What is a Children's Dentistry? Well, simply put, it is the specialty of dentistry dealing with the oral health of children.
More specifically and officially, it deals with both the primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care of children from birth to age 21 including those with special health care needs such as Cerebral Palsy or Down's syndrome. It is the only specialty in dentistry that is age defined, not procedure defined. In fact the official name is Pediatric Dentistry. It is one of the recognized specialties of dentistry. Our national organization is the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
When your child is sick you take your child to a Pediatrician. So, in Medicine, there is Pediatrics. In Dentistry, there is Pediatric Dentistry. Originally, we Pediatric Dentists were called "Pedodontists" and we practiced "Pedodontics". Some people got confused with the name and would, from time to time think we were foot doctors! So, they changed the official name so there is no confusion.
Since we provide comprehensive care that means we do a little bit of everything. When a child or teen comes into our office, we will often clean the teeth, take diagnostic x-rays, apply preventive fluoride treatments and give oral hygiene instructions. If we find a problem, we will restore a tooth with a filling or a crown. If the need is there, we may have to remove a tooth or do some other kind of oral surgery. Part of the care we provide is orthodontics or "braces." Although, in our office, we have an orthodontist on staff that handles most of our patient’s orthodontic treatment. Pediatric Dentists are trained to do braces as well. And yes, we see teens up to the age of 21. We even have patients older than that if they are still in University and not on their own yet.
Much of what a Pediatric Dentist is known for is our behavior management skills. Somehow, we have to get a three year old child to sit still, lie down, open his mouth, allow an anesthetic injection, remove or wash out decay, and place fillings all without moving around or crying. Well, that's the idea anyways. Hey, I do it every day, but it's not always easy. With training and experience, we use the most likely methods to achieve the desired goal. Sometimes it's just talking with a child or guiding him through a procedure. Sometimes pharmacologic medications or laughing gas helps out. Sometimes there is just no way to do what we need without going to the hospital and completing extensive treatment with the patient under general anesthesia. So, you can see, there is a fine art of treating the patients dental condition, but doing it in a manner that is as easy as possible, accommodates parental preferences and does so in a cost effective manner. I just have to say, many people and dentists too say how difficult it must be to deal with the kids all day. Well, I'll tell you the kids are easy, it's the parents that usually more difficult to deal with.
Hey, in Pediatric Dentistry, it's not all about drilling and filling, brushing and flossing. It's about caring about the children behind those wonderful smiles!
Here is a link to our office web site for more info: APDA
Here are some answers to some common questions from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry: AAPD Frequently Asked Questions