According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) it is “…an age-defined specialty that provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health care needs.”
Good experiences with dentistry as a youth are important to the future oral health of all children. Most adults with dental phobias will typically attest that it is a result of bad experiences in the past, especially during childhood. The good news is that advances in modern dentistry definitely help make the entire dental experience easier for everyone. Nowhere is this truer than in pediatric dentistry.
How does one become a pediatric dentist?
Pediatric dentistry is a recognized specialty. As such there are specific education requirements. After graduating dental school a dentist must then receive 2 to 3 years of post-doctorate university training specific to this field. In addition, many will consider a hospital residency to sharpen their diagnostic and emergency triage skills.
Since a career in pediatric dentistry requires an understanding of child psychology, some dentists may decide to minor in psychology or child psychology. Or, they may decide to take specialized continuing education courses after graduating in order to hone this vital aspect of their job. Either way, it is safe to say that – in addition to the required schooling – some child psychology training (formally or informally) is a necessity.
Why does my child need to see a specialist?
Your general (family) dentist is still your first stop for your little one. It is recommended for them to be seen by age 1 or when their first tooth starts to erupt, whatever comes first. At that point your family dentist will inform you of their personal policies on pediatric dentistry.
Examples of where a pedodontist may be required:
- In cases of severe dental decay, e.g. with baby bottle decay
- Where there has been trauma to front teeth, say, that needs specialist attention
- Sometimes a pedodontist will work closely with an orthodontist, e.g in cases of absence of some adult teeth
- Where the patient has special needs, the specialist training and experience of a paediatric dentist may be of particular use.
Having your child see a pediatric dentist from a young age can be extremely advantageous in some circumstances. Not only are these dentists extremely qualified to treat dental issues that are unique to young ones, but they also help give your infant the best possible dental experience from the beginning. This is arguably the most important aspect or the primary goal of pediatric dentistry.
In fact, if you are a parent wondering whether or not sending your child to a pedodontist is really necessary, keep the following thought in mind. An accurate job description for a pediatric dentist might read: the one responsible for molding the way your child views dental care for the rest of their lives.
Of course, there are no guarantees, but having your child see a pedodontist (should the need arise) can help prevent future dental phobias and can positively impact your child’s dental and overall health for years to come!
You may be interested in reading our advice on dental health for kids.