A program that focuses on the advanced study of the therapeutic and preventive care of the oral health of children from birth through adolescence, and the care of adults with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. Includes instruction in developmental oral biology, preventive medicine, diet therapy and counseling, patient management, pediatric restorative procedures, pulp therapy, trauma management, anesthesia, treatment planning, patient management, and the treatment of handicapped patients.

Pediatric Dentistry/Pedodontics Dental Careers

A program that focuses on the advanced study of the therapeutic and preventive care of the oral health of children from birth through adolescence, and the care of adults with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. Includes instruction in developmental oral biology, preventive medicine, diet therapy and counseling, patient management, pediatric restorative procedures, pulp therapy, trauma management, anesthesia, treatment planning, patient management, and the treatment of handicapped patients.

Pediatric dentistry is that specialty branch of dental medicine that serves the oral health of the developing human body, that is, children from birth through adolescence, and at the same time is the specialty devoted to the oral health care of adults with special needs and physical, mental, and emotional disabilities, sometimes profound ones. Pediatric dentists work with children up to the point of putting on braces, at which point the adolescent patient is referred out to a fulltime practice limited to orthodontics. Some programs do provide basic, elementary training in orthodontics although orthodontics is not within the scope of the practice of pediatric dentistry.

The clearinghouse for all things related to the practice of pediatric dentistry is the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) https://www.aapd.org/

Founded in 1947 and established on the same model as the other not-for profit membership organizations governing and representing the various dental specialties, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry represents at current count some 10,800 members. And their mission is among the simplest of all the specialties: to provide outstanding dental care to the nation’s children.

At the same time, the specialty of pediatric dentistry has taken onto itself the mission to care for the oral health of the country’s special needs adults, a vast number of physically, mentally, or emotionally-challenged adults. No other dental specialty specifically embraces that population within their mission, philosophy, or practice area.

The residency in pediatric dentistry, like the residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery, can be either hospital-based or dental school-based. Like the residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery, residency programs in pediatric dentistry often participate in the Match program, which is not necessarily the norm in other dental specialties. A program that is dental school-based will likely still charge tuition while offering a nominal stipend. Likewise a hospital-based program may offer only a certificate, but the university-based program may have an option to receive a degree credential in addition to a certificate.

The point being? Know what you want from your residency experience, based on your goals for your practice life after the residency is over

As always, the American Dental Association’s weblink to all dental school and dental residency programs is one of the definitive sources connecting you to the specific program of your interest

The ADA website currently links to 82 programs in pediatric dentistry. Twenty-six of those are identified by the ADA as hospital-based programs

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) provides the same kind of resource, with extremely in-depth and detailed similar information for all residency programs sanctioned by the AAPD

For comparison purposes, pick a hospital-based program and related dental school-based program, possibly both from the same dental school and its affiliated medical center, and compare.

One such example is the pediatric dental residency at the University of Pittsburgh versus the affiliated but independent pediatric dental residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

For another, compare two programs in the city of Richmond, Virginia: the pediatric dental residency at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital of Richmond versus the pediatric dentistry residency at Virginia Commonwealth University, also in Richmond

And yet, a similar, but still very different, situation exists in the two-year combined hospital and university-based pediatric dentistry residency at the Medical University of South Carolina at Charleston.

The point being? Research, research, research. Read and comprehend all the fine print before you apply. Know what you want before you interview.