Kurt Bomze, DDS, FAAPD
Cherry Hill, N.J.
Dr. Steven Schwartz, in the July 1999 issue, has done the children of this country a great service by alerting family dentists to the benefits and value of starting children`s dental care around age one. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, and the Academy of General Dentistry have endorsed this policy. Many children get cavities before age three that have to be treated. Also, there are far too many children having to undergo costly, extensive treatment involving conscious sedation in the office or general anesthesia in the hospital.
However, with the consideration of seeing infants and toddlers in one`s practice comes multiple responsibilities. Not everyone is comfortable with this age group. The dentist needs to be sure he/she is comfortable. If not, the dentist should not work with them, because the children will sense the discomfort. Also, it is essential that the dentist be very familiar with child psychology, normal and abnormal. It is this aspect of care that will determine if the visit outcome is successful for child, parent, staff, and doctor.
Further, there must be a structured program of evaluation and comprehensive preventive-dentistry instruction. Treat this with the same seriousness as pediatricians would their office visits. Finally, the treating dentist has a responsibility to keep up with what`s developing in infant preventive and therapeutic dental care. This includes reading journals and taking continuing-education courses on all aspects of children`s dentistry. For the family dentist, this is best accomplished by being an active member of the American Society of Dentistry for Children.