What Do Pediatric Dentists Do
Just as you seek the aid of a pediatrician for your child’s physical well being, you should consider finding a Pediatric Dentist for their oral health. Pedodontists can help you learn how to care for your child’s teeth and gums, showing proper brushing and flossing techniques for babies and children.
A pediatric dentist is a dental professional who has dedicated their practice and expertise to caring for the oral health of children from infancy through the age of 18. Pediatric dentists have the experience and qualifications to care for children's teeth, gums and mouth throughout the various stages of childhood. Baby teeth begin to erupt during the first six months of life and by the age of six or seven years, the baby teeth start to fall out as the secondary teeth, or adult teeth, begin to push through. Without proper dental care, children face possible oral decay and disease that can cause a lifetime of pain and complications. Today, early childhood dental caries, an infectious disease, is 5 times more common in children than asthma and 7 times more common than hay fever.
What does a Pediatric Dentist do?
A Pediatric Dentist completes an additional two to three years of specialized training after dental school to focus their practice on the care of children. Oral health is a crucial part of our overall well being and a Pediatric Dentist will help you direct your child in developing an oral health routine. If you have a child with special needs or one that requires a gentler touch, a dentist who specializes in the care of children’s teeth could be the way to go. Your family dentist can help you find the Pedodontist that is right for you and your child.
How old are pediatric dental patients?
The first dental visit for your child should happen before their first birthday. Once their teeth begin erupting, it is important for you to learn how to care for their tiny teeth! The dentist will show you how to floss and brush their teeth using a small, soft bristled brush specifically designed for a child's mouth. Your child can continue at the Pediatric Dentist until they reach the age of 18 unless they have special needs that continue into adulthood and require the continued focus of a familiar dentist who they feel comfortable with. Consult your Pediatric Dentist to know when the time is right for your child to switch to your family dental practice.
What treatments do Pediatric Dentists provide?
Pediatric Dentists provide comprehensive oral care for children, including:
- Infant oral health exam, which includes 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 cavities or defects
- Diagnosis of oral conditions associated with diseases such as diabetes, congenital heart defect, and asthma
- Management of gum diseases and conditions including ulcers, short frenulum, mucoceles, and pediatric periodontal disease
- Care for dental injuries such as fractured, displaced, or knocked-out teeth
Why choose a Pediatric Dentist instead of a General Dentist?
While your child is still young, it can be ideal to have them see a Pediatric Dentist who specializes in the care of children. Even though general dentists also go through pediatric training in dental school, Pedodontists continue their specialty training. Oftentimes, children have behavioral conditions that require focused care and the staff at pediatric offices are trained to provide the best care for your child at every point in their visit. Some general dentists are willing to see children though it varies by practice. Once they are old enough, your child’s Pediatric Dentist will help to seamlessly transition them into your general family dentist.
What benefits do Pediatric Dentists offer to children?
Pediatric Dentists specialize in the education of children and their parents in preventative care for the healthy development of teeth and gums. Proper brushing and flossing are important to learn early so that they can be carried throughout adulthood. Knowing when to introduce toothpaste and floss can be challenging but your Pedodontist is there to instruct you when the time is right! Your child’s diet will also play a factor in tooth development as will pacifier and thumb sucking habits. A pediatric dentist is there to help guide you to the best care for your child’s individual habits and needs.
How to Find a Pediatric Dentist
To find a dentist to care for your child visit the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry website or insurekidsnow.gov.