Why Choose a Pediatric Dentist?
In the same way your child sees a pediatrician as their primary medical provider, a pediatric dentist is the primary oral health provider for your infant, your child and your teen. A pediatric dentist must complete an advanced post-doctoral course accredited by the American Dental Association, with a minimum of two academic years in the specialty of pediatric dentistry to obtain the skills required to be considered a specialist in the field. This extensive training provides pediatric dentists the knowledge to treat children's teeth, provide a positive dental experience and to educate children on the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene.
Understanding the Need for Pediatric Dentistry
Children differ vastly from adults in many ways. From the size of their bodies to their rapidly growing teeth, they require specialized care from practitioners who are specially trained to respond to their diverse needs. This is why pediatric dentists receive extensive, additional training specifically focused on those unique dental care requirements of babies, children and teens. Pediatric dentists have become an essential addition to a child's healthcare team to build a strong, healthy foundation for their teeth and overall health.
Babies, children, and teens all require a specifically trained dental eye. From a baby's teething process within the first year of life to the appearance of the final molars in their teen years, pediatric dentists are there to help both children and parents navigate the changes and challenges of dental development.
With additional years of specialized training after completion of dental school, a pediatric dentist can identify and help prevent treatable problems like baby bottle tooth decay, dental-related speech problems, cavities in the primary teeth, or other factors which may affect the development of the permanent teeth. They can offer advice such as what kinds of liquids are okay before bed, or how to brush a baby's teeth. Regular pediatric dental checkups also set the stage for great dental health into adulthood.
Pediatric and General Dentists: What's the Difference?
Because of their increased, specialized training, pediatric dentists are far better equipped than general dentists not only to treat children, but to attend to their needs and questions, and those of their parents. Questions like "Is my baby's thumb sucking hurting her teeth?" or "What kinds of foods can he chew now?" are far better answered by an expert on the developing child's dental health.
Another significant difference is the setting. One goal of pediatric dentistry is to establish for children a positive, happy relationship with taking care of their teeth. General dentistry clinics, however, can often seem scary to a child, and can begin to foster a relationship of fear early on. Pediatric dentistry practices offer not only child-friendly settings, but staff who are specially trained and passionate about keeping a young person happy, calm, and comfortable throughout their visits.
Understanding the unique needs of children in dentistry is key to the proper development and maintenance of their smiles. Choosing a pediatric dentist is the very best way to set a healthy foundation for a child's dental development, which also affects their overall health into adulthood and throughout their lives.