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Paediatric dentistry

Paediatric dentistry is the practice, teaching and research into the comprehensive and therapeutic oral healthcare for children from birth to adolescence, including care for children who have intellectual, medical, physical, psychological or emotional problems.

​It covers most aspects of oral healthcare: restorative care (including endodontic treatment and prosthetics); minor oral surgical procedures; and interceptive orthodontics.


Paediatric dentists work closely with paediatricians, surgeons and anaesthetists as part of a team caring for children with complex medical problems. And they may work with other agencies, such as health visitors and social workers, in safeguarding children.


Paediatric dentistry can be done in independent practice (including NHS or private practice), the public dental service (PDS) or in a hospital. Working with children is extremely rewarding but can be difficult owing to time restraints if in general practice, although providing care there is still possible for children who are not anxious or do not have a need for more specialist care. The PDS setting employs dentists both with and without specialist qualifications.


Career pathway

Specialist training places can be very competitive as there is national recruitment for specialty and consultant training posts. After obtaining your BDS/BChD qualification,
you will need to gain broad experience in general dentistry including hospital,
community and general dental practice. A two-year foundation training or equivalent programme would give this range of experience. A maxillofacial post is also highly desirable, as is some additional experience of treating children.


You should do some audit projects and try to have one or two case reports or articles presented or published. Attending local British Society of Paediatric Dentistry meetings will enable you to meet colleagues with similar interests and to learn more about the range of the specialty. These types of activities will help when applying for a specialty training post.


It takes three years to complete specialist level training and a further two years to complete to consultant level. Programmes for paediatric dentistry specialty training are available in hospital dentistry with some linked to salaried dental services. There is also the chance to do an Academic Clinical Fellowship or Lectureship programme. This provides both a clinical and academic environment designed to support those who have the potential to become researchers.