little girl wearing a stocking cap

When you’ve had a hard day, nothing beats the sight of your child’s smile. So when it comes to routine oral care for kids, you naturally want the very best. But what exactly does that look like? 

Children’s dental care looks very much like adult oral hygiene. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, we can provide tips to improve your whole family’s dental care. And, of course, Dr. Matt also provides regular preventive services specifically for young patients. 

To learn more about children’s dental care or to schedule a routine visit for your child, contact our Overland Park, KS, office today.

Daily Brushing and Flossing 

Good daily care is the foundation of oral health. Twice daily brushing and once daily flossing can keep bacteria, plaque, and tartar at bay. Since these are the substances responsible for cavities, good maintenance can lay a foundation for a lifelong healthy smile. 

You may be surprised to learn just how early brushing and flossing should begin. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends wiping down baby’s gums with a soft cloth even before any teeth come in. Once teeth erupt, parents should use a soft-bristled brush and a tiny amount of toothpaste to brush baby’s teeth twice a day. 

Good Hygiene Modeled at Home

As a parent, you know that kids watch everything and try to copy whatever they see, especially in the early years. That is why it is so important that your children see you maintaining good dental care for yourself. From a young age, let them see you brushing and flossing. And when they get old enough to do it themselves, try brushing together as you teach them proper technique. 

Not sure what the proper technique actually is? The American Dental Association has a whole guide

A Healthy Diet

While removing oral bacteria is vital, what kids put into their mouths is also important! Too much sugar not only makes for a crazed kid; it also increases the risk of tooth decay. And refined sugar is not the only culprit. All simple starches, including white bread, rice, and fruit juice, provide oral bacteria with easy energy sources. 

For optimal oral health, limit sugars and starches. Instead, encourage kids to reach for lean proteins, calcium-rich cheese and yogurt, vegetables, nuts, apples, and pears. It’s also important to drink water during and after meals, as this can help to flush away food particles. 

Here is another instance of kids imitating what they see. If you make a habit of reaching for the healthy stuff, chances are your kids will, too!

Biannual Dental Visits

Finally, it is essential to visit the dentist twice a year. Biannual appointments allow a dentist to clean a child’s teeth, check for decay, and look for any problems with dental development. Often, early intervention can prevent serious functional or orthodontic problems later down the line.

Again, you may be surprised at how early this should start. In fact, babies should visit the dentist once their first teeth come in or no later than their first birthdays

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, we focus exclusively on pediatric care. We offer gentle, stress-free exams and cleanings. And we are ready to address any issues with equally compassionate, child-centered treatment.

Contact Us for Gentle Routine Oral Care for Kids

Protect your greatest treasure – your child’s smile! Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids today. 

You can make an appointment online or call us at (913) 685-9990.

Girl drinking water

You give your child a variety of fruits and vegetables, and maybe even a multivitamin, to ensure that he or she is getting all necessary nutrients. But if your child is not getting enough fluoride, they could be at risk for a lifetime of cavities and other dental problems. As part of your child’s dental care, be sure to schedule fluoride treatments and ensure adequate intake of fluoride at home

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt and his team specialize in dental care for the youngest patients. By offering fluoride and other treatments, we can help set your child up for a lifelong healthy smile

To schedule a fluoride treatment, routine cleaning, or other dental care, contact our office today.

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral. Found naturally in rocks, it gets into the soil and water. In developing teeth, fluoride helps to strengthen dental enamel, the outer protective layer. Once teeth come in, fluoride repairs weakened teeth and restores worn enamel. Because of this, it has an important role in the prevention of dental decay.

Daily Sources of Fluoride

Fluoride is naturally found in almost all water, but it is not enough to prevent cavities. To supplement, most city water has added fluoride. Over 75% of the US population now has fluoride-supplemented water. This has led experts to declare fluoridation one of the top health innovations of the 20th century. Indeed, since the introduction of community water fluoridation, the rate of dental cavities has dropped by 18 to 40%.

 

Foods and beverages prepared with tap water contain trace amounts of fluoride. The levels of fluoride in breastmilk are so low that they cannot usually be detected. Some infant formulas have low levels of fluoride (though this does not include the fluoride in water used to prepare the formula). There is no fluoride in most bottled water. 

