baby chewing on blanket

A new mom excitedly told a friend that she had scheduled her daughter’s first dental appointment. Her friend looked at her like she was crazy. “Your daughter is only 11 months old!” she exclaimed. “She doesn’t need to go to the dentist!” The young mom was confused. Had she acted prematurely? What is the best age for a first dental visit?

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, we know that parents face conflicting advice on all sides. That’s why Dr. Matt and his Overland Park, KS, team provide parent education in a welcoming and non-judgmental environment. Not only can we help you determine the best age for a first dental visit; we will also explain what you and your child can expect when you come into the office. 

Contact us to schedule an appointment or to find out if your child is ready for the dentist.

When should you schedule the first visit?

Children should have their initial dental appointments around their first birthdays. Some children may need to come in sooner if they are early teethers. Dr. Matt recommends that children visit the dentist no more than six months after their first tooth erupts. 

If your child has not started teething by 12 months, there’s likely no reason to be alarmed. But you should still schedule an appointment so that your pediatric dentist can check your child’s dental development.

What can you expect at your child’s first visit?

For children under age 2, the first dental visit is usually quite brief. We focus on getting them acclimated to the office, monitoring dental development, and helping parents to establish good dental habits. Dr. Matt checks to make sure that teeth are coming in properly. He can even let you know if you can expect new teeth to emerge soon! 

If your child is older than 24 months, it’s certainly not too late to schedule a first dental visit. For older children, we will typically include a routine cleaning, x-rays, and any necessary restorative treatment.

Is early treatment really that important?

Absolutely! Children can easily develop cavities from a young age. In fact, according to the journal Pediatrics, dental costs before age 5 are 40% lower for children who have their first dental visit before age one.

Because we are so firmly committed to early preventive care, we even offer free exams and cleanings for children under the age of two. 

What should you do in between dental visits?

Of course, though dental visits are vital, they are not the only component of children’s oral health. To further protect your little one’s teeth, start brushing twice a day as soon as that first tooth appears. Flossing should begin as soon as there are two touching teeth. As your child gets older, help him to learn how to brush for himself, though you should continue to supervise dental hygiene until you are confident that your child has mastered the skill. 

And, of course, model good dental hygiene yourself and plan healthy, nutrient-dense meals for the family.

Schedule Your First Dental Visit Today

To make your child’s initial appointment, contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids today. 

Reach us online or call us at (913) 685-9990.

Young cute blond boy with toothbrush with pink toothpaste on a white background

The American Dental Association states that children should have their first dental visit either after their first tooth erupts or before their first birthday (whichever happens first). This first appointment is crucial to creating the foundation for life-long oral health.

Here are some key topics that a pediatric may go over during the first dental visit:

Growth and Development of Teeth and Jaws

Surprisingly to most people, genetics play a minimal role in jaw development. Jaw development is primarily a product of the environment in which they are growing.

The “big three” impacts on facial development and resting oral posture are:

  • Lips sealed with teeth lightly touching
  • Proper tongue posture on the roof of the mouth
  • Nasal breathing

Craniofacial imbalances happen when these three factors are not present during growth and development. This may create cosmetic and medical issues, such as midface deficiency and long-face syndrome.

Thumb and Pacifier Habits

Babies have a natural sucking reflex that encourages self-soothing. Sucking thumbs, pacifiers, and other objects may help babies feel more secure and content as they navigate the world around them and help them fall asleep.

The American Dental Association encourages children to stop sucking before the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt (typically between ages two and four). Sucking modifies the roof of the mouth. After the permanent teeth come in, sucking may cause issues with the proper growth and alignment of teeth.

Cavity Prevention

Unfortunately, cavities are a common occurrence in young children. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that 42% of children will develop at least one cavity before their 11th birthday. Cavities aren’t difficult to treat but diligently preventing cavities is the best way to treat them.

