The last Saturday of September is the annual celebration of National Family Health and Fitness Day USA. It’s the perfect opportunity to establish good habits for all aspects of your health – physical, mental, and oral! Here your pediatric dentistry office provides five great ideas to celebrate this important but little-known holiday. 

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt and his team are committed to your family’s complete wellbeing. That’s why we offer free exams to children under two. And we take all the necessary time to make sure little ones feel comfortable in the office. 

In addition to the ideas listed below, make sure your kids are up-to-date on their dental care. Contact our office today to book your appointment.

Exercise Together

The American Heart Association recommends that children ages 6 to 17 get at least an hour of moderate to strenuous physical activity each day

Exercising as a family doesn’t have to mean sweating it out at the gym! There are lots of ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine:

  • Go for a family walk after dinner
  • Take a bike ride
  • Have a dance party
  • Go ice skating
  • Go for a hike
  • Sign up for a family exercise class

Cook a Meal as a Family

Even if you regularly cook healthy meals, your kids may not have any grasp of what makes a food nutritious or not. Cooking together is not only a fun family activity. Research shows that kids who cook at home are more likely to make healthy eating choices

Try making some of the following with your children:

  • Healthy homemade pizzas with whole-wheat crusts and loads of veggies
  • Turkey meatballs over whole-wheat spaghetti
  • Homemade hummus with veggie sticks and grilled chicken
  • Chicken and vegetable soup

Set a Limit on Screen Time

In the US, children ages 8 to 12 spend an average of 4 to 6 hours a day watching screens. Teens can spend 9 hours a day on electronic devices! This means kids are not getting the right amount of exercise, which can lead to obesity and poor body image. Too much screen time can also lead to poor sleep, lower grades, and a reduced quality in relationships.

Set a realistic screen time limit for your children based on their ages. Discuss other activities that your kids can do to fill up the time.

Take an Emotional Temperature Reading

Around 70% of parents say they struggle to have deeper conversations with their kids. Encourage meaningful discussions with a weekly “temperature reading.” Have each person share:

  • Something they appreciate in another member of the family
  • New information
  • Puzzles they may have
  • Polite requests for change
  • Apologies
  • Wishes and dreams 

Encourage Family Dental Health

Children will more likely practice good dental hygiene if they see their parents doing so. Be sure that everyone – including mom and dad – are brushing twice daily and flossing at least once. 

You should also make sure that everyone is visiting the dentist regularly. Children should visit the dentist for a biannual exam and cleaning as soon as their first teeth appear.

Schedule an Appointment at Your Pediatric Dentistry Office 

Celebrate Family Health and Fitness Day by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Matt. 

Make an appointment online or call our Overland Park, KS, office at (913) 685-9990.

little boy looking at toothpaste on toothbrush after visiting the pediatric dentist

Excellent oral hygiene at a young age is vital for keeping the teeth and gums healthy and harmful bacteria at bay. A high-quality toothpaste can help prevent dental decay, periodontal disease, and bad breath. With so many kinds of toothpaste on the market, it can be challenging to understand which products are the best. Dr. Matt, a pediatric dentist from Overland Park, KS, explains how parents can choose the best toothpaste for their children based on their needs and preferences.

1. Check for one key ingredient: fluoride.

Fluoride is a buzzword for many dental health enthusiasts, but what is it? Fluoride is a natural mineral that boasts anti-cavity and enamel-protecting properties. Researchers credit fluoride in toothpaste and drinking water with the recent substantial reduction of dental decay.

As crucial as the fluoride itself, it’s essential to monitor children as they brush their teeth to (1) ensure they brush thoroughly and (2) give kids a just-the-right amount of toothpaste. We recommend:

  • A smear the size of a grain of rice for children under three
  • A pea-sized amount for children between the ages of three and seven
  • A small ribbon of toothpaste for anyone exceeding age seven

2. Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

If you are unsure whether a dental product is worth trying, look for the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. For the past 90 years, American dentists have considered the ADA Seal of Acceptance as the “gold standard” for evaluating the efficacy and safety of toothpaste, toothbrushes, and other dental products. 

In a nutshell, an ADA-approved toothpaste should: 

  • Be high-quality, reliable, and safe
  • Contain fluoride and active ingredients that improve oral hygiene 
  • Not contain sugar, flavoring agents, or substances that contribute to cavities
  • Be scientifically proven that it is safe and effective

3. Read the label carefully.

It’s wise to check labels gingerly because not all types of toothpaste are recommended for everyone (especially children). For example, some flavoring agents may be too harsh for kids. Toothpaste manufacturers should include a list of ingredients on the tube. If you know that your child is sensitive to specific chemicals, avoid toothpaste with those ingredients entirely. If you are unsure of which ingredients may be too harsh for children, speak with your pediatric dentist.

4. Figure out what flavors your child likes.

Contrary to popular belief, taste buds do not have much to do with what flavors your child may like. Instead, personal preferences are ever-changing and are shaped by personal experiences and special memories. 

