Skills & Knowledge

Pediatric Dentistry is an age-defined specialty that provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health care needs. The specialty emphasizes the prevention of oral diseases through early intervention and initiation of comprehensive preventive practices. Pediatric dental care includes the restoration of teeth and replacement of teeth, management of soft and hard tissue pathology, vital and non-vital pulpal tissues, traumatized primary and permanent teeth,and the developing occlusion. The pediatric dentist must be proficient as well in the use of pharmacological and non-pharmacological techniques to manage the anxiety and behavior of patients. Pediatric dentists provide comprehensive care in traditional settings as well as hospital and institutional sites and, when indicated, in conjunction with other dental and medical disciplines.

Residents who complete the full 24-month Postgraduate Program in Pediatric Dentistry at MUSC are expected to have developed their skills and knowledge to the level of a specialist in Pediatric Dentistry as approved by the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation. Completion of the program will enhance specialty skills of each resident beyond that of their predoctoral education with significant advances in the following major areas of practice.

  • Diagnostic Skill: The resident will have had considerable didactic background and direct contact with children exhibiting a variety of local and systemic pathology. Recognition of numerous disease states, congenital defects and hereditary conditions is expected. Familiarity with specific orofacial defects, disease states or their manifestations and traumatic consequences is mandatory. Knowledge of physical, mental and emotional development is essential. Consequences of hormonal and nutritional inadequacies should be recognized. Speech problems associated with oral or dental problems should be discriminated from other causes. Common and rare defects of the teeth, oral tissues and pulpal pathosis should be recognized. Residents should be especially skilled in obtaining and interpreting dental diagnostic aids on children. These aids would include intraoral radiographs, panoramic films, study models, space analyses and dietary analysis. The resident should be able to make correlations between basic sciences and clinical applications.
  • Collaboration: The resident should develop considerable skill in establishing rapport and cooperation with dental and medical colleagues. Referrals to appropriate professionals or from other professionals occur frequently and the resident should be familiar with the courtesy and importance of these activities. The resident should be able to make, or respond to, all appropriate consultation requests.
  • Treatment Planning: The resident should be able to prepare and present treatment plans which utilize the diagnostic training received. The treatment plans should be comprehensive with treatment provided in an efficient sequence. Residents should have an accurate assessment of their ability to deliver treatment.
  • Behavior Guidance: The resident should have superior abilities to guide the behavior of children and parents. The resident should have good communication skills and an understanding of learning principles. Application of these skills with motivational tools will enable the resident to modify child and parental behavior. When psychological management of child behavior is inadequate, the resident will be familiar with several modes for sedation. If sedation is not indicated or if it is inadequate, the resident will be able to admit, treat, and discharge patients from a hospital in order to utilize general anesthesia in the operating room.
  • Provision of Dental Treatment: The resident will be able to provide high quality dental care in the office or hospital environment. Some of the specific treatment procedures which the resident should be able to provide for children include:
    • Emergency care of a systemic or dental nature. The resident should be prepared for medical emergencies in the dental situation. Dental emergencies due to trauma, pulp pathosis, and periodontal disease should be treated promptly and correctly by residents.
    • Restorative dentistry for children from infancy through adolescence will be provided by residents. Expertise in restorative treatment for primary and young permanent teeth is essential.
    • Pulpal diagnosis and treatment for the cariously involved or traumatized primary tooth or young permanent tooth will be provided by the resident.
    • Residents will be familiar with treatment for fractured, subluxated, exarticulated teeth.
    • Residents should have extensive knowledge of oral facial growth and development in order to practice preventive and interceptive occlusion management. Problems and treatment associated with premature tooth loss, ectopic eruptions, supernumerary teeth, congenitally missing teeth, rotations, diastamas, crossbites, etc., should be familiar to the resident.
    • Conditions which affect the periodontium should be familiar to the resident. Residents should be able to treat aphthous ulcers, herpes simplex, acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, gingivitis, periodontitis, mucogingival defects, abnormal frenums, etc.
    • Residents should be able to treat many surgical problems encountered in children including simple extractions, some impactions, supernumerary teeth, cysts, abnormal frenums, and biopsy procedures.
    • Preventive procedures, educational and motivational efforts, diet analysis, pit and fissure sealants, professionally and self-administered fluoride regimens, and trauma prevention will be implemented by the resident.
    • The resident will be able to treat children with special health care needs and older patients who require the special management skills of a pediatric dentist.
  • Research: The resident will be able to evaluate original dental research articles for methodology, results, statistical interpretation, conclusions, and implications. The ability to conduct research may be developed from the required research project; however, the major research goal is an understanding and appreciation of published research.
  • Poster Presentation: The resident will present a poster presentation during each year of the program. This may be at the Pediatric Dentistry Annual meeting, a CE course or during the MUSC Research Day Program.
  • Teaching: The resident will have developed considerable teaching skills by preparing and presenting lectures, by clinical exposure to children and parents, from undergraduate clinical supervision, etc. These skills should provide the resident with a strong foundation for patient education and professional presentations.
  • Practice Management & Auxiliary Utilization: The resident should be well prepared for most aspects of practice administration and efficient auxiliary utilization.
  • Critical Thinking: It is expected the resident will establish an approach to learning which utilizes aspects of continual inquiry and critical thinking. The development of a lifelong attitude of study and advancement is anticipated.