A pediatric dentist is a dentist who specializes in providing dental care to children and young adults. Some pediatric dentists will see patients as young as one year old and as old as 21. Dentists who choose to work with children will teach very young individuals about the proper way to take care of their teeth and gums. They are also specially trained to diagnose and treat a wide variety of disease and conditions which affect the mouth, teeth and gums. Most pediatric dentists have a love for children and a very patient demeanor, as going to the dentist is often a frightening experience for a young child.
One of the main reasons parents take their children to a pediatric dentist is for dental cleanings. This is typically one of the most common tasks done by this type of dentist. After cleaning the teeth, the dentist may explain to the child the proper ways to clean his or her teeth and tongue. In addition to brushing, the dentist may also provide instruction on the correct way to floss teeth. As a preventive measure, pediatric dentists usually advise children on the frequency in which the teeth are to be brushed to keep them healthy, as well as the best types of toothbrushes to use.
Dental x-rays are generally a common part of a dental examination. A pediatric dentist may order this type of diagnostic test for an overall view of the child's teeth. X-rays can also be used to analyze the healthiness of the teeth and gums. Dental x-rays may be used to account for the number of teeth a child has, as well as their alignment. A dentist may use the results of the findings to decide if the child may need braces to correct a misalignment.
In many cases, a pediatric dentist will spend a significant amount of his or her time performing a variety of dental procedures. For instance, in the event that a child has cavities, the dentist will work to fill the cavities. If a child has severely decayed teeth, the dentist may perform a procedure known as a tooth extraction. This involves removing teeth from the gums. The dentist may also provide preventive treatments to teeth to keep problems such as cavities from occurring.
The requirements for becoming a pediatric dentist may vary according to location. In the very least, an individual will be required to obtain an undergraduate degree and entry into a dentistry school. Most pediatric dentists will also be required to complete additional years of training focusing in the specialty of pediatric dentistry. Many dentists in this area work out of a private office, while others decide to become part of a group practice.