Little child flashes their baby teeth with a bright smile

Cavities, or tooth decay, can occur in baby teeth as soon as they start coming in. In fact, cavities are one of the most common childhood diseases. So, it is important to take steps to prevent them with a trusted children’s dentist in Overland Park, KS.

Are you noticing yellow, brown, or white spots on your child’s teeth? If so, then it may be the first sign that a cavity is forming. Bite back and stop cavities in their tracks with Dr. Matt at Smiles Dentistry for Kids. Simply call our pediatric dental office in Overland Park, KS, at (913) 685-9990 to get started!

Baby teeth (also called milk or primary teeth) are crucial for your child’s oral and developmental health. Indeed, primary teeth help kiddos learn how to speak and chew while maintaining space for their permanent teeth to come in. Here are some tips on how to fight cavities on baby teeth.

Start Dental Visits Early

The American Dental Association recommends that children see a dentist by their first birthday or within six months of the first tooth appearing. Regular dental check-ups can help catch cavities early and prevent them from getting worse.

Early dental visits also ensure that your child picks up healthy oral hygiene habits early in their development. Not only that, but it demonstrates to your little one that dentists are friendly, gentle, and can be trusted. This can help reduce dental anxiety (as well as cavities!) as they continue to grow.

Brush At Least Twice a Day

The moment your baby’s first tooth appears, it’s time to start brushing twice a day. Use a small amount of fluoride-containing toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush

You can use a smear of toothpaste for children under age three, and a pea-sized amount for children ages three to six. Be sure to brush all surfaces of the teeth, including the fronts, backs, and tops.

Floss Every Day

As soon as two teeth touch each other, it’s time to start flossing at least once every day.

Flossing helps remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. Use a soft floss or floss pick and gently guide it between the teeth.

Limit Sugar

Kids love sugar! But so do cavity-causing bacteria. So, it is wise to limit the amount of sugar your little one ingests.

For healthier baby teeth, we recommend giving your kiddo:

  • Fruit or fruit-based snacks (like fruit leather)
  • Vegetables (the roughage is great for gently scraping plaque from teeth!)
  • Water instead of juices

Don’t Put Baby to Bed With a Bottle

Prolonged exposure to sugary liquids (like formula, juice, or milk) can lead to tooth decay. If your baby needs a bottle to fall asleep, fill it with water instead.

Lead by Example

Our kids are watching our every move. So, if they see you conducting daily oral hygiene, then they will learn the importance of oral health and hygiene early

You can encourage better oral hygiene by making brushing and flossing more fun with:

  • Music 
  • Games
  • Fun toothbrushes
  • Yummy toothpaste flavors
  • Small rewards

Schedule a Dental Check-up for Baby Teeth

When it comes to fighting cavities on baby teeth, prevention is key. So, don’t wait – schedule a routine dental check-up for your child with Dr. Matt at Smiles Dentistry for Kids today! Parents can reach our Overland Park pediatric dentist at (913) 685-9990 or online here for scheduling.

Baby sucking on a pacifier

When your baby is sobbing inconsolably, popping in his pacifier is a huge relief – for both of you! But is it really the best thing to do? Parents get a lot of conflicting information about pacifiers, and major health organizations have weighed in on the issue. Sorting through it all can be a headache. Fortunately, your dentist for kids is here to help!

Dr. Matt and his team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids stay up-to-date with the latest oral and physical health information for young patients. At our Overland Park, KS, office, we are happy to help you wade through the sea of information to make the best decisions for you and your child

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids today.

The Benefits of Pacifiers

The most obvious benefit of pacifiers is that they soothe crying – and fast! Experts warn against using them every time a child cries. But they can be especially beneficial under stressful circumstances, providing a quick and easy distraction. They can also help restless children fall asleep. And they can lessen the irritation of teething, especially if they have been chilled. 

But perhaps the biggest benefit of pacifiers is that it can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by as much as 90%.

