Pediatric dentists are licensed professionals who specialize in caring for infants, children, and adolescent patients. They perform many of the same services as other dentists, such as cleaning teeth and filling cavities, as well as providing treatment for conditions that are specific to young, developing mouths. A person who wants to become a pediatric dentist usually needs to earn a bachelor's degree, complete four years of dental school, and participate in about two years of a specialty residency program. After passing requisite written and practical exams, a professional can become a pediatric dentist at a clinic or open a private practice.
A person who wants to become a pediatric dentist can enroll in a four-year bachelor's degree program at an accredited university. Most future dentists major in biology or another health-related science to help them prepare for more intensive studies in dental school. A student can benefit immensely from classes in anatomy, physiology, organic chemistry, and molecular biology. A prospective dentist may also decide to pursue independent study outside of school, reading medical journals and browsing respected dentistry websites to learn more about the practice. Near the end of a bachelor's degree program, a student can take a national dental college admissions test and send in applications to respected schools.
Once enrolled in dental school, a student can expect to spend the first half of the program attending lectures and participating in group laboratory research projects. He or she has the chance to learn about common dental problems, disease pathology, and specialized surgical techniques from knowledgeable professors. The last two years of dental school usually entail ongoing research and internships at local clinics, providing the opportunity to develop skills by working with actual patients. A successful student is awarded a doctor of dental surgery degree and allowed to take a national licensing exam.
An individual can begin practicing general dentistry immediately after passing the exam, but a person who wants to become a pediatric dentist usually needs to pursue about two years of residency training dedicated to the specialty. As a resident, a new dentist has the chance to assist practicing pediatric experts and perform routine services under supervision. He or she learns about imaging, cleaning, and surgical procedures that are exclusive to young patients.
A skilled resident can take an additional exam at the end of training to officially become a pediatric dentist. Exams often include written and practical portions, requiring the dentist to exhibit his or her skills in front of a panel of experts in the field. With success on the exam, a professional can choose to join an established pediatric dentistry practice, work at a community clinic, or open his or her own office.