Pediatric dentistry (formerly Pedodontics/Paedodontics) primarily focuses on children from birth through adolescence. The Canadian Dental Association (ADA), recognizes pediatric dentistry as a specialty, and therefore requires dentists to undertake two or three years of additional training after completing a general dentistry degree. Some pediatric dentists (pedodontists) opt to specialize in oral care for children with special needs; specifically children with autism, varying levels of intellectual disability, or cerebral palsy.
One of the most important components of pediatric dentistry is child psychology. Pediatric dentists are trained to create a friendly, fun, social atmosphere for visiting children, and always avoid threatening words like “drill,” “needle,” and “injection.” Dental phobias beginning in childhood often continue into adulthood, so it is of paramount importance that children have positive experiences and find their “dental home” as early as possible.
What Does a Pediatric Dentist Do?
Pediatric dentists fulfill many important functions pertaining to the child’s overall oral health and hygiene. They place particular emphasis on the proper maintenance and care of deciduous (baby) teeth, which are instrumental in facilitating good chewing habits, proper speech production, and also hold space for permanent teeth.
Other important roles include:
Education - Pediatric dentists educate the child using
models, computer technology, and child-friendly terminology;
thus emphasizing the importance of keeping teeth strong
and healthy. In addition, they advise parents on disease
prevention, trauma prevention, good eating habits,
and other aspects of the home hygiene routine.
Monitoring growth – By continuously tracking
growth and development, pediatric dentists are
able to anticipate dental issues and quickly intervene
before they worsen. Also, working towards earlier
corrective treatment preserves the child’s self-esteem
and fosters a more positive self-image.
Prevention – Helping parents and children establish
sound eating and oral care habits reduces the chances
of later tooth decay. In addition to providing checkups
and dental cleanings, pediatric dentists are also able
to apply dental sealants and topical fluoride to
young teeth, advise parents on thumb-sucking/pacifier/smoking
cessation, and provide demonstrations of the most effective methods of brushing and flossing.
Intervention – In some cases, pediatric dentists may discuss the possibility of early oral treatments with parents. In the case of oral injury, malocclusion (bad bite), or bruxism (grinding), space maintainers may be fitted, a nighttime mouth guard may be recommended, or reconstructive surgery may be scheduled.
If you have questions or concerns about pediatric dentistry, please contact our office.