Pacifier Teeth 

At the same time, pacifiers do have one primary disadvantage – their effect on developing teeth. Sucking on a pacifier (or, it must be noted, a thumb) could eventually affect dental development. Children may suffer from protruding front teeth, or their teeth may not come together properly when they bite down

The conflicting evidence can leave a parent baffled. Fortunately, as your dentist for kids points out, the risk of developing pacifier teeth is low for very young children. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children stop using a pacifier by the time they are three years old. They note that dental misalignment can be affected when children use pacifiers after 12 months. However, these issues will resolve, provided that pacifier use is discontinued before age three.

Other Drawbacks of Pacifier Use 

Some parents choose to wean their babies from the pacifier earlier. Studies suggest that pacifiers increase the risk of ear infection. That is why the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests limiting pacifier use after 6 months of age. 

Additionally, sucking on a pacifier could prevent a baby from developing a proper latch when nursing. Experts suggest waiting until mom and baby have established breastfeeding before introducing a pacifier. Usually, this will take 3 to 4 weeks.

How to Stop Using a Pacifier 

Guidelines are all well and good, but actually weaning your baby from the pacifier can be a challenge. The right method will depend on your child and at what age you choose to wean. 

Cutting back gradually may be easier than stopping all at once. Also, be sure to start the weaning process when things are stable and a routine is established. Avoid weaning around a major event or a vacation, when things will already be chaotic. Above all, be gentle with your child and with yourself during this difficult transition.

Find a Dentist for Kids to Answer All Your Oral Health Questions

Concerned about your child’s tooth development? Looking for more information about pediatric dental care? Contact your dentist for kids today! 

You can reach Dr. Matt online or give our office a call at (913) 685-9990.

When your child cut his first tooth, you likely felt a thrill of excitement. Even when teething is difficult, there’s nothing like watching your baby hit those milestones. But one milestone you are not anxious to see is your child’s first cavity. Unfortunately, as your dental office experts explain in this post, baby bottle tooth decay is far too common.

Dr. Matt and the team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids are committed to preventive care whenever possible. Through routine cleanings and education, we want to help your child avoid early childhood tooth decay and other concerns. At the same time, if your child does develop a cavity, we can provide swift, gentle, and compassionate care for even the youngest patients. 

To schedule an appointment or to learn more about oral care, contact our Overland Park, KS, office today.

What is baby bottle tooth decay?

Baby bottle tooth decay is also known as early childhood caries. It refers to tooth decay in children under the age of 2. Typically, it affects the top upper teeth, although any tooth can develop a cavity.

I exclusively breastfeed. Can my child still get tooth decay?

Yes. Breast milk itself is not typically considered a cause of cavities. But when a child falls asleep with milk in her mouth, she can suffer tooth decay. 

Furthermore, according to one study, breastfeeding at night past the age of 18 months can increase the risk of dental caries.

Are cavities in baby teeth really a big deal?

Even though baby teeth will eventually come out, early decay is a major concern. For one thing, children who suffer from cavities have a higher risk for tooth decay as adults. For another, baby teeth act as placeholders. If your child loses a tooth too early, it can cause spacing issues for incoming permanent teeth.

How can I prevent baby bottle tooth decay?

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take, which will dramatically decrease the risk of early childhood caries:

  • Never put your baby to bed with a bottle.
  • Never fill a bottle with juice or sugary drinks.
  • If you breastfeed, remove your breast from your baby’s mouth as soon as he falls asleep.
  • As soon as your child’s teeth erupt, begin brushing with a small, soft-bristled brush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice).
  • Do not share spoons or other eating utensils with your child. Tooth decay is contagious, and doing so can cause harmful bacteria to pass from you to your baby. 
  • If your little one uses a pacifier, make sure that it is clean. Never dip it in sugar to make it more appealing. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents avoid added sugar before age 2 anyway.)
  • Schedule an appointment at your pediatric dental office. Children should visit the dentist once they cut their first tooth or no later than their first birthday. Dr. Matt even offers free exams and cleanings to children under the age of 2!

