A pediatric dentist is considered to be the pediatricians of the dentistry field. A general dentist needs at least three years of undergraduate education and four years of dental school. Immediately following their undergraduate studies and dental school attendance, pediatric dentists have an additional two or more years of specialty training.
Upon entering the workforce, they elect to limit their practice to children from their infancy to typically the age of eighteen.
These specialists have the skills, knowledge, tools, and resources that allow them to care for the teeth, the gums, and other components of the mouth through the various stages of growth that one experiences in childhood.
Kids Are Special
Pediatric dentistry is generally defined as the unique practice, teaching, and research of both preventative and therapeutic-based oral health care and treatment of kids. Specifically children from birth through adolescence; however, most pediatric dentists care and treat adolescents until they become the legal adult age of 18.
There are still dentists that will care for teenagers until they turn twenty years of age. Regardless of age in which a teen qualifies for a general dentist or an adult dentistry practice, it is agreed upon by pediatric dentists that all kids are special.
While once viewed as a “small adult”, pediatric dentists should remember that the little people that they see are dependent upon an adult caregiver and must maintain that child competency is needed when meeting and working with children and teenagers.
We will address child competency a bit later. For now, we will outline the ways that children are special and different than adults. It is because of these differences that it is essential that a child sees a pediatric dentist. The following outlines these differences:
- Children have unique needs as they experience the growth and development that occurs until they reach adulthood. Pediatric dentists are aware of these changes and are able to engage in growth projects and other processes to determine the best preventative treatments and the best corrective treatments for specific dental/oral health problems.
- Children have unique physiological and psychological needs.
- The emotional and cognitive health of a child is consistently changing as they mature. Pediatric dentists are able to work around their level of understanding and their feelings toward dental care and treatment.
- The attitudes and behaviors that a child has towards dentists and their oral health is formed during their years as a child and a teenager.
- Pediatric dentists know and understand that kids are unable to know what the consequences of their behavior and/or decisions will be in the future. As a result, they are able to successfully collaborate between both the child and the adult caregiver to provide the best course of treatment.
Pediatric Dentists Have a High Level of Child Competency
As mentioned earlier, “child competency” is an important aspect of a pediatric dentist’s career. This means that they have a specific level of insight when it comes to dental care and the oral health for their patients.
Additionally, they are able to communicate in an effective manner with children and teenagers, as well as their adult caregivers.
Their professional attitude is very positive towards patients and their families. This not only ensures that everyone has a complete understanding of the components of oral health and the treatments involved, but that everyone is made comfortable with that which needs to be done and has a solid understanding of the “why” of it all.
Pediatric Dentists and The Treatments Provided
Pediatric dentists provide a comprehensive level of oral health treatments. The following outlines the most common:
- Oral health examinations are provided to infants. These typically include a risk assessment for serious health complications – such as dental caries – based on the mother’s overall dental and general health, as well as that of the baby.
- Pediatric dentists know and understand the importance of proper nutrition, diet, at-home and professional cleaning, as well as fluoride treatments. As a result, they specialize in these preventative dental treatments in children and teenagers of all ages.
- Just like adults, babies, toddlers, school age kids, and teenagers develop habits that can prove detrimental to their dental health. Examples include using a pacifier, being provided a bottle when sleeping, sucking on the thumb, eating excessive sweets, and ice chewing. Pediatric dentists are able to provide habit counseling to kids and their families so that oral health issues can be prevented before they start.
- In many instances, teeth may grow crooked or an overbite may be present. Pediatric dentists are able to provide an early assessment of these issues and set up a treatment plan that helps to correct them before they become a serious issue for the child.
- In addition to being able to identify certain oral conditions, medical conditions, and conducting repairs, pediatric dentists also care for children who are experiencing a dental emergency due to injuries. Examples include saving teeth that have been knocked out and other issues associated with fractured and/or displaced teeth.
The Absolute Best Dental Care for Kids
We here at Richmond Pediatric Dentistry specialize in children. We are a caring, compassionate team that believes in the importance of proper dental care in ensuring optimal health.
Dr. Reynolds is a kind-hearted man who is able to connect to each child that he sees. He truly cares for each child and their family. Not only does he specialize in general pediatric dentistry, he offers other treatments – such as braces.
Each month, many exciting events transpire within our facility. For example, we have drawings for custom-created prize baskets for the young patients that we see.
Best of all, Dr. Reynolds and the rest of our staff work hard to ensure that each child has a positive attitude towards oral health care and is comfortable in our facility.