Parents of infants, young children and even teenagers ought to be aware that there is a special type of dentist that specializes in treating the young. This is the pediatric dentist who is specifically trained to handle and treat the younger generation.
Today, an estimated 50% of children suffer from cavities in their first teeth (the primary set) and the percentage is even higher among older children who have developed their second, or permanent, set.
This is a worrying statistic as cavities are largely preventable with the right care and attention and a pediatric dentist is specifically qualified to recognize early signs of dental issues in children of all ages.
Sometimes referred to as pedodontists, pediatric dentists care for children from infancy through to the teenage years and are trained to deal with issues concerning the teeth, gums and jaw as the body develops over time.
The primary set can appear in as little as six months after birth and are replaced by a permanent set around the ages of six or seven.
Taking proper care of the teeth and gums during the early developmental years is crucial as many of the dental issues that affect people in later life are influenced by how well they were looked after in childhood.
Any field of pediatrics requires years of intensive study and clinical experience. Aspiring dentists must possess a bachelor's degree, have completed dental school, and passed a number of examinations. At this point the candidate will be awarded a license as a Doctor of Dental Medicine or Doctor of Dental Surgery but must still complete an intensive residency program before full qualification.
Graduates may opt to specialize in one or more areas of dentistry:
Upon completion of the relevant residency, a candidate is then obliged to undertake a further series of examinations before becoming board-certified by the CDA (Commission on Dental Accreditation) and allowed to practice.
It is never too early to bring a child for its first dental exam but this can be a traumatic experience for some. However, a pediatric dentist understands the special needs of children and the office will usually contain toys and decorations to keep young patients contented and calm.
A relaxed and comfortable atmosphere is especially effective for toddlers who may view a regular office as intimidating and frightening.
A first visit should ideally be scheduled when the child reaches about six months of age which is usually when the first teeth begin to push through the gums. Even at this early age an examination by a pediatric dentist will be of benefit as any issues can be spotted at a very early stage and future problems avoided.
The child's first visit is a general fact-finding mission during which the dentist will:
Parents can also expect advice and guidance regarding the best way to brush and floss and the best way to maintain good oral health. Babies and infants will be thoroughly examined although dentists are not inclined to use X-rays for the very young unless there is a medical necessity for doing so.
Because oral health directly impacts on overall physical health, following a good dental health regimen plays an important role in physical well-being. The mouth is a repository for bacteria, both good and bad, and keeping this under control is crucial to good oral health. Brushing and flossing correctly will control bacteria and prevent possible infections of the mouth and gums.
Pediatric dentists teach both children and parents not only the importance of good dental hygiene but the correct methods of brushing and flossing. This may seem a trivial matter but many dental issues affecting both young and old today can be attributed to incorrect brushing and flossing during the formative years as well as poor oral hygiene.
The role of the pediatric dentist comprises much more than just conducting oral exams and providing guidance. Many years of study, a suitable residency and certification mean that these dentists are now qualified to carry out:
In addition, because of training and experience, a pediatric dentist can often detect many medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and ADHD in the early stages.
Because pediatric dentists are specifically trained to deal with children and adolescents, the experience of visiting the dentist is less traumatic and can even be enjoyable for many. Understanding a child's special needs and making them feel comfortable can only have a beneficial effect in encouraging the child to practice better dental hygiene and reduce the risks of unwanted dental issues.
Choosing a pediatric dentist to take care of a child's dental needs ensures the best care and attention possible and also lays the groundwork for a lifetime of good dental health with a minimum of issues that afflict many children and young adolescents.
“Wow!! A dentist that is a pleasure to visit. Ambi and the teams look after you as ROYALTY - and marvellous work with not a hint of pain and tea and carrot cake thrown in. Thanks fo…”