Valleau and VanDeven Dentistry for Children
A Great Dentist

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Pediatric Preventive Dentistry

How can we help you?

We understand that you may have (a lot!) of questions about your child's oral health. Here is a list of our most frequently asked questions (FAQs). If your question is not on the list or is not fully answered here, please do not hesitate to contact our office to speak with one of our team members who will gladly and comprehensively answer any of your questions. 

Pediatric Preventive Dentistry

We welcome parents and legal guardians to accompany their child during their appointment. We thoroughly explain each of our procedures to your child in terms they can relate to before we perform them. We want to give your chid our full attention and have his/hers as well, so we ask that parents and legal guardians please be silent observers during the examination. Be assured that we will treat your child as we do our own. We expect some children to cry, as this is a normal response to a new situation, but kind and gentle treatment almost always overcomes this fear. 


Although primary teeth eventually make way for permanent adult teeth, they play an essential role in your child’s health. As soon as your dentist finds a cavity in your child’s mouth, we will likely recommend filling it to avoid future problems.

Leaving a dental issue for too long can be dangerous for your child’s overall wellness, including cavities. Cavities can be painful and uncomfortable, and they can also spread and affect other areas of the tooth or surrounding teeth. Certain dental issues can also affect your child’s self-esteem. 

What to Expect During Your Child’s Dental Filling 

A dental filling is a fast and easy treatment for cavities and ultimately protects your child’s growing smile and prevents further decay. First, we will ensure your child is comfortable and relaxed before working on their mouth. Next, we will gently and thoroughly remove the decayed area of the tooth and fill the hole with quick-drying material. We then clean and polish the tooth, so it looks as good as new. 

Avoiding treatment for your child’s cavity can result in more costly treatment in the future. In the event your child’s tooth must be removed––which is always a last resort to protect their oral health––we will need to place a space maintainer to promote the proper growth of their adult teeth.

Though baby teeth eventually fall out, their health is vital to the growth and development of your child’s permanent teeth. In addition to fillings, we offer fluoride and sealants for cavity protection. 

Cavity Fillings in Grand Rapids and Rockford, MI 

Does your child have a cavity? Please give us a call today to schedule an appointment with our friendly and gentle pediatric dentists! At Valleau and VanDeven Dentistry for Children, we offer preventive dental care––such as quick and comfortable treatment for tooth decay––so your child can enjoy a healthier, happier smile.

You might be surprised to learn about the amount of sugar that is in everyday food and beverages that we consume. Since bacteria feed on sugar as fuel, eating (or drinking) a diet high in sugar can promote bacteria growth. Acid from food, beverages, and caused by bacteria in our mouths can soften the protective enamel on your teeth and cause decay (cavities). Here is a handy (and shocking) chart showing the sugar content in juice and soda.

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If you want to learn more about how sugar affects your oral health, contact our dental office today. Our dentists will be happy to discuss the repercussions of a high sugar diet as well as treatments that can protect your child against cavities.

Sugar content in juice


In general, the primary (or baby teeth) are the space holders for the eruption of the permanent teeth. However, it does happen that sometimes a permanent tooth will not exactly follow the path of the baby tooth it is supposed to replace and may come in either in front or behind a baby tooth. This condition is relatively common and is not as much concerning (ie urgent) when it happens on the bottom teeth as when it happens on the top. Please call our office to set up an evaluation if a permanent tooth is erupting in front or behind a baby tooth on your child's top row of teeth. 

Pit and fissure cavities account for approximately 80 to 90 percent of all cavities in permanent posterior teeth and 44 percent in primary teeth. Pit and fissure sealant is a material placed into the pits and fissures of cavity-susceptible teeth that micromechanically bonds to the tooth preventing access by cariogenic (cavity-causing) bacteria to their source of nutrients, thus reducing the risk of cavities in those susceptible pits and fissures.

A Cochrane review calculated that placement of resin-based sealant in children and adolescent reduces the incidence of cavities by 86 percent after one year and 57 percent at 48 to 54 months. Sealants must be retained on the tooth and should be monitored to be most effective. Studies incorporating recall and maintenance have reported sealant success levels of 80 to 90 percent after 10 or more years.

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Our mouths are filled with thousands of different species of bacteria, most of which allow us to maintain a healthy oral environment so that we can function properly and are free of pain and infection. One such species, Mutans Streptococcus (MS), is harmful at normal levels, but can cause decay when its population size increases relative to the other species of oral bacteria. MS feeds on the sugars (namely sucrose and glucose) that we intake in our diet, and produce lactic acid as a byproduct. It is this acid which breaks down the minerals in our tooth enamel that contributes to the formation of a cavity. A diet high in sugars may allow the population of MS to reach a level in our mouth, where our natural cavity “protectors” (saliva, other bacterial species) our unable to neutralize the decay process.

Key point 1: Our children are not born with the bacterial species MS in their mouths. This bacteria is typically acquired between 18-30 months of age from an outside source (mom, dad, siblings, caregivers are the most common). The sooner that you child acquires this bacteria, the higher risk he/she is for tooth decay. Sharing of toothbrushes, pacifiers, or food utensils, kissing, and drinking from the same glass are the most common methods of transferring this bacteria and should be avoided. This is another reason why maintaining your own oral health (moms/dads) is so important. It not only effects you, it can have an affect on your child, as well.

Key point 2: Ingestion of acidic foods and beverages (soda pop, juices, citrus fruits) can breakdown tooth enamel in high quantities and under abnormal circumstances (ie. Poor salivary flow). The process of acidic breakdown of tooth enamel is termed erosion, and occurs independent of the function of the bacterial species, MS. Although, MS can readily utilize the sucrose in pop and juice to cause dental decay. Not only are these beverages high in sugar, they are also very acidic…a double whammy.

It is safe for your son or daughter to use fluoride toothpaste as soon as they can spit it out. This is different for each child but typically takes place around the age of three years old. Until that point, parents should use toothpaste that is safe to swallow. 

Your child will need your assistance with their brushing and flossing routine until they are around the age of seven or eight years old, when they can handle it independently.

Fluoride Treatment for Kids

Your children's dentist in Rockford may also recommend fluoride treatments for your child during their dental cleanings. This is a quick and painless procedure where your dental hygienist will "paint" fluoride onto your little one's teeth after their routine dental cleaning and leave it there for a period of about 30 minutes.

The fluoride works to strengthen developing teeth and also fortifies them against tooth decay and cavities. The procedure is efficient and doesn't typically add any additional time to your child's appointment. Most dental insurances usually cover this preventive procedure for children.

Contact Our Children's Dentists in Rockford and Grand Rapids

If you have questions about fluoride or other preventive dental services we offer, contact one of our pediatric dental offices in Rockford at (616) 884-5812 or Grand Rapids at (616) 455-1301.

Bruxism, defined as the habitual nonfunctional forceful contact between chewing tooth surfaces, can occur while awake or asleep. It is one of the most common questions asked of our doctors. In general, do not worry if your child or infant grinds his/her teeth. It is a relatively normal thing for children to do and evidence suggests that juvenile bruxism (grinding) is a selflimiting condition that does not progress to adult bruxism. 

However, if tooth grinding is also associated with restless sleep, open mouth breathing, snoring and/or bed wetting, it can be a sign of an airway issue (ie. sleep apnea). Please discuss with our doctors if you have any concerns regarding your child and his/her tooth grinding.

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