What is a pediatric dentist?
Pediatric dentists are dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through the teen years. They have the experience and qualifications to care for a child’s teeth, gums, and mouth throughout the various stages of childhood.
Children begin to get their baby teeth during the first 6 months of life. By age 6 or 7 years, they start to lose their first set of teeth, which eventually are replaced by permanent (adult) teeth. Without proper dental care, children face possible tooth decay and disease that can cause a lifetime of pain and complications.
Children are not just small adults. They are not always able to be patient and cooperative during a dental exam. Pediatric dentists know how to examine and treat children in ways that make them comfortable. In addition, pediatric dentists use specially designed equipment in offices that are arranged and decorated with children in mind.
A pediatric dentist offers a wide range of treatment options, as well as expertise and training to care for your child’s teeth, gums, and mouth. When your pediatrician suggests that your child receive a dental exam, you can be assured that a pediatric dentist will provide the best possible care
What Kind of Training Do Pediatric Dentists Have?
Pediatric dentists have completed at least:
-Four years of dental school
-Two additional years of residency training in dentistry for infants, children, teens, and children with special needs
What Types of Treatments Do Pediatric Dentists Provide?
Pediatric dentists provide comprehensive oral health care that includes the following:
Infant oral health exams, which include risk assessment for caries in mother and child
Preventive dental care including cleaning and fluoride treatments, as well as nutrition and diet recommendations
Habit counseling (for example, pacifier use and thumb sucking)Early assessment and treatment for straightening teeth and correcting an improper bite (orthodontics)
Repair of tooth cavities or defects
Diagnosis of oral conditions associated with diseases such as diabetes, congenital heart defect, asthma, hay fever, and attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder
Care for dental injuries (for example, fractured, displaced, or knocked-out teeth)
What can I expect during my child’s first visit to the pediatric dentist?
The first dental visit is educational and helps to establish a Dental Home — or home base — for your child’s dental needs. At the first visit, the pediatric dentist will examine your child’s teeth and may also discuss brushing techniques or take a model of the child’s teeth, depending on the stage of growth. Because pediatric dentists receive 2-3 years of additional training beyond dental school, they are experienced in making your child feel comfortable during the visit and will help ensure you have the necessary tools and information to help keep your child cavity-free. You can also consider a “get acquainted” visit before your first appointment in order to get your child familiar with and comfortable in the office. It’s also important to note that the first visit to a pediatric dentist should be when their first tooth comes in or no later than age one. But if you have an older child — it is never too late for taking care of little teeth!