What is a pedodontist? Discover the most popular pediatric dentistry procedures

Benjamin Wang

Written by Benjamin Wang DDS, Nichole McKenna DDS, Peter Dégallier RDH

A pediatric dentist, also called a pedodontist, diagnoses and treats oral issues of patients from birth until college. This may be extended for those with special needs. A pedodontist is like a dental pediatrician.

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Pediatric dentist vs. dental specialists

While all general dentists are trained in pediatric dentistry, many are reluctant to work with children. In such a case, visiting a pedodontist is a good idea in order to make sure young patients feel safe and comfortable.

After dental school, pediatric dentists complete 2-3 more years of training. This is dedicated to learning about child-specific oral issues as well as how to act around young patients. They also work with parents, providing education on how to care for infant dentition.

What is important to the family budget is that the pedodontist is considered a low-cost dentist compared to other specializations.

What does pediatric dentistry comprise?

Pediatric dentistry is mostly the same as general, but the procedures are performed on children. It is mainly about the right attitude and environment.

You should visit a dentist who is comfortable around kids, especially if your child suffers from dental anxiety. Traumatic childhood experiences at the dentist could mean a lifetime of oral health neglect. Pediatric clinics often train all their staff on dealing with young and special needs patients.

Prevention

Children dental cleaning

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Preventing damage to the teeth is an essential part of child oral care. Avoiding any invasive procedures during the early years is a good way to get used to dental visits.

Routine check-ups

During this visit, the dentist inspects the child’s oral cavity including the gums, teeth, and tongue. He or she will evaluate hygiene levels and warn parents if possible orthodontic treatment might be necessary in the future. X-rays may be taken to diagnose more complex problems. This may be challenging, as many kids have trouble staying still.

Cleanings

From the moment primary dentition appears, professional cleanings are recommended at least once a year. Even the most vigorous brushing and flossing can’t eliminate plaque and tartar buildup fully. Dentists use specialized equipment to remove buildup and stains.

Fluoride

Both primary and adult dentition commonly receive fluoride treatments. Those can be given in trays or simply brushed onto the teeth. Fluoride remineralizes small cavities already present in the teeth and helps prevent future cavities. These treatments are completely non-invasive and a good way to introduce your child to dental visits.

Sealants

A thin coating is painted into the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This is usually done after professional teeth cleaning. The material quickly bonds to the ridges and grooves on the teeth. The aim of the procedure is to protect teeth from entrapping food debris and bacteria. This way it prevents cavities.

Treatment

Primary tooth extraction

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

If prevention turns out insufficient, your child may need to be treated for dental issues that arise. This is often attributed to tooth decay. This condition is the most common chronic childhood disease. Prevalence is 5 times more frequent than obesity and 20 times more than diabetes.

Fillings

In the case that decay is not severe, a filing may be enough to treat it. The damaged part of the tooth is drilled away. The hole is filled with composite, glass ionomer, or amalgam. The parents can discuss the best options for their circumstances with the pedodontist.

Root canal treatment

RCTs are done when a tooth is severely damaged by decay. Sometimes infection travels as far as into the root. The pulp and canal must then be cleaned.

However, pedodontists rarely perform root canal treatment. They will do pulpotomies or pulp caps on primary teeth, but RCT on permanent teeth is usually referred to an endodontist.

Crowns

Stainless steel crowns may be mounted on primary dentition after a pulpectomy or in the case of significant decay. There are options with white visible surfaces for anterior teeth so they are more esthetic for children that require these.

Extractions

Extractions are common with both primary and permanent dentition. Sometimes, when baby teeth fall out, remnants of the roots remain. Removing them is also considered extraction. The procedure often involves anesthesia, most commonly laughing gas. Remember though that local anesthesia injection is still required, even when using nitrous oxide.

Education

A significant part of the pediatric dental visit will be dedicated to educating the children and parents on proper oral care. Topics covered might include: - oral hygiene, - nutrition, - development of dentition, - possible referral to an orthodontist, - preventing injuries, as well as - thumb-sucking and pacifier habits.

Caring for children’s teeth is different from that of adults. Parents should be aware of the process of tooth eruption as well as the loss of primary dentition. The first dental appointment should take place either when the first tooth appears or before the child turns 1.

Other oral-related conditions

You can also expect your pedodontist to assess the risk of incorrect malocclusion, pediatric gum disease, and ulcers.

What’s more, a pediatric dentist works closely with your child’s pediatrician. The oral cavity may exhibit signs of diseases or disorders that concern general health. Those include: - diabetes, - congenital heart defects, - asthma, - hay fever, - ADHD, and - speech impairments.

FAQ

Should my child see a pediatric dentist?

It may be easier to simply book an appointment for your child with your family dentist. However, bearing in mind their additional training, pedodontists are better with children. This is especially helpful with shy kids or those with special needs.

The office environment also matters. Pediatric dental offices are equipped with toys, playrooms, and colorful decorations. All those things help children relax and make the visit less stressful.

Use our dentists near me service and we’ll help you find a pedodontist for your child nearby.

How old are pediatric dentists’ patients?

Pedodontists may treat patients from birth up to adulthood. Most commonly, the first visit takes place at around 6 months, while the last happens around 12-13 years of age. This is when most adult teeth come in and parents opt to book an appointment with a general dentist.

Nonetheless, there is an option to continue treatment with a pediatric dentist. This is a particularly good choice for patients with special needs.

Is a pediatric dentist more expensive?

A pedodontist may charge more than a general dentist. They use specialized equipment and go through specific training to become experts in what they do. It’s important to note though, that their prices are usually only slightly higher and they have a lot more experience in dealing with children.

References

  1. Child, neglect and oral health - NCBI
  2. American Dental Association Statement on Regular Dental Visits - ADA
  3. Fluoride treatments in the dental office: Extra protection for your teeth - ADA
  4. Dental Sealants - ADA
  5. Breaking the Thumb Sucking Habit: When Compliance Is Essential - NCBI
  6. Tooth eruption: The primary teeth - ADA
  7. Pedodontist's Role in Managing Speech Impairments Due to Structural Imperfections and Oral Habits: A Literature Review - NCBI