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What does paediatric dentistry involve?

Paediatric dentistry is a specialty that deals exclusively with children and young people, some of whom need a little bit more help.

To answer the question set out in the title, here, we’ll look at a specific example, Christine Park, who is a Senior Clinical Lecturer and Honourary Consultant in Paediatric Dentistry.

She treats children and young people under the age of 16. Christine trained for five years in Paediatric Dentistry to become a consultant in the specialty and is currently also studying for her PhD. She works in a dental hospital and in a very busy children’s hospital.

What does paediatric dentistry involve?

Paediatric dentistry is a specialty that deals exclusively with children and young people. Most children and young people are very happily treated in General Dental Practice along with their families and it is this family aspect of General Practice that many dentists enjoy. Some children and young people however need a little bit more help and sometimes those children are referred by their dentist to a specialist service like the one Christine works in.

That might be because they are very anxious and need additional help to accept dental treatment, which might come in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy to allow them to accept treatment normally, or, they may initially require treatment under sedation or general anaesthetic to deal with any immediate issues that are causing pain or infection.

Specialist treatments

Some young people have developmental problems affecting their teeth such as amelogenesis imperfecta where the enamel (the hard coating on the outer surface of the teeth) hasn’t formed properly. Others may have congenitally missing deciduous (baby) or permanent teeth and restoring their smile may require input from a multidisciplinary team that includes paediatric dentists, orthodontists, restorative dentists and sometimes oral surgeons. Some of these treatment plans can extend over years as the child or young person develops so paediatric dentists often know their patients very well.

Paediatric dentists also deal with young people who are medically compromised and some are very seriously unwell with cancer, heart problems or other issues that keep them in hospital or bring them to hospital regularly. For all of these young people it is really important that their mouths are healthy to reduce the risk of infection that may affect their medical condition or treatment so the paediatric dentists have an important role to play in their care. Treating these young people is often complicated and requires careful planing and liaison with their medical team.

You can find out more about a career in paediatric dentistry on the link below:

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Becoming a Dentist

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