young boy and girl carving pumpkins which is a healthy snack

The air feels crisper, the leaves are changing colors, and the aroma and taste of pumpkin spice are everywhere—which means one thing: Fall is finally here! While it may be tempting to fill up on candies, caramel apples, and other sugar-filled treats, there are different ways to celebrate the season. Hidden in pumpkin patches, apple orchards, and other autumnal events, there are plenty of goodies that improve and support the wellness of teeth, gums, and supporting jawbone:  

Pumpkin

Did you know that Fall’s favorite fruit is pumped with nutrients that support overall wellness?

  • Beta carotene promotes healing and connective tissue health.
  • Zinc deficiency is linked to bleeding gums, weak bones, and poor dental health. Thankfully, pumpkins are packed with zinc.
  • Magnesium and calcium work together to strengthen the surface of the teeth (enamel), which helps prevent decay.
  • Vitamin C supports the immune system by reducing gingival inflammation.

Pumpkin Seeds

After carving a pumpkin, don’t throw away the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are an ideal snack because they are high in protein and fiber but low in sugar. Roasted pumpkin seeds are not only delicious but a marvelous source of minerals:

  • Phosphorus and calcium both help keep the teeth strong and are found in most nuts and seeds.
  • Iron helps the body create red blood cells, avoiding anemia tongue.

Apples

Traditionally, many people pick apples with their families and friends during the fall season. When enjoying this fruit, skip the high-sugar candy apples, cider, and pies. Apples are in optimal form when in their raw state with the skin and contain:

  • High water content fruits dilute the effects of natural sugar that they contain.
  • High-fiber, crunchy foods help fight cavities in two ways: (1) Crunchy foods naturally scrub away plaque and leftover food particles. (2) As a consequence of chewing, the salivary glands are stimulated. Saliva contains bacteria-neutralizing properties that protect teeth from plaque buildup.

Cranberries

Cranberries are a popular superfood and also a Thanksgiving staple. Berries are full of vitamins and antioxidants:

  • Polyphenol is a compound found in specific plant-based foods that are packed with antioxidants. This compound repels harmful oral bacteria so that the good bacteria can thrive.
  • B vitamins keep gum inflammation and oral sores at bay.
  • Vitamin C may help prevent periodontal disease, the leading cause of permanent tooth loss.

Because cranberries are tart, many companies add sugar, which cancels out cranberry’s benefits. Enjoy unprocessed cranberries or 100% juice without added sugar in moderation.

Nuts

Before the squirrels hide most of the nuts for the winter, enjoy some of them. Fall is prime harvest time for pecans, walnuts, and other tree nuts. When you chew on nuts, the chewing forces strengthen the teeth and jaws. However, do not bite the shell of a nut to crack it. Your teeth are not a nutcracker.

Make Healthy Choices

Very few things are scarier than cavities, gingivitis, and other childhood dental issues, but that doesn’t mean that your children should miss out on the Fall fun. After trick-or-treating, enjoying one or two pieces of candy is fair (as long as you brush and floss your teeth afterward). However, don’t miss out on all the healthy snacks that this season has to offer.

Dr. Matt educates parents and their children on how to balance fun and oral health. Schedule your child’s next oral health exam in Overland Park, KS, by calling (913) 685-9990 or messaging us online.

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.

happy family with Halloween decor

Ghosts, witches, haunted houses, and… cavities? Tooth decay shouldn’t be one of the scariest things about Halloween, but for many children, it is! Luckily, there are many ways to prevent cavities from ruining the holidays while still enjoying them to the fullest.

For parents, Halloween can be especially difficult, and with COVID-19, this year may be even more stressful, OR it could be a blessing in disguise. Since so many won’t be going out trick-or-treating, you’ll have more control of what your child receives in his bucket.

Check out these tips and tricks for helping your child avoid cavities this Halloween:

1. Maintain a proper oral hygiene routine

Slacking on oral hygiene from the end of October through February is one of the worst things anyone of any age could do. There’s a big holiday in each of those months and we tend to consume much more sugar (especially the little ones)! The longer sugar sits on the teeth, the more dangerous it becomes.

Brushing in the morning and evening and flossing in the evening will help your child maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in his mouth. To combat the additional sugar and carbs, we encourage our patients to brush after each meal and add a mouthwash to their routine.

2. Make alternative treats

If you’re spending Halloween at home, make your own treats rather than buying bags of candy. This is a great activity for the whole family! Here are some delicious and healthy Halloween-themed treat activities:

  • Clementines and celery sticks (pumpkins)
  • Bananas and chocolate chips (ghosts)
  • White chocolate-covered strawberries with mini-chocolate chips (ghosts)
  • Pineapple, nectarines, whipped cream layered from bottom to top (candy corn cups)

3. Eat more chocolate

Yes, you read that right! Rather than buying fruity, chewy, and sticky candy, buy chocolate instead. Dark chocolate in particular is much better than other candy because it contains polyphenols that reduce bad bacteria in the mouth. Chocolate is also much less likely to stick between or on tops of teeth like jolly ranchers, taffy, and caramels.

