Pediatric dentistry is an area of dentistry that specializes in treating the oral healthcare needs of children. Pediatric dentists provide regular checkups, cleanings and fluoride treatments, and overall oral treatment and care for children's teeth. Pediatric dentists also commonly apply sealants to children's teeth to prevent cavities.
A pediatric dentist provides overall oral care for children, including treatment for:
- Teeth defects
- Dental injuries
- Gum disease
- Speech-related disorders
- Tongue tie (restricted frenulum)
- Oral conditions related to other diseases or underlying conditions
- Mouth guards for sports
Dental appointments for children are important not only to evaluate tooth and gum health, but to educate them on preventing dental problems throughout their lives. A child should have her or his first dental exam about six months after the first tooth erupts from the gums, and should visit a pediatric dentist every six months thereafter.
During a first dental visit, the pediatric dentist will examine the child's teeth for decay and other dental problems. The dentist may ask the accompanying caregiver about thumb-sucking or pacifier habits, and overall dental health. The dentist will then advise the caregiver and child about proper oral care, which includes brushing, flossing and fluoride treatments. A follow-up visit is usually scheduled for six months later, beginning the dental-maintenance process that will help to ensure good oral health throughout the child's life.
A pediatric dentist can offer specialized oral care that a general dentist may not be able to. A pediatric dentist is trained in examining and treating children in an environment that has been designed to make them feel comfortable.