Pediatric Dentistry – The Specialty of Oral Health for Infants, Children, and Adolescents

Pediatric dentistry is the specialty that provides primary and comprehensive preventive oral health care for infants, children and adolescents including those with special needs. It has a broad scope of practice that encompasses behavior guidance, dental and oral disease prevention, management of emergencies, and restorative procedures.


Baby teeth are very prone to decay due to a diet of sugary foods and poor oral hygiene. Pediatric dentists treat these teeth with fillings, apply topical fluorides, help parents establish sound eating and brushing habits and use sealants to protect young teeth.

Dental Hygiene

Oral health is linked to overall health and wellness, which is why it’s so important that children learn how to practice good oral hygiene habits early on. A pediatric dentist can help kids develop these healthy habits from a young age, which they can carry with them throughout their life.

For instance, pediatric dentists teach kids about the importance of brushing and flossing on a regular basis to remove excess bacteria that can lead to tooth decay. This helps prevent gum disease like gingivitis that can affect not just teeth, but also other parts of the body like heart disease.

Furthermore, a dental exam can catch other dental problems before they become worse, such as vitamin deficiencies or bruxism (teeth grinding). These conditions can negatively impact the overall health of a child.

Another part of the job of a pediatric dentist is educating parents on how to properly care for their children’s teeth and gums. They can offer tips on what toothpaste to use, proper diet, how to stop thumb-sucking, and more. This ensures that kids will carry these healthy habits with them as they grow up and continue to maintain them into adulthood.

Prevention of Tooth Decay

In addition to teaching children proper oral hygiene, pediatric dentists also provide fluoride treatments and sealants. These are important for children because they can help prevent cavities in their permanent teeth. Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens the outer layer of a tooth to prevent decay. It is a common treatment that is available in many public water supplies.

Even with the best dental care, however, some children are more susceptible to decay than others. As a result, it is important to visit the dentist at least twice per year for cleanings and to have any cavities or other problems diagnosed as early as possible.

If left untreated, tooth decay can cause pain and lead to more serious complications, such as gum disease and bone loss. Children with severe cases of tooth decay may require more frequent visits or a special filling procedure.

To minimize the risk of tooth decay, children should brush their teeth twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and floss at least once each day to remove plaque. It is also recommended that children drink plenty of water and avoid sugary foods. In addition, a mouthwash that contains fluoride should be used to reduce bacteria and freshen breath. It is also helpful to discourage harmful habits, such as thumb-sucking and prolonged use of a pacifier.

Dental Emergencies

In the medical world, early diagnosis is key to curbing diseases and stopping their progression. This principle is just as important in dentistry, and it is especially true in children’s teeth. Pediatric dentists are trained to spot issues with the oral cavity, including misalignment of teeth, discoloration, gum recession, and plaque build-up. By catching these problems before they become worse, pediatric dentists help children develop good dental habits that will last them a lifetime.

Pediatric dentists are also well-trained in the management of dental emergencies, and they know how to quickly recognize and address them. This includes the identification of conditions such as alveolar osteitis, an infection in the gingival tissue overlying an erupting or partially erupted 3rd molar, and periapical and periodontal abscesses. Infections that are not treated promptly can spread to the sinuses, neck, or mediastinum, and may lead to life-threatening complications such as airway compromise.

In addition to managing these conditions, pediatric dentists also treat dental traumas like fractured teeth and displaced or dislodged dental restorations. These issues can affect function in regards to eating and pronunciation and should be tended to as soon as possible. The treatment options for these types of dental emergencies vary depending on the diagnosis and category, but all can benefit from basic oral hygiene to prevent overgrowth of the natural oral flora and opportunistic infections.

Behavior Management

When it comes to children’s dental hygiene, good behavior is extremely important. Pediatric dentists are specially trained to handle any misbehavior and teach your child better oral habits. They are also familiar with common problems that can be caused by poor habits, such as thumb sucking and teeth grinding. They will help you find ways to break these bad habits and prevent their recurrence.

When kids visit a dentist, they often have trouble sitting still for long periods of time. This can make it difficult to perform a thorough dental exam or cleaning. Pediatric dentists are able to make these visits more comfortable for kids by offering them fun and exciting distractions like videos, books, toys, and games. They can also use sedative medications to help your child relax during the procedure.

It is recommended that parents take their children to a pediatric dentist as soon as they start growing their first baby teeth. This will help them establish good oral health habits that will last a lifetime and protect them from serious dental issues later in life. Pediatric dentists are specially trained to treat children from infancy through their teen years, and they can even assist general dentists during complex procedures for special needs patients. Pediatric dentists also have the ability to work with trained anesthesiologists for more complicated sedation procedures.