The Educational Requirements to Become a Pediatric Dentist

A pediatric dentist or less commonly pedodontist specialize in the oral health of children from infancy until they reach adulthood. Pediatric dentists also teach parents how to maintain their children’s oral health.

Below we discuss the training necessary to become a pediatric dentist.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The minimum requirement for a bachelor’s degree is devoting three years to the study of a subject. No dental college will consider an applicant without a Bachelor’s degree. Usually, the Bachelor’s degree can be in any subject.

Those pursuing a Bachelor’s degree with a view towards a career in pediatric dentistry should study subjects relevant to preparing for the study of dentistry. Appropriate subjects to pursue are anatomy, biology, chemistry, physics, and physiology. Candidates contemplating opening their own practice will want to take business courses.

To better understand their future patients aspiring pedodontists should volunteer for programs that involve working with children. Ideally, the program will focus on pediatric health. A second option is to intern with a practicing pediatric dentist.

Enroll in Dental School

At a minimum becoming a Doctor of Dental Medicine is a four-year commitment. The first step to enrollment is to pass a Dental Admissions Test. When choosing a dental college make certain the school is American Dental Association (ADA) accredited. What follows below is a sampling of the syllabus dental school may following. There is no universal curriculum for dental schools.

Years 1and 2-Classes relating directly to dentistry may include oral anatomy, oral pathology the study of diseases of the mouth, and oral histology the microscopic examination of tissues of the mouth. General medical courses could consist of Anatomy, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Pharmacology, and Physiology. During this stage, students might begin gaining practical experience using replicas of the mouth and teeth or by performing the simplest of procedures on actual patients.

Years 3 and 4-During the second half of their education, dental students spend more time working with patients. This includes patients with special needs.

  • Children
  • People with chronic illnesses
  • Disabled people
  • Elderly people

Students may be introduced to the administrative and financial principles of running a dental practice. Clinical rotations place students under the supervision of a clinical instructor. Further practical experience is gained while working at various hospitals and other facilities that render dental care.

Pass the Dental Boards

This is the final step in acquiring a license to practice dentistry. The ADA administers the National Board Dental Examinations. Divided into two parts part one of the exam is a written test to gauge a candidate’s overall knowledge of dentistry. Only candidates who successfully complete part one are allowed to take part two of the exam. Part two tests the clinical skills of candidates.

Complete Pediatric Residency

Successful completion of a residency is mandatory to receive certification to practice pediatric dentistry. Residents are taught to diagnose oral health issues in children. Specialized skills acquired include the administration of sedation and general anesthesia, performing oral surgery on children, and treating trauma to the face and mouth. Residents receive instruction in radiology, child anatomy, child development, and child psychology.