Most people often refuse to seek dental examination or treatment due to the common misconception that everyone who visits a dentist always returns with one tooth less; this believe has made it difficult for many parents to seek dental care especially for their kids from the early stages of their development. Nowadays, dentist with specialized roles in pediatrics are now required to cater for various dental issues in children. If you are particularly fascinated in dentistry and really enjoy helping kids, then there is no better career that will suit you. While the salary expectation for pediatric dentist are very high, their job is usually challenging and often requires a lot care and patience in working with kids. Finding a career in this field is often tricky and often requires a thorough knowledge of the various options available.
Who is a Pediastric dentist?
As earlier indicated, Pediatric dentistry is the perfect career for all those who desire a role in children oral medical care. Also referred to as a pedodontist, a pediatric dentist is a medical professional who specializes in oral health care of children's teeth. This field of dentistry is commonly known as pedodontics. Their jobs may involve the study, diagnosis, and treatment of various conditions of the teeth and oral cavity in kids, Including performing operations and adjoining areas such as drilling, filling cavities, and placing crowns and bridges. Sometimes they try to find out any delicate oral trait that may have been transferred to infants from their mothers during delivery.
They may also suggest nutritional tips including various preventive measures parents can take in order to ensure the oral health of their children. This may involve educating them on how to brush and flosh on the types of food that can improve their dental health. Children with unhealthy oral habits like thumb sucking are also likely to be counselled by a pediatrist dentist.
Apart from children, a Pediatric dentist may also be required to care for adult teeth. This can involve routine checks, managing oral conditions and diseases, and making recommendations.
Below is a more general list of some of the duties of a pediatrist dentist:
- Filling cavities
- Examining x-ray results for tooth decay or gum diseases
- Performing dental examinations
- Routine oral check-ups and inspection
- Treatment of dental diseases
- Making recommendation for orthopedics
- Oral surgery
A good number of pediatric dentists are involved in private practice, while some work in a group with other pediatric dentists. Clinics and hospitals are the most common places you can easily find a pediatric dentist.
The pathway to a successful career in pediatric dentistry is pretty straightforward but often requires a lot of dedication and hard work. The normal route to take if you are interested in becoming a pediatrist is to first obtain an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution. After which you will enrol for a specialized dentistry training which consist of a two year residency program followed by a board certification. Let's quickly look at each step in more details.
Obtain a BSc degree
Like many other careers in the medical field, the first thing you will need if you are intend to become pediatrist is to obtain a bachelor degree in any of the biological sciences or other related disciplines. If you plan on opening a private practice, then you should consider taking core studies in areas such as psychology, child development, and psychology, and business. An important aspect of your practical training will involve working with kids. Such opportunity may come up during your intenship or you can volunteer for any children dental care related research projects.
Enrol for specialized dentistry training
The next step to take after completing your degree program is to attend a dental college. The four years program in such schools exposes you to the practical skills you need to excel in dentistry through various clinical exercises involving the diagnosis and treatment of adult patients under close supervision by a practicing licensed dentist. Upon graduation, you can either become a DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery).
A residence program is to be undertaken after the training in a dental college. It usually last for two years and is intended to completely immerse participants in specialized pediatric dentistry education through relevant clinical practices. Some of the major areas covered during the course of this training include:
- Psychology and Child development
- Dental medical imaging
- Children oral diagnosis and dental procedures
- Treatment of dental injuries and diseases
- Oral care for children that are invalid
- Dental surgery (for kids)
As mentioned earlier, a board certification is usually issued to a participant who has successfully completed the residency program. However, as a candidate, you must first pass some exams, after which you will receive a board certification with which you can now practice as a DPD (Diplomate of Pediatric Dentistry).
Pediatric dentistry is a competitive field in medicine with wide career options. Regardless of the option you choose, you are likely to follow any of the paths below:
- Private Practice (Opening your own dental practice or working with another group)
- Public Practice (working in clinics and hospitals)
- Teaching (taking up a teaching role in universities or dental colleges)
- Research (working in laboratories especially in higher institutions or for private dental organizations)
Pediatrist dentists conducting private research are usually working to produce new dental products for children or improve the existing ones. They may also work to improve various dental clinical procedures especially those based on oral surgical operations.
There are many factors that determine the average annual income of dentists generally. Some of them are listed below:
- The location they choose to practice
- The number of patients they get throughout the year
- The type of dental medical procedures they adopt when treating patients
- The type of facilities available
- Education background and level of experience
- The amount of time they are actively at work everyday
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income for a pediatrist dentist is $178,000. However, it is believed that this figure will grow as more opportunities are opening up for professionals in the field. The job outlook is expected to increase by 16% until 2022.
What skills do I need to become a pediatric dentist?
As mentioned earlier, pediatrist dentistry is a highly competitive field. Thus you need to be on top of your game if you really want to be successful. You must know how to effectively communicate with kids to know their problems so as to determine the right treatment plan for them. The fundamental skills every pediatrist dentist is expected to have are listed below:
A job as a pediatric dentist is very challenging because you always have to deal with kids who are often difficult due to fear, but notwithstanding the job is very rewarding and holds a lot of benefits for aspiring professionals. Considering the expanding roll of dental health care in US and many other places in the world, the demand for qualified pediatrist dentist is likely to remain high. In fact, there are few medical careers you will find that has a similar salary potential and also provides the opportunity to work with kids. Before you make up your mind about pursuing a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure you have the right skill set, or at least you are willing to develop them. Your ability to combine these skills with your education will help you become really successful in your practice.