 

To further increase general fluoride intake, most toothpastes contain this important mineral. Some people are concerned about ingesting too much fluoride, but if you use toothpaste according to instructions, it is completely safe. (It is for this reason that you should only use a drop of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice when brushing your baby’s teeth.)

Fluoride Treatments at the Dentist 

To provide additional protection, Dr. Matt also offers fluoride treatments. These are especially important for young children and teens, whose baby and permanent teeth are still coming in. Dr. Matt or a member of his team will apply a fluoride rinse or varnish to your child’s teeth. Properly administered, there is no risk of overexposure to fluoride, and the treatment has no side effects. At the same time, it can have tremendous benefits by dramatically reducing your child’s risk for dental decay. 

Contact Us for Pediatric Care

To learn more about fluoride treatments and our other preventive dental care, contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids. Request an appointment online or call us at (913) 685-9990.

Boy with backpack

With the kids headed back to school, it seems like life has never been busier. But with everything going on, don’t let your child’s oral health go unprotected. In fact, the beginning of the new school year can be a great time to establish healthy new habits and make a visit to your local dental office

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, we specialize in pediatric dental care. Whether your child is headed to school for the first time, or he is a veteran of the back to school routine, Dr. Matt and his team can help him enjoy a healthy smile.

Contact us to book an appointment for one child or for all your kiddos! 

Establish a healthy routine. 

Nationwide, kids miss 51 million hours of school every year because of dental problems. But brushing and flossing can dramatically cut down on the risk of dental decay. Make sure your kids are brushing before they head out the door. And no matter how much homework they have, they need to be brushing and flossing at night. 

It’s important for you to maintain good oral hygiene yourself. Data shows that the amount children brush their teeth correlates to the amount that their parents do.

Pack a lunch for dental health. 

Not only will a healthy meal give your child the sustained energy she needs throughout the afternoon; it will also help to protect her pearly whites.

Obviously, sugary foods are problematic. But it’s not just about avoiding foods. Adding in certain things can have notable benefits for your kid’s smile. Next time you pull out that lunchbox, consider packing: 

  • Foods high in calcium, such as cheese, yogurt, and leafy greens
  • Protein-rich foods, like turkey slices, no-sugar-and added nut butter, tuna, and eggs
  • Fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber, like carrot or celery sticks, apples, and pears
  • Water

Help kids look out for retainers.

Lost retainers are not just a hassle. If your teen is wearing an appliance after having braces removed, it is vital that he wear it the majority of the day. Otherwise, his teeth could quickly resume their old positions. 

Make sure your child has an appropriate retainer case. If need be, pack little notes in his lunch box. “Don’t forget to put your retainer back in! Love that smile!” 

Protect your athlete’s teeth. 

If your child plays a contact or high-velocity sport, an athletic mouth guard is an essential back to school supply. Athletes who wear mouth guards are 83 to 92% less likely to sustain an injury to teeth and mouth.

You can purchase pre-made mouth guards at the drugstore. However, these will not be as comfortable or as effective as a custom device from the dentist. Furthermore, if they don’t fit properly, they can impact breathing and athletic performance. 

Schedule an appointment at your dental office.

Even if you haven’t scheduled a visit over the summer, try to get one in at the beginning of the school year. Biannual cleanings and exams are vital for everyone’s dental health, no matter their age. And it will be much easier for your child to miss a few hours of school now than later in the year when important tests and assignments come up.

Contact Dr. Matt and His Team Today

Make this school year the best yet – on every level. Contact our office to make an appointment. 
Reach us online or call us at 913-685-9990.

toddler brushing his teeth with a toothbrush

National Toothbrush Day falls on June 26th, and as a parent, you probably understand that daily brushing is crucial to keeping teeth healthy. Still, parents surveyed by Delta Dental admitted that getting their children to brush their teeth regularly is one of the most challenging things they have to get their kids to do. (Brushing teeth even beat helping with household chores and regularly eating vegetables.)

As a leading pediatric dentist in Overland Park, KS, Dr. Matt cares deeply about your child’s smile. So, he’s here to answer your questions about toothbrushes (and anything else you’re curious about as a parent).

How often should I change my child’s toothbrush?

Toothbrushes aren’t meant to last forever. As your child consistently brushes their teeth, you might notice that the bristles begin to fray and take a new shape. This happens as the bristles weaken, making the brush less effective.

