cheese and crackers snack cups

With school back in session, you’re trying to get into the routine of a new year. One challenge is packing a healthy lunch that your kid will actually eat! Fortunately, foods that will give your child lasting energy for the school day are beneficial for nearly every aspect of their health, including their dental wellness. In this post, your pediatric dentist gives some lunch box suggestions for every palate. 

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park, KS, Dr. Matt and his team offer complete dental services for children of all ages. We are committed to laying a foundation for lifelong oral health, not only through preventive care and treatment, but also through patient and parent education. 

To learn more about the connection between diet and dental health, or to schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist, contact our office today.

For the Kid Who Wants a Classic Lunch

Maybe your child is a bit of a picky eater, or maybe he wants a lunch that just won’t “stand out.” Either way, a classic peanut butter sandwich can be both nutritious and good for his teeth! The polyunsaturated fats in peanut butter are known to be anti-inflammatory and, according to one study, may actually help to prevent gum disease.

To maximize the benefits of peanut butter, choose varieties with no added sugar, and serve peanut butter on whole grain bread. Avoid jelly, which is essentially pure sugar. Instead serve peanut butter solo or add some slices of fruit.

For the Sophisticated Palate

If you’ve got an older child or one who just has mature tastes, pack a yummy spinach salad, loaded up with all the goodies. Like all leafy greens, spinach is high in calcium, which helps to strengthen bones and teeth. It also has plenty of folic acid and B vitamins to help combat gum disease. 

On top of the greens, try some grilled or smoked salmon, which, like peanut butter, is high in polyunsaturated fats. Add some shiitake mushrooms, high in lentinan, which can help prevent cavities. 

For the Snacker

If your child tends to graze throughout the day, packing a good lunch can be especially challenging. Fortunately, although you can’t change the school schedule, your pediatric dentist can still recommend a nutritious meal that will appeal to your little one. Try a kid-friendly charcuterie board. Cheese is not only high in teeth-strengthening calcium. It can also help to prevent demineralization and stimulate saliva flow. Pair the cheese with some whole-grain crackers. Finally, add fiber-rich apple slices and carrot sticks. With their crunchy texture, both can help to remove food particles from teeth.

And for Everyone…

Of course, all kids need a drink in their lunch and, no matter what their palate, this one’s a no-brainer. As any pediatric dentist will tell you, avoid juice boxes in favor of water. Although juice might seem a healthy choice, it is full of sugar, which will linger on teeth for the rest of the school day. In contrast, water helps to flush away bacteria and food particles to combat tooth decay and gum disease. 

Contact Your Pediatric Dentist Today

For more dietary guidance or to schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist, contact our office. Reach out online or give us a call at (913) 685-9990.

two little girls smiling and hugging each other on the beach

It may be the height of summer, but the new school year is coming up fast! The comparatively leisurely days of vacation will give way to the packed schedule of the academic year. That’s why the summer is the perfect time to adopt healthy dental habits. And finding a great dentist in Overland Park can help your family’s teeth stay healthy whatever the time of year!

Dr. Matt and the team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids are committed to helping your kids enjoy a lifetime of oral health. From education to cleanings, extractions to restorative care, we are ready to provide gentle, compassionate treatment. By focusing exclusively on pediatric dentistry, we know how to reach kids and convince them of the importance of good oral health. 

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Matt, contact our office today.

1. Daily Brushing and Flossing

When he’s rushing out the door to catch the bus, tooth brushing is likely the last thing on your child’s mind. During the summer, help your kids stick to the schedule by brushing their teeth before breakfast. Plus, brushing first thing can actually help to protect teeth from the acids in their first meal of the day.

2. Drinking More Water

In addition to keeping your body functioning at its best, water helps to flush away bacteria, acids, and food particles. Of course, milk is also important, especially for young children. But soda and juice should be an occasional treat, rather than a daily staple.

3. Eating a Nutritious Diet

Summer is the ideal season to amp up your family’s eating habits. Fresh fruits and vegetables are at their peak, farmer’s markets are packed with seasonal goodies, and there is time for your kids to take an active role in meal planning and prep. 

Although it’s important to limit sugars, a healthy diet is not about denying your kids treats. Rather, incorporating a variety of foods will ensure that they are getting the proper nutrients to nourish their growing bodies and strengthen their tooth enamel. 

4. Quitting Nail Biting, Pencil Chewing, Etc.

Using teeth to bite anything other than food can cause dental misalignment and chipped teeth. And it can increase the risk of infection and illness as bacteria pass from the hands to the mouth. 

Studies suggest that more than 80% of nail biters also struggle with a psychiatric condition, such as ADHD or obsessive compulsive disorder. Dr. Matt can work with you and your child’s healthcare team to help stop this habit. 

5. Wearing a Sports Mouthguard

If your child is planning to play any contact sports in the fall, it’s important to get fitted for a mouthguard now. According to the American Dental Association,athletes who don’t wear mouthguards are more than two times as likely to suffer an oral injury.

Be sure to visit a dentist for your child’s mouthguard. Prefabricated appliances are less effective and could even inhibit breathing and athletic performance. 

Contact Your Pediatric Dentist in Overland Park

As you get ready to go back to school, don’t forget to schedule your child’s exams and cleanings. Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids online or call (913) 685-9990 to schedule an appointment.

baby smiling while being held by mother

Being a new parent is exciting! But, it can often be challenging. Amidst the joys and responsibilities of parenthood, it’s essential not to overlook your baby’s oral health. Developing good dental habits early on can set the foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles. That’s why our pediatric dentist in Overland Park, KS, is here to help (read more about Dr. Matt here!). 

