Just like age-appropriate vaccines and routine wellness checks, dental checkups are a vital part of your child’s overall health. Good dental care beginning at an early age can greatly reduce your child’s risk for repeated cavities and orthodontic complications

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park, KS, Dr. Matt and his team focus exclusively on pediatric care. Whether it is your child’s first visit or their tenth, we know that appointments can be scary for younger kids. That is why we work hard to make dental appointments fun and to let you know in advance exactly what you can expect. 

Contact us today to learn more about dental checkups or to schedule an appointment for your little one.

Why are dental checkups so important?

Dental visits can prevent serious damage to your child’s teeth. 52% of children aged 6 to 8 have already developed at least one cavity in their baby teeth. This may not seem like a big deal – after all, those teeth will fall out eventually anyway! But early decay can dramatically increase your child’s risk for cavities as an adult

Plus, unchecked decay can lead to premature baby tooth loss. Baby teeth serve as placeholders for adult teeth. Therefore, early loss can result in significantly misaligned permanent teeth

Finally, when very young children are suffering from dental pain or problems with tooth development, they can experience difficulties in eating and speech development

Oral Exam 

All dental checkups include an oral exam. Dr. Matt will evaluate your child’s teeth, looking for any decay, erosion, cracks, or other damage. He or she will also assess the gum tissue to identify inflammation or other signs of gum disease. Though it may not seem like a major concern, periodontal disease affects up to 73% of children between the ages of 6 and 11!

Dental X-Rays

Typically, we will take x-rays at every other visit, unless your child is experiencing some troublesome symptoms. X-rays help us find hidden cavities and internal damage to teeth. Panoramic x-rays help us assess dental alignment. We can also evaluate permanent teeth that have not yet erupted. 

Parents often worry about the risks of radiation exposure during x-rays. That is why we use digital x-rays, which can reduce radiation exposure by 80% compared to traditional imaging.

Dental Cleaning 

Of course, cleanings are a key part of all dental checkups. One of our skilled dental assistants will carefully remove all plaque and tartar from your child’s teeth. After polishing, she will provide some tips and guidance for maintaining better dental hygiene at home. 

Our team knows how to help kids relax in the dental chair and enjoy their experience. For those children with severe anxiety, we can also provide safe IV sedation.

Schedule Your Child’s Appointment Today

We are excited to be your child’s home for dental checkups and any other treatment they might need. 

Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids online or call our Overland Park office at 913-685-9990.

four children celebrating Christmas activities in Overland Park, KS

As the weather begins to cool down, our mindsets naturally shift to the holiday season. Winter break is just around the corner for many students. If you don’t want your kids cooped up in the house for too long, here are five activities that can make Winter Break more exciting and enjoyable for your kids.

1. Luminary Walk at Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

This Holiday season, see the Arboretum in a different light. When the sun goes down, candles and colorful Christmas lights brighten the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens during their annual “Luminary Walk.” 

Stroll along lit pathways filled with Gnome and Fairy Villages, peaceful candlelit woods, and the kaleidoscopic Children’s garden. Listen to musical performances in four different locations or unwind in the serene, quiet woods. The Luminary Walk offers a range of experiences for a variety of tastes. Speaking of tastes, enjoy a complimentary hot cider in the Children’s Discovery Garden. Snap photos with Santa or watch the trains run. It sounds like an evening of family fun!

If you haven’t had an opportunity to visit the Arboretum this holiday season, it’s not too late. This is Luminary Walk’s last weekend, and there are still available for December 16th, 17th, and 18th. Purchase tickets for this weekend by following this link, which are:

  • $15 per person
  • Children 5 years and younger get in free

2. Holiday Lights on Farmstead Lane

Even though the farmstead is closed until April 1, 2022, the holidays have arrived at Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead. From the comfort of your car, watch a free synchronized light show with music from your favorite holiday movies and other classics. Here’s how: 

  • Pack hot cocoa, treats, and blankets.
  • Drive to 13800 Switzer from 5 PM to 1 PM.
  • Turn off your vehicle lights and tune the radio to 90.5 Rose FM.
  • Sit back, relax, and enjoy the sensational show.

3. Family Tree Nursery

Whether it’s time for your family to trim the tree or if you’re picking up gifts for others, Family Tree Nursery offers a wide range of botanicals in our area, including a wide range of evergreens, poinsettias, and even ugly Christmas Sweaters for your plants. At the end of every year, this third-generation, family-run nursery’s garden centers are transformed into enchanting winter wonderlands with forests of decorated trees, lights, decorations, and more. Visit this local nursery on 8424 Farley Street before the holiday magic is gone until next year.

