What is Pediatric Dentistry?
Pediatric dentistry is a subspecialty of dentistry that deals with the examination and management of dental health in children from birth through adolescence. It involves all aspects of dental health care for developing children. A pediatric dentist has 2 to 3 years of specialty training after dental school and confines his or her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty dental care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.
What Types of Treatments does Pediatric Dentistry Provide?
Pediatric dentistry offers comprehensive oral health care designed to meet the needs of growing children that includes the following:
- Treatment for gum conditions, including advanced pediatric periodontal disease and mild gingivitis
- Treatment for dental caries, commonly referred to as tooth decay or cavities
- Correction of tooth development problems and other irregularities, such as a cleft lip and palate
- Correction of dental erosion, also called enamel erosion
- Early evaluation and treatment for straightening teeth and correcting an improper bite (orthodontics)
- Care for dental injuries such as displaced, fractured, or knocked-out teeth
- Preventive dental care, including fluoride treatments and cleaning, as well as diet and nutrition recommendations
- Diagnosis of oral diseases connected with conditions such as congenital heart defect, diabetes, hay fever, asthma, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Children should visit a pediatric dentist every 6 months for an oral exam and teeth cleaning. These measures help reduce the risk of disease by keeping the mouth and teeth healthy throughout life. Preventive dental treatments such as the use of sealants and fluoride help prevent cavity formation. Using fluoride regularly is crucial for every child, specifically in the early phases of life. Fluoride assists to decrease the risk of plaque buildup and help prevent tooth loss and tooth decay.
What are the Oral Procedures Performed by Pediatric Dentistry?
Some of the common dental procedures performed by Pediatric Dentistry include:
- Cavity Fillings: Cavity fillings are the most common restorative treatment performed for children with minor cavities. They are also minimally invasive and completed within one dentist visit.
- Pediatric Pulp Therapy: Pulp treatment is referred to as pediatric pulp therapy or baby root canal treatment. This therapy is employed to treat, save, and restore a child’s decayed baby (primary) teeth.
- Tooth Extractions and Space Maintainers: Tooth extractions or tooth removal is usually caused by disease, trauma, tooth decay, or crowding of teeth. Space maintainers are then placed to fill the space of the extracted tooth to ensure the child’s permanent tooth grows properly.
- Stainless Steel Crowns (SSCs): Stainless steel crowns are employed to protect a child’s molars (back primary teeth) that have not formed correctly or are completely decayed.
- Dental Cleaning (Prophylaxis): Oral prophylaxis is one of the common procedures recommended every 6 months to maintain good oral health. In this procedure, your child’s teeth are thoroughly cleaned to remove plaque and calculus (hard tarter deposits), which can cause gum disease and cavities. After the cleaning, fluoride is applied to the teeth to help protect and strengthen the weak areas against decay.
Benefits of Pediatric Dentistry Over General Dentistry
While both general and pediatric dentists will ensure your child’s best interests and provide proper dental care, the benefits of taking your child to see a pediatric dentist are worth considering when making this significant decision. Some of the benefits offered by Pediatric Dentistry include:
- They can provide special attention to your child’s sensitive teeth.
- They have the required training and expertise to care for children adequately.
- They have specialized knowledge of children’s jaw and teeth development.
- They can assist children to quit bad habits like prolonged pacifier use or thumb sucking.
- They understand children’s needs and specialize in making treatments more comfortable and easier to tolerate.
- They use specially designed equipment in offices that are decorated and arranged with children in mind.