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

FAQ’s

What is a Pediatric Dentist?

A pediatric dentist is the pediatrician of dentistry. They receive an additional two or three years of specialized training beyond the four years of dental school.  They are dedicated to the oral health of infants, children, adolescents and patients with special health care needs.  Their specialization allows them to provide treatment for a wide variety of children’s dental problems such as dental decay, facial growth and development, as well as emergency care.

When Should Your Child First Visit the Dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child’s first dental visit should occur by his/her first birthday.  This visit will enable Dr. Kubovich or Dr. Pelzer to meet your child and to discuss proper oral hygiene, diet, thumb/pacifier habits, tooth eruption, and fluoride.  Many dental conditions can be avoided or reduced with early education and guidance.

Lancelot and Mata, our fun-loving monkeys, want you in their brown chair!

Lancelot and Mata, our fun-loving monkeys, want you in their brown chair!

How Often Should My Child Visit the Dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that most children visit the dentist at least twice a year.  Some children need more frequent care because of increased risk of tooth decay, unusual growth patterns, or poor oral hygiene.  Our doctors will help determine the best schedule for your child.  Regular visits will help your child remain cavity-free and allow for ongoing assessment of changes in your child’s oral health.

Why are Primary Teeth important?

Although the first primary teeth are lost around 6 years of age, back molars remain until 11-12.  Primary teeth are required for proper chewing, speech, esthetics, and to hold space for permanent teeth.  Neglected cavities may lead to pain, infection, and space loss and affect the development of the permanent teeth.

How Does a Good Diet = Healthy Teeth?

Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth.  Like the rest of the body, the teeth, and the soft tissues of the mouth need a well-balanced diet.  Children should eat a variety of foods from all of the five basic food groups.  Eating a diet high in certain carbohydrates such as sugar or starches, may increase the risk of developing cavities.  How long food remains in the mouth also plays an important role.  The longer food stays in the mouth (ex. hard candy) the longer acid attacks the tooth enamel.  Sugary drinks including juice and soda in a baby bottle or “sippy” cup can cause extensive dental cavities.  Avoid putting your child to bed with anything other than water.  It is important to limit the amount and frequency of snacks as well as maintaining good oral hygiene after snacking.

How do I Prevent Cavities?

Good oral hygiene removes bacteria and the leftover food particles that combine to create cavities.  For infants, use a wet washcloth to wipe the plaque from the gums and teeth.  For older children, brush at least twice a day and limit sugary snacks.  Flossing should begin once there is no longer space between your child’s teeth.  Make sure your child gets enough fluoride through drinking water, fluoride products, or supplements if needed.  Consult with your pediatric dentist as to the proper amount of fluoride needed.  Have sealants applied to the chewing surfaces of the permanent back teeth. And finally, don’t forget that routine visits will start your child on a lifetime of good dental health.

What are Sealants?

A sealant is a clear or shaded plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) of the back teeth (premolars and molars), where four out of five cavities in children are found.  Permanent molars are most susceptible to cavities because of plaque accumulating in the grooves of the chewing surfaces.  Sealants act as a barrier to food, plaque and acid, thus protecting the decay-prone areas of the teeth.

Lizzy the Lizard loves showing her smile and points the way to the green chair.

Lizzy the Lizard loves showing her smile and points the way to the green chair.

What if My Child Has a Dental Emergency?

If your child has an accident, please call our office as soon as possible.  We will see your child immediately.  If it is an after hours emergency our answering machine will connect you with our doctor on call.

The first 30 minutes after an accident are the most critical to the treatment of dental trauma.  If a permanent tooth is knocked out, gently rinse with cool water only, DO NOT scrub the tooth.  Replace the tooth in the socket if possible.  If this is impossible, place the tooth in a glass of milk and come to the office immediately.  If a tooth is fractured bring the pieces that you can find.

Are Thumb and Pacifier Habits Normal?

This type of sucking is completely normal for infants and young children.  It provides security and relaxation.  Most children stop sucking their thumb or pacifier between two to four years of age.  No harm is done to their teeth or jaws.  Children should cease thumb sucking prior to the eruption of their permanent teeth.  If you have concerns about a thumb or pacifier habit consult our doctors.

What is Nitrous Oxide?

Nitrous oxide (Laughing gas) is a safe effective way to calm a mildly anxious child during the restorative visit.  Your child remains fully conscious and alert while breathing the laughing gas.

What is General Anesthesia?

General anesthesia provides a way of effectively completing dental care while the child is unconscious. It is generally reserved for children with severe anxiety, extensive tooth decay, young age, special needs or compromised health.  Dr. Kubovich or Dr. Pelzer will discuss the benefits and risks involved with general anesthesia and why it may be recommended for your child.

Are There Different Dental Needs for Special Needs Children?

Many times special children are more susceptible to tooth decay, gum disease, and facial growth abnormalities.  Because of this, it is important that these children are seen early and started on a preventive oral health program which will address their special dental needs.  Dr. Kubovich and Dr. Pelzer have received extensive training in the treatment of special needs children and understand that all children are unique and deserve a healthy, beautiful smile.

What Is a Space Maintainer?

A space maintainer is an appliance that is usually made out of metal that is custom made for your child’s mouth.  It is used to hold the space in the jaw for the permanent tooth when a primary tooth has been lost prematurely.  If this space is not maintained the permanent tooth may not have sufficient room to erupt properly.

Why Are Mouth Guards Important?

Mouth guards are made of soft plastic and help protect the teeth, lips, cheeks and tongue from injury during sports.  They also help reduce the risk of concussions and jaw fractures.  A mouth guard should be worn anytime there is a risk of falls or head contact with other players or equipment.  It is important to remember any mouth guard is better than no mouth guard.  Many sports stores offer pre-formed or “boil and bite” mouth guards which offer protection but are often uncomfortable.  Our doctors can make a customized mouth guard that is more comfortable and more effective at preventing injuries.