Generally, we suggest replacing toothbrushes every three months. However, if your child has recently been sick, swap out their brush for a brand new one. Even if a brush seems clean with bristles intact, it is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria—especially after illness. So, get rid of a brush after feeling sick to prevent reinfection.

Are toothbrushes unsanitary?

Every time you brush your teeth, you transfer germs from your mouth to your toothbrush. Even though it’s uncomfortable to think about, a single toothbrush can hold as many as 1.2 million bacteria as well as yeast fungus, flu virus, and other harmful germs.

While you typically shouldn’t worry too much about getting sick from your toothbrush, follow these steps to keep it as hygienic as possible:

  • Don’t share your brush with anyone.
  • After brushing, thoroughly rinse your toothbrush with clean water and allow it to air dry.
  • If you want to take an extra step in sanitizing your bristles, dip your brush head in a small glass of antibacterial mouthwash.

Should I pick up soft, medium, or hard-bristled toothbrushes for my family?

As a rule of thumb, pick up soft-bristled toothbrushes for your kids. You might be surprised to discover that brushing too hard with a hard-bristled brush can damage enamel and gum tissue—leading to enamel erosion, sensitivity, and receding gums over time.

Are manual or electric toothbrushes better?

The great debate: manual or electric toothbrushes? While both types of brushes are valuable tools that keep teeth and gums clean, electric toothbrushes are a little bit better for a few reasons:

  • Electric brushes are more effective at removing plaque and keeping gum tissue healthy
  • Many electric toothbrushes have built-in self-timers, encouraging young children to brush their teeth long enough to sufficiently remove plaque.
  • Electric brushes might improve focus when brushing and enhance a person’s overall brushing experience.

How should I store my family’s toothbrushes?

Counterproductively, some individuals store their toothbrushes in enclosed containers to protect them from bacteria. This habit traps moisture in a dark environment, creating a petri dish for bacteria and fungi to thrive.

Ideally, we recommend storing toothbrushes upright and in a cabinet to limit contamination. Likewise, don’t let the bristles touch each other. Brush-to-brush contact spreads bacteria.

Ask Us More Questions At Your Next Kid’s Dentist Appointment

Book a children’s dentistry appointment at Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park, KS, if you have more questions regarding your child’s brushing habits or oral health. Call (913) 685-9990 or message us online today.

parent pours mouthwash into a cap

When you stroll down the oral care aisle, odds are you’ve seen brightly-colored mouthwashes marketed towards children. As a parent first and consumer second, you might be wondering: Is mouthwash safe to use, or is it necessary? When can my child start using mouthwash? Is my child responsible enough to start using mouthwash? In this blog, we’ll go over what parents should know about mouthwash use.

1. Avoid Mouthwash if Your Child is Younger than 6

The American Dental Association (ADA) advises that children younger than six shouldn’t use mouthwash—unless directed by a dentist. Babies, toddlers, and early Elementary children do not have fully developed swallowing reflexes and risk swallowing mouth rinse. Mouthwash can be toxic if ingested and may induce intoxication, vomiting, and nausea.

Another reason why young children avoid mouthwash is a common active ingredient found in many types of mouthwash: fluoride. Although modest amounts of fluoride can keep your teeth healthy and cavity-free, excessive fluoride can lead to fluorosis. Fluorosis is a cosmetic dentistry issue that typically showcases as white streaks on the teeth. Specifically, children under the age of eight are at risk of developing fluorosis because their adult teeth are still forming beneath their gums. Once your child’s teeth fully emerge, he or she is no longer at risk.

2. Test to See if Your Child is Ready for Mouthwash

Do you think your kid is ready to add mouthwash to their hygiene routine? Here’s one way to find out! First, ask your child to take a sip of water. Next, ask them to wish it around their mouth and spit it in the sink. If your child can manage rinsing with water, they can most likely come to grips with a child-friendly mouthwash.

3. Choose an Alcohol-Free Mouth Rinse

Alcohol is an excellent additive to mouthwash because it can eradicate pesky bacteria plaguing the mouth and along the gumline. On the other hand, kids shouldn’t rinse with alcohol-based mouth rinses. Accidentally swallowing alcohol can negatively impact your child’s developing body, mood, and mind.

