A paediatric dentist is a specialist dedicated to the oral health of children right from their birth, infancy till adolescence or teen years. A paediatric dentist is a highly qualified doctor, with specific qualifications to treat conditions affecting the children’s teeth, gums, and mouth through the different stages of their growth.
Generally, children begin to grow teeth during the first 6 months after birth. Typically, most children, also tend to lose their first set of teeth (milk teeth) by the age of 6 or 7 years. They then grow their permanent set of teeth, which last for life. During these stages, children tend to be prone to developing a cavity, gum problems, oral hygiene issues, bad breath, oral decay, and other oral diseases, which can cause pain, make them uncomfortable and often hamper the general quality of life. Hence, it is important to get frequent consultations from a qualified paediatric dentist to maintain good health in children. Dental issues are more common in children as compared to hay fever and asthma.
Training of Paediatric Dentist
Generally, paediatric dentists are trained like other dentists. However, after completion of their general dentistry course, a paediatric dentist is also provided additional training in dentistry for infants, children, teens, and other children with special needs.
Paediatric dentists are well trained to handle children during dental procedures and examinations. A paediatric dentist is more patient, subtle and considerate in his/her approach in treating children and making them comfortable. Moreover, they also use specific equipment that has been designed for children.
Types of Treatment Offered by Paediatric Dentist
A paediatric dentist is well-equipped to provide comprehensive oral care for children. This includes diagnosing and treating oral problems and diseases. Some of the most common treatments offered by a paediatric dentist include:
- Oral health exams for infants, including the mother
- Preventive dental health procedures such as cleaning, fluoride treatment, and healthy diet and oral nutrition advise
- Habit therapy for children that are addicted to thumb sucking, pacifiers, etc.
- Assessing and correcting disfigured teeth and improper bite, also known as orthodontics
- Treating tooth cavities and defects in the teeth
- Treatment of dental injuries and trauma such as fracture, displacement, knocked-out teeth, etc.
- Curing gum diseases and problems such as bleeding gum, ulcers, bad breath, mucoceles, and others.
- Diagnosing and treating dental problems caused because of health issues such as diabetes, congenital heart issues, asthma, hay fever, and others
Symptoms of Oral and Dental Issues in Children
Some of the most common symptoms of oral and dental issues in children include:
- Ulcers, sores or extremely tender areas in the mouth, which cause a problem in consuming food
- Extremely bad breath
- Pain in chewing or biting
- Declining gums
- Losing teeth
- Extreme sensitivity to cold or hot food, beverages or overall temperature
- Bleeding or swelling in the gums, usually noticeable upon brushing teeth or flossing
- Pain in the jaw while biting or chewing
- Toothache and cavities
- Wisdom toothache
- Swelling in the face and cheek
- The clicking of the jaw
- Dry mouth
- Broken teeth
- Teething problems
- Misaligned teeth
In case, in of these symptoms are accompanied by high fever or swelling in the face or neck, parents should immediately take the child to a paediatric dentist for a consultation.
Diagnostic Tests Used by Paediatric Dentists
Most of the diagnostic tests and procedures used by a paediatric dentist are similar to that of a general dentist. These include dental exams, X-rays, CT scans, etc. to understand current and also help with future oral problems in children.
Benefits Offered by Paediatric Dentists to Children
Some of the most significant benefits offered by a paediatric dentist to children include:
- Prevention and treatment of all oral and dental concerns
- Educating children and parents on oral hygiene and prevention of dental issues
- Calming children during dental and oral procedures to maximize efficiency
- Advising on preventive dental health measures
- Providing therapy for issues including teething problems, etc.
Reasons to visit a Paediatric Dentist
Parents should take their children to visit a paediatric dentist for the below reasons:
- Get consultation for new or ongoing oral health issues in the child
- Get an early risk assessment for dental and oral diseases and problems
- Seek advice to stop unhealthy oral habits such as using a pacifier, thumb-sucking, etc.
- Get preventive treatment for issues such as sealants, fluorides and more
- Seek advice on the dental and oral health development of the child, including the growing, breaking and replacement of the milk teeth.
Difference between a Paediatric Dentist and General Dentist
On a broad level, both specialists – paediatric dentist and general dentist diagnose and treat oral and dental issues. However, the detailed role of each is different.
- A paediatric dentist is trained as a general dentist with additional training of treating dental issues in children of all ages. That said, a general dentist is only trained to treat oral and dental issues in people of all ages, without any special training to treat children.
- A paediatric dentist is limited to treating only children and does not deal with adult patients. However, a general dentist mostly treats adults but can treat children, in case of emergencies.
- A paediatric dentist covers more oral and dental health issues such as baby bottle tooth decay, teething issues, and more. On the other hand, a general dentist does not deal with such issues.
- Paediatric dentists are specifically trained to manage children during dental and oral procedures, provide anaesthesia and also manage their growth and development. However, a general dentist can manage adults but is not specifically trained to take care of children.
Overall, a paediatric dentist is a specialist that can provide superior care for the oral and dental problems of children of all ages.