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.

smiling children

A healthy, happy child—it’s what we all desire for our kids, right? Many times, health and happiness are intertwined. This is especially true when it comes to oral health.

When a child’s mouth health declines, their smile usually fades away as well. Our pediatric dental team aims to help parents help their children achieve and maintain optimal oral health through preventive treatments.

Some of the most common preventive treatments for children include:

  • Dental cleanings
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Dental sealants
  • Space maintainers
  • Mouthguards

Of course, there are so many things parents can do at home to give their child the best chance at a healthy smile. Creating a consistent oral hygiene routine, offering healthy meals and snacks, and ensuring their child drinks plenty of water.

Here are three reasons why preventive dentistry is so important for children:

1. Better overall health

The link between oral and overall health is extremely evident. When our mouths aren’t healthy, our body suffers and vice versa.

For example, children who experience early tooth loss because of poor oral hygiene often suffer from poor nutrition which can affect their ability to function well at home and school. Cavities and gum disease are caused by disease-causing bacteria that the body must fight against. This bacterium can cause inflammation all throughout the body, including the brain. Gum disease has also been connected to pancreatic and kidney diseases.

Teaching your little one proper oral hygiene techniques and bringing him to the dentist every six months doesn’t just ensure he avoids smelly breath and cavities, it also attributes to a healthier body and mind. That’s an investment worth making!

2. Proper dental and oral development

When a child experiences early tooth loss, the adjacent teeth will likely shift into the open space, causing serious alignment issues. These children will need braces in the future to correct the problem. Unfortunately, alignment problems can also lead to cavities and gum disease because of an inability to thoroughly clean the teeth.

As far as oral development goes, children with an unhealthy mouth or who have missing teeth may struggle to pronounce certain words and sounds. Children don’t typically begin to lose their primary (or baby) teeth until six years old, so their permanent teeth won’t be ready to erupt until then as well.

3. Good self-esteem

Something as small as persistent bad breath can negatively affect a child’s self-esteem and mental health. On the other hand, a healthy smile can add to a confident, happy, and self-assured life.

As an adult, it isn’t hard to imagine what it would be like to live with an incomplete or imperfect smile. Low self-confidence can make our social lives nearly nonexistent, hinder our job prospects, and negatively affect our overall happiness and success.

The impact is the same for children, except instead of work, it’s school. Children with good self-esteem are more likely to do well in school, try new things, and lead a more fulfilling life. Preventive dentistry helps get them there! 

Preventive Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park

The first step towards helping your child achieve optimal oral health is to find an experienced and compassionate pediatric dentist. Dr. Matt at Smiles Dentistry for Kids is living his dream of helping children gain and maintain healthy smiles. We are conveniently located and excited to serve your family!

Call our office today at (913) 685-9990 to schedule an appointment.

For children, oral hygiene begins as soon as their first tooth erupts, so usually around six months old. The thought of brushing one tiny tooth may seem silly, but taking care of that little tooth is just as important as if he or she had a whole mouth full of teeth!

All parents want their children to grow up to be healthy and happy. That’s why we take them to doctor’s visits, provide nutritious foods, and ensure they’re getting enough exercise. Taking your little one to dental exams and cleanings every six months is just one more way to ensure he is as healthy as can be.

Are baby teeth important?

Your little one’s teeth are just as important to her as yours are to you. Take a minute to think about what your life would be like without healthy, functioning teeth. Chewing and speaking would certainly be more difficult, and you’d probably struggle with insecurity. The same is true for your child! Without them, she can’t chew or speak properly, therefore, we do all we can to preserve them!

This means reducing the risk of cavities, baby bottle tooth decay, and tooth loss (until the proper time). When a baby tooth falls out too soon, there may not be room for the permanent tooth to emerge which could lead to dental misalignment and crowding. One of the best ways to interfere with these dental issues is to bring your child to the dentist two times a year.

What happens during kids’ dental exams and cleanings?