Here are some ways to keep tooth decay at bay in young children:

  • Engage in proper oral hygiene routines early: Parents should start cleaning their child’s teeth with water as soon as they erupt. A wet rag or baby toothbrush will work. When children become more active, turn teeth brushing into a fun game! Who can clean all their teeth the best? Child vs. parent, child vs. child, or both!
  • Avoid carbohydrate-rich foods: Bacteria love sugary and starchy foods as much as we do! Prolonged exposure to oral bacteria creates enamel erosion, which increases the risk of decaying baby teeth. After enjoying a sugary snack, have your child drink a glass of water. Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing to protect his or her dental enamel.  
  • Never allow your child to go to bed with a baby bottle: As mentioned above, oral bacteria thrive on sugar (including lactose found in milk). Baby bottle tooth decay develops after long-lasting exposure to sugary liquids. If your child needs a drink during naps and bedtime, choose water.
  • Brush with a fluoridated toothpaste at two years old: Fluoride can help make the “terrible twos” better by protecting your toddler’s teeth against cavities. Talk to a pediatric dentist about how much fluoride toothpaste is appropriate for your little one.
  • Plan regular visits to the dentist: Like people of all ages, children should see the dentist every six months. Routine visits an experienced and friendly pediatric dentist can help monitor and preserve dental health.

Schedule Your Child’s First Dental Visit Today

Our Smiles Dentistry for Kids family is dedicated to protecting the smiles of your little one by offering personalized, detail-oriented check-ups in an easy-going environment. Schedule your child’s first dental appointment with Dr. Matt by calling (913) 685-9990.

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.

smiles dentistry for kids logo and kids on purple background

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, we strive to create a positive environment for our patients (and we must say, we’re pretty good at it!). We never want the dental office to be a place that kids fear or dread which is why Dr. Matt is so intentional about how he runs his dental practice.

Part of enjoying a visit to your dental office is knowing what to expect, but that’s nearly impossible when you’ve never been to a place before. While you may have been to other dentist offices, ours is unique in the best ways.

Here’s what your child can expect at their first visit to our pediatric dental office:

Friendly and Fun Environment

From the time you and your little one walk in our doors, our team will treat you like family. We prioritize providing quality care for children and teens, but we want the experience to be pleasant for the entire family.

Our office is full of bright colors that will surely grab your child’s attention, and Dr. Matt uses props that are sure to keep him or her engaged while learning about oral hygiene.

Discussion About Oral Hygiene Habits

Education about oral hygiene is so important for children and their parents. As your little one grows, he will need to change his oral hygiene routine accordingly and parents are most likely the ones who will enforce those!

During the first visit and each one after that, Dr. Matt and his team will talk with you about your child’s specific oral health needs and how to address those at home.

Some topics that may be covered include:

  • Baby bottle tooth decay
  • Types of toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • Thumb and pacifier habits
  • Cavity prevention
  • Flossing techniques

Oral Exam

While an oral exam is normal and expected for adults, children are often nervous about it. You can prepare your child for this part of the appointment by playing “dentist” at home and using your finger to count his or her teeth.

During the exam at your dental office, the dentist or dental hygienist will check to ensure your child’s teeth, gums, and jaw are healthy and functioning properly.

Dental Cleaning

Regular dental cleanings are absolutely necessary for preventing cavities and ensuring your child’s teeth develop properly. This is another part of the appointment that may make your child nervous, but it shouldn’t! Our hygienists are extremely gentle to ensure the experience is comfortable and pain-free.

We recommend reading a book or watching a TV show about visiting the dentist before coming so your little one is more comfortable in the chair.

Check out this blog for tips to prepare your child for their first visit to your local pediatric dental office.

Contact Your Local Pediatric Dental Office Today

Now that you and your child know what to expect, it’s time to schedule that appointment! Another thing you can expect from us is punctuality. We will always respect your time, so don’t expect to be in the waiting room for very long! In fact, we encourage families to arrive at least ten minutes early to complete any paperwork before being called back to one of our private operatory rooms.

Dr. Matt and his team are excited to have you and your family become a part of ours. Call 913-685-9990 today to schedule your child’s first visit to Smiles Dentistry for Kids.

scared little girl

Whether it’s your child’s first trip to the dentist or tenth, he might feel fearful or anxious. Dental fear among children is common, but there are certainly ways to overcome it! As pediatric dental professionals, we take responsibility for providing a safe, comfortable, and fun environment for our patients. This includes rooms filled with bright colors and team members with kid-friendly, happy attitudes. We know that each of these things contributes to making a child feel more at ease.