Contact Our Dental Office for More Information

Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids to learn more about baby bottle tooth decay or to schedule a preventive cleaning

You can get in touch online or call us at (913) 685-9990. 

Teething Baby

Whether you’re a first time parent or a veteran, we know you worry about your kids. And teething can cause a whole host of new concerns. Are your child’s teeth coming in normally? Is your child sick or just teething? And how do you keep problems from occurring in the future? At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, we know all about baby teeth complications and are here to reassure parents.

Dr. Matt and his team exclusively treat pediatric patients, but we also believe that we are partners with parents in creating a foundation for lifelong oral health. No concern is too small. Whenever you have questions or concerns, we are here for you. 

Whether your child is experiencing baby teeth complications or if you just want to make sure that everything is going normally, contact our Overland Park, KS, office today.

Delayed Teething 

On average, children begin teething around six months of age. But as a parent, you know that milestones are different for every kid! Some children don’t cut any teeth until they are closer to a year in age. If your child has not begun teething by his or her first birthday, you should bring them into the dentist for an evaluation.

Most children are finished teething by the time they are three. Again, you should bring your child to the dentist if they do not have all their teeth by the time they are four.

Teething Symptoms 

You just settled into a somewhat manageable sleep schedule (hopefully!), and then your child starts teething. Along with interrupted sleep, there are several other common symptoms of teething. These include:

  • Drooling
  • Constant chewing or gnawing
  • Fussiness 
  • A facial rash, due to drooling
  • A mild fever of less than 101 degrees

Contrary to popular belief, teething does not cause babies to be sick! If your child is vomiting, has diarrhea, or is running a high fever, contact your pediatrician right away.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the most common of the baby teeth complications. It may be a surprise to learn that very young children can develop cavities, but 23% of children ages 2 to 5 have sustained tooth decay. In fact, that is why the condition is sometimes called “nursing caries” or “baby bottle syndrome.”

If you notice the symptoms of tooth decay, be sure to schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist. These symptoms can include: 

  • A white spot on the tooth just above the gums
  • Brown or black spots on the teeth
  • Swollen gums or pain around teeth that have fully erupted

Of course, good oral care and habits can often prevent decay and other baby teeth complications. Begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they come in, and schedule a dental appointment no later than your child’s first birthday. In addition, you should never put your child to bed with a bottle or fill a bottle with anything other than breastmilk, formula, or water. 

Contact Us to Learn More about Baby Teeth Complications 

If you are worried about your child’s tooth development, or if you simply need to schedule their first dental appointment, contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids today. We proudly offer free exams and cleanings to kids under 2. 

Make your appointment online or call us at (913) 685-9990. 

baby smiling while being held by mother

Even though most babies are born without teeth, you can expect 20 primary teeth before turning three. For this reason, it’s vital for mothers, fathers, and other primary caregivers to protect your baby’s smile to the best of their abilities. In honor of Mother’s Day, Dr. Matt offers this guide to keeping your baby’s mouth healthy until their first dentist’s appointment.

Clean Your Baby’s Gums

There are few things cuter than a gummy baby smile! Even if your baby doesn’t have teeth yet, it’s never too early to care for your baby’s gums. Gently wiping your baby’s gums with a wet rag helps your baby acclimate to the feeling of having a foreign object in their mouth. Eventually, you may upgrade to a soft baby toothbrush. Over time, their teeth will finally emerge, and they should be used to having their teeth scrubbed.

Most importantly, wiping down your baby’s gums after feedings help your little ones eliminate bacteria, liquids, and food particles from their mouth.

Please Do Not Send Bottles to Bed

Although some babies may relax and drift into sleep with a bottle of milk, we don’t encourage using a bottle as a sleep aid. In a worst-case scenario, a baby who falls asleep while drinking can draw liquid into their lungs and choke.

Secondly, your baby’s oral health doesn’t benefit from a milk nightcap. Breastmilk and formula contain lactose (a sugar found in milk), which can coat and damage your baby’s gums and tiny teeth. Even though your baby’s primary teeth eventually fall out, keeping baby teeth healthy provides space and a baseline for permanent teeth.

