As a child I used to love eating chocolates (I still do) all the time, despite my mom’s warning that I’d end up a toothless hag. Well, after a while, I slowly started losing my teeth one by one (though luckily they were milk teeth), giving rise to the nightmare of being toothless. I used to even complain of toothache. So, my mom decided she had had enough and took me to a pediatric dentist. The very thought of going to the dentist gave me cold feet. But a surprise awaited me at the clinic. Not only was the doctor gentle, but he was also patient till I ended my tantrums. At the end of the treatment, the pediatric dentist and me became very good friends. Looking at him work, and impressed with his demeanor, made a deep impact on my mind and at that point of time I decided to become a pediatric dentist when I grew up. I came to understand what a pediatric dentist was and what was needed to be one.
A pediatric dentist is one who takes care of the oral health of children and addresses their dental problems. He also guides children on how to take care of their teeth, from an early age itself so that major problems like cavities and other problems related to the teeth and gums can be avoided. Childhood dental problems like deformed or protruding teeth, weak teeth are also treated by the pediatric dentist. So if you are aspiring to be a pediatric dentist, and a successful one at that, then the following paragraphs will answer your queries.
Guidelines for Becoming a Pediatric Dentist
- As mentioned earlier, oral health care and dental problems of children are taken care of by pediatric dentist. In recent times, this new branch in the field of dentistry deals exclusively with childhood dental problems, and has gained wide acclaim. Many people are opting for a career in this stream, owing to the excitement it offers while dealing with children, and also has a good pay. You can set up a private practice or join a hospital where you can render your services. Here is the information regarding the educational requirements for becoming a pediatric dentist, as well as his duties and responsibilities.
- A good research on the dentistry field before getting into the stream is helpful, as it will help you choose the school and specialization. To become a pediatric dentist, the first step is to earn a Bachelor’s degree in the field of science. You can major in physics, biology and chemistry. You may also apply for a degree in Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD).
- Once you have completed your graduation, you can study further for Master’s degree program in pediatric dentistry. Specialization and training in this field will be provided by the college where you are pursuing the degree. For the query on how long does it take to become a pediatric dentist, the duration of the entire course is 8 years, inclusive of the four-year Bachelor’s degree, two year Master’s program and then the doctorate followied by the internship program.
- After you have finished your studies and internship, apply for a dental license to practice, for which you have to clear a test, that includes a written and practical test, conducted by the National Board of Dental Examinations. After obtaining the license, you can set up a practice or even apply for residency, where you will be taught to handle biostatics, oral pathology, pharmaceutical study, epidemiology and radiology etc. In this program the candidate is also taught to handle child psychology, and how to relieve their anxiety.
- The residency program also includes the study of oral diseases of children, emergency dentistry, general anesthesia, conscious sedation, oral trauma management etc. The candidate is also made familiar with the use of dental equipment, specially designed for the small mouths of children. For extra credentials, you will have to get a certificate from the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry (ABPD), through an exam.
- If you are having a private practice then the charges levied on consultation will be based on the area where you have set your clinic. However, if you are planning to work in hospitals, then the average pediatric dentist salary may begin from $89,000 to $145,000 (approximate figures) on a yearly basis. The salary may also vary according to the state. In some states, the price range may be as high as $176,740 up to $208,470, annually. Again, the average annual salary of a pediatric dentist is determined by the experience, and also on the state where the doctor is practicing.
This was all about how to become a pediatric dentist. A career in pediatric dentistry is quite an enjoyable one as you get to meet kids of different demeanor. So if you love working with children, you know which career to choose. All the best!