Pediatric dentists are providers who have completed a doctorate of general dentistry (either a DDS or a DMD) and an additional two years of schooling in working with infants, children, and special needs patients. Most children see their first teeth around 6 months of age, at which point the American Dental Association recommends they begin seeing a dentist.
What Does a Pediatric Dentist Do?
Pediatric dentists provide prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of oral conditions, just as general dentists do for adults. However, a pediatric dentist is also trained in working specifically with children, special needs patients, and those requiring gentle or specialized care. Although all general dentists have undergone some form of training with children, a pediatric dentist must complete a two-year course after obtaining their doctorate in dentistry. These special qualifications include an understanding of calming techniques, behavioral health for children and special needs patients, and the use of equipment designed for children’s mouths. Your pediatric dentist can offer a range of dental procedures, including:
- Infant oral exams and cleanings: even if your baby only has one tooth, your dentist can provide a gentle gum cleaning and can also teeth you how to care for your baby’s mouth as more teeth come in.
- Fluoride treatments and sealants
- Tooth and mouth structure assessments: as your child’s teeth come in, your dentist can assess the alignment and bite strength of his or her mouth, which can help prepare for straightening procedures like braces or retainers.
- Behavioral treatments: your dentist will provide advice for maintaining your child’s oral health at home, including brushing habits and when to wean a child off of a pacifier or thumb-sucking.
- Treatment of child oral diseases
Why is Pediatric Dentistry Important?
In addition to offering the same services as a general dentist, your pediatric dentist can advise parents and caretakers on behavioral aspects of maintaining the oral health of a special needs patient. This can include behavioral counseling, including helping parents maintain their child’s oral health at home, or making a dental visit less scary for infants or children who experience anxiety. In some cases, a pediatric dentist will continue to care for a special needs patient into adulthood.
Although many parents choose a general dentist for their child’s oral exams, finding a pediatric dentist can greatly improve your child’s quality of care and relationship with their dental hygiene. Your pediatric dentist can care for your child’s mouth from infancy to adolescence, helping to shape their oral health as they grow.
If you’re looking for a pediatric dentist for your child, or are caring for a child or young adult who may need special accommodations with their oral health, call Countryside Dental Group today.