Take a Moment to Take Care of Yourself

Mothers sacrifice for their children—but your oral health should not be one of those sacrifices. Commonly, new moms neglect to take care of their own needs, including dental care. To prioritize their baby’s needs, a new mom may be guilty of losing sleep, not brushing their teeth as often, or not drinking enough water. However, these small actions can add up to more extensive oral health problems, such as cavities, gum disease, teeth grinding, and dry mouth.

Moreover, you may be surprised to discover that maintaining good oral health is vital for your baby. When a baby enters the world, his or her immune system is still weak. Cavity prevention is crucial for new moms because it’s too easy to transfer tooth decay-causing bacteria from a mother’s mouth to a baby’s mouth. The bottom line, scheduling self-care is a way to take care of your children.

Don’t Share Saliva

Although baby’s kisses are irresistible, you could be passing harmful germs that put your baby at risk. As general rules, avoid kissing your baby on the mouth, eating with the same spoon, or cleaning pacifiers with your spit—instead, clean spoons and pacifiers with soap and water (or a pacifier wipe if handy).

Don’t Hesitate to Book Baby’s First Dentist’s Appointment

Many new parents are eager to take their baby to their first dental appointment. So, we suggest scheduling this special initial appointment after their first tooth emerges or around their first birthday.

Is your child under the age of 2? Find out how they can score a free dental exam and clean at our Overland Park office by calling (913) 685-9990 or messaging us online.

baby chewing on wooden block

Their toes, toys, and even your phone–does everything your baby gets their hands-on end up in their mouth? If so, don’t worry. Oral exploration (also known as “mouthing”) is an expected milestone of your baby’s development and can be a positive experience for their wellness.

When your child is mastering how to reach for and grab for objects (typically at 3 to 5 months), it may seem like nothing is safe to your sweet baby’s drooling mouth. This happens for several reasons:

1. They are discovering their surroundings. 

Oral exploration is a key developmental stage, and you may notice that your child may put anything up their mouths that their chubby little hands can grab. A baby’s mouth and lips are full of sensory nerves that help a baby identify something else. For example, a baby can tell if a block is hard or squishy by chewing on it.

2. They’re building their immune systems.

While your baby is learning about their surroundings through oral exploration, their immune system is also learning about different types of germs and how to protect their vulnerable little bodies best. While it may seem gross to introduce germs to your baby, it’s not necessarily harmful. 

Even though this act can build the immune system, it’s essential that babies do not share contact with saliva from other babies or family members. Some may not realize that cavities can be contagious. Studies prove that the oral bacteria that cause tooth decay can be transmitted through close contact with another person who has poor oral hygiene. For example, care-takers can transmit cavity-producing oral bacteria to babies by cleaning pacifiers with their mouths or by sharing spoons. So, avoid these acts.

3. They are searching for a snack.

Did you know that your baby’s taste buds form during early pregnancy? Before babies are born, they already have a sweet tooth and prefer things that taste sweet over sour or salty foods. Paired with the fact that growing babies are almost always insatiably hungry with a sweet tooth, babies like to check if the objects around them are sweet enough to eat. 

Thankfully, babies are born with an extrusion reflex that helps prevent choking. However, parents should not rely on reflexes alone to keep babies safe from choking hazards. 

4. They’re self-soothing and trying to relax.

Before your baby learns how to suck on their thumb, they may suck or bite on their entire hand or anything they can get their hands on. Like adults, babies can engage in self-soothing behaviors to help them feel more relaxed when they feel unsafe, hungry, sleepy, or otherwise uncomfortable.

5. They are teething.

Can you imagine your teeth coming in all at once? Paired with sore gums, we can assume that teething is an excruciating experience for babies. Therefore, babies use their mouths to nibble on anything because it feels good when teething. Instead of letting your baby chew on anything in arm’s reach, consider icing their sore gums with frozen milk or formula into a “teething popsicle” to soothe sore gums and encourage additional hydration. 

