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Pedodontics (Pediatric Dentistry)


Pedodontics is the branch of dentistry that deals with children ages 0-16. These specialists are referred to as pedodontists, or pediatric dentists, and generally have to complete an additional 2-3 years of dental training that specifically focuses on meeting dental needs of infants, children, and adolescents. Many patients with special care needs, regardless of age, usually seek dental care from a pedodontist too.

The biggest difference between pediatric and regular dentistry is that pediatric dentistry emphasizes the gaining of trust and confidence in children with their dentists. Child psychology is one of the biggest components in the training of these dentists.

Pedodontist’s mainly focus on preventing tooth decay, and believe it or not, in 2002 “Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General” found that tooth decay and dental cavities were the most common child ailment. Tooth decay among children is five times more common than asthma and mainly affects children aged 5-17. Unfortunately many people mistakenly believe their children’s baby teeth will fall out, so proper oral hygiene habits do not need to exist until permanent teeth arrive. However, children who do not practice good oral hygiene habits, especially when baby teeth are still in place, statistically do not show improvement in their habits once the baby teeth fall out and the permanent ones replace them.

Baby Teeth Check

Some babies are born with ‘neonatal’ teeth, meaning they begin to develop in the first month after birth. Other babies begin to develop their teeth starting around 6-24 months old. Whenever your baby begins to teeth, you need to begin practicing proper oral hygiene. Even though baby teeth eventually fall out, it generally takes years before that happens. Therefore baby teeth need to be cleaned as often as possible. By the time your baby is 3 years old, all of his or her teeth should have erupted. Permanent teeth begin appearing around 6-12 years of age.

Your Child’s Eating Habits

Sugars and starches are two of the most popular ingredients found in foods, even baby food. Everything that enters your child’s mouth will affect his or her teeth. It’s very important to avoid foods with high levels of sugar, starch, wheat, rice and flour, and stick to foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, and water. Read labels carefully.

With that said, baby teeth are much harder to clean than adult teeth. Children do not brush, floss or rinse as well as adolescents or adults do, resulting in bacteria growth which leads to tooth decay and other related problems.

Pediatric Dental Care

Your child’s dentist is educated and trained to deal with the needs, wants and overall language of children and infants. He or she can help you understand the importance of your child’s oral health while they still have baby teeth. Plus, your pediatric dentist can gives you pointers and tips on how to clean your child’s teeth. He or she may even suggest having your child’s teeth cleaned as soon as they erupt. The earlier you get your child in to see a pediatric dentist, the sooner you can begin to develop a long-term dental hygiene and professional dental treatment plan. Pediatric dentists give regular oral health examinations, preventive dental care treatment, fluoride treatments and use sealants to prevent cavities within baby teeth. They may also:

  • Provide mouth guards (for young athletes)
  • Provide night guards (for those who grind their teeth in their sleep)
  • Provide special preventive care steps to ensure there are no problems
  • Provide tips and advice for parents
  • Provide habit counseling (thumb sucking, pacifier usage)
  • Repair teeth defects, such as cavities or broken teeth
  • Diagnose oral conditions
  • Diagnose dental development difficulties
  • Care for dental injuries and emergencies
  • Assess and treat crooked teeth and improper bites

Page updated February 2011



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