While finding a toothpaste flavor that your children actually like can be tricky, understanding their preferences may encourage them to brush a little more. Feel free to experiment and shop around until your child discovers what works for them. While trying different options, always prioritize how well the product meets dental needs and beware of ingredients that may trigger sensitivity in your child.

Speak with a Pediatric Dentist in Overland Park, KS

With so many options to choose from, it can be tricky to select a trusted toothpaste brand that is good enough for your children. If you are ever unsure, please consult with a pediatric dentist. 

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt answers parents’ questions about life’s greatest dental mysteries and more. Schedule a children’s dental appointment with our Overland Park team. Call (913) 685-9990 or message us online today.

Female dental hygienist showing young boy how to clean teeth

Every February, Black History Month is celebrated to honor the achievements of African Americans and their central role in U.S. History. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt and his dedicated team commemorate the accomplishments of African American dentists and other trailblazers throughout American History. In honor of Black History Month, here are four African American dentists you should know about: 

Dr. Robert Tanner Freeman: First African American Dentist

Son of formerly enslaved people, Dr. Robert Tanner Freeman, cultivated curiosity and enthusiasm for dentistry after working as an apprentice to his mentor, Dr. Henry Bliss Noble. Noble encouraged Freeman to train for a career in dentistry conventionally. After being turned away by two schools for his race, Freeman applied to Harvard Dental School. In 1869, Harvard awarded Freeman a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree.

Post-graduation, Dr. Robert Tanner Freeman moved back to his birthplace of Washington, D.C. Subsequently, he practiced dentistry until he passed away in 1873. In 1909, the Washington Society of Colored Dentists renamed the Robert Tanner Freeman Dental Society as a tribute to our country’s first African American Dentist.

Dr. George F. Grant: First African American Harvard Professor

Also, the son of formerly enslaved people, Dr. George Franklin Grant graduated from Harvard’s Dental School a year after Dr. Robert Tanner Freeman. He was the second African American man to receive a dental degree in the United States. 

After graduation, he served as the first African American faculty member at Harvard and was a part of the Department of Mechanical Dentistry. We can thank Dr. Grant for his contributions to congenital cleft palate procedures. For instance, Grant patented a prosthetic device that helped patients with cleft palettes improve their ability to communicate and eat. In the late 1880s, Dr. Grant founded the Harvard Odontological Society and was elected President of the Harvard Dental Association.

Fun fact! Aside from his contributions in dentistry, Dr. Grant invented the first wooden golf tee too.

Dr. Ida Gray Nelson Rollins: First African American Female Dentist

In 1890, Dr. Ida Gray Nelson Rollins became America’s first African American female dentist. Tennessee native, Rollins was orphaned as a teenager. Shortly afterward, she went to live with her Aunt in Ohio. Here, Rollins found work as a seamstress and dressmaker. While finishing high school, she worked in Dr. Jonathan Taft’s dental practice and gained hands-on experience in dentistry.

Later, Taft became the first dean of the University of Michigan’s Dental College. He supported admitting women into his program and mentored Rollins to help her prepare for the entrance exam.

After graduating from the University of Michigan and obtaining a Doctorate of Dental Surgery, Dr. Rollins moved to Cincinnati, OH. She became the first African American woman to open her own dental practice in Cincinnati. After marrying her husband in 1895, she relocated to Chicago, IL. Here, she became the first African American woman to open a dental practice in Chicago.

Visit Us Today

Modern dentistry wouldn’t be where it is today without the contributions of African American pioneers in dentistry. Dr. Matt and his team support all families and community members in Overland Park, KS. Call (913) 685-9990 or message us online to learn more about our practice and to see if we can help jump-start your child’s oral health.

young girl showing off emerging adult teeth is a part of pediatric dentistry

Have you noticed that your child’s incoming adult teeth appear more yellow or darker than their baby pearly whites? If your child is adhering to proper oral hygiene, then you can relax. This type of discoloration is normal and can be attributed to the fact that permanent teeth have more dentin (dense inner tissue) than baby teeth. Enamel (surface of the teeth) is translucent. Sometimes, the dentin is visible and appears more yellow and larger than little, light-colored baby teeth. As your child begins to lose their baby teeth, their permanent teeth will start to appear more uniform.

Other than the natural circumstances of normal development, Overland Park Pediatric Dentist Dr. Matt unravels four potential reasons why your child’s emerging teeth may appear darker or discolored.

1. Plaque and Tartar Accumulation

When kids don’t brush or floss their teeth as thoroughly or often as they should, plaque is highly likely to develop. Plaque is a film of bacteria that naturally forms on the teeth and has a yellowish, buttery tint. However, if plaque is not removed with frequent flossing and brushing, it solidifies and transforms into thick, yellow tartar. Tartar can only be removed with tools found in the hands of a dental hygienist. 