Is it time to take your little one to visit the dentist? Schedule an appointment with our top-rated pediatric dentist at Smiles Dentistry for Kids by calling (913) 685-9990 now!

Pediatric dentists understand the importance of oral care in infancy and early childhood. In this blog post, we share valuable tips to help new parents ensure that their little ones maintain optimal oral health.

Start Oral Care Early

Many parents hear that oral care should start once their child’s first tooth emerges, but it should actually start before then. After feeding, gently wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, damp cloth or a soft infant toothbrush. This helps remove bacteria and establish a routine that promotes good oral hygiene.

Introduce Fluoride

Fluoride is crucial for developing strong teeth. The mineral binds with calcium and phosphates to form fluorapatite, which helps rebuild weakened tooth enamel. Once your baby’s first tooth appears, consult with your pediatric dentist about starting fluoride supplementation

Monitor Feeding Practices

Avoid putting your baby to bed with a bottle. High-sugar liquids (like breastmilk, formula, or juice) can lead to infant tooth decay, known as “baby bottle tooth decay.” 

Establish a Dental Home

Choosing a pediatric dentist for your child is vital. Start early by scheduling the first dental visit around your baby’s first birthday or when the first tooth begins to appear. A pediatric dentist specializes in infant and child dental care, ensuring a positive experience and offering valuable guidance for parents.

Practice Healthy Feeding Habits

As your baby transitions to solid foods, make nutritious choices that promote dental health, such as:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Healthy fats, like avocados and dairy products
  • Whole grains
  • Lean proteins

Be sure to introduce a variety of textures and flavors to encourage chewing and jaw development.

Encourage Good Oral Hygiene Habits

As your child grows, encourage independent brushing. Supervise their brushing technique until they can do it effectively on their own using small, circular motions across all tooth surfaces for at least two minutes.

Limit Pacifier Use

Pacifiers can provide comfort, but prolonged use may impact dental development. Limit pacifier use after six months to avoid potential oral issues, like misaligned teeth or bite problems.

Avoid Sharing Utensils or Cleaning Pacifiers With Your Mouth

Bacteria in your mouth can transfer to your baby, increasing the risk of tooth decay. So, avoid sharing utensils, cups, or cleaning pacifiers with your mouth (use clean water instead). 

Lead by Example

Let your children witness your commitment to oral health by maintaining your own dental hygiene routine. Brush and floss regularly, visit the dentist for routine check-ups, and prioritize a healthy diet

Pediatric Dentist in Overland Park, KS

As a new parent, you play a pivotal role in your child’s oral health journey. By following these tips, you can help your little one develop healthy habits that last a lifetime

Start your child’s journey toward healthier teeth and gums by scheduling an appointment at Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park, KS. Simply request appointments with our pediatric dentist here or at (913) 685-9990!

The lights are shining, and the tree is aglow. But nothing lights up your holiday like your child’s smile. With Christmas approaching, you may worry about that beautiful grin being compromised by the many indulgences the season brings. Fortunately, following a few simple tips this week can help to ensure a dental smile to ring in the new year.

Dr. Matt and his team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids are always happy to answer your questions about dental care. Our Overland Park, KS, office offers complete dental services specifically for pediatric patients. And we take pride in ensuring that each patient enjoys a bright and healthy dental smile.

Contact us today for more dental health tips or to schedule your appointment. And of course, from our office family to yours – Merry Christmas!

1. Go Easy on the Candy

It’s no secret that candy is one of the worst offenders when it comes to oral health. Sugar and other refined carbs stick to teeth, providing a veritable buffet for hungry oral bacteria. As the microbes build up, they contribute to the development of plaque and tartar, which will erode dental enamel and create a cavity.

Candy is an essential part of any good Christmas stocking. And you don’t want to be labeled a total Grinch. You can still allow your kids to enjoy some yummy treats. Just be sure that they do so in moderation and that they brush their teeth afterwards. 

You should also keep in mind that certain candies are more detrimental than others. Sticky candies like caramels keep sugar in contact with teeth much longer, as do hard candies that melt in the mouth.

2. Include Some Tooth-Healthy Foods on the Menu

Instead of focusing on what to limit, think about what you can add to your Christmas table. Fortunately, some perennial kid favorites have great benefits for a dental smile. For instance, cheese is rich in calcium and protein, both important nutrients for tooth health. Lean meats also offer protein, as well as iron for improved tooth and gum health. 

3. Drink Plenty of Water

Your child can still enjoy a mug of hot chocolate, but make sure that your whole family is drinking water throughout the day. Of course, this will keep you hydrated, but it will also help to prevent tooth decay. Water flushes away oral bacteria and food particles, so it is especially beneficial after eating. 

4. Don’t Neglect Regular Dental Care

Christmas week is a whirlwind of activity. Nights can be especially busy, between parties, church services, and family gatherings. Just be sure that you still take the time tothat your child is brushing and flossing properly.

5. Prevent Sports Accidents 

Many family gatherings include a rousing game of football or other sports after dinner. Whenever your child is playing contact sports, a mouthguard is always a good idea. One large scale study found that the rate of oral injury among athletes who wear mouth guards was five times lower than among athletes who did not wear them

Schedule an Appointment to Maintain Your Child’s Dental Smile 

Give your child the gift of dental health this Christmas. Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids to schedule an appointment. 

Complete our online form or call us at (913) 685-9990.

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.

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