While adults are often concerned about the condition of their teeth and gums, did you know that children might be at an even greater risk of developing oral issues over time?

A recent study found that more than 50 percent of all children between the ages of six and eight have already been diagnosed with at least one cavity. This is why adopting a proactive approach at an early age is one of the best ways to avoid serious issues later in life.

What are some of the duties that a pediatric dentist will normally perform? What type of education are they required to possess? Why is it important to schedule regular visits with this dentist and what will your child expect during his or her visit? These important questions should be made clear to any parent.

What Exactly is a Pediatric Dentist?

A pediatric dentist is associated with the oral care of infants, children and teenagers. This profession is also specifically concerned about monitoring the condition of the teeth and gums, as these areas of the body are still actively developing.

They may also perform other actions such as taking x-rays in order to determine if a child's teeth are properly aligned. If not, he or she might recommend the expertise of an orthodontist.

Pediatric dentists will likewise perform several additional duties. Here are some common examples:

  • Providing fluoride treatments in order to strengthen tooth enamel.
  • Regular cleanings between teeth and around the gumline.
  • Evaluating any mechanical issues (such as an overbite).
  • Detecting and treating cavities if required.
  • Checking for the presence of gum disease.
  • Rectifying any issues associated with an acute injury (such as a chipped or cracked tooth).

In other words, these dentists represent your "one-stop shop" for all issues associated with the oral health of your child.

Education and Training

Similar to other medical professions, those who wish to specialise in pediatric dentistry will be required to undergo a considerable amount of training before joining a practice. This includes obtaining a bachelor's degree from a reputable university, attending dental school and subsequently completing a series of rigorous examinations.

Assuming that these requirements have been obtained, it will then be possible to become either a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). Finally, he or she enters into a residency programme to obtain even more real-world experience.

It is possible to specialise in a handful of areas particularly concerned with pediatric dentistry including:

  • Prosthetics
  • Orthodontics
  • Periodontics
  • Preventative care
  • Prosthetic dentistry

We can now see that obtaining a degree and becoming immersed within the world of pediatric dentistry is no easy fit. This is why these very same individuals are passionate about their roles and will go out of their way to ensure the oral health of your child.

Reasons to Schedule Regular Appointments

One common misconception involves the belief that children should only begin seeing a dentist once their permanent teeth begin to emerge.

On the contrary, it is important to schedule an appointment within six months of when the first baby teeth erupt. This arises from the fact that any issues with baby teeth could very well carry over and impact permanent teeth.

Another point to mention involves the educational nature of a pediatric dentist. Children (and some parents) may not be entirely aware of the proper oral health techniques and which habits to embrace. These professionals will provide hands-on guidance that can then be translated into the home environment.

As highlighted previously, prevention is yet another important advantage that this dentist can provide. Children (particularly infants) can often find it difficult to discuss any oral problems that they may be experiencing. Thus, potentially serious issues could be left unchecked. Pediatric dentists will address such situations before they become more profound concerns.

A Typical Visit: A Child-Friendly Experience

As many adults experience dentophobia (a fear of dentists), it only stands to reason that your child might likewise be hesitant of an upcoming appointment.

Thankfully, pediatric dentistry also teaches professionals how to interact with your little ones in order to place their fears at ease from the very beginning. This is important for two reasons.

First, they will be more likely to speak with a parent if a problem exists. Secondly, becoming comfortable with a dentist at an early age can help to establish healthy lifelong habits (such as scheduling an appointment at least once every six months).

So, what can children expect during an average visit with their dentist? Some routine procedures may include:

  • A general examination of the teeth and gums.
  • A child-friendly discussion involving the proper brushing and flossing techniques.
  • Cleaning and polishing the teeth to a mirror finish.

While x-rays may be performed on occasion, these only occur in the event that an underlying problem (such as an issue with the root of a tooth) is suspected. Note that pediatric dentists will also create an atmosphere that is pleasant and inviting for your little one. This helps to allay any fears or anxiety that they may have.

Setting a Solid Foundation for Later in Life

Thanks to modern medical technology, the field of pediatric dentistry now offers a host of solutions for infants, children and teenagers.

These professionals are true experts in their craft and their main goal is to prevent future issues from arising. If your child develops the proper oral health habits at a young age, the chances are high that he or she will not experience any profound dental issues as an adult.


1. https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/childrens-oral-health/index.html
2. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-a-pediatric-dentist
3. https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=a-childs-first-dental-visit-fact-sheet-1-1509