Is it time for your little one to visit the dentist?

If your baby has cut their first tooth or has already celebrated their first birthday, it’s time for them to meet with a pediatric dentist. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt inspects little mouths to ensure they develop properly, setting a foundation of wellness early. 

Want to learn more about scheduling a free exam and cleaning for your child under age 2? Call (913) 685-9990 or message us online for more information. 

five babies in white long-sleeved onesies who need dental care tips

Although it’s not appropriate to just hand a toothbrush to a newborn, it is essential to keep people of all ages’ mouths clean to minimize bacteria. Did you know that dental care varies at every stage of development? Continue reading for three dental care tips for babies and toddlers.

Monitor Teeth Development

Even though children’s teeth arrive at various rates, here’s a typical timeline of tooth development from baby to toddler:

  • First teeth: Typically, a child’s first tooth appears between 6 and 12 months. However, some children’s teeth erupt as early as 3 months or as last as 12 months. Also, it’s important to note that baby teeth can erupt in any order. (However, central bottom teeth often appear first.)
  • Primary teeth: Generally speaking, all twenty baby teeth arrive when a child is three years old.
  • Permanent teeth: Between 6 and 20 years, baby teeth fall out and are replaced with adult teeth.

Introduce Dental Care at an Early Age

Even though babies are known to drool, they have much less saliva than adults (due to immature salivary glands). Lack of saliva poses a unique challenge for babies and toddlers, and it can be difficult for them to wash away bacteria and residue. Here are some ways that you can support your young children’s at-home dental care:

  • Newborns and toothless babies: After bottle feedings, (1) Wash your hands with soap and water. (2) Lay the baby across your lap and cradle the head in your hand. (3) Dip a cloth-covered finger in warm water. (4) Gently open the baby’s mouth. (5) Lightly rub their tongue, gums, and inside of the cheeks with the wet cloth.
  • First tooth and beyond: After a baby’s first tooth erupts, parents can use a soft toothbrush and an appropriate amount of toothpaste to scrub the child’s emerging teeth, tongue, and gums.

Try Not to Kiss on the Mouth

It’s undeniable: there are few things sweeter than a little peck from a baby or toddler. It’s natural to want to shower your little ones with kisses. However, parents should think twice before allowing their babies to kiss them (or other family members) on the mouth. A baby and toddler’s immune system is not as strong as an adult’s immune system. Sharing oral germs from person to young child can lead to transmittable health conditions, such as dental decay, certain diseases and viruses, and worse.

Reduce Sugar Consumption

Did you know that babies between the ages of 4 and 7 months are most open to trying new flavors? While it’s essential to expand your child’s taste palate while they are young with various foods, it’s equally important to reduce sugar consumption. Instead of high carb, high sugar snacks, focus on introducing a broad flavor profile of vegetables and other healthy foods which can help mold your child’s flavor preferences for life. Nutrient-dense, low-sugar foods are more satisfying than junk food and contribute to optimal oral and overall health.

Schedule Your Child’s First Dental Appointment for Free

If your child’s first tooth has emerged or if you’ve celebrated their first birthday, it’s time to schedule their first dental appointment. Are you looking for a pediatric dentist in the Overland Park, KS area? Look no further. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt offers complimentary oral health exams and cleanings for children under two and dental care tips and education for all children. Keep your baby or toddler’s oral health on the right track by booking their first dental appointment. Call (913) 685-9990 or contact us online today.

cute baby smiling with two baby teeth

If you think your baby’s toothless smile is adorable, just wait until her first tooth appears! Babies are born with 20 primary teeth, but they don’t erupt above the gumline until between the first six months to a year. Most children have their complete set of primary (baby) teeth by age three, but every child is different.

Even though most primary teeth fall out and are replaced with adult teeth, baby teeth still matter. Healthy baby teeth can lead to healthier adult teeth and limit toothaches.