A parent’s responsibility is to simply prepare their child for the visit. Dental fear doesn’t’ have to rule the appointment—it can be overcome! In this blog, we offer five tips to help your little one overcome their dental fear and anxiety.

1. Don’t over-explain

If it’s your child’s first visit, its best to keep the details as simple as possible. Overexplaining can lead to more questions, fear, and anxiety.

You and I know that nothing scary happens at the dentist’s office, but certain aspects can sound intimidating when a person hasn’t experienced it for themselves.

Most likely during your child’s visit, the dentist will examine and clean his teeth and gums. This may or may not include x-rays. For most of the appointment, your child can sit in your lap rather than in the chair by himself. If your child is needing a cavity filled or any other dental procedure, use simple language to describe that process.

2. Use positive language

As an adult, you may have had a negative dental experience (unfortunately, those are all too common!). However, it’s best to keep that experience to yourself. Something as simple as using positive language when talking about your own dental experiences or your child’s pediatric dentist can make all the difference in how she perceives her own experiences!

3. Play pretend

All (okay, most) children love to play house, school, and other pretend activities. Offer to play dentist! Your little one will love playing with you and will get to “experience” the dentist for the first time in a super fun way.

When playing, find a comfy chair and a toothbrush. You can use the toothbrush to act like you are brushing his teeth or just count his teeth. Try not to lay out any pretend dental tools that might seem scary.

4. Watch TV shows or read books

Many of your child’s favorite TV characters have an episode about visiting the dentist. In most cases, the show or book begins with the main character being fearful of the dentist, then learning that there was never anything to be afraid of.

Here are some examples of TV shows and books that can help your child overcome dental fear:

  • SpongeBob SquarePants
  • Dora the Explorer
  • Arthur
  • Berenstain Bears
  • Peppa Pig
  • Bubble Guppies

There are also several fun videos on YouTube about the dentist and the importance of dental hygiene. Colgate has a series of ten episodes called Dr. Rabbit and the Tooth Kingdomthat kids love!

5. Bring comfort items

A favorite blanket or stuffed animal can make a huge difference for a child dealing with dental fear. If, despite all of your preparation and hard work, your child is still showing signs of fear or anxiety, pack her favorite comfort item just in case!

Eliminate Dental Fear with The Right Dentist

Choosing the right pediatric dentist for your little one is another major step to avoiding and/or overcoming dental fear. A great first visit can set him up for good oral hygiene throughout his life!

If you’re searching for a pediatric dentist in Overland Park, consider Dr. Matt at Smiles Dentistry for Kids. Dr. Matt is passionate about creating the ultimate dental experience for all of his patients. Contact us today at (913) 685-9990 to schedule a visit!

mother and toddler smiling at camera

Visiting the dentist can be a scary experience for anyone, but especially children. The sounds, smell, environment, and experience are completely new and unlike anywhere else they’ve been before. For parents of little ones, preparation is key. The first visit to the pediatric dentist can be a great experience when parents and dental professionals work together.  

The importance of first impressions is not lost on us. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, our goal is to provide a fun, comfortable, and uplifting environment for children and their parents every single time because we know your child’s oral health is dependent on it!

To increase the chances of your child’s first visit being a positive one, follow these guidelines:

1. Watch dental-themed TV shows

Your child’s favorite TV character probably has a show about going to the dentist. We know for sure that Peppa Pig, Arthur, andBubble Guppies all have episodes about visiting the dentist for the first time. These allow your little one to experience the dentist through someone else’s eyes. Typically, the character initially fears the dentist, then realizes it’s not scary at all!

2. Speak positively about the dentist

Many times, children are scared of the dentist because they’ve heard their parents speak negatively about their experiences. However, that doesn’t have to be the case for your child.

Use positive language when talking about your child’s upcoming appointment. This includes using uplifting words as well as explaining the importance of oral hygiene and regular dental visits.

