baby eating broccoli which is good for oral health for St. Patrick's Day

Many people wear green clothes to keep themselves from getting pinched each St. Patrick’s Day. But did you know that consuming green foods is a component of keeping your teeth and gums healthy? So, put these green items on your next grocery list.

1. Broccoli

Chock full of Vitamin C and E, broccoli is one vegetable that stands out for oral health: 

  • Wards off oral bacteria
  • Aids in healing
  • Strengthens teeth
  • Protects enamel

2. Kiwi

Did you know that kiwis are loaded with Vitamin C? These fuzzy green fruits provide over 100% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C, which plays a crucial role in reducing the risk of developing gum disease.

3. Asparagus

Spring has sprung, which means it’s asparagus season! Here’s a tip: enjoy more asparagus! Although they may not seem like much, asparagus tips and spears contain a wealth of nutrients, including:

  • Folate
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Vitamins A, C, E, and K
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Riboflavin
  • Fiber

Furthermore, asparagus is an excellent source of prebiotic fiber, which helps aid digestion and balance the gut microbiome. Adding asparagus to the menu at least once a week can keep your teeth and digestive tract healthy.

4. Leafy Greens

Leafy green vegetables are a critical component of a balanced diet. While low in calories, leafy greens are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Spinach and kale are superfoods brimming with vitamins (A, C, and K), folic acid, iron, calcium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, and protein. What more could you ask for in a simple leaf? 
  • Cabbage is high in fiber, Vitamins C and K, and glucosinates (special antioxidants that may aid in disease suppression).
  • Did you know that one measly cup of Swiss chard provides over three times the daily allowance of Vitamin K? 
  • Although carrots are predominantly orange, carrot tops are green, fibrous, and crammed with beta carotene.

5. Green Tea

According to research scientists, green tea is one of the healthiest drinks available. Green tea is packed with periodontal health saving agents that can:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Prevent bone resorption
  • Stifle bacterial growth that is associated with gum disease

Whether you meet your match with matcha or enjoy green tea poured over ice, unsweetened green tea is a smart swap for sugary drinks.

6. Green Apples

If you are thinking about grabbing a candy bar, consider holding a green apple instead. When you replace sugary treats with fresh apples, you:

  • Gain hydration
  • Chew the fibrous texture of the fruit, which can gently remove plaque trapped between teeth
  • Stimulate the gums
  • Reinforce gum health by supplying the gums with antioxidants and polyphenols
  • Promote healthy saliva production

Keep Your Child’s Smile Healthy this St. Patrick’s Day with a Balanced Diet of Green Foods and Regular Dental Checkups

While plenty of green foods can keep your mouth healthy, it’s simply not enough to prevent gum disease, cavities, and other oral health conditions. So, we recommend that young patients visit their dentists at least every six months.

Are you searching for a new dentist for your kids in Overland Park? Well, look no further. Our kid’s dentist, Dr. Matt, is anything but green. Dr. Matt has years of experience helping children keep their teeth and gums in optimal condition. Schedule your child’s next dental appointment. Call (913) 685-9990 or message us online today.

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.

mom and daughter eating carrots on green background

There are few things more satisfying than cutting up and cooking a batch of fresh vegetables. The delicious aroma fills the house, and you know you are providing your family with high-quality nutrients that improve overall health and wellness.

Unfortunately, your little one might not feel the same way. Part of this stems from not understanding the benefits of vegetables for the mouth, mind, and body. Fresh Veggies Day is a great opportunity to educate your little one AND learn new ways to cook vegetables so that your child will enjoy them.

Here are five veggies that improve oral health with tips for how to incorporate them in a kid-friendly way!

1. Onions

Yes, onions. This vegetable that is known to cause bad breath also contains antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that prevent diseases in the mouth and body.

Cooked, sauteed, or roasted onions can be easily incorporated into your child’s favorite foods like pizza, burgers, and spaghetti. You may be surprised that it doesn’t take much convincing to get your little one to eat this delicious and nutritious vegetable.

2. Carrots

In addition to acting as a natural toothbrush, carrots contain keratin, which fights against plaque build-up, and vitamin A that strengthens tooth enamel.

Raw carrots are the perfect vehicle for any of your child’s favorite dips—peanut or almond butter, hummus, ranch, or guacamole.

3. Celery

Like carrots, celery cleans the teeth while it is being chewed. It also encourages the production of saliva which cleans teeth, strengthens enamel, and balances the bacteria in the mouth.