4. Always Supervise Children Under the Age of 12

Children below the age of 12 require supervision during oral health activities. Not only to ensure safety but to guarantee that they are using the proper techniques. Usually, children drink liquids (for example, beverages). Albeit rinsing your mouth out might seem simple for adults, there is a bit of a learning curve used to swishing and spitting a liquid rather than swallowing it.

5. Store Mouthwash Out of Your Child’s Reach

Let’s face it. Often, children’s mouthwashes are brightly colored, well-flavored, and might even have their favorite character on the label. This type of marketing might make it tempting for your child to overuse mouth rinses. So, we advise storing it on a high shelf or locking it in a cabinet until your child is mature enough to comprehend that mouthwash is a tool, not a treat!

Your Overland Park Pediatric Dentist Can Help You Decide If Your Child is Ready for Mouthwash

When used correctly,  mouthwash can freshen breath, deep clean, and deliver an extra dose of anti-cavity protection. Ready or not, Dr. Matt can use his expertise to determine if mouthwash can benefit your child’s oral health or if their teeth are healthy and strong without it. Schedule a visit with our patient pediatric dentist by calling (913) 685-9990 or messaging us online.

young girl making a bubble from chewing gum

Children are curious creatures. Maybe your kid noticed gum in your mouth, saw a child chewing gum in a famous family flick, or was given a piece of gum at school—and now they are intrigued. If you’re hesitant about letting your child chew gum, Dr. Matt answers parents’ top questions about their children chewing gum in this guide.

When can my child chew gum?

Let’s face it. It’s no secret that infants and toddlers require extra monitoring of eating habits. Sometimes, very young children are tempted to swallow things that they shouldn’t, including toothpaste, small toys, and (you guessed it) gum.

Because gum can be a choking hazard for young children, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not allowing children under 5 to chew gum. At the age of 5, children can be taught the concept of chewing something without swallowing it. Generally, it’s wise to start with a half stick of gum to avoid choking if the gum is inadvertently ingested.

How long does gum stay in the digestive tract?

Gum is designed to be tasty! After chewing on it for quite some time, your child may be enticed to swallow something that tastes so delicious.

Folklore suggests that gum stays in your stomach for seven years before being digested. Luckily, this is an exaggeration and is generally safe if swallowed, even in extreme cases. After eating, most people pass the contents of their stomachs (including chewing gum) 30 to 120 minutes later.

However, the gum base is insoluble, which means the human body does not possess the digestive enzymes that specifically break down gum. Like raw vegetables, seeds, and corn, the gum will eventually evacuate the body the same way it does any other food.

While the gum base shouldn’t usually damage the digestive system, sweeteners in sugar-free gum can cause headaches, diarrhea, and nausea if swallowed in significant quantities.

Which type of chewing gum is the best?

Not all gum is created equal. Although gum with sugar can be flavorful, it’s terrible for the teeth. As your child chews sugary gum, the sugar wears down enamel while feeding cavity-causing bacteria. Therefore, it’s ideal to avoid sugary varieties altogether.

Instead, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends sugar-free gum with the ADA seal of approval. Gums with the ADA seal help fight cavities instead of inducing them!

Are there any health benefits or risks associated with chewing gum?

Chewing gum is more than just something fun for kids to do. You may be surprised to discover that chewing gum in moderation comes with many health benefits, including:

  • Reducing the risk of cavities
  • Increasing salivary flow and volume
  • Easing symptoms of acid reflux
  • Burning energy
  • Improving memory
  • Fighting sleepiness
  • Eliminating motion sickness

That being said, chewing gum in moderation is crucial. Additionally, excessive gum chewing and swallowing can lead to:

  • Mouth sores (ulcers)
  • Digestive tract issues
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders

Ask the Children’s Dentistry Experts at Smiles Dentistry for Kids

When it comes to your child’s health, no question is too big, small, or silly for Dr. Matt to answer. Come to your child’s next dental appointment with your questions and leave with a smile and satisfaction. Call 913-685-9990 or message us online to book a children’s dental appointment in Overland Park, KS.

Baby with Older Brother

As a parent, it seems you worry about everything, but your child’s oral hygiene doesn’t have to be one of the things that keeps you up at night. We know it’s easy to fret, especially when nearly 20% of children between ages 5 and 11 have untreated cavities. However, when you take basic steps to protect your little one’s dental health, you can help lay the groundwork for a healthy smile well into adulthood. 

