A dentist dedicated to the dental and oral health of children is a pediatric dentist. In other words, pediatric dentists are pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist attends to the dental problems of infants' right through the teenage years. A pediatric dentist requires additional qualification after a graduation in general dentistry to meet the special needs of children. Visiting a pediatric dentist from early childhood to the growing years can help avoid dental treatments at later age and stage.
- A pediatric dentist handles normal children as well as hospitalized, handicapped and chronically ill children. The pediatric dentist can approach the child's own special needs in a sensitive, caring and professional manner. A pediatric dentist employs medication and controls pain to alleviate the child's apprehension about treatment.
- Prevention of dental diseases and disorders is a pediatric dentist's primary concern. A pediatric dentist advises parents that regular dental care should begin by one year of age. A pediatric dentist explains and discusses diseases of the gum, and how to avoid or minimize the damage if it has already started in the child.
- Preventive home care for brushing, flossing, diet control programs, importance of the use of fluorides are taught by a pediatric dentist.
- The issue of 'nursing decay', often called 'bottle mouth syndrome' is bound to occur in infants. As the name indicates, this is a pattern of decay associated with prolonged nursing. A pediatric dentist recommends that a child be weaned by approximately twelve months of age to prevent such nursing caries.
- It is normal for a pediatric dentist to prevent tooth decay by using sealants. A sealant is a clear or shaded plastic material that a pediatric dentist uses to apply to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. In a child, the back teeth have depressions and grooves on their chewing surfaces and so it is difficult and sometimes impossible to clean. The sealant forms a coating or barrier to protect the tooth from bacteria and bits of food. A pediatric dentist helps dramatically reduce the risk of decay for children and teens by protecting such depressions and grooves with a coating of sealant.
- Bite problems (malocclusion) are often a concern of parents of young children. Sometimes this problem is hereditary when a child has an extra or missing teeth from birth.
- A pediatric dentist is especially qualified and trained to handle several dental emergencies that can occur in childhood. It may be a broken tooth, broken braces and wires, a cut or bitten tongue or a knocked-out tooth or a common toothache.
Teeth problems may be many and varied. Some of the teeth problems handled by dentists are:
- Removal of tooth decay
- Filling of teeth cavities with gold, silver, amalgam or cement with fused porcelain inlays
- Removal of teeth (extraction)
- Removing the nerves of teeth or root canal treatment
- Replacement of teeth with bridges and dentures or dental plates
- Examine x rays
- Place protective plastic sealants on kid's teeth
- Straighten teeth and repair fractured teeth
- Dentists also perform corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum diseases.
- Dentures are constructed by dentists by making models and measurements of extracted teeth.
- Dentists render advice on dental care.
Most dentists handle general teeth and gum-related issues. Some dentists do specialty practice. Orthodontist is a specialist who straightens teeth by applying pressure to the teeth with braces and retainers. This is the largest practicing group in dentistry. Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons are the next largest group and they operate of the mouth and jaws. Periodontist treats gums and bones supporting the teeth, prosthodontist replaces missing teeth with permanent fixtures, endodontist performs root canal therapy, and public health dentist promotes good dental health and prevents dental diseases in the community level. An oral pathologist studies oral diseases and oral and maxillofacial radiologist diagnoses diseases in the head and neck through the technique of imaging.