Also like carrots, celery pairs well with almost any dip. It’s also easy to cook and add to soups and pasta!

4. Shiitake mushrooms

A 2016 study categorizes shiitake mushrooms as a “caries preventive food” because it contains active compounds that encourage antimicrobial activity.

For parents, convincing children to eat mushrooms can be a difficult task, but this is another vegetable that can easily be combined into dishes like soups, spaghetti, pizza, and casseroles. Most children complain about the texture of mushrooms more than the taste, so adding them to dishes will be your best option!

5. Spinach

Spinach, the vegetable responsible for Popeye’s bulging muscles, is rich in calcium, folic acid, and several other nutrients. The calcium in spinach builds up dental enamel and strengthens teeth to protect them from chips, cracks, and wear. Folic acid is a type of vitamin B that helps fight against and treat periodontal disease.

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to sauté a bunch of spinach, put it on a plate, and not hear groans from your child. However, you may be able to hide spinach in your child’s morning smoothie, so he experiences all the benefits without having to taste or chew it. You can do this with kale as well!

Learn More About Kid’s Oral Health from Our Overland Park Dentist

Want more oral health tips for your child? Dr. Matt at Smiles Dentistry for Kids loves educating parents and children about how to incorporate good oral hygiene habits into their everyday lives. For personalized tips from Dr. Matt, call our office today at (913) 685-9990 to schedule your child’s first visit.

two little girls eating strawberries

One of the main ways we keep our mouths healthy is by eating nutritious, mouth-friendly foods. As adults, it’s our responsibility to choose our foods well. As parents, we also have the responsibility of choosing healthy snacks for our children. This isn’t always an easy task, especially when your child knows the deliciousness of chips and soda.

Healthy snacks don’t have to be unappealing. That’s why we’re writing this blog! Our hope is that we can help you discover new, convenient, and delicious snacks that your child will love just as much. But first, let’s talk about the dangers of sugary, processed snacks.

Consequences of Sugar-Filled Snacks

Processed foods (mostly foods that come in wrappers) are often filled with hidden sugars that pose a threat to our children’s oral health. These include granola bars, sports drinks, premade soup, low-fat yogurt, BBQ sauce, ketchup, and fruit juice.

It’s no wonder that so many children eat triple the amount of sugar they are supposed to have in a day! Consuming too much sugar doesn’t just affect your child’s teeth and gums, it can also lead to several overall health conditions, including:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Fatty liver
  • Low energy
  • Depression
  • Acne

Additionally, these children typically have a harder time focusing at school which can lead to poor academic performance.

To help reduce your little one’s sugar intake, check food labels for these ingredients:

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Sucrose
  • Rice syrup

A general rule is to look for anything that ends in “-ose” and “syrup”! Additionally, sticking to whole, unprocessed foods helps avoid sugar altogether.

Nutrients for a Healthy Mouth

Our mouths, like our bodies, require certain nutrients to function properly. For our mouths, these vitamins and minerals are particularly important:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A

When we provide these nutrients to our children, we set them up for a lifetime of good oral health.

Healthy Snack Ideas

To get all the vitamins and minerals our mouths and bodies need, we should stick to four food categories: dairy and calcium, fruits and veggies, and proteins. Grains are also important for our overall wellness and should be included in meals.

Here are our favorite kid-and-dentist-approved healthy snacks:

Dairy and Calcium

  • Cottage cheese with fruit
  • A glass of milk
  • Apples with almond butter
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Almonds

Fruits and Veggies

  • Fresh-fruit smoothie with spinach or kale
  • Guacamole with peppers
  • Hummus with carrot, pepper, and celery
  • Kale or zucchini chips
  • Apples and celery dipped in all-natural peanut butter

Protein

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Scrambled eggs with cheese
  • Plain Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts
  • Pepperoni
  • Beef jerky

We know that when you offer these snacks to your little one, you’ll notice a difference in his oral and overall health. Of course, it’s always important to talk with your child’s pediatrician to learn about any allergies or specific dietary needs.

More Oral Hygiene Tips

Dr. Matt at Smiles Dentistry for Kids is passionate about making oral hygiene simple and practical for children and their parents. When you visit our office, your child will receive more than just a dental cleaning and exam; our dentist and hygienists provide helpful tips to ensure your child has a beautiful healthy smile for years to come.

To schedule an appointment with our friendly pediatric dentist, contact our team today at (913) 685-9990.

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