Here are some helpful talking points:

  • Preventing cavities
  • Keeping a beautiful smile
  • Getting rid of bad breath
  • Creating good habits

3. Schedule the appointment appropriately

If at all possible, try to schedule your child’s appointment in the morning or after their afternoon nap. Typically, this is when children are happiest. Try not to schedule their appointment during nap time or lunchtime. This way, the dental experience is better for everyone!

Additionally, schedule at a time that works well for you. If you’re rushing to get to the appointment after work or picking up your child from school, the entire experience could be compromised. We encourage parents to arrive at least ten minutes early to fill out any needed paperwork and give their child more time to get comfortable in the new environment.

4. Bring comfort items

Does your little one sleep with a stuffed animal or favorite blanket? Bring it along! Sitting in the dentist’s chair alone may seem a little scary, but their favorite comfort item can provide some relief.

Of course, you will always be near your child to comfort him if he becomes overwhelmed, but a little extra reassurance is never a bad idea!

5. Offer a reward for good behavior

If your child responds well to rewards and is a little anxious about the visit, promising a new toy or ice cream run afterward could be the encouragement he needs. Not only with this make him more excited, but he will also have something to distract him during the appointment.

Schedule Your Child’s First Visit Today

The first step towards preparing for the first visit is to schedule it! Then you can begin preparing your little one.

If your child doesn’t have a pediatric dentist or you aren’t satisfied with your current one, Dr. Matt and our team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids would love to have you! Contact us today at (913) 685-9990 to schedule an appointment.

close up of first teeth

A child’s first visit to the pediatric dentist can be overwhelming for both the parent and the child. Unfortunately, dentists get a bad rap, but our team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids is here to change that! During your child’s first visit, and every visit after that, we promise to provide gentle and compassionate care in a fun environment.

If you didn’t know, children should visit the dentist six months after their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday (whichever comes first). In this blog, we’ll discuss what happens during this appointment and provide tips to help parents prepare for their child’s first visit to the dentist.

The First Visit

At our practice, your child’s comfort, happiness, and dental health are our top priorities. We know the first visit will have a lasting impression on you and your child, so we want to make it a good one!

Here’s what happens during your child’s first pediatric dental appointment:

1. Review medical and dental history

While your child may not have a long medical or dental history, every detail matters. The dentist may also ask for details about your dental and medical history to help him predict any future oral health problems or orthodontic issues that your child could encounter.

2. Dental cleaning or polishing and discussion about oral hygiene habits

If necessary, a dental assistant will perform a gentle dental cleaning or polishing. During this time, the assistant and dentist will also inform the parent of the best oral hygiene habits for their little one. This might include:

  • Cleaning the gums after feeding
  • Types of toothpaste
  • Baby bottle tooth decay
  • Thumb and pacifier habits
  • Cavity prevention

3. An oral exam

During this part of the appointment, your child’s teeth, gums, and jaw will be examined by the dentist to ensure they are developing properly. If there are any signs of tooth decay, he will recommend the appropriate treatment. Dental x-rays may also be taken if necessary.

When parents bring their children to the dentist regularly, he is able to track the child’s oral health development to predict and prevent future problems.

Tips for the First Visit

Though we are committed to creating a fun and positive experience for every child, there’s only so much we can do. Parents are the experts on their children, and we need their help!

Here are three tips for parents who are preparing for their child’s first visit:

  1. Schedule the appointment at a good time. You know when your little one is happiest. For many, its right after a nap or early in the morning. If possible, try to schedule his or her first visit at that time. This makes the entire appointment more pleasant for your child, you, and us.
  2. Watch a dental-themed TV show. Your child’s favorite TV show character probably has an episode about his or her first visit to the dentist. Watching that episode can help your child view the dentist’s office in a positive light and reduce any fear or anxiety.
  3. Bring comfort items. You are most likely your child’s favorite comfort item, but he probably has a favorite stuffed animal or blanket that he likes to carry around, too. Bring whatever it is along to help him feel safer and more comfortable in our chair.

Schedule Your Child’s First Visit Today

As a part of his commitment to good oral health for all children, Dr. Matt offers free cleanings and exams for children under two years old. We’re excited to have your family join ours at Smiles Dentistry for Kids!

Call us today at (913) 685-9990 to schedule your child’s first visit.

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