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Pediatric Dentist Duties and Responsibilities
Pediatric dentists provide comprehensive oral care for patients aged about 12 months to 18 years old. Oral examinations are an important part of the job, but duties extend beyond exams and often beyond the exam room itself. Those responsibilities include:
Evaluate and Treat Pediatric Dental Patients Performing oral examinations and corrective care for children is the pediatric dentist's core responsibility. This includes everything from dental exams and repairing cavities to diagnosing oral conditions and injuries and developing treatment plans.
Dental Health Education Because pediatric dentists work primarily with new teeth, they teach children hygiene habits that will last a lifetime and maintain their dental health. Pediatric dentists offer children and their parents instruction on cleaning and flossing teeth, provide dietary counseling, and organize educational services for their communities.
Manage Behavioral Issues Dental phobias are common in children, but pediatric dentists are trained to handle anxious patients with a variety of tactics. Some common strategies include adopting a kind and encouraging demeanor, clearly and calmly explaining each step of the exam or otherwise engaging with patients and, if necessary, sedation.
Continuing Education Healthcare is a changeable industry, dentistry included. Continuing education programs keep pediatric dentists up-to-date as technological advancements and research breakthroughs drive the industry forward. A career-long pursuit of knowledge also helps dentists master new skills, refine old ones, and guarantee their patients receive the highest standard of treatment and preventive care. Most states require dentists earn continuing education credits to maintain professional licensure.
Office Management Owning apractice means you're also running a business. That means hiring and managing associates and staff, establishing and sticking to a budget, and making sure the office is furnished with everything from waiting room chairs to medical equipment. Since pediatric dentists work exclusively with children, this entails decorating their practice in a way that's appealing and comforting to kids. You can't run a business without clients, so dentists must also strategize how to grow their patient base.
Pediatric Dentist Skills and QualificationsPediatric patients present some unique challenges. Fondness for children is a must, not to mention extensive patience and a warm, personable bedside manner. After completing a bachelor's degree and dental school, specialty training is required to practice pediatric dentistry.The American Board of Pediatric Dentistry also offers additional (and optional) certification. Once fully trained, pediatric dentists have the following skills:
- Interpersonal skills - patience, adaptability, and compassion are critical to explaining complex medical topics toyoung patients and listening to their concerns
- Strong ethics -pediatric dentists must adhere to government regulations, such as those stipulated under HIPAA and OSHA, as well as any policies set forth by their practice
- Manual dexterity- smaller patients and smaller tools mean pediatric dentists need excellent hand-eye coordination to safely treat their patients
- Teaching - pediatric dentists instruct children and their parents on the best practices of oral hygiene, in addition to mentoring students and associates
- Critical thinking - good judgment and perception are necessary to accurately evaluate patients and devise treatment plans
- Administering medicine - anesthetics and sedatives must be used properly and with great care to ensure patient safety and comfort
Pediatric Dentist Salary and OutlookAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dentists earn a median annual salary of $159,770, or about $77 an hour. Payscale, however, reports that pediatric dentists earn a median annual salary of $180,000, with compensation ranging from $146,000 to $289,000. In addition to standard benefits like health insurance and vacation time, pediatric dentists can receive discipline-specific perks like malpractice insurance, continuing education funds, and reimbursement of membership dues to professional organizations. Job growth for dentists currently outpaces most other occupations, with the BLS forecasting a 19 percent demand increase from 2016 to 2026. It's expected that demand will only rise as studies continue making links between oral health and overall wellbeing.
Now that you know what it takes to be a pediatric dentist, you can use these resources to dig a little deeper:
American Dental Association - a leading advocate for scientific advancement in dentistry, not to mention the world's oldest and largest organization for professional dentists, the ADA is a go-to resource for prospective and practicing dentists of all specialties
The Complete Pre-Dental Guide to Modern Dentistry - undergraduate students considering dentistry have a lot of questions. This comprehensive guide, which dedicates an entire chapter to pediatrics, answers them all
American Board of Pediatric Dentistry - the ABPD strives to inspire every dental practitioner to provide children with the highest standard of care, and it's the only ADA-recognized board for specialty certification in pediatric dentistry
Handbook of Pediatric Dentistry - published by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, this must-have resource is recommended reading for dentists pursuing pediatric specialty certification
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