1.     Healthy Adult Teeth

Young children who have a high-sugar diet and inadequate oral care tend to develop cavities. If baby teeth develop cavities, there may be significant consequences, such as:

Gum Disease

As cavities develop, the infection can migrate to the gums. Gingivitis, the initial stage of gum disease, causes gums to be inflamed, red, and bleed. Thankfully, gingivitis is reversible through professional dental cleaning and extra care in at-home routines.

However, if gingivitis is left untreated, gum infection develops into periodontitis. Periodontitis is an irreversible gum disease that ravages the gum tissue, teeth, and underlying bone. Periodontitis symptoms become more severe over time and can lead to tooth loss in the most extreme cases.

Dental Alignment

As stated above, dental decay can lead to early tooth loss. Prolonged empty spaces in the mouth allow neighboring teeth to shift and try to take the vacancy. The inadequate space becomes a huge issue when the adult teeth are ready to erupt and causes misalignment. Misalignment of one tooth causes a domino effect, and adjacent teeth also become crooked. Crooked teeth are more challenging to clean and can lead to oral bacteria accumulation.

Life-long Habits

Inadequate care can speed up the development of decay, but daily brushing and flossing and routine can help remove cavity-causing bacteria from the surface of the teeth. Excellent oral hygiene routines set a solid foundation in children to carry it into adulthood.

2.     Toothaches

The source of dental pain is often an untreated cavity, cracked tooth, or infection. Toothaches can make it difficult for children to eat nutritious foods and pay attention in school.

Chewing

A well-rounded, nutritious diet is full of foods that vary in flavors, textures, and density. However, spicy, acidic, coarse, and chewy foods can trigger toothaches. A limiting diet can make children more picky eaters in the long run and make it difficult for them to reach their nutritional needs.

Concentration

Toothaches can make it challenging for children to pay attention in school, and their grades may suffer. Children with dental pain were four times more likely to score lower than their peers with healthy teeth.

Schedule Baby’s First Dental Check-up

Although baby teeth are only around for a fraction of your child’s life, they play an essential role in your child’s development. Dr. Matt offers free dental exams and cleaning in Overland Park, KS for children under the age of two. Early, consistent dental exams help maintain the health of baby teeth and help prevent oral health problems later in life.

If your child has a tooth in their mouth, it’s time to schedule their first dental appointment. Call (913) 685-9990 or conveniently message us online to schedule your baby’s first dental appointment at Smiles Dentistry for Kids.

baby boy with blue eyes eating

When will my child develop his first tooth? At what age should all my baby’s teeth be developed? Are brushing and flossing important for baby teeth? We hear these questions from new parents all the time, and we’re happy to answer them! Baby teeth, also known as milk teeth, can be hard to navigate on your own. As pediatric dental professionals, we love coming alongside parents to ensure their children start their lives with optimal oral health.

In this blog, we explain important information about the development, needs, and importance of baby teeth.

1. All baby teeth should be developed by age three.

Most children develop their first tooth between six months and one year old. Dental development usually begins with the bottom two incisors, the top two incisors, and they continue to erupt from the front to the back until age three.

2. Brushing and flossing are essential.

Although milk teeth will eventually fall out, they still require the same type of care as permanent teeth. For baby’s first tooth, use a clean, damp cloth or gauze pad to wipe the tooth and front of the tongue clean. Do this after meals and before bedtime.

When it’s time to start brushing, use a soft-bristled, baby toothbrush or finger brush and a rice-grain-sized amount of toothpaste. Talk to your pediatric dentist about the type of toothpaste that will be best for your child’s mouth.

As children get older and their mouths change, the tools and techniques for oral health will change too. A pediatric dentist helps parents navigate these changes through every age and stage.

3. Milk teeth impact the development of permanent teeth.

When a baby tooth falls out early, the permanent teeth, which exist below the gums, drift into the empty space. This can lead to crowding and crooked teeth once the adult teeth develop. Additionally, an infection and other oral health problems can prevent adult teeth from erupting and cause discoloration, staining, and malformations.

