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Pediatric Dentistry

Welcome to Little Smiles, a unique dental experience designed just for kids.

Little Smiles was inspired by a big idea. Many adults experience anxiety about the dentist. So what if we could give children a positive dental experience from their very first visit? If children grew up enjoying the dentist, maybe we could change the way they feel about dentistry as adults. And that’s just what we set out to do.

Little Smiles is a dental experience designed around the unique needs of children—from infants to adolescents. That includes age-appropriate communication, on-time appointments, child-sized treatment chairs, and a child-friendly, fun atmosphere. Our pediatric dentists and Little Smiles team will give your child the very best care and experience. Just imagine how good it will feel to know your child actually wants to visit the dentist.

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What to expect at your child’s first visit.

Your child’s first dental visit may be different depending on their age, but there are certain things you can anticipate:

  • If your child is very young, or you are concerned that their first visit will be scary, we invite you to schedule a “chair ride.” This will give your child an introduction to Little Smiles before their first appointment. During a chair ride, you and your child will meet our team and tour our office—all at a relaxed pace with no pressure. We will invite your child to go for a chair ride to experience the fun of going up and down in a dental chair. If the child is doing well and there is time, we may try to clean their teeth. This first step is a gradual way to prepare your child for their first dental appointment.
  • A comprehensive examination of your child’s teeth, gums, and jaw to evaluate their growth, development, and overall oral health. The pediatric dentist will also look for any signs of cavities or decay, ensuring early detection and prompt treatment if necessary.
  • A gentle cleaning, if your child is old enough, to remove any tartar build-up and polish their teeth.
  • TOYS! Your little one’s visit wouldn’t be complete without the chance to search for a prize in our treasure chest.

Overall, your child’s first dental visit will aim to provide a comfortable and positive experience. The dentist will prioritize their oral health while also fostering a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, making it a memorable and enjoyable milestone for both you and your child.

Take our word for it!

At Little Smiles, we know each one of our patients requires unique and specialized care, especially our littlest ones. A big part of that is how we communicate. Words possess incredible power, particularly with children in unfamiliar surroundings. So, we use special words to help them relax and have fun. We encourage you to give them a try.

Instead of: Use:
Extract / Pull Tooth
Teeth Cleaned
Silly String
Mr. Slurpy
Sleep Juice / Spray
Mr. Whistler
Teeth Tickled

Schedule A Chair Ride.

If your child is very young, has special needs, or you are concerned that their first visit will be scary, we invite you to schedule a “chair ride.” This will give your child an introduction to Little Smiles before their first dental appointment. During a chair ride, you and your child will meet our team and tour our office—all at a relaxed pace with no pressure. We will invite your child to go for a chair ride to experience the fun of going up and down in a dental chair. We will let them see and touch the equipment and see learn it works. This first step is a fun way to introduce your child to the dentist’s office and prepare them for their first appointment.


How is a pediatric dentist different from a general dentist?

The primary difference between a pediatric dentist and a general dentist is that pediatric dentists specialize in providing dental care exclusively for infants, children, and adolescents. They undergo additional years of training beyond dental school to both understand the unique oral health needs of young patients and develop the necessary skills for overseeing their dental care. Pediatric dentists are experts in child behavior management, preventive techniques specific to children, and addressing the developmental changes that occur in the oral cavity as children grow.

At what age should my child have their first dental visit?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, recommends that parents bring their children in to see a pediatric dentist within the first six months after the first tooth erupts, but no later than age one.

This early introduction to dental care plays a vital role in establishing a strong foundation for lifelong oral health. Parents can also receive valuable guidance regarding oral hygiene practices, nutrition, preventive measures, etc.

How can I prepare my child for a dental visit?

Start by discussing the upcoming dental visit with your child in a positive and reassuring manner. Explain that the dentist is a friendly and caring person who helps keep their teeth healthy and strong. Promote good oral hygiene habits by brushing your teeth alongside your child. This allows them to observe and learn from you while you explain the significance of maintaining clean and healthy teeth.


You can also read children’s books or watch videos about visiting the dentist and role play the visit to familiarize them with the experience! Our favorite is “Daniel Goes to the Dentist.” Little Smiles offers the option to schedule a chair ride, allowing your child to see and familiarize themselves with the environment before their actual appointment.

During your child’s dental visit, be a source of positivity and support. Provide reassurance and acknowledge their bravery throughout the appointment. For children aged five and below, consider scheduling morning appointments as they tend to be more positive, alert, and receptive during this time of the day.

Why are baby teeth important?

Baby teeth, also known as primary teeth, play a crucial role in a child’s overall development and oral health. Although they are temporary, baby teeth aid in the proper development of speech, allowing children to articulate sounds and words effectively. These tiny teeth also help children chew and digest food properly and serve as placeholders for the permanent teeth, guiding them into their proper positions. Premature loss or decay of baby teeth can lead to misalignment or crowding issues when permanent teeth erupt.

Is thumb sucking harmful for my child's teeth?

Thumb sucking is an incredibly common behavior among young children, providing them with a sense of comfort and security. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential effects it can have on dental health. Prolonged thumb sucking can cause the upper front teeth to protrude or the lower teeth to tilt backward, resulting in bite problems such as an overbite or open bite. The growth of the jaws can also be affected.

Addressing thumb sucking at an early stage is crucial in supporting your child’s long-term dental health and promoting proper oral development. We understand that breaking this habit can be challenging, but rest assured that our team of talented pediatric dentists at Little Smiles is here every step of the way! We encourage the use of alternative coping mechanisms, such as hugging a stuffed animal, offering gentle reminders, and seeking guidance from our experienced professionals to help your child overcome this habit.

When can my child start using toothpaste?

According to the CDC’s guidelines, it is recommended to introduce fluoride toothpaste to your child(ren) when they are around two years old. For children under three years, use a small smear the size of a rice grain, while children over three years should use a pea-sized amount until they reach six years old. By six, their swallowing reflex should be developed enough to prevent the accidental ingestion of toothpaste.

How can I protect my child’s teeth during sporting events?

Here at Smile, we believe that proactive dentistry is the best way to ensure long-term dental health. When you come to us with a problem, we don’t want to “watch it” to see how it progresses and if it grows into a bigger issue. We believe in treating as soon as possible, giving you the best possible care.

What are dental sealants?

Dental sealants are a preventive dental treatment that involve applying a thin, protective coating to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. This creates a barrier that seals off the grooves and pits on the tooth surface, offering protection against sugars, bacteria, and acid that can cause cavities. They can be very beneficial to children with newly erupted permanent teeth, as they are more susceptible to cavities.

Sealing teeth is a quick and painless procedure that involves “painting” the sealant on a cleaned and dried tooth. It can be done during a regular visit to the dentist and does not take a significant amount of time.


Grand Haven

1203 S Beechtree St.
Grand Haven, MI 49417


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North Muskegon

1915 Holton Rd.
North Muskegon, MI 49445

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Grand Rapids

4505 Cascade Rd. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546


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108 S Main St.
Ithaca, MI 48847

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South Holland

205 W 29th St., Suite 100
Holland, MI 49423


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We accept all Healthy Kids Dental plans!

Healthy Kids Dental is a dental assistance program offered by the Michigan Department of Community Health. Healthy Kids offers free dental care for children under the age of 19. All Smile and Little Smiles locations participate in the program.

For more information, please visit the Healthy Kids Dental website. You may also apply online. For help filling out the form, contact your local health department.