What is a pediatric dentist?

What Special Education is Needed to Become a Pediatric Dentist?
Most adults have an aversion to seeing the dentist, so being able to make child patients feel comfortable about their dental care takes an extra finesse. When a child needs to see the dentist, they will seek services from a competent, licensed, pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists are trained to focus on the oral hygiene needs of infants to young teens for routine and emergency visits.

Pediatric dentists can look forward to accomplishing some of the following activities during their workday.

  • Executing teeth cleanings, checkups, and inspections
  • Examining the gums, teeth, and jaw bone for healthy development
  • Treating and administering care for cavities, injuries, or oral disease

It is ideal that adults who are interested in working closely with children and their parents to enter the field of pediatrics. Learning how to use appropriate language to explain dental procedures to children, provide a calm and comfortable environment for young patients, and accommodating parents who attend appointments will help make practicing dentistry more enjoyable.

Education Expectations

The foundation of becoming a dentist requires first graduating high school and ascertaining a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Taking necessary coursework as prerequisites for entering graduate school, and passing a GRE is critical to career success. Becoming a dentist is competitive for students seeking admittance into an accredited program that maintains robust education standards, and has an excellent reputation.

Before becoming a practicing licensed pediatric dentist, one must first successfully graduate from four years of dental school with a DDS or DDM degree. Following completion of dental school education, a two-year residency program must be fulfilled, coupled with board certification as a specialist of pediatric dentistry.

A residency is a core component of becoming a pediatric dentist, as candidates must understand how to administer anesthetics, execute advanced surgical procedures, and child development and psychology. Unlike adults, children may have special needs or extreme fear of going to the dentist. Pediatric dentists can assist kids with learning about proper oral hygiene and assuage any apprehension or terror about visiting the dentist for a checkup.

Occupational Outlook

Entering the field of pediatric dentistry is reasonably competitive, with over 7,000 members currently a part of the United States Pediatric Dental Association. As aging dentists retire from practicing, newer dentists will be needed to fill their absence. There is a projected increase of 20% for dental careers. A pediatric dentist can find work in public clinics, open a private practice, or work in research and academia.

Depending on experience, geographical location, and workplace environment, a pediatric dentist can expect a salary of around $170,000 to $230,000 annually.

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