Pediatrics VS Orthodontics: The Scope and Services

Dentistry can be defined as the correct prevention, diagnosis, treatment and evaluation of any type of diseases, disorders and conditions that affect the oral cavity and other related structures that are located within maxillofacial area. In order to practice dentistry, one must undergo years of training, education, and experience to master this field of medicine. A professional who has passed the licensure examination for dentistry is called as a dentist. A dentist can also do other specific practice areas such as pediatric dentistry and orthodontics. Here is a short description to determine the differences and similarities between orthodontics and pediatrics.

What is Pediatric Dentistry?

Pediatric dentistry involves the provision of overall care to the oral health of infants, children, and adolescents. A pediatric dentist should have all the qualifications and the experience in taking care of the child's teeth, mouth, and gums throughout the different stages of childhood. It is important for children to have proper dental care to prevent oral decay and other types of diseases. These conditions can cause great pain and discomfort to children, which is why they should be avoided.

In order to become a registered pediatric dentist, one must undergo four years of dental education plus two years of residency training in pediatric dentistry. There are several treatments that can be provided if performed by a licensed pediatric dentist. These services and treatments include the following:

  • Oral health exams for infants including risk management for caries.
  • Preventive dental care that includes fluoride treatments, cleaning and dietary recommendations.
  • Repair of tooth defects and cavities
  • Diagnosis of any oral condition that is related to diseases such as asthma, diabetes and congenital heart defect just to mention a few.
  • Habitual counseling for children such as thumb sucking and the use of pacifiers.
  • Initial assessment and treatment in correcting improper bite.
  • Management of any gum disease such as ulcers and mucoceles.
  • Proper care for dental or oral injuries including fractures and displacements.

What is Orthodontic Dentistry?

On the other hand, orthodontics, which is previously known as orthodontia, is considered as the first specialty of dentistry that deals with the treatment and correction of malocclusions or improper bites. These problems are commonly a result of disproportionate jaw relationships or tooth irregularity.

Orthodontics is also another specialty field in dentistry. Pediatric dentistry may also perform orthodontics as part of its dental practices. However, the orthodontic services of pediatric dentists are only limited to children and adolescents. A family dentist will be the one assigned to do orthodontic procedures to adult patients.

In order to become a licensed orthodontist, one must be able to complete all the college requirements before enrolling in a three to five year graduate program in an accredited dental school. After completing the dental education, it is necessary to finish at least two to three years of advanced specialty education in any accredited orthodontic program by the ADA. The program must include behavioral and basic sciences and as well as advance education in biomedical studies. Only those who were able to complete the program can be considered as orthodontists.

Harry Letworth is a novelist and freelance writer, who writes about issues surrounding health and dentistry. He recently wrote about dental technology for a pediatric dentist in Mission Viejo.


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