Dear PedZ Friends and Families,
We are seeing a large increase of significant dental diseases (cavities/abscesses) in 2-6 yr olds in our community. We are being referred many new patients from family/general dentists with a large disease burden. Pediatric dentists are the true specialists in treating young children with severe early childhood caries (cavities) and special needs patients. In order to become a board certified pediatric dentist, one must complete a 2-year pediatric residency after dental school and complete a rigorous 1-year board certification process post-residency.
Most family/general dentists do not feel comfortable treating very young children or special needs children with a large disease burden for many reasons. Behavior guidance is a specialized skill acquired through extensive training, patience, and mentoring. In addition, the tools and materials used to treat primary (baby) teeth are quite different compared to permanent teeth. Perhaps more importantly, this young pre-cooperative and/or medically compromised patients require IV sedation or hospital dentistry to deliver quality and safe dentistry. Pediatric dentists acquire all of these skills and credentials during their 2-year residency program. This specialized niche is our niche. There are only a small number of providers that deliver this kind of care. Most of these children wait 8-10 weeks to get a consult appointment in our office, and another 10-12 weeks for a treatment appointment. Most of these children are in pain. We simply have to change something.
After careful deliberation, we are kindly requesting adolescent patients who can safely (and perhaps more adequately) be treated by a family dentist “Graduate” to an adult dentist. We will begin to request this transition/refer your child once they have all permanent teeth (2nd molars erupted). For most patients, this “Graduation” will occur around age 14 for cleanings and fillings. In addition, healthy, neurotypical patients that have multiple permanent teeth cavities may be referred to an adult dentist that has more appropriate tools and materials for permanent teeth restorations earlier than 14 years old.
We adore each and every one of our patients! We truly want the best for the families that we serve. Access to routine appointments is very important for all of our patients! We appreciate your understanding and helping us treat the youngest of patients who need a pediatric specialist with specialized skills and credentials.
Dr. Stacey Zaikoski and Dr. Angela Cook