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD) recommends that children visit their pediatric dentist every six months for a check-up and dental cleaning to remove caked-on plaque and tartar.

2. Diet

You may be surprised by what foods and drinks can stain your child’s teeth. Some enamel-altering ingredients to look out for are:

  • Acidic foods (such as citrus, tomato, and curry sauce)
  • Tannins (found in tea, coffee, and red grape juice)
  • Citric acid (serves as a preservative for many foods, including sports drinks and sour candy)

3. Trauma

Accidents can happen at any moment. If your child suffers from a blow that damages their inner dental tissue, their teeth may appear stained.

If your child has one tooth that appears yellow, brown, gray, or black after an accident, speak with your pediatric dentist immediately. This is considered a dental emergency and requires immediate action to save the tooth and inner nerves.

4. Certain Antibiotics

Doctors prescribe antibiotics to fight bacterial infections, but an unwanted side effect can be dental discoloration in children who are exposed during tooth mineralization and this can happen:

  • In utero, during the second and third trimester of pregnancy
  • Via breast milk, if the mother is taking it
  • When children under the age of eight take it

Even though tetracycline may be the most common, doxycycline and minocycline can also produce similar consequences. Because this family of antibiotics binds with the calcium ions in teeth, they will oxidize as they erupt. In this scenario, teeth will first appear fluorescent yellow and may darken to brown. Thankfully, today’s doctors typically only prescribe tetracycline to children over the age of eight and adults.

Find Out More About Pediatric Dentistry in Overland Park, KS

The truth is that not all dentists are trained or equipped to handle the oral health needs of constantly growing children. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt and his dedicated Overland Park, KS team facilitate a kid-friendly environment to provide oral health education for young minds. Pick a pediatric dentist with years of experience and call (913) 685-9990 or message us online right now.

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 boy in blue robe brushing teeth with toothpaste with fluoride

Most dentists attach great importance to fluoride and brag about how it is good for the teeth. However, many people do not understand why it’s such a popular ingredient in many toothpaste tubes, mouthwash, and other dental products. In this blog, we explain what fluoride is and how to use it safely.

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral expelled from rocks into the soil, water, and air. It is an essential element for dental development that also defends against harmful bacteria and plaque. After our enamel is exposed to dangerous bacteria, the bacteria produce acids that seep into enamel (the outermost layer of the teeth) and break it down. This destruction is what causes cavities (or holes in the teeth) over time.

Where bacteria and plaque work hard to disintegrate the tooth, fluoride builds it up through remineralization. Thankfully, the essential mineral is widely available in many forms.

Why is fluoride added to drinking water and toothpaste?

Almost all water contains trace amounts of fluoride but is not adequate to prevent cavities. For this reason, it is often added to drinking water supplies as a public health measure but is a decision at the local or state government level. Also, many dental products contain added fluoride to ensure that people are getting enough to prevent dental decay.

The primary sources of fluoride are:

  • Drinking water and processed beverages (75% of daily intake)
  • Dental products (including toothpaste, mouthwash, and more)
  • Sometimes, a prescription supplement (tablets or drops)

How can my child safely incorporate it into their daily routine?

Fluoride intake is essential for people of all ages but is especially beneficial for the developing mouths of infants and children. Preparing your child for optimal oral wellness includes:

  • Brushing teeth twice a day with an appropriate amount of fluoridated toothpaste
  • Encouraging children not to swallow toothpaste 
  • Flossing teeth daily to remove food particles and bacteria hidden between teeth and below the gumline
  • Maintaining hydration and proper nutrition by drinking plenty of water and having a balanced diet
  • Attending routine dental exams with your child’s dentist every six months
  • Asking your child’s dentist about fluoride treatments

Most people concur that too much of anything can present itself as dangerous. Despite the beneficial nature of fluoride, it’s important to note that excessive amounts can cause fluorosis, which can weaken bones, joints, and teeth and also discolor enamel. Therefore, it’s imperative to maintain a healthy balance when supplementing. Children under the age of eight are at the highest risk of developing fluorosis. 

What are the advantages of fluoride treatments?

According to researchers, young people treated with a fluoride varnish experienced a 43% reduction in decayed, missing, and filled tooth surfaces. In the same study, baby teeth with a fluoride varnish suggested a 37% less likely to develop tooth decay and cavities.

While not all children require fluoride treatment, here are four advantages of professional fluoride treatments:

  • Prevents tooth decay
  • Strengthens enamel
  • Remineralizes the teeth

Learn More About Cavity Prevention with Dr. Matt

In summary, fluoride is a highly beneficial mineral often added to treatments and toothpastes to help prevent tooth decay when used in moderation. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt and his compassionate staff educate children and their parents about how fluoride can be used safely as a method to reduce the risk of cavities. Schedule a child’s dental visit in Overland Park, KS, by calling (913) 685-9990 or messaging 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.

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.

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