If you’re a new parent, you will eventually have to choose a dentist for your little one. Are there differences between regular dentists and pediatric dentists? The answer to that question is a definite yes! Dr. Matt at Smiles Dentistry for Kids can help you understand why.
First Things First
Baby teeth begin to grow in a child’s mouth within the first six months of life. By 6 or 7 years old, a child loses her baby teeth and begins to grow her permanent set. Without proper dental care, decay and disease developed during a child’s early years can last a lifetime.
Ok, but what exactly is a pediatric dentist?
Pediatric dentists devote their practice to pediatric oral health, from infancy all the way through the teen years. They are experienced and are qualified to care for a little one’s teeth and gums throughout those years.
Interesting. Do pediatric dentists have special training and qualifications?
Yes! Dental training requires four years of education and experience in a clinical setting. Candidates have to earn a bachelor’s degree, graduate from dental school, and then pass certification exams to become a licensed dentist. Additionally, pediatric dentists must complete two extra years of speciality training for:
- Special needs children
What kind of treatments do pediatric dentists provide?
Tons! They include but are not limited to:
- Oral examinations, which includes risk assessment for caries
- Preventive care, which includes cleanings as well as dietary and nutritional recommendations
- Help with habit-breaking such as pacifier or thumb sucking
- Early discovery of the need for corrective orthodontics, for dental alignment and/or bite correction
- Treatment of cavities and other defects
- Management of gum disease and conditions including ulcers, mucoceles, and pediatric periodontal disease
- Emergency care for damaged or knocked-out teeth
I love my little one, but he can be a handful. Are pediatric dentists trained for tikes like mine?
Yes. Pediatric dentists know that most children are not always calm and cooperative during dental visits. Pediatric dentists know how to conduct a dental examination in ways that make children feel comfortable.
Additionally, the equipment in a pediatric dentist’s office is arranged and the office is decorated with children in mind.
Is there anything I can do to prepare my child for his first visit?
Indeed there is. This checklist should prove helpful:
- Answer your child’s questions positively and avoid using scary words. The vast majority of first visits do not include any painful procedures, so avoid using words like “hurt.”
- Give the child some control over the visit. Letting him decide which of his favorite toys to bring along, for example, may help.
- Once you’re at the office, let your dentist have the stage. This will allow him to connect and build a relationship with your child. (Remember there will be plenty of time to ask questions after the examination.)
Do I, as a parent, have a role to play in my child’s ongoing oral health?
Yes. In fact a parent or caregiver plays the most important role in a child’s ongoing dental care. Ask questions to make sure you understand the dentist’s recommendations. This includes discussing topics like cavity prevention, treatment and when the use of anesthesia may be recommended.
Dr. Matt and our team are ready to help you and your little one with every step of his oral care. Call our Overland Park, KS, office at (913) 685-9990 or schedule an appointment online today.