How is a Paediatric Dentist different from a regular dentist?
In Australia, registered Paediatric Dentists are specialists who have completed a minimum of three years full time postgraduate training, in addition to their general dental degree. Postgraduate training in Paediatric Dentistry is carried out through a university, in a tertiary hospital setting. The program includes intensive clinical and research components, and allows trainees to receive extensive experience in caring for children with dental anomalies, orofacial trauma, oral pathology, special medical needs, and dental fear and anxiety.
In addition to these specialised skills, Paediatric Dentists are experts in every-day dental care for all children. The goal of Paediatric Dentistry is to establish a “dental home” for each child early in life, such that the child grows into an adult who is motivated to maintain excellent oral health. Positive early experiences are vital in achieving this goal.
Visiting the dentist can be intimidating for children, and thus a Paediatric Dentist employs special techniques that will help to increase compliance, whilst reducing fear and anxiety. It is important that parents also prepare their child for their visit to the dentist in an honest, non-confrontational way. For example, “We are going to see a special tooth doctor today, called a dentist. There will be a lot of fun toys to play with while we wait to see the dentist. He/she will count your teeth and make sure they are healthy. They might also show you some of the special equipment they use to keep teeth healthy, and explain how it works. Afterwards, the dentist might give you a prize for being a good helper.”
It is important to maintain good oral health in children from a young age. This is because:
The foundation for healthy permanent teeth is laid during the first few years of life
- Children with decay in their baby teeth carry a far greater chance of developing decay in their permanent teeth
It is now well established that oral health impacts directly on overall health and wellbeing