A core focus of pediatric dentistry is an emphasis on the importance of establishing trust and confidence in children. Pediatric dental students study child psychology as one of the main components of their pediatric training. Effective pediatric dentistry will incorporate specific, child-friendly office designs, communication styles proven to be effective in engaging children and earning their trust and a focus on teaching preventative dental habits to children.
Pediatric dentistry places special importance on preventing tooth decay and teaching children the importance of good dental hygiene. Studies demonstrate that poor oral health in children can lead to impaired school performance and poor social relationships. Therefore, pediatric dentists advice patients on methods for developing strong health such as healthy eating habits, best practices in self oral hygiene care and other approaches to disease prevention.
Additionally, pediatric dentists focus on the maintenance of primary teeth (baby teeth) until they are lost naturally. 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.
As children move from childhood to adolescence, pediatric dentists shift their focus from instilling good oral hygiene habits to assisting in promoting healthy self-images for their patients by ensuring that adolescents’ dental needs are met. In adolescence, preventative dental health care takes the form of education regarding wisdom teeth, tobacco use, sealants and oral piercing.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) both recommend that children visit a dentist within six months after the presence of their first tooth or by the child’s first birthday. Establishing a primary pediatric dentist for a child early in life is important for ensuring that early detection of tooth decay occurs and is cared for properly. Parents are also able to learn preventative home care practices such as brushing, flossing and the proper use of fluorides.
Pediatric dentists educate parents on the risk assessments associated with finger and thumb sucking and pacifier habits and advice on preventing injuries to the mouth and teeth of children along with diet counseling and general information regarding childhood growth and development.