How to Become a Pediatric Dentist

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Pediatric dentistry is a branch of dentistry that focuses on providing dental care especially to children. Pediatric dentists are specially trained dental professionals that are experts in caring for children and providing a variety of dental services.

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Hey, I'm Joshua T. Osborne

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What does a pediatric dentist do?

Pediatric dentists provide dental services and care only to children. They perform preventative care such as cleaning teeth, providing fluoride treatments, and recommending dietary changes. They also treat tooth decay, fill cavities, and diagnose and treat oral abnormalities. They teach children the importance of oral hygiene and proper teeth and mouth care. Pediatric dentists often perform procedures specific to the needs of children such as placing sealants on teeth and referring patients to orthodontists for braces. Pediatric dentists strive to make the dental experience as comfortable as possible for children.

What kind of training does a pediatric dentist need?

Pediatric dentists must complete a bachelor degree and dental school. All dental schools require applicants to pass the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) to become admitted. Pediatric dentists must obtain the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree from a dental school that is accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA). Dental school provides intensive classroom instruction and clinical experience. After completion of dental school, pediatric dentists usually complete specialty or residency programs in pediatric dentistry. All states require pediatric dentists to become licensed to practice. Licensing requirements usually include graduation from an accredited dental school, completion of a residency program, and passing a written and practical exam. Pediatric dentists must complete continuing dental education on a regular basis to keep their skills up to date and stay abreast with advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a pediatric dentist?

Employment of pediatric dentists is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 16% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing population and increased need for pediatric dental services will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good especially for pediatric dentists with extensive experience. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace pediatric dentists that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do pediatric dentists make?

As of February 2010, the average annual salary for pediatric dentists is $53,000; average annual pediatric dentist salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a pediatric dentist is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in dentistry and providing care specifically to children. Pediatric dentists must have a solid understanding of the concepts, policies, and procedures related to pediatric dentistry. Patience, manual dexterity, good eye-hand coordination, and good problem solving skills are necessary characteristics. Pediatric dentists must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to interact with a variety of children. They must be able to help children feel at ease and as comfortable as possible.

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