As a parent, you know kids are insatiably curious. “Why?” seems to be their favorite word, and sometimes it’s very difficult to come up with an answer that will satisfy! But perhaps no other topic elicits such curiosity on the part of children – and such bafflement on the part of their parents – as the tooth fairy! Here, your KS dental office answers some of kids’ most pressing questions about the little sprite.

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt and his team want to make dental care fun – whether that means helping you bring the tooth fairy to life or making your kids excited to have their teeth cleaned. 

To benefit from our fun-loving approach and our pediatric expertise, contact our Overland Park, KS, dental office today.

Where does the tooth fairy live?

Fairies are very secretive. They are very small and easily hurt by big animals and mean human hunters. So, unlike Santa Claus, the tooth fairy has never publicized her home base. However, your KS dental office staff has heard rumors that the tooth fairy lives in a magical forest in western England

What does she do with all those teeth?

This is probably the biggest mystery of all when it comes to the tooth fairy. What does the little creature want all those teeth for? 

Some say she uses them to build a castle to live in. Others say she polishes them up and throws them into the night sky to be new stars. Still others believe that she recycles them and uses them to make big, grownup teeth that will replace the old teeth. 

The Smithsonian claims that she uses them to make an exhibit in the Museum of American History!

How does she get into my room at night?

Lost teeth play magic music, which only the tooth fairy can hear. Guided by this siren song, she squeezes through the cracks of doors and beneath pillows. She uses her fairy dust to cast children into a deep sleep so they won’t wake up and catch her while she is gathering their teeth. 

How old is the tooth fairy?

The earliest known oral reference to the tooth fairy dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. The first written record of her existence is from a 1927 children’s play by Esther Watkins Arnold. So you could say that she is about 100. 

However, we’ve heard that she magically stays 18 forever

How much money does she leave?

Like everyone, the tooth fairy is subject to inflation. As of this year, kids receive an average payout of $5.36 per tooth. This is an all-time record high. In 2020, the tooth fairy paid an average of $4.03, and in 2019 she paid just $3.70.

Contact Your KS Dental Office for Kids

To protect those precious baby teeth and make sure that the tooth fairy gives a clean bill of health, be sure to visit your KS dental office twice a year

To schedule your child’s exam and cleaning, contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids today.

two young boys making silly faces and hiding their smiles

A popular belief is that “you are what you eat,” and this adage certainly gains merit when keeping your child’s teeth and gums in tip-top shape. Many foods can contribute to plaque buildup—the culprit behind gum disease, tooth decay, and other oral health problems. Surprisingly, the following foods are a smile’s worst nightmare:

Starchy Food

Although many learn at a young age that overindulging in candy, soda, and other sugar-laden treats can destroy teeth, sugar isn’t the only food that drives concern. Aside from sweet, harmful oral bacteria love starchy foods like rice, potatoes, and pasta (because saliva converts starches to sugars shortly after eating). After the oral bacteria in your mouth fill up on sugar and starch, they create enamel-wearing acid.

Sticky Snacks

Another reason why starchy foods can be harmful to your teeth is that they quickly become sticky when mixed with saliva. Food that sticks to and between your teeth damages your tooth’s surface since they tend to linger. If your child is a fruit snack, peanut butter, or starchy food lover, encourage them to brush and floss (or at the very least, rinse their mouth out with water) after eating these sticky snacks.

Ice

Whether from a bottle or the tap, water is the body’s best friend. It doesn’t contain any harmful additives, like sugar. Also, it helps rinse away harmful pathogens and keeps soft tissues in the mouth hydrated. On the other hand, water in its solid form (ice) can leave your teeth vulnerable to damage, and it’s infamous for cracking enamel.

Citrus

Oranges, limes, and grapefruits are chock full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that keep us healthy. Although a squeeze of lemon can amplify a boring glass of water, it’s best to enjoy citrus fruits in moderation. While vitamin C helps keep gums healthy and strong, too much citrus erodes enamel (which makes teeth vulnerable to cavities). Additionally, acidic citrus can cause mouth sores to sting.

Juice

Some parents turn to juice as an easy way to sneak fruits and vegetables into their children’s diets. Although juicing might benefit your general health, you’re still exposing your child’s teeth to acids and natural sugar. If your family enjoys juice frequently, drinking juice through a straw and washing it down with water can help protect enamel.

Sports Drinks

Originally, commercial sports drinks were intended for adult endurance athletes to address physiological and nutritional needs. Today, they are aggressively marketed to young people as a way to replenish fluids after physical activity.

