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When should I schedule my child’s first visit and what can I expect?

The first dental visit should be when your child’s first tooth erupts or by age one. Having cavities is not related to how old a child is, but rather if they have teeth or not. We will discuss if there are any developmental abnormalities, congenital dental defects, your child’s diet and if they have any dental habits such as thumb sucking or prolonged pacifier use. We will examine your child’s teeth and gums. X-rays will be taken when it is determined necessary to check for decay and to evaluate the progress of the permanent teeth under the gums. We may clean your child’s teeth and apply fluoride to help protect the teeth against decay. Most importantly, we will review with you how to clean and care for your child’s teeth.

We will use the Tell-Show-Do method during your child’s appointment. It is just as the name suggests, TELL your child what you are going to do, SHOW them what we are going to do or what instrument we will be using, and then DO it. This decreases your child’s anxiety and eliminates fear of the unknown as they know what will be used and what to expect next. Tell-Show-Do builds the trust between the provider and the patient and allows us to have a fun and successful appointment.

Our goal is to provide a safe and fun environment while building trust with our patients and their families. That is why we have a special “on deck” area in our hygiene bay for our parents to watch their children during their appointments. It allows your child to know you are there, while giving them the opportunity to build confidence in themselves, as well as showing you that they can do it “on their own”. They will receive a token at the end of the appointment so they can get a prize for being a great patient!

Pediatric Dentist Coralville


With so little time in the day for all the activities your children are doing, it can be tempting to stop and get fast food instead of making a well-balanced meal at home. Some of the most common foods that result in tooth decay for children are apple juice, sugary energy drinks, soft processed or sticky foods (such as crackers, cereal or fruit snacks) that linger on the teeth or sweetened coffee and tea drinks.


Every time someone eats, an acid reaction occurs inside their mouth as the bacteria digests the sugars. This reaction lasts approximately 20 minutes. During this time the acid environment can destroy the tooth structure, eventually leading to cavities.

Some tips for cavity prevention:

  • Limit frequency of meals and snacks

  • Encourage brushing, flossing and rinsing

  • Watch what you drink

  • Avoid sticky foods

  • Make treats a part of meals

  • Choose nutritious snacks


Thumb and/or finger sucking and pacifier use are natural comforting actions for babies. Most infants stop the habit by age two, however, if your child does not stop, you should help to curb the habit as soon as possible. If your child continues past the age when permanent teeth start to erupt, they may develop crooked teeth and a malformed roof of their mouth. Prolonged thumb sucking can create crowded teeth, permanent bite problems or even speech impairment. We encourage parents to break the habit as early as possible by using positive reinforcement.

Suggestions to break the habit:

  • Wait until the time is right (low stress)

  • Motivate your child (show examples of what could happen to their teeth)

  • Use a reward system, small incentives will encourage your child to stick to it!

Habit Appliances

Customized thumb/finger appliances can be placed in the child’s mouth to prevent/deter the child from causing a lasting effect to the developing dentition. They are very effective when left in place 3-6 months. They are inserted using dental cement and will be removed by our doctor once the habit has been broken.


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