Pediatric dentistry is a clinical specialty of dentistry that includes all the areas of adult dentistry that are applicable to children, as well as other procedures that are specific to the needs of baby (primary) teeth. This means that pediatric dentists attend two/three years of additional training after completing dental school to make them fit for providing oral care for infants, toddlers, and children through adolescence, including those with special needs.
Approaches to pediatric dental care
A skilled pediatric dentist should understand the dental challenges of a developing child, and be capable of providing the necessary treatment while practicing psychological tactics that create positive and pain-free experiences for the young patients. Behavior management is vital for establishing a trusting and positive relationship with the child, which not only facilitates the delivery of quality dental care, but also promotes positive experiences that make them considerate of dental care for life.
Pediatric dentists use a wide range of approaches to address the unique needs of each child and help him or her complete the required dental treatment. The preferred behavior guidance methods used for each child depend on:
- Dental needs
- Health history
- Type of treatment required
- Emotional and intellectual development
- Consequences of skipping treatment
- Special health care needs
- Parental preferences
Custom dental care for children
Pediatric dentistry includes comprehensive oral health care at every stage of your child’s development, starting from infancy, when the first set of baby teeth set in. Dental care for toddlers changes a bit because your child now has about 20 primary teeth, and may start forming habits that risk his/her dental health such as thumb sucking. Pre-school and school-aged children may require sealants to protect their teeth from dental decay, while adolescents need cosmetic dental treatments to improve their smiles.
Some of the treatments provided in pediatric dentistry include:
- Infant oral health examinations before your baby’s first birthday
- Risk assessment for dental caries
- Routine preventive dental care – professional cleaning, fluoride treatments, nutrition recommendations
- Habit counseling – pacifier use, thumb sucking, nail biting, smoking
- Early orthodontic assessment and treatment for correcting crooked or improper bite
- Restorative procedures – for cavities, tooth defects
- Care for dental injuries – knocked-out, fractured, or displaced teeth
- Gum disease management
- Cosmetic treatments for discolored teeth
Your pediatric dentist can offer a variety of treatment options, as well as training to care for your child’s mouth. So don’t skip your child’s regular dental checkups every six months or as recommended by your dentist.