4. American Youth Ballet Presents “The Nutcracker”

The classic holiday tradition returns this weekend. Watch Tchaikovsky’s iconic story come alive in a collaboration of graceful dancers from the American Youth Ballet and dynamic music performed by the Overland Overland Park Orchestra. Performing art enthusiasts, don’t miss out on the fun at Yardley Hall on December 18th and 19th. Individual tickets start at $18.

5. Schedule a Children’s Dental Check-up

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children visit their pediatric dentist every six months to prevent cavities and other dental health issues. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt and his team strive to make the experience more enjoyable with a child-centric atmosphere and engaging chairside manner. With most schools not in session for the holidays, it’s the perfect time of year to schedule your child’s next dental appointment. 

If your child hasn’t visited the dentist in over half a year or if he or she could use a quick freshening up before visiting family, request your child’s next dental appointment by calling (913) 685-9990 or filling out our online form at your earliest convenience.

young boy with a toothache

Is your kid complaining about hurting teeth? Toothaches are a common oral health problem among children, and they can sometimes feel unbearable. Dr. Matt, an Overland Park Pediatric Dentist, educates parents on everything they need to know about childhood toothaches.

Causes of Toothache

If your child has a tooth, they can feel the wrath of a toothache. Most babies experience the painful process of a tooth emerging by six months of age. However, toothaches are most common in children between the ages of 6 to 12 years old. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 1 in 7 children aged between 6 to 12 years experience toothaches. Depending on how intense the pain is, a toothache can be a symptom of any of the following dental problems:

  • Emerging teeth
  • Food accidentally wedged between the teeth (can aggravate the tooth roots and gum line)
  • Dental decay, damage, or erosion
  • Chipped or cracked enamel (surface of the tooth)
  • Detached or missing dental fillings

Signs of Toothache

Toothaches can affect your child’s eating and sleeping habits, which directly impact their growth and development. Even if your child cannot verbally communicate that they are experiencing dental pain, here are five signs to look out for:

  1. Eating less
  2. Fussiness before bed and frequently waking throughout the night
  3. An ongoing need to chew (“cutting teeth” for babies and toddlers)
  4. Sinus infection symptoms
  5. Rubbing their jawlines and in or around their ears

Home Remedies

Here are four actions that you take at home if your child is suffering from a toothache:

  • Ice: Applying a cold compress on the cheek for 15 minutes can reduce swelling and numb the area. Also, babies enjoy gnawing on frozen rags.
  • Over-the-counter medication: NSAIDs and numbing gels can relieve toothaches temporarily.
  • Saltwater rinse: By mixing ½ a teaspoon of salt with warm water, you can compose a saltwater solution that may dislodge substances between teeth and naturally disinfect the mouth. (Do not swallow.)
  • Teabag compress: Applying a warm or cold tea bag can soothe a toothache. However, do not use this method often because tea can stain the teeth.

In-Office Treatment

When is it time for your child to visit the dentist for his or her toothache? Dentists consider toothaches a dental emergency if the toothache:

  • Causes severe pain
  • Lasts for more than two days
  • Prompts swelling in the face or mouth
  • Triggers earache, fever, or discomfort (when the child opens their mouth widely).

Pediatric dentists identify and treat toothaches in two steps:

  • Step 1: The dentist determines the source and severity. This may constitute an x-ray, a physical exam, and the dental team calmly asking your child questions about their dental pain. 
  • Step 2: The dentist solidifies a treatment plan. Dependent on the source of your child’s toothache, the dentist will come up with the next step for treatment. Typical treatment plans for toothache include cavity treatment, fillings, root canals, and extraction.


While some toothaches (such as those caused by emerging teeth) are unavoidable, cavities, gum disease, and dental trauma are preventable. Keep your children’s teeth safe and healthy by:

  • Brushing and flossing twice daily
  • Going to the dentist for a routine clean and check-up at least every six months
  • Wearing a mouthguard during contact sports

Contact Our Five-Star Overland Park Pediatric Dentist

If you notice that your child is expressing toothache symptoms, it may be time to reach out to your child’s dentist. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt treats toothaches in a kid-centered, comfortable environment. Schedule an appointment at our Overland Park, KS office by calling (913) 685-9990 or contacting us online today.

children running in the hallway in school

Welcome back! The back-to-school season is an exciting time for both parents and children. Here are five ways to support your child’s oral health while they are learning and developing away from home:

1.     Follow an oral hygiene schedule.

New year, new routines. The school year comes with many customs, including brushing and flossing before taking off to school and after dinner. Keeping kids accountable with their oral hygiene schedule helps prevent cavities and gum disease.

Does your child have trouble remembering to brush and floss their teeth? Posting a step-by-step oral hygiene instructional chart can help kids go through the motions of maintaining excellent oral health but can be more hands-off in the long run for parents who have busy mornings.

2.     Provide healthy lunches and after-school snacks.

The secret to healthy teeth might be in your child’s lunchbox. Food has a significant impact on dental development and preservation.

Here are some of the best foods that help kids have healthy mouths:

  • High-fiber vegetables and fruit scrub away plaque. Carrots, celery, and apples are great side and snack choices.
  • Dairy products are rich in calcium, vitamin D, and phosphates to fortify bones (including the teeth and jaws). Low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese pack a nutritional punch and help keep kids feeling full with added protein.
  • Eggs are eggs-actly what kids need to receive essential minerals for excellent oral health. Eggs are packed with protein, Vitamin D, and phosphates.
  • Green veggies are filled with vitamins and minerals that support healthy tooth enamel.
  • Nuts and seeds are filled with minerals that contribute to tooth remineralization and fight cavities.

3.     Send students to school with a water bottle.

Is your child drinking enough water daily? An easily accessible water bottle can encourage kids to rehydrate while working through hours of lessons and after physical education.

According to a study published by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, children are most vulnerable to dehydration, and dehydration can adversely affect cognitive performance (brain function). When the brain is not performing at its mental peak, it weakens focus, psychomotor, and immediate memory skills.

Water with fluoride is safe to drink and helps prevent tooth decay. Almost all drinking water in the United States is fortified with fluoride. However, some bottled varieties don’t, so check the label to make sure.

4.     Schedule your child’s back-to-school dental visit.

Most dentists recommend dental checkups twice a year, and August and September are popular months for parents to schedule them for their children. At this visit, the dental team:

  • Examines overall dental health
  • May take an x-ray to check for cavities
  • Professionally clean the teeth to eradicate harmful bacteria

5.     Prepare for dental emergencies.

Dental emergencies aren’t common, but they can happen anytime and anywhere. Signs of a potential dental emergency are:

  • A permanent, “adult” tooth is loose or has fallen out
  • Cracked or chipped teeth
  • Severe toothaches or jaw pain
  • Bleeding or swelling that won’t stop

If a dental emergency does occur, it’s essential to visit the dentist as soon as possible so that he can save the tooth or treat the discomfort conservatively.

Schedule a Back-to-School Checkup

Education helps children’s brains develop. Parents can support their children’s dental development by assisting kids in sticking to oral hygiene regimens, offering balanced meals and fluoridated water, scheduling routine exams, and preparing for dental emergencies.

Call (913) 685-9990 or message us online to book a back-to-school checkup in Overland Park, KS, with Dr. Matt today.

Little patient conversing with her dentist at dental office before her regular checkup for cavities and gum disease.

While it’s more prevalent in adults, younger kids and adolescents are still at risk for periodontal (gum) disease. Something worth smiling about is that gum disease is treatable. In this article, we talk about gum disease and how to handle it.

How Gum Disease Forms in Children

When harmful bacteria, food particles, and sugar build up on teeth and gums, they produce a sticky film called plaque. Plaque buildup can lead to puffy, inflamed, and bleeding gums. If this gets worse, severe gum disease can loosen teeth and damage the soft tissue and bones underneath them.

Signs of Gum Disease in Children and Teens

Chronic gingivitis is widespread in children and is the mildest form of gum disease. Here are four signs of gingivitis:

  • Inflamed gums that look puffy, swollen, and bright red
  • Bleeding gums during brushing, flossing, or any other time
  • Bad breath (halitosis) that does not clear up after brushing and flossing
  • Calculus (hardened plaque and tartar) builds up

Thankfully, gingivitis is treatable and reversible through at-home hygiene routines and professional dental intervention. However, left untreated, gingivitis can gradually progress into more severe forms of periodontal disease.

Periodontitis happens in otherwise healthy young people and typically attacks around puberty or later in life. The three stages of periodontitis are:

·        Early stages of periodontitis stem from gingivitis. Gums may recede or move away from the teeth and sometimes expose tooth roots. Slight bone and connective tissue loss are common signs during the initial stage of periodontitis. Patients may also experience sensitivity to temperature or discomfort when chewing.

·        Moderate periodontitis is more destruction of bone and connective tissue. Multiple teeth may be abnormally spaced and feel loose or separated. Periodontal pockets begin to form and fill with bacteria and tartar.

·        Severe jaw bone loss and increased tooth mobility accompany advanced forms of gum disease. Periodontal pockets deepen and may fill with bacteria, tartar, and even pus (if infected). Teeth are more at risk of falling out at the advanced stage of gum disease.

How to Prevent Gum Disease

A consistent oral hygiene routine is the most efficient way to prevent and treat gum disease. Simple oral hygiene care includes:

  • Thoroughly brushing and flossing teeth twice a day
  • Using a pea-sized fluoridated toothpaste (if the child is over two years of age)
  • Rinsing the mouth with a mouthwash to reduce oral bacteria
  • Enjoying a healthy diet that is low in sugar and starch
  • Visiting the dentist twice a year for checkups and cleanings

Good oral hygiene routines are essential for babies, children, and teenagers. While it’s normal for a kid to sneak a sweet treat or miss brushing here and there—sticking to at-home oral hygiene, eating a balanced diet, and regular dental checkups are imperative. These healthy habits help protect children against gum disease and other health problems.

How to Treat Gum Disease

Here are some ways dentists treat all stages of gum disease:

  • Good dental habits (as mentioned in the last section) can help fight gingivitis.
  • Scaling and root planing can remove plaque and tartar on the surface of the teeth and under the gum lines. This treatment can also smooth tooth roots and reattach gums to the teeth.
  • Antibiotics may be put in the periodontal pockets or orally in a pill form. Sometimes, dentists also prescribe an anti-bacterial
  • Surgery is needed to restore gingival tissues damaged by advanced gum disease.

Track and Treat Gum Disease in Overland Park, KS

Childhood gum disease requires professional care. Dr. Matt helps parents manage and treat gum conditions that detriment oral health and overall wellness. Call 913-685-9990 or message us online to schedule an appointment at Smiles Dentistry for Kids.

little girl lying in dental chair holding up a peace sign

Bi-annual dental check-ups are important for permanent teeth but not necessary for baby teeth, right? Wrong. Baby teeth, also called milk teeth, are essential for helping your child maintain a healthy mouth and body, learning how to speak, digestive health, and good self-esteem. Without proper care, baby teeth can fall out too soon, leaving children with a host of oral, physical, and mental health problems.

Children should begin regular dental visits by their first birthday and every six months after that. These appointments will provide the following immediate and long-lasting benefits for your little one:

1. Plaque- and tartar-free teeth

The key to avoiding cavities (or caries) is ridding the teeth of plaque and tartar. For children who are just learning how to brush and floss, this can be a difficult task. Cavities develop very slowly over time. So, having the teeth thoroughly cleaned every six months, in addition to twice-daily brushing, is one of the best defenses against the growth of dental caries.

During dental check-ups for children, a dental hygienist uses gentle techniques and tools to clean every surface of every tooth. A pediatric dentist may also recommend fluoride treatments or other preventive measures to ensure a child has the best chance of avoiding cavities.

2. Healthy gums

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, children are susceptible to three types of gum disease: chronic gingivitis, aggressive periodontitis, and generalized aggressive periodontitis. Chronic gingivitis is the most common type of periodontal disease in children. Symptoms of chronic gingivitis include:

  • Inflamed gums
  • Red gums
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath

Gum disease develops when disease-causing bacteria from tartar along the gum line infiltrate the gingiva and attack the soft tissue. Regular dental visits are one of the best defenses against this disease.

3. Track teeth and jaw development

During a dental check-up, dentists keep track of the child’s teeth and jaw development to ensure they are growing properly. If not, he may refer the child to an orthodontist. Sometimes, early intervention can reduce a child’s need for orthodontics in the future. This also gives insight into what type of oral health problems the child may have in the future.

4. Provide oral health advice for kids and parents

Dental care tips and oral health advice are especially important for new parents but helpful for all. Children require different types of dental care for every stage of development. A pediatric dentist can walk with parents and their little ones through each of these stages, ensuring all of the child’s oral health needs are met!

5. Encourage a healthy relationship between your child and dentists

We all know at least one person who is afraid of the dentist. Many of these people can trace their dental fear back to a bad experience they had as a child. By choosing an experienced and compassionate pediatric dentist, parents set their children up for oral health success and ensure their child’s relationship with the dentist is a positive one.

Dental Check-ups at Smiles Dentistry for Kids

During dental check-ups with Dr. Matt and our team, children receive high-quality, gentle dental care. We strive to be informative and punctual, so your time is never wasted!

For children under 24 months, the first visit is short, simple, and free. To learn more about our practice, or to schedule an initial consultation, call (913) 685-9990 today.

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