Dr. Matt and the team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids provide tips and guidance for maintaining children’s oral hygiene. And, of course, scheduling biannual dental exams and cleanings will further help to ensure your child’s dental wellness.

Dental Care for Infants

Many parents don’t realize that infant oral hygiene actually begins before any teeth erupt. But milk and formulas contain sugars, a leading culprit in the development of cavities. To protect those developing teeth, be sure to wipe your baby’s gums with a soft cloth after nursing or feeding. After your baby is finished, don’t let her sleep with the bottle in her mouth or keep sucking on it while it is empty. Long-term exposure to the sugars in the formula could increase the risk of dental decay.

Oral Hygiene for Older Babies and Toddlers

Once your baby starts teething, you should start brushing. Use a toothbrush with very soft bristles and special non-fluoridated toothpaste. A dollop the size of a pea is enough. As soon as your little one has two or more teeth that touch, it’s time to start flossing. You should also schedule your baby’s first dental visit when his teeth start to come in or by his first birthday, whichever comes first. 

By the time your child is two, you can begin using fluoride toothpaste. At this point, it is good for children to start learning to brush themselves, but you should continue to monitor them until you know they are capable of doing it completely on their own. Many children need adult supervision until they are school aged. 

Tips for School Aged Children and Teens

Older kids are likely brushing and flossing on their own, but it is good to check in with them to make sure they are maintaining proper dental care. In addition, make sure that your kitchen is stocked with healthy foods that will promote good oral (and physical) health. Limit sugar consumption and have kids fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables. Nuts, lean proteins, and calcium-rich cheese and yogurt also make great snacks. (Just make sure you are buying low or sugar-free yogurts.) Whatever your kids are noshing on, it should be accompanied by a glass of water! This will help to wash away sugars and bits of food left on teeth. 

Schedule an Oral Hygiene Visit with a Pediatric Dentist 

Of course, whatever the age of your child, regular trips to the dentist are an essential part of good oral hygiene. Dr. Matt specializes in pediatric dentistry, and his advanced training gives him a detailed knowledge of the unique needs of children. Plus, the upbeat cheerful demeanor of our team means that every office visit is a reason to smile! 

To schedule an appointment for your little one at our Overland Park, KS, office, give us a call at (913) 685-9990 or send us a message online

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.

young girl flossing

On the fourth Friday in November, dental professionals celebrate National Flossing Day. Sorry kids, we don’t mean the catchy Tik Tok dance move. Flossing is an essential component of at-home dental hygiene. It involves gently removing plaque and food particles wedged between teeth. The American Dental Association recommends that people clean between their teeth every day to help prevent cavities and gum disease. Even though this habit is the key to keeping teeth and gums healthy, only 30% of Americans floss daily. If you are a parent who struggles with teaching their child how to floss, keep reading for five secrets that make flossing more simple.

1. Be generous with dental floss.

Floss is inexpensive and abundant, so feel free to use as much as you need (typically between 12 to 18 inches per session). Here’s how to do floss properly:

  1. Wrap the majority of floss around the middle finger of each hand
  2. Leave an inch or two in between to work with
  3. Gently work down the string and unravel as needed

It’s important to note that a generous supply of floss is far more hygienic than using the same section repeatedly to clean all the teeth.

2. Hold floss with a “just right” grip.

Floss must come into contact with the sides of each tooth, which requires holding it taut at an angle, changing the angle of pull to maximize contact on each sidewall of the tooth. However, it’s essential to be careful and have a grip that is not too tight or loose. For example, floss that is pulled too tightly can feel uncomfortable. Also, floss that has too much slack will be inefficient at eliminating debris.

3. Slow and steady wins the race!

The point of flossing is to gently remove plaque and food from the enamel (surface of the teeth. However, many people tend to floss too vigorously, which causes more harm than good. If you do it too strenuously, the floss can wear down the enamel, destroy gum tissue, and even make the experience painful.

Instead of forcefully flossing, allow the floss to do the work: apply the floss gently and gradually to the sides of each tooth to remove any germs lodged between the teeth.