Sports drinks contain electrolytes, carbohydrates, and water, which are great after prolonged vigorous physical activity in humidity or high temperatures. Yet, the average American child doesn’t engage in enough physical activity to justify slamming down a sports drink. Save your dental and overall health, and grab a water bottle instead.

Learn How to Take Care of Your Child’s Smile

Taking care of your kid’s smile isn’t child’s play, and as a parent, you might be wondering how to protect your child’s smile from tooth-destroying bacteria. On top of limiting the list of foods in this blog, you can counteract their adverse effects by maintaining proper oral hygiene—including brushing, flossing, and visiting a kid’s dentist regularly.

If you’re a resident of Overland Park, KS, or surrounding towns, consider scheduling a pediatric children’s appointment with Dr. Matt by calling (913) 685-9990 or messaging us online.

Little girl experiencing early baby tooth loss with a fallen baby tooth in his hand

Baby teeth are vital for your child’s oral development and act as placeholders for adult teeth. As baby teeth fall out, they create a space in the jaw for future permanent teeth. However, young children can sometimes experience early baby tooth loss. When are baby teeth supposed to fall out? What do I do if my child loses their tooth too early? Continue reading to find the answers to these frequently asked questions and more.

When do baby teeth typically fall out?

When is an appropriate time for your child to meet the tooth fairy? According to the American Dental Association (ADA), children typically lose their first teeth around 6 or 7 years old. Generally speaking, the first teeth that children lose are their first teeth that erupt: the central incisors. Children lose their primary teeth throughout childhood, and by 21, all 32 adult teeth should erupt. 

Why is my child experiencing early baby tooth loss?

If your child is experiencing tooth loss too early, the most common reasons are (1) dental decay and (2) traumatic facial injuries. Thankfully, the most common causes of early baby tooth loss are largely preventable. Parents are encouraged to supervise their child’s oral hygiene habits and take additional precautions to prevent early baby tooth loss, which includes:

  • A consistent brushing and flossing regiment
  • Scheduling dental check-ups at least every six months
  • Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • Consuming well-balanced meals and healthy foods
  • Ensuring that their child wears mouthguards if he or she plays sports

What are some risks associated with losing baby teeth too soon?

When baby teeth fall out prematurely, they may not have the necessary space for adult teeth to form. Without adequate space, the teeth become crowded and may feel uncomfortable. Furthermore, crooked teeth require future orthodontic intervention. Misaligned teeth are harder to clean and are associated with an increased risk of developing tooth decay, periodontal (gum) disease, and TMJ disorder.

Speak with Dr. Matt About Early Baby Tooth Loss and More

There’s a common myth that since baby teeth fall out, they don’t require the same level of attention. In reality, your child’s teeth are essential for his or her development. Healthy baby teeth help children eat, talk, and lay the foundation for healthy permanent teeth. Without intervention, your child may suffer from severe consequences if they lose their baby teeth too soon. It’s much easier to handle premature tooth loss early on than wait to deal with crowding and other oral health problems.

If your child is experiencing early baby tooth loss, speak with a pediatric dentist immediately. At Smiles for Life Dentistry, Dr. Matt prescribes spacers and space maintainers to help young patients prepare for the arrival of their incoming adult tooth. Schedule an early baby tooth loss evaluation in Overland Park, KS, by calling (913) 685-9990 or requesting an appointment online as soon as possible.

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 male pediatric dentist examining a little girl's mouth

A family dentist and a pediatric dentist can both provide quality care for your children. Before moving forward and selecting a dentist for your children, it’s essential to know the difference between family and pediatric dentists. The chief distinction between these two types of dentists is the types of patients that they treat:

  • Family dentists see both adults and children.
  • Pediatric dentists specialize in treating children exclusively.

While this isn’t the only thing that distinguishes the two types of dentists, here are three factors that you may not have considered before:

Education and Training

Family Dentist

Family dentists (or general dentists) must complete these tasks to secure licensing:

  • A four-year degree
  • A post-graduate degree
  • Hands-on training
  • Exams with passing scores

After accomplishing these goals, dentists usually have DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) after their name.

After graduation, both family and pediatric dentists must learn a state-specific amount of continuing education hours to stay up-to-date with dentistry’s latest trends and technology. All dentists must acquire 60 hours of continuing education credit in their specialty every other year in Kansas.

