Children are not just small adults. They are not always able to be patient and cooperative during a dental exam. Pediatric dentists know how to examine and treat children in ways that make them comfortable. In addition, pediatric dentists use specially designed equipment in offices that are arranged and decorated with children in mind. A pediatric dentist offers a wide range of treatment options, as well as expertise and training to care for your child’s teeth, gums, and mouth. When your pediatrician suggests that your child receive a dental exam, you can be assured that a pediatric dentist will provide the best possible care.

"Pediatric Dentistry is an age-defined specialty that provides primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care
for infants and children through adolescence, including those with
special health care needs."   
- - The American Dental Association

So, what does this mean?...

• Age-Defined: most specialties are procedure defined (endodontics, periodontics, etc.). Pediatric dentists provide care for their specific age group of patients. There is no limitation to what type of treatment they provide.

• Primary and Comprehensive and Therapeutic Oral Health Care: Pediatric dentists are primary providers. There is no need for a referral of patients. Parents can choose to have their children evaluated and treated by a pediatric dentist just like they can choose to have their child treated by a pediatrician.

• Infants and Children Through Adolescence: Pediatric dentists see patients at any age from birth up to their late teens.

• Special Health Care Needs: Pediatric dentists have the training and experience to evaluate and treat patients, that are medically compromised. This includes patients with hemophilia, leukemia, congenital syndromes, etc... No other dental specialty, other than OMS is more involved in hospital care of patients.

There seems to be a lot of confusion amongst parents, pediatricians, and dentists about the correct timing for the first dental visit. Many "family" dentists may tell parents not to bring children to their practice before they have all their primary teeth (age two or three), sometimes they even recommend to wait until age 6. The parent of a fearful or uncooperative child may be told "we have to wait until your child is old enough to sit still". Under unfavorable circumstances delay of dental care can lead to catastrophic disease progression that is not in the best interest of the child.

The AAPD encourages parents and other care providers to help every child establish a dental home by 12 months of age. This means a child should have his or her first dental visit at the first birthday!

At this examination visit the dentist should record a thorough medical and dental history. Parents should be prepared to review the prenatal, prenatal, and postnatal period of their child's development.

The oral examination at this early age is usually accomplished with the parent present in the office. It is most often only a visual exam. The child patient may be sitting in the parent's lap with the head in the dentist's lap (knee-to-knee position).

One important aspect of this visit is to discuss the child's risk of developing oral and dental disease. Based on this assessment the dentist will determine the appropriate recall interval for the next dental visit. In high risk cases this may be as early as three months. Dental decay in children can progress very rapidly.

The dentist will also evaluate the child's oral and dental development. The common question about "how many teeth at what age?" will be addressed. The dentist will also evaluate the need for fluoride supplementation. It may be important to discuss non-nutritive habits (finger sucking, pacifier), injury prevention, oral hygiene, and effects of diet on the dentition.


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Pediatric Dentist, Battle Ground, WA 98604, Dr. Conway Jensen.  Serving patients in the surrounding cities and areas of Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Yacolt, Longview,
Kelso, Kalama, Woodland, Amboy, Brush Prairie, and Battle Ground, Washington.

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