4. Try alternative methods.

If a reel of string dental floss isn’t working out, try something else. There are plenty of tools designed to explicitly remove harmful bacteria and food between teeth, including:

  • Pre-threaded dental floss (picks) that are gentle on the fingers
  • A flexible interdental (proxy) brushes that clean between the teeth
  • Powerful water flossers that flush out unwanted particles

5. It gets easier as you go.

As mentioned earlier, the overwhelming majority of the population avoids flossing. Two chief complaints that people have are:

  1. It is time-consuming.
  2. It makes the gums bleed.

Thankfully, it’s never too late to start, and it gets easier with more and more practice. The more you incorporate flossing into your nighttime routine, the more efficient you will become. Also, your gums may bleed or feel tender during the first few days, but it goes away. After a few days, you may notice that your teeth look brighter and healthier due to flossing.

Learn More Dental Hygiene Tips with Dr. Matt

While daily at-home dental hygiene routines consisting of flossing and brushing are essential, professional dental cleanings and exams every six months are crucial for developing mouths. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt and his team of skilled dental hygienists expertly clean and examine children’s mouths in a clean, child-centered environment. Book your child’s next dental appointment in Overland Park, KS, by calling (913) 685-9990 or messaging us online at your earliest convenience.

Young boy in blue robe brushing teeth with toothpaste with fluoride

Most dentists attach great importance to fluoride and brag about how it is good for the teeth. However, many people do not understand why it’s such a popular ingredient in many toothpaste tubes, mouthwash, and other dental products. In this blog, we explain what fluoride is and how to use it safely.

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral expelled from rocks into the soil, water, and air. It is an essential element for dental development that also defends against harmful bacteria and plaque. After our enamel is exposed to dangerous bacteria, the bacteria produce acids that seep into enamel (the outermost layer of the teeth) and break it down. This destruction is what causes cavities (or holes in the teeth) over time.

Where bacteria and plaque work hard to disintegrate the tooth, fluoride builds it up through remineralization. Thankfully, the essential mineral is widely available in many forms.

Why is fluoride added to drinking water and toothpaste?

Almost all water contains trace amounts of fluoride but is not adequate to prevent cavities. For this reason, it is often added to drinking water supplies as a public health measure but is a decision at the local or state government level. Also, many dental products contain added fluoride to ensure that people are getting enough to prevent dental decay.

The primary sources of fluoride are:

  • Drinking water and processed beverages (75% of daily intake)
  • Dental products (including toothpaste, mouthwash, and more)
  • Sometimes, a prescription supplement (tablets or drops)

How can my child safely incorporate it into their daily routine?

Fluoride intake is essential for people of all ages but is especially beneficial for the developing mouths of infants and children. Preparing your child for optimal oral wellness includes:

  • Brushing teeth twice a day with an appropriate amount of fluoridated toothpaste
  • Encouraging children not to swallow toothpaste 
  • Flossing teeth daily to remove food particles and bacteria hidden between teeth and below the gumline
  • Maintaining hydration and proper nutrition by drinking plenty of water and having a balanced diet
  • Attending routine dental exams with your child’s dentist every six months
  • Asking your child’s dentist about fluoride treatments

Most people concur that too much of anything can present itself as dangerous. Despite the beneficial nature of fluoride, it’s important to note that excessive amounts can cause fluorosis, which can weaken bones, joints, and teeth and also discolor enamel. Therefore, it’s imperative to maintain a healthy balance when supplementing. Children under the age of eight are at the highest risk of developing fluorosis. 

What are the advantages of fluoride treatments?

According to researchers, young people treated with a fluoride varnish experienced a 43% reduction in decayed, missing, and filled tooth surfaces. In the same study, baby teeth with a fluoride varnish suggested a 37% less likely to develop tooth decay and cavities.

While not all children require fluoride treatment, here are four advantages of professional fluoride treatments:

  • Prevents tooth decay
  • Strengthens enamel
  • Remineralizes the teeth

Learn More About Cavity Prevention with Dr. Matt

In summary, fluoride is a highly beneficial mineral often added to treatments and toothpastes to help prevent tooth decay when used in moderation. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt and his compassionate staff educate children and their parents about how fluoride can be used safely as a method to reduce the risk of cavities. Schedule a child’s dental visit in Overland Park, KS, by calling (913) 685-9990 or messaging us online at your earliest convenience.

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