As parents, we all know that oral hygiene is important.
We know our children should brush their teeth twice a day, floss regularly, eat as little sugar as possible and drink as much water as possible in preference to fizzy drinks or juices. But when should they see a specialist paediatric dentist rather than (or as well as) a general dentist?
As a dental practitioner, I would answer as follows. When it comes to children’s dentistry, there certainly is a place for generaldentists and dental therapists. Their services are what you should seek for checkups, routine cleans, fissure sealants and small cavities.
But you are strongly advised to see a paediatric specialist (a “paedodontist”) or obtain a referral to such a specialist if you as a parent simply wish to consult the highest qualified clinician available or any of the following circumstances apply to your child:
- dental or oral trauma (injury)
- severe overcrowding of teeth
- problems with home dental hygiene
- visible decay if your child is only 2 to 4 years old
- serious multiple cavities
- severe toothache
- swelling of the gums or cheeks
- dentist phobia
- other special needs.
All of the above are best managed by a specialist paediatric dentist, possibly in some circumstances under general anaesthetic if necessary. These specialists have specific training and qualifications that focus on the growth, development, decay prevention and treatment of children’s teeth.
To qualify as a registered specialist paedodontist in Australia, prospects must complete a general dentistry degree followed by three to four years of a Masters degree or equivalent training in children’s dentistry.
A large component of paediatric dentistry involves understanding child psychology and becoming skilled in establishing trust through child-friendly communication styles and environments.
When you think of your child’s teeth, think of their future.
Today’s good dentistry plays a large part in tomorrow’s overall health and wellbeing.
Dr Kia Pajouhesh, BSc, BDSc (Melb) is a Parent & Managing Director of Smile Solutions
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