4949 Westown Pkwy Suite 150
West Des Moines , IA 50266-6716
(515) 225-0066

Dental X-rays

Dental x-rays are used to help diagnose and monitor dental problems as well as track growth and development.  Although the amount of radiation used is very small, we use every precaution available to protect your child.  We use lead aprons, thyroid collars, high speed digital film and a focused beam.  X-rays are used to find cavities, bone loss, gum diseases, infections, teeth that have not yet come in, missing or extra teeth, cysts, tumors and other oral diseases.  Our pediatric dentists are specialists in the care of infants, children and patients with special needs and prescribe x-rays for each individual patient.

Click here to read a news story about Harper, who is from Polk City, who was diagnosed with embryonal rhabdymyosarcoma after having a swollen cheek. 

Luckily, cancer is very uncommon in children.  Some cancers can be diagnosed radiographically, that is, by evaluating x-rays.  Our doctors order certain x-rays for detection of cavities, like “bitewings,” seen here:

Can you spot the areas of decay?  They are the dark areas where the teeth touch and have been circled in the second picture.  These cavities are tricky because we can’t see them when we look at this patient’s teeth.  This seven-year-old is a good example of why we make x-rays even if we can’t yet see decay because based on this patient’s diet and oral hygiene, she is at high risk of decay.  The x-rays confirm that she has several cavities.  If we waited until we could see cavities to begin taking x-rays, the teeth may be so decayed that they may be painful or require extraction.  If we can identify decay when it is small, it is easier to fix and helps us guide our patients and their families to choose healthy snacks, drinks and brushing tips to help prevent more cavities!

Other x-rays like “pantomographs” to evaluate the development of the teeth and detect tumors, growths and cancers.  Here is an example of a healthy patient:

Call our office if you have questions or concerns about your child.  515-225-0066

Pumpkin Decorating Contest!

Dr. Diana, Kailyn and Savana have been working hard on decorating a pumpkin for Stork Orthodontics‘ Pumpkin Decorating Contest.  “Ellie the Elephant” was a huge success sitting behind our front desk!  Now she has been transported to her new home at Stork.  We will be asking for your votes to help us win in the upcoming weeks!

Back to School time is here!

Congratulations, parents!  The kids are back in school.  This is a great time to tweak your routine to have happy, healthy children this school year.  Here are some of Dr. Diana’s back-to-school tips:

  • Brushing – Get a new toothbrush! Many toothbrushes come with movie characters or fun colors to make brushing fun.  Make sure your child is brushing after breakfast before school and before bed.  Children under the age of six should receive help from an adult and brush “as a team.”  This way, you can ensure that all tooth surfaces are getting scrubbed! 
  • Snacks – Keep it simple and healthy! Children age 2 and over should have only one snack per day.  This helps them be hungry for mealtime and therefore more likely to consume nutritious foods.  Choose fruits, vegetables and dairy for snacks.  Crunchy fruits and veggies like apples, pears, carrots, cucumbers, and celery make great choices.  Try apples and peanut butter or cucumbers and hummus to get some protein as well.  Yogurt and cheese make great snacks too!  Chips, crackers and other crunchy carbohydrates are very popular with children. These snacks are just as bad for teeth as candy!  Especially when consumed a little at a time throughout the day.  Fruit snacks, even when made with real fruit, and granola bars contain a lot of sugar and are sticky, staying on teeth for hours.  Many children that develop cavities eat a lot of these types of snacks. 

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Emergency Dental Treatment

Let’s say your child falls, bumps his mouth and is bleeding.  This will get any parent’s adrenaline pumping as your child is in distress.  If your child does not lose consciousness, has no headache, nausea or vomiting, and the injuries are limited to the mouth, call our office.  In other words, IF YOU HAVE A DENTAL PROBLEM, CALL YOUR DENTIST.  The emergency room does not have a dentist on staff and can’t help if your child gets a tooth knocked out or other similar injuries.

After 5:00 pm, you can get in touch with our doctor on call by calling our office and following the menu to press the appropriate number to be connected.  We care for your children not just during business hours and are available 24 hours a day if you are concerned.  As specialists in pediatric dentistry, Dr. Matt and Dr. Diana have been trained extensively on traumatic dental injuries and have comprehensive experience with emergencies. 

This is an example of a dental emergency. This child fell and hit her mouth and her tooth was pushed out of the socket. Dr. Diana was able to see her in our office after hours to help get her out of pain and on the road to recovery.

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Age 1 for your child’s first visit

When should a child first see the dentist?  

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend children see a dentist within six months of the eruption of their first tooth or by their first birthday!

