Why Pediatric Dentists?

Most families with children rely on a pediatrician to be responsible for the health of their kids, and the same approach should be taken with dentistry. Pediatric dentists specialize in the oral healthcare of children and patients with special needs. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about pediatric dentists:

What Does a Pediatric Dentist Do?

A pediatric dentist is a dentist that after graduating from dental school completes an additional 2-3 years of education that is focused solely on the oral health of children and those with special needs. This additional schooling encompasses topics such as oral trauma, dental emergencies, sedation and general anesthesia, as well as managing cases with extensive dental needs. Furthermore, pediatric dentists train in the behavior management of pediatric patients, a critical skill needed to lower dental anxiety and, consequently, lower the chance of any long term “dental trauma”.

Pediatric dentists are professionals who have completed a specialized course of dentistry that caters to children who have special needs or otherwise need gentler care. The program consists of two to three years of further training after graduation from dental school. It includes hospital training, where they work with children who have more severe dental needs and emergencies, and training in numerous orthodontic teeth-straightening methods. Pediatric dentists work closely with pediatricians and general dentists, who refer select patients for this specialized dental treatment that requires this advanced training. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) is an organization of pediatric dentists, and its website has a good selection of brochures explaining their role in dentistry.

Who can see a pediatric dentist?

A pediatric dentist can treat children from birth until college. Usually, once a patient begins to have “adult problems” such as the need for implants, porcelain crowns, veneers, etc., then it is time for them to graduate to an “adult” dentist. Additionally, pediatric dentists receive speciality training to treat patients with special needs of all ages. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that your child see a pediatric dentist by age one.

Pediatric dentists can treat children from birth to college. If a child has unique developmental issues or needs to be seen in a hospital setting due to another medical condition, a pediatric dentist is uniquely qualified to provide that treatment. Often, children with special needs that persist into adulthood are still seen past the age of 18; their pediatric dentist knows their dental history, as well as the special treatment and procedures needed before and during treatment.

Why Choose a Pediatric Dentist Instead of a General Dentist?

All general dentists are trained in pediatric dentistry in dental school, and are predominantly taught by pediatric specialists on staff. Some general dentists are more comfortable than others in treating small children, especially if their practice serves many families and they’re familiar with common behavioral conditions that need to be addressed during treatment. But it is subjective to the practice; if a general dentist is not comfortable treating a young or special needs child, a referral is in order. You can search for one near you through the AAPD Online Pediatric Dentist Search.

What Benefits Do Pediatric Dentists Offer to Children?

Prevention and treatment are the primary focus areas of pediatric dentists, along with educating parents and other dental professionals on how best to treat their children. Pediatric dentists working in dental schools and hospital training facilities also conduct research to develop better methods of preventing oral health problems in children.

Brochures and educational materials are plentiful online to help parents prepare for their child’s first visit to the dentist and to inform them about the preventive oral health care products available to them. Ultimately, however, a pediatric dentist can be a helpful aid in ensuring a lifetime of healthy smiles for your children. Together, you can work toward this goal.