding dental habits such as thumb sucking or pacifier use.