General status of pediatric dentistry in Korea is to conduct vigorous academic activities and specialized medical care centering the Korean Association of Pediatric Dentistry (KAPD) that has about 1,000 pediatric dentists as members, pediatric dentistry departments of 11 Colleges of Dentistry, numbers of pediatric dentistry training institutions and private clinics specialized in children.
From 1996, the accredited pediatric dentists were produced by the KAPD and from 2008, the state began to produce the accredited pediatric dentists. Since then, doctors with expertise in pediatric care had opened private clinics in addition to the university hospitals, it became the basis of a momentum to deepen the specialty of pediatric dentistry.
The Dentistry community of Korea is going through rapid and profound changes recently, and the underlying reasons for such changes can be classified largely into a few categories: (1) Decreasing population and structural changes in population (2) Increase in numbers of dentists, (3) Changes in the pattern of dental diseases and (4) Changes in medical environment.
In Korea, the children population in the age range of 0 ~ 14 years old had been decreased by 2 million in 2010 compared to that of 2000 due to reduction of birth rate. The current population of children in the age range of 0 ~ 4 years old in 2010 takes up 16.2% of the total population, but it is estimated that such percentage would decrease to 8.0% by 2050. Such percentage is largely behind the estimated mean global population of 19.6% by 2050. On the other hand, the number of dentists had been largely increased from 18,000 in 2000 to 25,000 in 2010. And it is estimated that the number will be increased to 41,000 by 2030. In addition, the specialized personnel of Pediatric dentistry had been shown as increased by 2.5 times during past 10 years.
For the changes in the pattern of dental diseases, including dental caries, each df rate of 5 years old children and 12 years old children had been decreased by 21.9% and 16.7% respectively in 2010 compared to 2000.
Each df Index also had been decreased by 2.5 teeth and 1.2 teeth respectively.
The medical expenditure of Korea is less than that of OECD and more specifically, the expenditure from the National Health Plan is less than OECD but the expenditure covered by households is larger than OECD.
These facts indicate that it is considered as requiring the coverage of the national health plan to be reinforced more in the future and as such reinforcement needs continuous promotion.
In medical examination pattern of Pediatric dentistry, the preventive and corrective treatment were increased whereas the restorative treatment was decreased. It is considered that such change is caused from decrease of dental caries from activation of the prevention project at national level. For the restorative treatment, the restorations in use of dental amalgam, pre-existing gold crowning and endodontic treatment had been decreased in their proportion while the restorative treatment in use of composite resin had been increased. It is considered that such changes is caused by the change of demands from patients and family or guardians as they desired more aesthetic improvement along with socio-economic growth of Korean society.
Due to such changes in dentistry, the pediatric dentistry in Korea also attempts to have changes in the pat-terns of medical examination as follows; It tends to implement early stage treatment through early diagnosis utilizing various diagnostic tools such as FOTI or QLF. The early stage dental caries so called white spot had been included in the subjects for dental care or management and in order to do so, the medical care guidelines essentially accompanied with remineralization treatment as well as minimally invasive treatment is being generalized gradually. Also, centering the Pediatric dentists, the importance of caries risk assessment is being recognized,in addition that the management of dental caries is being changed from surgical approach to internal medicinal approach.
Recently, efforts began to emerge in order to increase the target patients to be managed by dentists and to expand the application scope of Pediatric dentistry along with through such changes. The interest and activities of Pediatric dentists which had been limited to the medical examination room so far, is now being expanded externally,as they put efforts for participating in the preventive policy making process of the community or the state, and to support the political theories. And also opinions are being collected into the direction that the future-oriented strategic political tasks shall be selected and researches as well as presentations on the theoretical rationale of such tasks at the association level.