Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.
Since every child is different, pediatric dentists have a wide range of approaches to help a child complete needed dental treatment. A pediatric dentist makes a recommendation of behavior guidance methods for the child based upon health history, special health care needs, dental needs, type of treatment required, the consequences of no treatment, emotional and intellectual development, and parental preferences.
Most American children don’t see their family dentist until they are well over 2 years old, far later than is recommended by both dental and medical professionals.
That’s one of the key findings from a 2009 survey of American children’s oral health, conducted by Morpace, Inc., on behalf of Delta Dental Plans Association.* Delta Dental commissioned the survey to gain greater knowledge about the state of children’s oral health.
The survey of primary caregivers revealed that, for those children who had seen a dentist – and 34% had not – the average age at the initial visit was 2.6 years. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child go to the dentist by age 1 or within six months after the first tooth erupts. Primary teeth typically begin growing in around 6 months of age.
According to the AAPD, it is very important to keep primary (or “baby”) teeth in place until they are lost naturally. The primary teeth are important for many reasons including:
Many people don’t understand how important their children’s baby teeth are to lifelong oral health. There’s a continuing need for more education to teach practices, such as proper techniques for brushing and flossing, that will ensure lifelong oral health. The first dentist visit is a great opportunity for parents to learn how best to care for their children’s teeth.