Pediatric dentistry is the branch of dentistry dealing with children from birth through adolescence.
This discipline focuses on pediatric/adolescent growth and development, disease causality and prevention, child psychology and management, and all aspects of the highly-specialized pediatric restorative techniques and modalities. Some pediatric dentists also specialize in the care of "special needs" patients, such as people with cerebral palsy, mental disabilities and autism.
Pediatric dentistry emphasizes the establishment of trust and confidence in children with their dentists. Consequently, one of the main components of pediatric training is child psychology. This manifests itself in special office designs, different communication styles and an emphasis on teaching preventative dental habits to children in an effort to make dental visits enjoyable.
Pediatric dentistry places special importance in preventing tooth decay. Studies show that poor oral health care in children can lead to impaired school performance and poor social relationships. Therefore, pediatric dentists give advice on how to make teeth strong and explain the importance of developing healthy eating habits.
Additionally, pediatric dentists work toward the maintenance of primary teeth (baby teeth) until they are naturally lost. This is due to the importance they serve in permitting children to chew properly and therefore maintain good nutrition, their role in speech development, and the maintenance of space for the eventual eruption of the permanent teeth.
The role of the pediatric dentists changes as children enter adolescence. Recognizing the growing importance of appearance and self-image in their patients, pediatric dentists work to ensure that adolescents’ dental needs are met. Preventative dental health care is emphasized and when necessary information is provided to adolescents about subjects such as wisdom teeth, tobacco use, fissure sealing and oral piercing.
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