What are pedodontists?
Pedodontists, also known as pediatric dentists, are specialists of children’s dentistry. Most general dentists treat children to some extent as part of their practice, but as a specialist, a pediatric dentist only treats kids.
Pediatric dentists mostly operate referral based practices. General dentists who are struggling to treat or manage more difficult child patients will refer them on for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of their dental disease. The clinics are setup just for children with a colourful setting including artwork, pictures, things to do; anything to make the experience more acceptable and enjoyable. They are excellent at handling children with enthusiam, passion, kindness and helping them get through any procedure.
If local anesthetic is inadequate, they will have a full range of sedation at their disposal including happy gas or nitrous oxide, IV and as a last resort general anesthetic.
Pedodontists have completed 3 years additional full time study after dental school to become a member of the pediatric specialist register. They specialise in the less common conditions that can affect children and anxious, nervous children who cannot be looked after properly in a general dentist setting.
Why should my child need to be seen by a pedodontist?
If your general dentist is able to look after your child they will, it’s cheaper and easier. However there comes a point at which treatment is either simply not possible or pushing through may have a negative experience that could affect future visits and dental care in general. At this stage it is kinder to refer the child to a pediatric specialist for their dental treatment.
Education can largely be provided by your general dentist but if you need specialist care, this will be re-enforced. Both parents and children need to be responsible and understand how to properly take care of their teeth so future dental problems can be avoided. Its an ongoing battle; a general anesthetic, a few thousand dollars and having a number of teeth extracted, often serves as quite a wake up call that prevention is far preferable to cure.
You may choose to go to a pedodontist for routine care but it is not generally necessary. Your dentist will discuss a referral in most cases should it be needed. On completion of the treatment, they may be referred back to the general dentist for maintenance, i.e. on going checkups and cleans or depending on the level anxiety continue to see the specialist until they grow out of it or get a little older.
What should I do before taking my child to the pedodontist’s?
Its important to pre-frame the pediatric specialist by saying things like we are going to send you to meet a lovely lady or man who just looks after children. They have a great little office for kids and and all the latest bits and bobs to make your treatment nice and easy- that sort of thing.
Avoid anything that suggest pain- being brave, be strong, don’t worry or words like drill, injection, taking out teeth. This is crucial, the ideas a child has in their head when they attend go a long way to dictating how they will manage.