Pediatric Dentist

After receiving the same educational training as a general dentist, pediatric dentists (or children’s dentists) undergo further training. Typically, pediatric dentists complete a two-year residency after graduation from dental school. During this time, pediatric dentists study advanced material for their specialty, including (but not limited to):

  • Child development and psychology
  • Advanced diagnostic and evaluation procedures for children
  • Dental care for special needs patients
  • Advanced surgical procedures for child anatomy
  • Conscious sedation and general anesthesia
  • Management and treatments of oral and facial trauma and injuries

The additional study, as mentioned earlier, helps children’s dentists treat the developing bodies of infants, children, and adolescents.

Types of Treatments

Family Dentist

Family dentists typically offer an array of services, including:

  • Preventative care: Primary focus is keeping the teeth and gums clean and healthy to impede the development of tooth decay and gum disease
  • Restorative Dentistry: Keeping the mouth healthy and fully functioning
  • Cosmetic Dentistry: Improving aesthetics of the smile

Pediatric Dentist

Pediatric dentists have more experience and understanding of the anatomy of primary (or baby) teeth and developing mouths and jaws. Furthermore, children’s dentists have experience dealing with medical conditions not typically observed in adults (including tongue ties and cleft palates). Often, general dentists recommend young children to pediatric dentists if they experience these childhood health problems. Developing teeth, mouths, and jaws help children speak and eat properly, so they must receive adequate care.

Office Atmosphere and Language

Family Dentist

Because family dentists serve both adults and children, they typically have an office environment and faculty that accommodates adult tastes and expectations.

Pediatric Dentist

Most pediatric dentists add special, child-centric touches to their physical offices, such as bright colors or kid-friendly decor. Also, children’s dentists and their team have special training for: 

  • Understanding children’s behavior
  • Speaking with simple vocabulary to educate young children
  • Easing anxiety and fear in young children

Choose a Pediatric Dentist in Overland Park, Kansas

Although family dentists can treat the entire family, pediatric dentists cater to children’s growth, development, and needs. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt specializes in treating the smallest patients, whether a baby with his or her first tooth or a teenager ready to set sail to college. To find out more information about our practice, call (913) 685-9990 or contact us online at your earliest convenience.

young boy with a toothache

Is your kid complaining about hurting teeth? Toothaches are a common oral health problem among children, and they can sometimes feel unbearable. Dr. Matt, an Overland Park Pediatric Dentist, educates parents on everything they need to know about childhood toothaches.

Causes of Toothache

If your child has a tooth, they can feel the wrath of a toothache. Most babies experience the painful process of a tooth emerging by six months of age. However, toothaches are most common in children between the ages of 6 to 12 years old. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 1 in 7 children aged between 6 to 12 years experience toothaches. Depending on how intense the pain is, a toothache can be a symptom of any of the following dental problems:

  • Emerging teeth
  • Food accidentally wedged between the teeth (can aggravate the tooth roots and gum line)
  • Dental decay, damage, or erosion
  • Chipped or cracked enamel (surface of the tooth)
  • Detached or missing dental fillings

Signs of Toothache

Toothaches can affect your child’s eating and sleeping habits, which directly impact their growth and development. Even if your child cannot verbally communicate that they are experiencing dental pain, here are five signs to look out for:

  1. Eating less
  2. Fussiness before bed and frequently waking throughout the night
  3. An ongoing need to chew (“cutting teeth” for babies and toddlers)
  4. Sinus infection symptoms
  5. Rubbing their jawlines and in or around their ears

Home Remedies

Here are four actions that you take at home if your child is suffering from a toothache:

  • Ice: Applying a cold compress on the cheek for 15 minutes can reduce swelling and numb the area. Also, babies enjoy gnawing on frozen rags.
  • Over-the-counter medication: NSAIDs and numbing gels can relieve toothaches temporarily.
  • Saltwater rinse: By mixing ½ a teaspoon of salt with warm water, you can compose a saltwater solution that may dislodge substances between teeth and naturally disinfect the mouth. (Do not swallow.)
  • Teabag compress: Applying a warm or cold tea bag can soothe a toothache. However, do not use this method often because tea can stain the teeth.

In-Office Treatment

When is it time for your child to visit the dentist for his or her toothache? Dentists consider toothaches a dental emergency if the toothache:

  • Causes severe pain
  • Lasts for more than two days
  • Prompts swelling in the face or mouth
  • Triggers earache, fever, or discomfort (when the child opens their mouth widely).