4. Drink lots of water

Try to skip out on sodas, juices, and other sugary drinks as much as possible during the holidays—especially Halloween! These just add unnecessary sugars and work against good oral health. Instead, fill your little one’s cup up with water that will help clean her mouth and encourage saliva production.

5. Schedule a regular dental cleaning

Dental cleanings are essential to achieving optimal oral health. Children should visit the dentist at least every six months and right after the holidays is the perfect time! During these appointments, the pediatric dentist will check for signs of cavities, dental abnormalities, and other oral health infections. This permits the dentist to treat issues in the earliest stages and prevent more dental problems in the future.

During this appointment, the pediatric dentist will teach your little one to properly brush and floss and provide tips for you, the parent, on how to help your child have a healthy and beautiful smile.

Celebrate Halloween with us!

If it’s been a while since your little one has been to the dentist, there’s no time like the present! Dr. Matt can help your family start off the holiday season with bright, healthy smiles. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, our goal is to make dental care kid-friendly, positive, and gentle.

Don’t let cavities ruin your holidays. Call (913) 685-9990 to schedule your child’s dental appointment today.

little boys in wagon

Cool, crisp air, beautiful foliage, and cozy jackets are the beginnings of many great family traditions and memories. Whether you’re an outdoors person or you’d rather stay inside, there are several fall activities to do with your little ones! Check out this blog for community fall events and activities as well as ideas for a fun day at home.

Fall Activities and Events in Overland Park

There’s no shortage of activities and events going on in our community right now, and we want you to be a part of them! Check out all the fall activities going on in Overland Park below. Also, please remember to check the websites for COVID-19 guidelines!

Virtual Trunk or Treat with Police

This event begins on October 14th and ends on October 20th. To participate, you must register by October 16. You can register to participate in two of the four categories, which include:

  • Most creative, original, and best costume and makeup
  • Scariest costume
  • “Movie Mania”
  • “Back the Blue”

Additionally, participants will decorate the trunk, tailgate, or hatchback of their vehicle. Each participant will submit pictures of their costumes and decorations online.

For more information about participation guidelines, submitting, voting, and judging, check out the event webpage: https://www.opkansas.org/newsroom/oppd-to-hold-virtual-trunk-or-treat-celebration/

Luminary walk

The Luminary Walk is an Overland Park tradition that includes:

  • A family walk through lit pathways in the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
  • Gnome and fairy houses
  • Light displays
  • Family photo-op spots
  • Musical performances
  • Horse-drawn wagon ride through the forest

This is a great event for children of all ages!

Check out the event information page for more details.

Farmers’ Market

The Overland Park Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday morning from 8:00-12:00 at the Matt Ross Community Center. Bring your kids along and let them pick out their favorite fall vegetable or fruit and cook with it at home later!

For more information click here.

Visit a Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin patches are a must-do fall activity for all families! Thankfully, there’s no shortage of options around Overland Park. Here’s a list of a few of the different pumpkin patches in our area:

Cider Hill Family Orchard

Cider Hill Family Orchard is a “u-pick” orchard and so much more! You and your little one can enjoy delicious cider donuts, kettle corn, and apple cider slushes around a fire pit, shop in the cottage store, and take a hayride. Children can also take part in a train ride!

Check out their website for more information.

At Home Fall Activities

There are so many fall activities that you and your children can do at your favorite place—HOME. Check out these fun ideas:

  • Jump into a pile of leaves: Be fun and productive by raking up all the leaves in the yard, then jump into them!
  • DIY Halloween costumes: Fall is a great time to get creative. Have a Halloween costume contest using only what you have at home!
  • Bob for apples: What’s easier than putting apples in a bucket of water? Not much! Plus, it makes for great entertainment.
  • Fall-themed movie night: We all have our favorite Halloween or fall-themed movies. Introduce your little ones to the classics like The Great Pumpkin and Hocus Pocus.
  • Make a craft with leaves: Pinterest is full of fall craft ideas! Send your little one outside to find some colorful leaves, then create something beautiful together.

Your Overland Park Children’s Dentist

Dr. Matt at Smiles Dentistry for Kids is here to help parents make the best of every season and help them provide proper dental care for their little ones. In the midst of a fun and busy season, don’t forget to bring your child in for a regular dental cleaning and exam!

Call (913) 685-9990 to schedule an appointment.

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