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 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.

beautiful baby girl

This year, International Carrot Day falls on the day after Easter—a holiday famous for delicious, candy-filled eggs. We’re bringing some awareness to International Carrot Day to help you and your child fight against cavities in a fun way.

The sugars and starches that we usually indulge in on Easter should be enjoyed; it only comes once a year! But it’s important to counteract a day of indulgence with healthy eating habits that benefit our oral and overall health. Carrots are one food that does just that.

Continue reading to learn about the benefits of carrots, how to celebrate International Carrot Day, and some kid-friendly carrot soup recipe ideas.

Benefits of Carrots

Carrots are known for their bright orange color (though they do come in other colors), beautiful green leaves, and crunchy texture. These delicious vegetables also contain several nutrients that benefit our mouths and bodies. The greatest benefits of carrots include:

  • Improving eye health with beta-carotene reduces the risk of age-related diseases.
  • Beta-carotene, which helps produce vitamin A, also improves the body’s immune system.
  • Carrots contain carotenoids, such as retinol, biotin, and lycopene, which promote healthy, youthful skin.
  • All crunchy vegetables help clean the teeth naturally. In the process, the gums are also massaged.
  • The keratin and vitamin A in carrots strengthens dental enamel.
  • Fiber, beta-carotene, and vitamin A are important parts of an anti-inflammatory diet. This is good news for patients who suffer from gum disease (an inflammatory disease). Eat more carrots to stop the development of gum disease or fight it off.
  • Experts say that yellow, red, and orange vegetables improve heart health; so, eat plenty of them!

How to Celebrate International Carrot Day

You will probably come up with some creative ideas on your own, but here are some of our ideas for how to celebrate this holiday:

  1. Visit the grocery store or farmer’s market and pick out purple, orange, and white carrots to try at home. Eat them raw or prepared! Make this even more fun by blindfolding each other and trying to guess which carrot is which.
  2. Using the carrots you bought, plant some of your own. Check out this blog to learn how to propagate the carrots.
  3. Print out coloring pages of rabbits eating carrots for a short, creative activity.
  4. Read about the origin and history of carrots.
  5. Though you probably won’t reap the benefits of the carrots, and especially won’t be fighting against cavities, making a carrot cake together would be a fun activity. Here’s a popular recipe.

Fight Cavities with Soup

Soups are a great option for parents who want their children to eat healthier, and because so many soups contain carrots, they make a great dinner for International Carrot Day.

If you and your family love carrots, try a creamy roasted carrot soup or this Creamy Thai Carrot Soup with Basil (our mouths are watering).

For something a little less carrot-y, a simple vegetable soup, chicken noodle soup, or a hearty potato soup with carrots will do.

Fighting Cavities with Simple Oral Health Tips from Dr. Matt

At Smiles Dentistry 4 Kids, our goal is to make oral hygiene simple and practical. Dr. Matt believes that every child can obtain and maintain optimal oral health when their parents have the right tools and knowledge.

To schedule a first visit at our Overland Park pediatric dentist’s office, call (913) 685-9990 today.

little girl and boy holding heart

This year, Valentine’s Day lands on a Sunday, which means we have an entire day to celebrate! It can be difficult to find ways to incorporate children into Valentine’s Day since it’s usually a day just for mom and dad. While we do hope the two of you have some alone time together, the holiday can be just as fun, if not even more fun, with little ones around.

We can’t think of a better way to celebrate love than to share it with the ones we love the most. Here are seven ideas to make Valentine’s Day fun a celebration for your whole family:

1. Make a love-themed breakfast together

Start the day off right with heart-shaped pancakes, strawberries, or raspberry-glazed cinnamon rolls. We also love this “Love Toast” recipe! Have some fun in the kitchen by making breakfast together and enjoy the delicious meal around the table.

Children and adults should remember to brush their teeth before breakfast to protect the enamel. If your meal consists of lots of sugar and carbs, be sure to drink plenty of water while eating and consider brushing again 30 minutes after.

2. Share a love story

Valentine’s Day is a great day to share your own love story with your children. What kid doesn’t want to know how their parents met and fell in love? If for some reason you aren’t comfortable with that, share someone else’s love story!

3. Dance to your favorite love songs

Family dance parties are the best. This holiday is a great time to teach your child about your favorite songs and dance moves, including how to properly slow dance, two-step, or waltz. If you don’t know these dances, pull up a YouTube video and learn as a family.

4. Make Valentine’s Day cards for St. Jude patients, the elderly in nursing homes, or veterans

In the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, consider making cards for those who need them most. This provides the opportunity to talk about how to love others who are going through a difficult time.

Several organizations deliver cards to St. Jude, nursing homes, and veterans. Your family may also be able to drive to a nursing home or veterans’ home and deliver the cards yourselves! Be sure to call ahead of time to learn about any COVID restrictions.

Regardless of how the cards get there, the feeling of making someone else’s day better will be so rewarding.

5. Make chocolate-covered strawberries

Did you know that both chocolate and strawberries are beneficial to teeth? When eaten in moderation, dark chocolate helps limit oral bacteria that cause bad breath. It can also stop bacteria from turning sugar and starches into acid.

The malic acid in strawberries is a natural whitener, so eating strawberries can actually brighten your smile! Additionally, they also contain Vitamin C which aids in the fight against gum disease.

Remember to eat these in moderation; too many strawberries can break down dental enamel and lead to decay.

6. Get crafty

Kids love crafts. We know that the idea of doing crafts at home can be overwhelming, but it’s a great way to make new memories and new decorations for next year! Check out this blog for easy and fun Valentine’s Day crafts for kids.

7. Dress up and go on a special date

For a more traditional holiday, get everyone dressed in their best outfits and head to your favorite restaurant or order food and have a restaurant-style dinner at home. During the family date, share things you love about one another as well as your favorite parts of the day.

One Final Tip for Valentine’s Day

In all the fun and excitement, don’t forget to take care of your teeth and encourage your little one to do the same. An easy way to do this is to start and end the day by brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.

If your child hasn’t had a regular dental cleaning or exam this year, now is a great time to schedule it! Contact our Overland Park pediatric dental team today at (913) 685-9990 to make an appointment with Dr. Matt

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