Paediatric dentistry is the practice, teaching and research into the comprehensive and therapeutic oral health care for children from birth to adolescence, including care for children who demonstrate intellectual, medical, physical, psychological and/or emotional problems.
First and foremost, a paediatric dentist needs to enjoy working with children and be able to communicate effectively with them. A paediatric dentist also needs:
Paediatric dentistry is unlike any other dental specialty in that it covers all aspects of oral health care for children such as restorative care (including endodontic treatment and prosthetics), minor oral surgery procedures, and interceptive orthodontics. Paediatric dentists also work closely with paediatricians, surgeons and anaesthetists as part of a team in the overall care of children with complex medical problems. In addition they may work with other agencies such as health visitors and social workers in managing vulnerable children.
Treatment for children can be carried out under local anaesthetic using a range of behaviour management skills. Sometimes it is necessary, because of medical or behavioural problems, to treat children using conscious sedation or general anaesthesia.
In order to train to be a paediatric dentist within the United Kingdom, you should apply for a specialty registrar training post on a recognised paediatric dentistry training programme:
Once accepted on to a training programme you need to successfully complete your supervised training programme and pass the Membership in Paediatric Dentistry examination. It is expected that a trainee who enters whole-time specialty training in paediatric dentistry with no relevant prior training in the Specialty will complete training in three years. Part-time specialty training is also possible and would usually be completed in around five years.
Paediatric dentistry specialty training programmes are available in the Hospital Dental Service with a number of programmes being linked with the Salaried Dental Service.
There is also the opportunity of carrying out an Academic Clinical Fellowship programme which provides both a clinical and academic training environment designed to provide support for individuals who have potential for development as a researcher. These programmes are also three year appointments providing full clinical training in paediatric dentistry and completion of a research MSc, at the end of which the trainee is expected to sit the Membership in Paediatric Dentistry examination. The expected career pathway would then be a PhD and further specialist training to achieve the additional competencies necessary for appointment at consultant level.
Paediatric dentistry specialists may work in a number of spheres including:
Catherine Williams – Consultant in Paediatric Dentistry, University Dental Hospital, Cardiff
Shannu Bhatia – Consultant in Paediatric Dentistry, University Dental Hospital, Cardiff
Fran Yuen-Lee- Dental Postgraduate Section, HEIW, Ty Glas, Nantgarw
There are also various societies with websites where you can access further information including: