little girl flossing on blue background

Oral hygiene begins way before your child can brush his or her own teeth, and it’s more than just toothbrushing. Thankfully, there are steps you can take now and as your child grows to help him or her achieve and maintain optimal oral health. 

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park, KS, we are ready to help you and your little one achieve that goal through routine check-ups, dental cleanings, and other oral health treatments. Give Dr. Matt and his dedicated team a call at (913) 685-9990 now!

Beginning at a young age, you can teach your little one numerous habits that will help them maintain good oral health and hygiene and understand the importance of it. 

1. Make healthy snacks

Instead of sugary treats or drinks, smoothies, and healthy snacks are a great way to encourage good oral health. Think green! You can use healthy ingredients, like:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Avocado
  • Green apples
  • Celery

Use these ingredients in smoothies and salads, pair them with peanut butter or yogurt, or bake them in the oven to create a delicious snack that your child will love. 

These ingredients contain numerous essential nutrients, like vitamins K and C. Both are important for pediatric dental health, as vitamin K helps strengthen teeth while vitamin C keeps gums healthy and vibrant.

2. Offer plenty of water

Water is essential for washing away food debris and bacteria from the mouth. But, kids aren’t exactly thrilled to drink water. 

So, liven things up a bit by adding a couple of drops of food coloring to their water! Alternatively, you can add sugar-free flavor packets (like lime or green apple!) to your kiddo’s water for tasty, healthy hydration.

3. Let them pick their own toothbrush

Dentists recommend swapping out toothbrushes every three to four months. If your child is due for a replacement toothbrush, then try replacing it with one of their choosing! Choosing a movie-themed or character-themed brush will make oral hygiene much more fun and exciting.  

4. Read dental-themed books

There are several children’s books available that teach kids about the importance of dental care. Look for books like “The Tooth Book” by Dr. Seuss or “Brush Your Teeth, Please” by Leslie McGuire.

5. Make dental-care crafts together

Making crafts together is a great way to teach your kids about the importance of dental care while also having tons of fun! You can try making toothbrush holders, tooth fairy boxes, or other art projects that get your little one excited about oral hygiene and pediatric dentistry.

6. Visit a pediatric dentist regularly

Building a relationship with a pediatric dentist is beneficial for both you and your child. You will feel more comfortable asking questions, and your child will feel more and more comfortable after each visit. A pediatric dentist will keep track of your child’s oral health and dental development, so they can spot or predict any oral health issues early on. 

Schedule a dental check-up today!

Ready to put your child on the road to oral health success? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Matt online here, or by calling our Overland Park children’s dental office at (913) 685-9990 today!

Two little girls smile after brushing up for National Children’s Dental Health Month in Overland Park, KS

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, we want to make sure that your little ones have positive experiences with dental professionals. One way that we do this is by teaching them how to properly care for their teeth and gums at home. And what better time to brush up on daily oral hygiene than National Children’s Dental Health Month?

Do you need to schedule a dental appointment for your child? Let Dr. Matthew Hillman be your trusted pediatric dentist in Overland Park, KS. Reach Dr. Matt and our friendly team of experts at (913) 685-9990 for scheduling and more information now!

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. In today’s blog post, Dr. Matt goes over four ways to renew your child’s interest in dental health all month long

Conduct Daily Oral Hygiene Together

Whether we know it or not, children are following our every move. So, why not include them in activities that are beneficial to both of us?

Conducting daily oral hygiene together allows children to learn from our example. Not only that, but it allows us to monitor and improve their brushing and flossing habits in real-time. This prevents our little ones from learning damaging or unhelpful brushing and flossing techniques as they grow.

Make Brushing and Flossing Memorable

Kids look forward to fun. So, making daily oral hygiene fun and exciting is a great way to help them remember (and look forward to!) brushing and flossing. 

Here are a few ways to pump up the fun during National Children’s Dental Health Month:

  • Sing songs about brushing and flossing
  • Watch YouTube videos on proper brushing technique (here’s a fun video that we recommend!)
  • Use a sticker chart system to track daily brushing and flossing habits
  • Let your child pick out a new toothbrush and toothpaste to try
  • Schedule a fun activity before and/or after oral hygiene to encourage compliance

Give Your Child More Options

Variety is the spice of life, even when it comes to daily oral hygiene. So, giving your children more options may encourage them to brush and floss more often (even if they really don’t want to).

For National Children’s Dental Health Month, we recommend:

  • Trying new foods for a healthy smile (like yogurt, fiber-rich foods, and cheese)
  • Letting your child try new and exciting toothpaste flavors
  • Allowing your kiddo to pick their own toothbrush, floss, and mouthwash at the grocery store
  • Giving children the option to brush before or after certain activities (i.e. breakfast, bedtime stories, etc.)

Schedule Routine Exams and Cleanings

Perhaps the best way to kick off National Children’s Dental Health Month is with a routine exam and cleaning. These preventive appointments are designed to keep your child’s smile healthy and functional as they grow. Furthermore, the sooner you can get your child into our office, the more comfortable they will be around dentists and oral care as they age. It’s a win-win!

Pediatric Dentistry in Overland Park, KS

Don’t let National Children’s Dental Health Month pass you by. Get started with Dr. Matt and his dedicated team today! Simply call (913) 685-9990 or send us a message online here to get started.

mother kissing her baby

Nothing ruins a snuggle session with your little one like bad breath. If this is the first time you’ve detected your child’s bad breath, it might not be a cause for concern. At some point, we all struggle with bad breath. However, if the bad breath is persistent, your child may have halitosis, and it might be time to schedule an appointment with our Overland Park, KS, pediatric dentist

During an appointment with Dr. Matt, your child will feel safe and comfortable as he determines the cause of the halitosis. Then, he will recommend the most effective treatment as well as tips for avoiding bad breath in the future. 

Continue reading to learn about some of the most common reasons for bad breath in children. 

1. Poor Oral Hygiene

As with adults, children must brush their teeth once in the morning and once in the evening and floss daily. Without this routine, it’s likely that cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues will develop. These can lead to halitosis. 

Persistent bad breath may also occur without these additional health issues, simply because food and beverage particles aren’t being removed from the oral surfaces. If you need help with maintaining an oral hygiene routine for your child, check out this blog! 

2. Eating Certain Foods

Bad breath can often be linked back to a meal. Has your child recently eaten something that had onions and garlic in it? Did he or she just eat a sugary snack? Thankfully, this bad breath is typically temporary and should resolve after brushing or drinking some water. 

3. White Tongue

Take a look at your little one’s tongue. Is it white? This tongue coating is full of odor-causing bacteria and food that can cause smelly breath as they break down. The white color is specifically caused by gunk that is trapped between the papillae, or tiny bumps on the tongue. 

4. Dental Decay

Cavity-causing bacteria release odors that could be the cause of your child’s persistent bad breath. Food may also be stuck in the damaged part of the tooth, causing a bad smell. 

5. Gum Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is the inflammation or infection of the gum tissue. This occurs because of plaque and tartar buildup along the gumline, which may be the reason for persistent bad breath. Infections in any part of the body typically smell bad, and gum infection is no different. 

6. Dry Mouth

Saliva does more for your mouth than you probably realize. It washes away food particles and bacteria and neutralizes acids in the mouth that cause cavities. At night, saliva production slows down, which is why most people experience “morning breath.” Dry mouth, however, doesn’t just occur in the morning, but all throughout the day as well. 

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, can lead to bad breath in children because there isn’t enough saliva to remove food particles, bacteria, and acid from the oral surfaces.  

7. Allergies or Infections

Allergies or infections in the ears, nose, and/or throat are often linked to bad breath. Mucus and other secretions drip down the throat and onto the tongue when these health issues are present. Then, the bacteria in the mouth feed on them and produce smelly gases. 

When the allergies or infections clear up, you should notice an improvement in the smell of your child’s breath. 

Overland Park, KS Dentist Treats Bad Breath in Children

Bad breath doesn’t have to ruin quality time with your little one. If you can’t determine the cause of your child’s bad breath or if you know the cause and need treatment, schedule an appointment with Dr. Matt today by calling (913) 685-9990. 

The first smile, the first steps, the first words. When you have very young kids, it seems that every day brings a new milestone. But one important milestone that you may not have considered is the first dental cleaning. Babies and toddlers require routine dental care just like their parents. Preparing for this appointment at our Overland Park, KS, office can ensure that it goes smoothly for both you and your child.

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt works exclusively with children. He understands the special concerns of young patients, and he knows how to make appointments fun. 

Contact our office today to schedule an appointment or to find out what is entailed in a first dental cleaning. 

Do young children really need teeth cleaning?

Absolutely! Children’s teeth are just as prone to decay as adult teeth. In fact, 52% of children between the ages of 6 and 8 have suffered from at least one cavity. For teens, the situation is even more alarming, since 57% of them have developed a cavity in their adult teeth.

Dr. Matt believes so strongly in early preventive care that he offers free exams and cleanings to kids under 2.

When should I schedule the first dental cleaning?

The American Dental Association recommends that children first visit the dentist when their teeth first come in and no later than their first birthday.

That being said, it’s never too late to begin good oral hygiene. Whether your child is six months old or six years old, cleanings can lay a foundation for lifelong dental health.

What will happen during my child’s appointment?

One of our hygienists will gently clean and polish your child’s teeth. Like Dr. Matt, our hygienists specialize in pediatric treatment, so they know how to keep kids comfortable in the dental chair. 

Cleanings always occur in conjunction with dental exams. Dr. Matt will evaluate your child’s teeth, taking x-rays if appropriate. He can recommend any treatment that he deems necessary and provide tips for better oral hygiene at home. 

How can I prepare my child for a cleaning?

Brushing your child’s teeth at home will not only help to prevent dental decay. It can also acclimate her to having her teeth cleaned. 

Discussing the upcoming visit can give your child a sense of security since he will have an idea of what to expect. You can also find a number of good children’s books about the dentist. Pictures can help familiarize smaller children with the sights of a dental office. 

How long will the first appointment last?

Dental visits last from 20 to 40 minutes, depending on your child’s health needs and level of comfort. This also includes time to answer any questions you may have.  

Please note that for your first visit, you should arrive at least ten minutes early. We work hard to keep wait times to a minimum. 

Schedule a Dental Cleaning Today

Make sure your child receives specialized dental care, tailored to his or her particular needs. Contact our Overland Park, KS, office today.

Request an appointment online or give us a call at (913) 685-9990.

young girl with dry mouth drinking a glass of water

Although dry mouth is commonly associated with the elderly, this condition can affect any age group—temporarily or long-term. If left untreated, this condition can lead to issues that threaten their oral health and development. So, we have compiled this guide to educate parents and their children about everything they need to know about dry mouth.

Signs of Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is defined by low saliva production and an extreme lack of saliva. As the mouth dries out, it becomes more tender. You may observe that your child has:

  • Chapped or cracked lips
  • Dry gums and tongue
  • Parched throat

In addition to irritation, these drying symptoms can lead to significant consequences that can impact daily life:

Issues with Speaking, Swallowing, Eating, and Drinking

A lack of saliva and irritation can make your child’s mouth feel clumsy, which may cause them to trip over their words. Also, a dry mouth can feel uncomfortable for the mouth and throat. Consequently, mealtimes can be difficult due to the mouth and throat being unable to make the necessary movements for digestion, increasing the chances of choking.

Increased Tooth Decay, Tartar, and Periodontal Disease

Did you know that saliva has a starring role in our mouth’s ecosystem? Saliva is responsible for:

  • Protecting the enamel from harmful bacteria and acid
  • Moisturizing the tongue, gum, and other soft tissues

Without ample saliva, the mouth is more vulnerable to oral disease. Many experts believe that oral health is connected to overall health. As a result, managing dry mouth is vital to oral and systemic health.

How to Manage Dry Mouth

Whether your child is suffering from short or long-term dry mouth, there is more than one way to resolve this oral health issue:

Stay Hydrated

One of the most effective remedies against dry mouth happens to be simple: drink more water. The more hydrated a person is, the easier it is to produce saliva. Sipping water moistens the mouth and hydrates the body.

Practice Excellent Daily Oral Hygiene

Brushing and flossing every morning and night helps remove unwanted debris and bacteria and stimulates the gums. Ask our team about which types of toothpaste and oral rinses are ideal for chronic dry mouth.

Avoid Sugar and Caffeine

Sugar and caffeine are drying ingredients. Therefore, it’s wise to avoid sodas and other treats with these ingredients. Additionally, carbonated drinks are acidic and can erode your child’s already vulnerable teeth.

Chew on Sugar-Free Gum

Conveniently, chewing gum encourages salivary flow and volume by mechanical action and stimulation of oral taste receptors. So, urge your child to pick a flavor of sugarless gum that they love. Then, let them chomp away!

Visit Your Kid’s Dentist

Taking your child’s oral hygiene seriously gives them a fighting chance to avoid discomfort and long-term oral health complications. If your child persistently has a dry mouth, it’s wise to bring your child’s dentist in the loop immediately.

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt identifies the source of mouth dryness and recommends treatment options to help relieve the symptoms. If you suspect that your child is suffering from dry mouth and live in the Overland Park, KS area, schedule a kid’s dental visit by messaging us online or calling (913) 685-9990.

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.

you boy smelling something stinky

While we love when our children blow us away, their bad breath shouldn’t be the cause. Bad breath (or halitosis) can be challenging to deal with, especially when the source is unknown. If you’re unsure about why your child’s breath smells off, keep reading to discover five surprising culprits for halitosis. 

1. Poor Oral Hygiene

If you don’t think that your children brush or floss their teeth enough, you are not alone. In a survey conducted by Delta Dental, 1 in 3 parents reported that their children brush their teeth once a day or less, and the majority of parents (61%) admitted that their children floss their teeth less often than once per day.

It’s normal for parents to struggle with getting young children to brush and floss, but they often understand the importance of oral health as they mature. A tip for parents who battle with implementing dental hygiene routines with their children is to make it a family activity. Children love to mimic their parents, and when they see you prioritizing your oral health, they’ll want to do it too.

2. Diet

Is your child an adventurous eater? While tasting a wide range of flavors is vital for a child’s sensory development, certain foods can leave a mighty stench in his or her mouth, including:

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Canned tuna
  • Dairy products
  • Heavy spices

Why does this happen? When people consume and digest strong-smelling foods, chemicals enter the bloodstream and are carried to the lungs. When people exhale the nasty chemicals, it can affect how their breath smells. If your child’s breathing space has become unendurable, consider limiting some pungent foods or freshening the breath immediately after meals.

3. Dry Mouth

Saliva is so important. Saliva plays and significant role in preventing halitosis, cavities, and gum disease. However, when people do not have enough saliva in their mouth to wash away odor-causing bacteria, it stays there and causes stinky breath.

4. Infections

If your child’s mouth seems otherwise clean and healthy, bad breath is a symptom of many infections and diseases, including:

  • Swollen tonsils (can cause a bacterial infection)
  • Sinus infections
  • Fungal infection
  • Diabetes 
  • Stomach infections
  • Kidney failure
  • Oral cancer

5. Foreign Objects

If you have exhausted the first four options, and you are still asking “Why does my child’s breath still smell horrible?” The answer to this question may shock you. Another reason why your child’s breath may be suffering is that there is something stuck in his or her nasal passages. Kids are curious, and it’s not uncommon for them to explore the world by lodging small items (such as dried beans, toys, and other small objects) into their noses.

When objects get inserted into a child’s nasal passages, it can induce an infection with a disgusting odor. If you believe that this is what is causing your child’s halitosis, speak to your child’s general doctor or pediatrician immediately so that they can remove the object.

Meet Our Overland Park Kids Dentist, Dr. Matt!

If mints, gum, or primary dental care is not cutting your child’s bad breath, it’s time to visit the pediatric dentist. Dr. Matt helps children in Overland Park, KS, manage their halitosis before (or when) it becomes an embarrassing problem. Book your next pediatric dental visit at Smiles Dentistry for Kids by calling (913) 685-9990 or messaging us online today.

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.

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