Pediatric dentists identify and treat toothaches in two steps:

  • Step 1: The dentist determines the source and severity. This may constitute an x-ray, a physical exam, and the dental team calmly asking your child questions about their dental pain. 
  • Step 2: The dentist solidifies a treatment plan. Dependent on the source of your child’s toothache, the dentist will come up with the next step for treatment. Typical treatment plans for toothache include cavity treatment, fillings, root canals, and extraction.

Prevention

While some toothaches (such as those caused by emerging teeth) are unavoidable, cavities, gum disease, and dental trauma are preventable. Keep your children’s teeth safe and healthy by:

  • Brushing and flossing twice daily
  • Going to the dentist for a routine clean and check-up at least every six months
  • Wearing a mouthguard during contact sports

Contact Our Five-Star Overland Park Pediatric Dentist

If you notice that your child is expressing toothache symptoms, it may be time to reach out to your child’s dentist. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt treats toothaches in a kid-centered, comfortable environment. Schedule an appointment at our Overland Park, KS office by calling (913) 685-9990 or contacting us online today.

Toddler smiling while brushing her teeth as part of her daily dental hygiene routine

In October, dental offices across the nation celebrate dental hygienists’ hard work. Pediatric dental hygienists provide preventative oral care and dental hygiene practices. They examine and clean young patients’ teeth under a dentist’s supervision. Additionally, they educate young patients about their developing mouths in kid-friendly language. 

Good dental hygiene must happen in and outside of the dentist’s chair. Here are the answers to five commonly asked questions regarding dental hygiene: 

1. How do I remove plaque from my children’s teeth?

Did you know that the mouth is full of bacteria? Helpful bacterias create balance in your mouth’s ecosystem. However, an imbalance of oral bacteria can destroy teeth and supporting tissues. When harmful oral bacteria lingers on the surface of teeth, plaque develops. After bacterial plaque hardens into tartar, it can only be removed by a dental hygienist. If a dental hygienist does not remove the tartar, cavities and gum disease are likely to develop. 

A dental hygiene routine with flossing and twice-daily brushing can help prevent plaque and tartar development. Daily brushing keeps the mouth healthy by removing food particles and bacteria. In addition, the brushing motion also stimulates the gums (which helps keep them healthy). Also, choosing toothpaste with fluoride is a simple practice that prevents cavities.

2. Do my kids really need to floss?

Even though some children and adults consider flossing a chore, flossing is an essential habit. Brushing alone cannot remove the plaque and food particles lodged between teeth and near the gumline. We recommend flossing at least once per day.

With any dental floss, be mindful to avoid gum injury:

  1. Gently insert the floss between two adjacent teeth using a rocking back and forth motion.
  2. Carefully bring the floss to the gumline (but do not force it under the gums).
  3. Curve floss around the edge of the tooth in the shape of the letter “C.” 
  4. Slide it up and down the side of each tooth.
  5. Repeat the process between all teeth.

3. What’s the correct way to teach my children how to brush their teeth?

Brushing teeth in the morning and before bed helps prevent plaque build-up. Here are some tips to help teach your children to brush their teeth effectively:

  1. Use a timer or favorite tune to time children for two to three minutes.
  2. Hold the brush at a righchildren’skid’sWhat’st angle (45 degrees) against the gumline.
  3. Gently brush all inside and outside surfaces of the teeth in short strokes. Scrub the chewing surfaces, making sure to clean the pits and crevices.
  4. Gently brush the tongue to remove harmful breath-causing bacteria.

4. How does sugar affect my kid’s dental hygiene?

In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that children and adults reduce their sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake. Sugar is a widely-known culprit of tooth decay because harmful oral bacteria thrive on high starch diets consisting of sugars and carbohydrates. When oral bacteria feast on sugar and carbohydrates, they create acids that can lead to bacterial infections. If left untreated, oral bacterial infection can turn into cavities.

An often overlooked component of maintaining good oral hygiene is cutting down on sugary, high-carbohydrate foods. This dietary change can decrease the likelihood of children developing cavities.

5. How often should my children visit the dentist for a dental hygiene visit?

Dental professionals encourage people of all ages to visit every six months. Consistent visits to the dental clinic can help prevent tooth decay, gum disease, other oral health disorders. Our dental hygienists work diligently and patiently to keep your children’s teeth healthy by:

  • Removing cavity and gum-disease causing bacteria, plaque, and tartar
  • Cleaning and smoothing the surface of the teeth
  • Educating children to care for their teeth

Schedule a dental cleaning in Overland Park, KS, by calling (913) 685-9990 or messaging us online today.

cute baby smiling with two baby teeth

If you think your baby’s toothless smile is adorable, just wait until her first tooth appears! Babies are born with 20 primary teeth, but they don’t erupt above the gumline until between the first six months to a year. Most children have their complete set of primary (baby) teeth by age three, but every child is different.

Even though most primary teeth fall out and are replaced with adult teeth, baby teeth still matter. Healthy baby teeth can lead to healthier adult teeth and limit toothaches.

1.     Healthy Adult Teeth

Young children who have a high-sugar diet and inadequate oral care tend to develop cavities. If baby teeth develop cavities, there may be significant consequences, such as:

Gum Disease

As cavities develop, the infection can migrate to the gums. Gingivitis, the initial stage of gum disease, causes gums to be inflamed, red, and bleed. Thankfully, gingivitis is reversible through professional dental cleaning and extra care in at-home routines.

However, if gingivitis is left untreated, gum infection develops into periodontitis. Periodontitis is an irreversible gum disease that ravages the gum tissue, teeth, and underlying bone. Periodontitis symptoms become more severe over time and can lead to tooth loss in the most extreme cases.

Dental Alignment

As stated above, dental decay can lead to early tooth loss. Prolonged empty spaces in the mouth allow neighboring teeth to shift and try to take the vacancy. The inadequate space becomes a huge issue when the adult teeth are ready to erupt and causes misalignment. Misalignment of one tooth causes a domino effect, and adjacent teeth also become crooked. Crooked teeth are more challenging to clean and can lead to oral bacteria accumulation.

Life-long Habits

Inadequate care can speed up the development of decay, but daily brushing and flossing and routine can help remove cavity-causing bacteria from the surface of the teeth. Excellent oral hygiene routines set a solid foundation in children to carry it into adulthood.

2.     Toothaches

The source of dental pain is often an untreated cavity, cracked tooth, or infection. Toothaches can make it difficult for children to eat nutritious foods and pay attention in school.

Chewing

A well-rounded, nutritious diet is full of foods that vary in flavors, textures, and density. However, spicy, acidic, coarse, and chewy foods can trigger toothaches. A limiting diet can make children more picky eaters in the long run and make it difficult for them to reach their nutritional needs.

Concentration

Toothaches can make it challenging for children to pay attention in school, and their grades may suffer. Children with dental pain were four times more likely to score lower than their peers with healthy teeth.

Schedule Baby’s First Dental Check-up

Although baby teeth are only around for a fraction of your child’s life, they play an essential role in your child’s development. Dr. Matt offers free dental exams and cleaning in Overland Park, KS for children under the age of two. Early, consistent dental exams help maintain the health of baby teeth and help prevent oral health problems later in life.

If your child has a tooth in their mouth, it’s time to schedule their first dental appointment. Call (913) 685-9990 or conveniently message us online to schedule your baby’s first dental appointment at Smiles Dentistry for Kids.

Anxious young boy hiding behind table with with red glasses

What causes dental anxiety and stress? Is it the sound of dental tools or the clinical smell? Is it the rumors and misconceptions spread about dental treatments? While no conclusive research pinpoints the exact source of dental anxiety, 3 in 4 children suffer from it.

Pediatric dentists and parents can help children overcome this common inconvenience. Although there are many actions that parents can take to prepare their children before the dental visit, here are five techniques that pediatric dentists apply to ease dental anxiety in children:

1.     Create a Positive Environment

Despite popular belief, visiting the dentist can be an exciting moment in a child’s life! Bare walls can cause patients to feel anxious. Hence, pediatric dentists often decorate their clinics with bright colors and cheerful décor. Also, supplying child-centric media and video games can make trips to the dentist awesome.

In addition to choosing offices with a kid-friendly atmosphere, parents can encourage children to bring a positive attitude to their dental visits. Children can cope before and during the appointment by bringing comfort items from home—such as a favorite stuffed animal or blanket.

2.     Speak in a Friendly Tone

As parents, we often analyze how we speak to our children because it influences the relationship between child and parent. Usually, how something is said impacts children more than what is said. Children are more likely to listen to adults with a reasonable, nice tone instead of a harsh, aggressive one. Our entire dental team is trained to speak with children respectfully so that our young patients can feel confident in being themselves and placing trust in our staff.

3.     Keep the Child Engaged

The charm of young people is that they are often full of energy and life. However, it’s no secret that most children get restless without hesitation. A helpful technique that pediatric dentists implement is asking children easygoing questions to build a rapport, distract them from treatment, and just for fun. Constant, clear communication with easy-to-comprehend terminology can help reduce the anxiety of patients of any age.

