Children’s dentistry, also known as pediatric dentistry, is a field of dentistry focused on children from infancy to teenage years. For a dentist to become a pediatric dentist, he or she must complete an undergraduate four-year college program (in most cases), a four-year dental program, and pass the Dental Admission Test or DAT.
After those qualifications are met, he or she must also take two to four years of pediatric dentistry specialisation. In some cases, in addition to the specialty courses, a person must also complete up to two years of residency.
A pediatric dentist is trained to understand the unique oral health of children. Every parent’s job is to teach their child how to brush and floss their teeth properly, and a pediatric dentist can assist parents on how to make this learning experience for a child useful.
However, professional care of a child’s teeth is important because problems ignored can cause permanent issues with teeth that have reached adult level. For example, cavities, when neglected, can lead to gum disease, misaligned teeth when left uncorrected can result in improper chewing, speech impediments, unattractive appearance, and more.
Regular dental check-ups, as well as routine dental X-rays, can help growing teeth reach their full potential. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents take their child to the dentist by the child’s first birthday and then twice a year after that.
X-rays, in particular, performed on a regular basis can detect bone diseases, erupting teeth and anything that can benefit from being caught early. Then, proper dental treatment can be done. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, or AAPD, X-rays should be done at least once a year. However, for children who are at a high risk for tooth decay, X-rays should be done at least every six months. This is necessary to detect any problems that may come to the surface.
In addition to teaching your child how to brush properly, it is also important to give your child only healthy foods and snacks that do not lead to tooth decay. For example, encouraging your child to snack on apples is good for teeth. On the other hand, letting your child snack on sugary foods is bad. A pediatric dentist can give you a list of foods and snacks that are healthy for your child’s teeth.
They can also teach parents of newborns how to prevent tooth decay from sugar filled bottles. It is common for a parent to give their infant a bottle. However, prolonged exposure to baby bottles that contain milk, formula, fruit juice and other liquids that contain sugar can cause tooth decay in infants whose first teeth have already erupted, especially if they are allowed to suck on the bottle for an extended period.
There are many childhood diseases, but according to the AAPD, the most common childhood disease is tooth decay. Therefore, regular dental check-up, beginning at the age of one, is highly recommended. Starting with the first dental appointment, the child will, in most cases, receive a complete dental check-up, and a treatment plan for the parent to follow.
If any specialised treatments are necessary, such as X-rays, those will occur at the visit as well. In many cases, the child is sent home with a toothbrush, toothpaste and sometimes fun goodies, such as stickers. For many people, visiting the dentist is not considered an enjoyable event. However, if you’ve kept up with your child’s dental health, the appointment can be smooth and pain-free.