Pediatric Dentist

How to Become a Pediatric Dentist
Pediatric Dentist Job Details
Skills and Qualities of Pediatric Dentists
Pediatric Dentist Salaries
Influential Professional Pediatric Dentists
Leading Pediatric Dentist Organizations
Top Cities for Pediatric Dentist Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Pediatric Dentist

Before becoming a pediatric dentist, you must first qualify as a general dentist. General dentistry requires at least three years of undergraduate work plus four years of dental school, accredited by the American Dental Association. Prior to acceptance to dental school, the applicant may have to receive passing scores on the Dental Admission Test.

The first two years of dental school differ from the last two. In the first two, the prospective dentist sits in the classroom or laboratory studying anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and microbiology. In the last two years, they treat patients in community clinics, under the supervision of licensed dentist.

On completion of the required coursework at dental school, the prospective dentist will graduate as either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. US State licensing boards accept either of these two degrees as equally valid. After graduation, all US states require that, prospective dentists must pass written and clinical examinations. Only then does the prospective dentist become fully qualified.

Pediatric dentistry education requires an additional two-year residency, similar to a residency program for an MD, however not all dental schools offer this post-doctoral program. Some states require a further special examination before a dentist can become a pediatric dentist.

What does a Pediatric Dentist do?

One of nine recognized specialties within the profession of dentistry, the pediatric dentist provides preventative and therapeutic care to minors, from infancy through adolescence. This specialty represents less than 5% of all dentists.

While children have special needs, they have many of the same dental problems as adults: cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, crooked teeth, chipped or broken teeth and bad-breath. Like adults, children need repeated instruction and motivation in basic dental hygiene, such as regular brushing and flossing and these messages have to be age appropriate for the child. As with adult dentists, pediatric dentists will sometimes make a mold of the child's mouth in order to fit crowns and bridges.

Separate data on where and how pediatric dentists work is not available, but most work as solo practitioners, while others work in clinics. The majority of dentists will work four or five-day weeks, but some will work non-traditional hours, to accommodate clients. Dentists trying to establish a new practice may work more than a forty-hour week, but as they gain more experience they may lessen their hours. They will often work well beyond the standard retirement age.

While not exclusively an organization of pediatric dentists, the Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) day attracts many pediatric dentists, as it is geared towards children. Started in 2002, it has become an annual event on the first Friday in February. On that day dentists provide free preventive and therapeutic care to low-income children who otherwise would lack any dental care. The entire month of February has been designated National Children's Dental Health Month. GKAS state that in 2005, dentists provided almost $400,000 in pro bono dental care to 178 low-income children in Sacramento, California.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Pediatric Dentist?

In college, a strong science background, particularly biology, chemistry, physics, health and mathematics prepares a student for dental school. Dentists, like other medical professionals, also need interpersonal skills in addition to the technical requirements of their profession. The profession also requires excellent eye-hand coordination, vision and visual memory. As many dentists operate their own practices, book keeping and administrative skills are also extremely useful. Most importantly, pediatric dentists need to like and get along with children.

How much does a Pediatric Dentist make?

Separate salary data was not available for pediatric dentists; it is included in the data for dental specialists.

If the annual salaries of all specialist dentists were arranged from the lowest to the highest, the median would be that point at which 50% of the salaries were lower and 50% were higher. Most salaries differ somewhat from the median, however. The best estimate of a potential salary lies in the range between the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile, known as the middle 50% of salaries. The 25th percentile is the point at which 25% of salaries are below and the 75th percentile is the point at which 75% of all salaries are below.

As of May 2007, the median salary for non-specified dental specialists was $105,440 per year, with the state of Oregon paying the highest salaries. The middle 50% of non-specified dental specialist made between $54,150 and $145,600.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Dr. Beverly A. Largent, DMD, the President of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (2008-2009), serves on the ADA Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs.

Dr. Marvin H. Berman, DDS, a pediatric dentist, co-wrote 'Essentials of Modern Dental Practice' and has produced several videotapes on clinical pediatric dentistry and child management. He also works as a health reporter for CBS (News Radio 78). He works in a group practice, in Chicago, Illinois and leads seminars such as 'Pediatric Dentistry: Are We Having Fun Yet?' for the American Dental Society Cell Seminar Series.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, the major professional organization for pediatric dentists, certifies pediatric dentists; the only certifications recognized by the American Dental Association. Its website ( features material on certification.

In addition the general dentistry organization, the American Dental Association ( provides information the entire dentistry profession.

The American Dental Education Association ( provides information on dental school admission policy and post-graduate study.

What are the top cities for Pediatric Dentist jobs?

Future projections for dentists in general are that job growth will keep pace with average job growth, but that the field will not expand. Current projections indicate that hygienists and other assistants will perform more dental work.

As of September 2008, the three cities with the most jobs available for pediatric dentists were, Houston, Seattle and Dallas. None of these cities, however, none had lots of jobs available.

Other Careers of Interest

Dental Assistant
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Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists work with the dentist to provide educational, clinical and therapeutic services to dental patients. Their main focus is preventive...

Dental Technician
Dental laboratory technicians create crowns, bridges, dentures and other dental prosthetics. They may also manufacture dental appliances designed...

Dentists diagnose and treat problems with teeth and mouth tissues. They also advise patients on oral care in an attempt to prevent future problems....

In general, an orthodontist examines, diagnoses and treats dental problems. This involves straightening and realigning teeth by applying pressure...

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