Grand Rapids Preventative Kids Dentists

Our full-service Grand Rapids pediatric dentist’s office offers patients a wide range of preventative dental services for children of all ages — from infants to teens to young adults. While many of these services are often seen as routine for young children, they are vital to the proper growth and overall health of your child and should not be taken lightly or overlooked.

Dr. Meggan is committed to helping your child enjoy healthy teeth throughout their childhood and working with you to help them build a strong foundation for a lifetime of oral health.

Dr. Meggan offers a wide range of preventative pediatric services, including:

Infant Oral Health Exams

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends scheduling your child’s first visit to the dentist within 6 months of the first baby tooth — or by 12 months old. Awareness and prevention are the focus of this visit for your child, similar to a well-baby checkup at the pediatrician’s office.

Dr. Meggan and her team offer new parents the option of a knee-to-knee exam — where your baby gets their first checkup in the comfort of your lap! While your baby may cry during this experience, the exam is very quick and your baby’s open mouth provides the best view of the entire oral cavity. Within seconds of finishing, the tears will go away and your baby will be back in your arms. Our team’s goals are focused on your baby’s health and helping you to establish good habits early!

Benefits of the 12-month dental visit with Dr. Meggan:

  • One plus one equals Zero. One dental visit when there's one tooth can equal zero cavities.
  • Visiting Growing Smiles by the time the first baby tooth appears enables your child to begin a lifelong dental care program to minimize tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Pediatric dentists can detect early tooth decay, provide parents with information on proper oral and facial development, determine fluoride needs and more.
  • The 12-month dental visit can actually save money! A study in the journal Pediatrics showed that children who have their first dental visit before age one have 40% lower dental costs in their first five years than children who do not — due to the cost of dental and medical procedures that may result from poor oral health.

Nutrition Counseling

A healthy diet consists of foods that naturally have nutrients that your child needs to grow. Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Just like the rest of your body, the teeth, bones and soft tissues of the mouth require a well-balanced diet. Your child should eat a variety of foods from the five major food groups. Most snacks that children eat can lead to a cavity.

The more frequently your child snacks, the greater the chance for a cavity to form. How long the food stays in the mouth is also important. For example, mints or hard candies stay in the mouth for longer times, which cause longer attacks on the tooth enamel. If your child must snack, choose nutritious foods such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese — foods that are healthy and also better for your child’s teeth. Xylitol chewing gum between meals can help to prevent tooth decay.

Below are several healthy eating tips for you and your child:

  • Eat sweet & starchy foods during meal times, not as snacks
  • Avoid snacking or sipping on juice throughout the day
  • Drink water anytime you eat
  • Don't put your baby to bed with a bottle of formula, milk, juice or after breastfeeding
  • Avoid sticky foods that don’t rinse off the teeth easily
  • Talk to the Growing Smiles team about foods that promote healthy teeth

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Oral Hygiene Instructions

Children’s hands and mouths are different than adults. They need to use toothbrushes designed for children with bigger handles and soft, rounded bristles for gentle cleaning. Change to a new brush about every three months or earlier if the bristles become frayed.

For infants, wipe the teeth gently with moist gauze or a clean soft cloth. As babies grow, use a child’s toothbrush with a smear of toothpaste. When your child can spit — between 2 and 5 years old — you can use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to clean the teeth. Until your child can tie his shoes, he will need help with brushing his teeth. Even after that you will need to check for areas that may have been missed. Dr. Meggan can recommend methods to inspect your child’s mouth and motivate the young child toward good brushing habits.

Below are several helpful tips for brushing your child’s teeth properly:

  • Brush the inside and outside surfaces of each tooth, top and bottom.
  • Hold the brush flat on top of the teeth and brush the chewing surfaces
  • Gently brush the tongue to remove debris
  • Floss between teeth daily
  • Create a tooth brushing routine and stick to the same routine each day

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The best way to prevent excessive plaque buildup is to schedule a preventative care visit every six months. Plaque that is left untreated can lead to unhealthy gums and tooth decay. The gentle and professional cleanings performed at Growing Smiles will help your child preserve their teeth and gums. If you have not scheduled your child's next preventative care appointment, contact our Grand Rapids pediatric dental office today.
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Fluoride treatments

Fluoride has been shown to dramatically decrease your chances of forming cavities by working to make your tooth’s enamel more resistant to acid attacks. Fluoride varnish can be easily wiped on your child’s teeth at the end of their preventative care visit and will remain on their teeth overnight to provide the best outcome for your child’s smile. It is best to avoid hot beverages and crunchy foods on the day your child receives the fluoride treatment.
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Sealants are clear or shaded resin applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free. Sealants fill in the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, or the hard-to-clean back surfaces of your front teeth. Sealants keep food particles from getting caught, which could cause cavities. Fast and comfortable to apply, research shows that sealants can effectively protect teeth for many years if they are properly cleaned and checked up at regular preventative care appointments.

If your child has good oral hygiene and avoids biting hard objects, the sealants will last longer. Dr. Meggan will check the sealants during your child’s preventative care visits and may recommend repairing or reapplying them as necessary. Sealants can be applied to permanent or primary (baby) teeth, however most insurances do not pay for sealants on primary teeth. Dr. Meggan will recommend what she feels is best based on your child’s individual condition.
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For more information about any of Dr. Meggan’s preventative pediatric dental services, or to schedule an appointment, please contact us today or call us during normal business hours at 616.988.9485.