By Dr. Marc Goldenberg, Dr. Kate Pierce, and Dr. Matthew Applebaum of The Greensboro Center for Pediatric Dentistry
Choosing a pediatric dentist for your child can lead to a lifetime of good dental health. As pediatric specialists, we treat the whole child, not just the teeth. We want a child to be healthy and pain-free, but we also recognize the importance of a stress-free dental visit.
Pediatric dentists are best equipped to treat children because of their specialized training in children’s oral health. All dentists complete four years of dental school. Pediatric specialists continue their studies with an additional two or three year residency program. Although all dentists learn the basics about treating children, only pediatric specialists complete this additional training. During residency, specialists practice in an educational setting and continue to study pediatric dentistry. Our focus on dental health from infancy through adolescence includes the study of children’s growth and development, psychology and behavior management. (If you’re not sure about whether your dentist is a pediatric specialist, ask your dentist whether he or she has completed a pediatric residency program.)
Because of this additional training, pediatric specialists consider a child’s age, behavior, and medical history when we make treatment decisions. For example, if a three-year-old comes in with two small cavities, we may decide to monitor the cavities for six months until she turns four. By waiting until she is a little more mature, we will increase the likelihood that she will have a positive treatment experience. Our training in growth and development also helps us develop an individualized treatment plan for each child. For instance, some children who are cavity-prone may need x rays more frequently, while other children may need x rays less often. We also monitor for potential orthodontic issues from the first visit. A child may benefit from an early referral to an orthodontist, and we can help parents decide when a consultation would be beneficial.
Although we do take patients by referral from adult dentists, we prefer to be a child’s “regular” dentist. Pediatric dentists are comprehensive care providers. We do regular checkups, as well as fillings and other treatments. By establishing continuity of care, we have the opportunity to build a relationship with each of our patients. When a child becomes familiar with us and our office during regular visits and cleanings, treatment appointments usually go smoothly. It is more stressful for children if they come to us for fillings after a negative experience with an adult dentist.
An environment geared toward children also makes them feel comfortable. At our office, the chairs are in an open bay, and seeing other kids having a positive experience can encourage an uncertain child to cooperate. It’s not just the dental equipment—a chance to play at the train table and watch cartoons makes the appointment fun. Cheerful décor and staff that are comfortable working with kids all help reduce anxiety.
As pediatric dentists, we are also comfortable seeing very young children. Most parents don’t realize that it’s important to get started early with good dental care —according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, 40% of preschoolers develop cavities. At our office, we see children between six and fourteen months old under the Baby Oral Health Program. The visit is free, and educates new parents on how to care for a child’s new teeth. Around age 2, we like to see a child for a first cleaning. By starting early with a pediatric dentist, you put your child on the path to good dental health.
Sponsored by The Greensboro Center for Pediatric Dentistry
5408 W. Friendly Ave.
Greensboro, NC 27410
Thank you for pointing out that a pediatric dentist has additional training beyond dental school. I have been sending my kids to my regular dentist for cleanings, but think it is a good idea to get them checked out by a specialist. I have concerns about their teeth that I would be more comfortable addressing with a pediatric dentist. It would be smart for me to find a reputable dentist in my area that can help me with this.