4.     Remain Calm and Patient

When young children feel wound up at a dental appointment, it’s important not to “poke the bear.” Pediatric dentists remain calm and try not to rush procedures because this can add to a child’s existing anxiety. Instead, our dentist takes extra time and attention with each child because it gives both the dentist and patient a sense of control in a perceived high-stress situation.

5.     Use of Nitrous Oxide

Regardless of how inviting the team or practice is, some young patients may still feel anxiety, especially if their main concern is discomfort. A pediatric dentist may suggest nitrous oxide (commonly referred to as “laughing gas”) in these instances. This mild form of sedation is safe and effective for children.

Book Your Child’s Next Appointment with Dr. Matt

Dr. Matt and his dedicated team focus on forming positive bonds and nurturing experiences to help younger children feel more comfortable at the dentist’s office. By creating rewarding dental experiences early, children can take this optimistic oral health outlook with them into adulthood.

To learn more about how to help children overcome their dental anxiety in Overland Park, KS, contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids by calling (913) 685-9990 or requesting an appointment online today.

little girl laying under grey blanket sucking her thumb

From their first teeth, to their first steps, and their first day of school, parents strive for healthy lives for their children. This includes promoting life-long oral health habits. Dental-related issues are prevalent among children, so preventative and proactive care is essential.

In this blog, we discuss six of the most common dental problems that affect young children and adolescents.

1. Cavities

According to the Center of Disease Control and prevention, about 1 in 5 children aged 5 to 11 years old have at least one untreated cavity. Why? In addition to sugar-heavy diets, most young children aren’t proficient at oral hygiene routines without supervision. Inconsistent and inadequate flossing and brushing often lead to dental decay.

When a sticky film of bacteria (plaque) isn’t removed from the tooth’s surface, the acid in the plaque erodes the enamel and eventually wears away at the tooth.

Dentists advise parents to supervise and help young children brush their teeth, ensuring that they remove plaque, bacteria, and debris twice a day to prevent cavities from forming. If tooth decay develops, dentists must treat it to prevent it from spreading to other areas of the mouth.

2. Dental Emergencies

Accidents happen, which means dental emergencies can happen at any time. As kids adjust to their growing bodies or are physically active, they are more prone to dental-related accidents. If teeth fracture or get knocked out completely, this is considered a dental emergency.

If a dental emergency happens (especially if the tooth is lost), immediately call the dentist and set up an emergency appointment. Early prevention, intervention, and treatment are vital to saving your child’s smile.

3. Excessive Thumb and Pacifier Sucking

Did you know that some babies suck their thumbs before they’re even born? Babies have innate sucking reflexes, which can cause them to place their thumbs or fingers in their mouths. Sucking thumbs and pacifiers is an appropriate and valuable self-soothing technique for very young children.

However, most medical professionals do not encourage children to suck their fingers past their fifth birthday. On top of relentless social difficulties, prolonged thumb-sucking can lead to abnormal bite and speech issues.

4. Gum Disease

Unfortunately, chronic gingivitis is common among children. Gingivitis is a reversible infection signified by red, swollen gums that may lightly bleed when your child brushes or flosses.

Generally, gum disease becomes more aggressive over time in children that do not practice adequate oral hygiene. Periodontitis (advanced gum disease) is irreversible and may involve gum recession, discomfort, and tooth loss if left untreated.  

5. Orthodontic Issues

Perfectly straight teeth without intervention are rare. Today, dentists expect up to 70% of American children to wear orthodontic devices to perfect their smiles. Orthodontic problems are typically genetic, with tooth and jaw size and shape playing a role in how teeth form and align.

Beyond aesthetic reasons, misaligned teeth can pose life-long health problems. It can be difficult for children to clean between crooked or crowded teeth, which may lead to the development of gum disease. Furthermore, overcrowded or misaligned teeth can cause jaw difficulties and fractured teeth.

The American Association of Orthodontists advocates that children receive their first orthodontic checkup at age seven to evaluate jaw and teeth development and create a treatment plan (if needed).

6. Dental Anxiety and Fear

Dental anxiety is a common worldwide phenomenon that affects 36% of children. Sadly, this often learned behavior can result in serious oral health consequences. Parents have the power to change the narrative and foster a more positive relationship with the dentist’s office for their children.

Schedule an Appointment

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt provides proven, kid-friendly dental care to help his young patients reach and sustain peak oral health. Contact our Overland Park, KS office today at (913) 685-9990 or message us online to schedule a consultation.

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