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What is a Pediatric Dentist?

February 16, 2022

Pediatric Dentists

A pediatric dentist is a dentist who specializes in oral health for children, all the way from infancy to their teenage years. Pediatric dentistry requires unique qualifications, since children’s dental health differs from those in adulthood. This guide will answer the questions: what is a pediatric dentist, what services do they provide, and why are they important?

Educational Requirements

Pediatric dentistry has a different set of educational requirements than standard dentistry. After completing an undergraduate degree, an aspiring pediatric dentist will then complete four years of education to become a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of  Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). However, becoming a pediatric dentist includes further requirements. A certificate or master’s degree in pediatric dentistry takes another two to three years to earn. These programs cover the specific aspects of children’s dental health, including child behavior, how their teeth grow and develop, and preventative care. Additionally, course requirements include clinical experience providing real pediatric care to children

Pediatric Dentist Services

Pediatric dentists provide a wide variety of services for children, whether they are still in infancy or heading into their college years. Each of these services play a crucial role in maintaining proper dental hygiene and care for children.

Infant Oral Health Exams

A child will typically start to develop their first teeth within the first six months of their life. A pediatric dentist will give your child an oral health exam sometime within those six months to determine if there is any risk for disease, tooth decay, or other issues. This first visit is also important. Parents can receive guidance on proper dental care for their newborn, what to expect, and planning future visits. In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first birthday.

Treatment & Preventative Care

Pediatric dentists provide dental treatment for any issues that may appear, as well as provide preventative care to maintain proper dental health. Preventative care includes fluoride treatments, cleanings, and educating patients on healthy practices and habits to use. 

Pediatric dentists can treat a wide variety of issues for children. One of the most common issues is filling cavities, which roughly half of all children experience. Other treatment includes removing teeth, fixing broken teeth, and assisting with sensitive teeth/tooth pain. A pediatric dentist will also be able to determine if oral surgery may be required for certain instances. They may refer patients to orthodontists in these situations.


Identifying and treating dental issues early on is incredibly important so they don’t worsen over time. Pediatric dentists offer examinations and diagnosing services to look for any issues that appear, such as teeth grinding, over and under bites, or irregular growths of teeth or the jaw. A pediatric dentist will be able to determine whether preventative care is needed and to what level they recommend.

Educating Patients

The earlier good habits can be encouraged and implemented for dental health, the better. Pediatric dentists are trained to teach children during their visits about the importance of dental hygiene and what they should do to take care of their teeth. They specialize in communicating with younger patients using easy-to-understand terminology and treatment. That way, each patient knows exactly what healthy habits look like and can keep them for years ahead.

pediatric dentist

Gum Treatment

Pediatric dentists also check for any gum disease that may be present. Gingivitis is one of the common issues with the gums that many children experience. It leads to bleeding, swelling, and redness.It is also the precursor to worse gum diseases, such as periodontal disease. Pediatric dentists implement preventative care as well as treatment of gingivitis, or any other gum issues, occur. 

Why Pediatric Dentistry Is Important

One of the best benefits of having a pediatric dentist is that they are trained experts in helping children feel comfortable with dental health. Many children can become anxious at the thought of going to the dentist. In some cases, this can lead to behavioral issues during treatment. Pediatric dentists create a comfortable, welcoming environment and treat them with gentle, reassuring care. Additionally, pediatric dentists are trained to provide anesthesia when needed.

This is especially important for getting children interested in dental health early on. The longer you wait to teach them the importance of dental hygiene, the harder it is to accomplish later on. When that happens, it may be too late to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and treat dental emergencies. Pediatric dentists allow children to become familiar with these concepts and healthy habits early on. This makes maintaining proper oral health much easier down the road.

Pediatric dentists are experts on positive reinforcement, which is crucial for children. Their friendly tone and specialized treatment in children’s dental health ensure your child is comfortable and prepared to take the best possible care of their teeth. 

Pediatric Dentistry & General Dentistry

Both pediatric dentists and family dentists are able to provide dental care and treatment for children. Both strongly recommend getting started early on for children’s dental care so you can ensure your child is as healthy as possible. However, if you are trying to decide between finding a pediatric dentist or a family dentist for your child, we recommend pediatric dentistry as the best option. Their additional training in children’s oral care make them experts on treatment and preventative care.

Additionally, they are trained to communicate with children in a way that makes them comfortable. Their training in behavioral issues as well make them the best option for you and your child. A pediatric dentist expertise will give you peace of mind that your child will feel comfortable during their visits and excited to take care of their dental health. This creates a positive bond between them and their dentist so they can continue to experience exceptional dental hygiene not just in childhood, but the years to come. 

pediatric dentist

Children’s Dentistry For A Healthy Future

At Great Expressions, our team of pediatric dental professionals is here to help ease your child into their first dental experience, and give you peace of mind about your child’s long-term oral health amid your hectic schedule. We specialize in providing a warm environment to care for infants and children. Contact us today!

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