4. Bad habits can distort their shape and diminish their strength.

Before children can care for their own teeth, it’s the parent’s responsibility. This includes cleaning the baby’s mouth after every feeding. When milk remnants sit on the teeth and gums, they can lead to a problem called baby bottle tooth decay.

Using a pacifier too long and thumb sucking can also cause developmental issues such as buck teeth, protruding teeth, and an improper bite—issues that will likely require orthodontic treatment later on.

5. Baby teeth require professional dental care.

Dentists recommend that parents bring their children to the dentist by their first birthday or when their first tooth erupts (whichever comes first) and every six months after. These appointments enable the pediatric dentist to track your little one’s dental development to ensure his or her teeth are developing on time and in the right order.

During these appointments, parents will learn the useful tips for caring for their child’s teeth and gums as well as what symptoms could be a cause of concern. The pediatric dentist also looks for signs of decay, disease, and dental development issues and recommends the necessary treatments.

Learn More from Our Pediatric Dentist

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt and our team love helping parents and children understand the importance of all things related to oral health, including baby teeth. To learn more, or to schedule a first visit for your little one, call (913) 685-9990 today.

little girl flossing on blue background

As parents, one of our top priorities is helping our children create healthy habits. This includes reading, exercising, drinking plenty of water, cleaning, and oral health care. Building these healthy habits isn’t an easy task, and sometimes seeking the help of a professional is necessary! As pediatric dental professionals, our goal is to walk alongside parents when it comes to teaching good oral hygiene.

In this blog, we offer tips for flossing, providing healthy snacks for your little one, and how to make oral hygiene fun so it no longer feels like a chore.

Flossing Tips for Kids

Brushing is one oral hygiene habit that most parents have mastered. Flossing is a bit of a different story. For starters, many adults don’t floss regularly or at all. Yikes! This is likely due to a lack of understanding of why flossing is important.

Dental floss allows us to clean parts of our teeth that brushes can’t. Toothbrushes remove plaque from every surface of the teeth except the small area between the teeth where food and plaque love to hide. This is why some people who brush consistently still develop gum disease.

To encourage your little one to floss, and to do it right, here are some tips:

  • Teach by example—show your little one how you floss every night!
  • Buy dental floss picks instead of traditional floss (it’s much easier to use)
  • Offer a reward for every week that your child flosses consistently
  • Let your little one choose a flavor or color of floss

Foods That Improve Oral Health

Unfortunately, brushing and flossing every day isn’t always enough to keep cavities away. Kids who eat and drink lots of sugar and starches are much more likely to suffer from dental decay. Therefore, parents should offer nutritious meals and snacks to help their littles maintain good oral and overall health.

Most fruits and veggies offer serious benefits to the mouth. Additionally, foods that are high in protein and calcium protect and rebuild dental enamel. Here are some of our favorite mouth-healthy snacks:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Almonds
  • Apples and almond butter
  • String cheese
  • Sweet potato chips
  • Pepper nachos
  • Fresh fruit smoothie
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Scrambled eggs with cheese

How to Make Oral Health Care Fun

Is it possible to make an oral hygiene routine fun? We think so!

One of the simplest ways to make brushing and flossing more enjoyable is to do it together. Grab a stool and invite your little one into your bathroom. To amp up the fun, play some music! (Just don’t get too carried away with the dance moves.)

BONUS TIP: If playing music, pick a two-minute song. This way, you will know when it’s time to stop brushing!

Other ways to make oral hygiene fun include:

  • Offer a reward
  • Play a fun video for him or her to watch
  • Take your child to the store to pick out his or her toothbrush and toothpaste

For more helpful tips, visit our dentist’s office today!

More Oral Health Tips from Our Overland Park Dentist

Dr. Matt at Smiles Dentistry for Kids is full of helpful knowledge for both new and experienced parents. Our team helps children of all ages achieve optimal oral health through exciting, preventive, and comprehensive dentistry.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Matt, call (913) 685-9990.

We are excited to welcome Dr Tara Craven to the Smiles Dentistry for Kids team!Learn More
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