While it may be a surprise to some parents, I don’t believe the greatest value in your child being seen by a pediatric dentist is the “fun and friendly” environment. Sure, dentistry is scary for kids and pediatric dentists usually have some kid-friendly terms to describe the dental experience and principles of office design that help decrease fear and increase connection with patients to make visits go more smoothly.
In my opinion, the most significant reason for a child to have a dental home with a pediatric dentist is the level of expertise of the doctor and team members specific to the oral health and development of children.
We know it’s a principle of life that experience and increased repetition lead to levels of expertise and higher success outcomes.
The importance of expertise in pediatric dentistry is primarily because every tooth is connected to a child. Choosing the right time to recommend treatment of a decayed tooth, using the right material, and the right level of behavior management is the critical factor of experience possessed by pediatric dentists due to the abundance of experience specifically treating children.
Here’s another surprise for you: not every cavity on a baby tooth needs to be fixed. Every baby tooth has a finite lifetime and there is expertise in evaluating the size of the cavity, the specific location on the specific tooth, the age of the patient, and the overall demeanor of the child’s attitude towards treatment before recommending a cavity to be fixed. The experience of the pediatric dentist helps children by NOT treating areas of decay that are not necessary to the overall oral health of the child or by offering alternative treatment to the traditional drill-and-fill method.
On the other end, pediatric dentists possess the experience to identify areas of concern as early as necessary. We often hear parents who have been given the advice to delay dental exams or delay radiographs “because the child is too young.” This mistake can lead to dental decay growing unnecessarily without intervention and requiring extensive treatment when the child finally reaches the age where intervention is “required”. This is a costly mistake financially and in the overall experience of the child.
A pediatric dentist’s goal is to “touch the baby tooth only one time.”
When the time is right to intervene, pediatric dentists have the abundance of experience to select the right treatment method and the skills to complete it as safely and efficiently as possible.