Some say that this is too young to see a dentist.  As specialists in pediatric dentistry, our doctors know that it is never too early to find a dental home and that cavities and other oral problems affect some children when they are very young.  Dr. Diana and Dr. Matt look for cavities, gum problems, oral diseases and pathology as well as your child’s overall development and growth.  Our goal is to help prevent problems that our patients may face rather than just reacting when things go wrong, such as cavities or trauma.  We want to be a dental home for your child so that we can answer all your questions and be ready if and when you should ever need us for treatment.

What are dental problems that young children may face?

Believe it or not, some children develop cavities as young as 12 months old.  Our doctors also look for gum problems, oral cancer, your child’s bite and their overall growth and development.  Sometimes signs of diseases or conditions that affect the body are first diagnosed by a dentist because of a dental problem.  Some children have lip ties or tongue ties that we can release with our laser.  Another common issue with this age group is when they are learning to walk, sometimes a child will fall and bump their mouth.  This can cause movement or displacement of teeth or gums.  Call our office if your child ever takes a serious tumble so that we may advise you.

Example of a Young Child with Cavities

This is a picture of a child who is only nineteen months old.  She has cavities on her two front teeth.  One of the cavities is so large that it has caused the tooth to die, and an infection has resulted.  You can see the infection in the gums as a yellow area above the teeth on the left of the photo.  When teeth are infected, the treatment is almost always extraction.  

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Why do your child’s teeth need sealants?

 Because they’re groovy, baby! -Austin Powers

Preventing cavities is much easier than fixing them!  Thorough toothbrushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily are the best ways to keep your teeth clean and healthy.  But what about the areas the toothbrush can’t reach?  The areas between teeth where touch can be cleaned by floss and the deep grooves on the chewing surfaces can be protected by applying dental sealants.

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Shark Teeth

Shark bait, hoo ha ha!  Finding Nemo™ was released in 2003 and is still a favorite of ours.

“Shark teeth” or as pediatric dentists call them, ectopically erupting mandibular incisors.

Our office receives phone calls every week from concerned parents saying their child has “shark teeth” or extra teeth.  Sometimes, when front teeth start coming in, the baby teeth aren’t lost yet.  This results in a “double row” of teeth.  Click Read More below to see the rest of this article!

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Silver Diamine Fluoride

What if I told you that I could simply paint a liquid on your child’s teeth to help STOP THEIR DECAY at its current point and help prevent cavities from forming WITHOUT DRILLING OR INJECTIONS?  Silver diamine fluoride does just this. 

Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) is a colorless liquid that is painted on cavities to help stop and prevent tooth decay.  SDF contains silver, which has been used as an antibiotic for thousands of years. 

We offer silver diamine fluoride (SDF) treatment in our office.  This exciting technique is becoming more and more popular around the world because it does not require local anesthesia injections, drilling on teeth, or sedation of any form.  It is inexpensive and very easy to apply, taking only a few minutes for the application.  This allows us to target the bacteria that are causing decay and prevent decay on other tooth surfaces. 

SDF is a great option for patients who are not ready for traditional dental treatment and are at high risk for developing more cavities.  The silver ion in SDF causes the cavity to turn from a tannish-brown color to black.  This staining is permanent on the tooth.  Teeth that are treated with SDF can still be treated with fillings or crowns at a later date if the parent or guardian desires, when the child is more cooperative, or if esthetics are a concern.

New York Times article about SDF

At Des Moines Pediatric Dental Center, we are always striving to provide the most up-to-date treatments and options for our patients!  Call us at 515-225-0066 to set up an evaluation or if you are curious to learn if this is an option for your child!

We offer laser treatment for lip tie and tongue tie!

Dr. Diana and assistant Laurisa modeling our special laser safety glasses!

We offer laser treatment for lip tie and tongue tie.  Some infants have difficult breast or bottle feeding due to lip or tongue ties.  This condition is the result of an abnormally strong frenum (attachment) of the child’s lip or tongue such that it hinders movement and therefore, feeding.  If not corrected, these children can have speech and dental issues later in life.

We use a state-of-the-art laser to release the lip and tongue ties.  Laser treatment has many benefits, including less discomfort, no bleeding and typically we perform this treatment without injected anesthetics.  Call our office at 515-225-0066 to set up an evaluation!


Four Common Dental Myths, and The Facts Behind Them

Ah the internet. It can be a fantastic resource to access an infinite amount of knowledge and data, or it can be used to spread baseless rumors that confuse otherwise intelligent people. Unfortunately, the internet has made it much easier for people to share healthcare myths that can mislead people into making unhealthy decisions. Below are a few dental myths, and the facts behind them.

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