Pediatric Dentists: Job Duties and Requirements for Becoming a Pediatric Dentist
Pediatric Dentists are dentists who specialize in the dental health of children under age 18. Like all dentists, including other specialists such as periodontists, Pediatric Dentists need to graduate from high school, receive a bachelor's degree, graduate from an accredited dental school and receive required licenses to legally practice dentistry in their state.
Career Definition: Pediatric Dentist
Like all dentistry, Pediatric Dentistry is focused on the diagnosis and treatment of dental problems and the upkeep of patients' dental health; however, Pediatric Dentists practice solely on children. Pediatric Dentists often educate patients and their parents on proper brushing and flossing technique and on dietary choices that improve dental health. Additional regular tasks for Pediatric Dentists may include inspecting x-rays for tooth decay, giving instructions to dental hygienists and assistants, performing tooth extractions and filling cavities.
How to Become a Pediatric Dentist
Required Education for a Career in Pediatric Dentistry
All dentists typically hold a high school diploma in addition to a bachelor's degree that includes some predental study and a DDS or DMD degree from a 4-year dental school. According to the American Association of Pediatric Dentists, dental school graduates must receive an additional 2-3 years of education in order to practice Pediatric Dentistry (www.aapd.org). Pediatric Dentists will also generally be required by their state to obtain a license to practice dentistry and may wish to gain additional certification from professional organizations such as the American Dental Association or the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
Skills Required for a Career in Pediatric Dentistry
Pediatric Dentists will need to have thorough knowledge of the specific dental needs of children and will also need to be able to interact well with children in order to operate a successful practice. Additionally, Pediatric Dentists should generally be able to use technologically advanced equipment, work well with their hands, analyze problems, pay close attention to detail, feel comfortable working in close bodily proximity to patients and communicate clearly with both adults and children.
Career and Economic Outlook for Pediatric Dentistry
According to O*Net, dentists, including Pediatric Dentists, are projected to see increased employment opportunities in the near future, with an estimated 39,000 new dentists needed by 2016 (www.onetcenter.org). Bureau of Labor Statistics data from May 2006 indicated that earnings for Pediatric Dentists and other dentists averaged around $136,690 annually (www.bls.org).
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