For children three and under, these appointments look much different than regular cleanings and exams. The pediatric dentist will examine your little one’s mouth and may do a fluoride treatment. During the exam, the dentist will make sure all of his baby teeth are developing properly and that the teeth and gums are healthy.

For older children, the pediatric dentist or dental hygienist will perform a regular dental cleaning when necessary.

One of the most important parts of these visits is that you (the parent) will learn about proper oral hygiene for your child. This includes:

  • Proper brushing and flossing techniques
  • How to clean the gums after feeding
  • Types of toothpaste
  • Thumb and pacifier habits
  • Baby bottle tooth decay
  • Cavity prevention
  • Nutrition

These topics are ones that most parents never really think about until it’s too late. Our goal as pediatric dental professionals is to set your little one up for a life of good oral health!

What are the benefits of bringing my child to the dentist regularly?

Aside from being a steppingstone to optimal oral health, regular visits to the dentist offer these benefits to children:

  1. A positive perception of dentists: Many children grow up hearing about how horrible dental appointments are. When they have first-hand experience, they are much less likely to believe that. Our pediatric dentist works hard to ensure every little patient of ours loves his or her time at our dental practice.
  2. Promotes good habits: When you prioritize oral health for your child, she will likely do the same when she’s older!
  3. Provides oral health records: In an emergency, it is so important to have health records on hand. This way, the experts can spend their time on the issue at hand, not trying to catch up on the patient’s history.

Dental Cleanings and Exams for Kids in Overland Park

It’s never too late to bring your child to the dentist for the first time. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, we’re happy to provide fun, compassionate, and personalized dental care for kids of all ages. To schedule a first visit with Dr. Matt, call us today at (913) 685-9990.

family at Thanksgiving

A house full of family, playing games, and eating a traditional Thanksgiving meal are some of our favorite things about the Thanksgiving holiday. While this year may look a little different, we hope that it is just as special!

The Thanksgiving meal is full of old family recipes, favorite family dishes, and foods your little one has probably been requesting year-round. Helping your little one maintain a healthy mouth is just as important as making his favorite Thanksgiving dish. That doesn’t mean he has to skip out on anything. In fact, many Thanksgiving staples have oral health benefits.

Continue reading to learn about the benefits of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes and practical tips for helping your family maintain good oral health during the holiday.

The Benefits of Thanksgiving Foods

Most foods have some sort of nutritional value. Here’s how popular Thanksgiving foods benefit oral and overall health:

  • Turkey: This beloved main course is often the star of the show. It is also packed full of protein and low on fat. Turkey contains vitamin b3 which helps support healthy teeth and gums. 
  • Sweet potatoes: For those of us with a sweet tooth, sweet potatoes, also called yams, are a Thanksgiving favorite. They are also full of nutrients that help keep your body and mouth healthy. Of course, yams typically contain loads of butter and brown sugar that may reduce these benefits.
  • Green bean casserole: Green beans, mushrooms, and onions make this dish one of the most nutritious options at a Thanksgiving feast. Green beans, in particular, are full of vitamins and minerals that support healthy skin, bones, and hair.
  • Mac and cheese: We all know that calcium helps build strong bones, and there aren’t many more delicious ways to get calcium than macaroni and cheese! This is a favorite among children, so just make sure your child is getting nutrients from other sources as well!
  • Mashed potatoes: Mashed potatoes are full of nutrients that help regulate blood sugar and improve digestion.
  • Pumpkin pie: The most popular Thanksgiving dessert is pumpkin pie. Apart from the added sugar and whipped cream on top, the pumpkin itself is full of vitamin A which strengthens dental enamel and helps maintain healthy gums.

Thanksgiving Oral Hygiene Tips

The holidays are a time for enjoying and indulging in the good things in life. We won’t ask you or your child to give any of those things up! However, we will offer these tips to help your family maintain healthy mouths.

  1. Encourage your little one to brush and floss her teeth more often during the holidays. Brushing after meals is a great habit to keep
  2. The Thanksgiving meal is full of sugar and calories already, so try to drink only water throughout the day. Water helps clean the mouth of food particles, sugar, and other debris that may lead to cavities and gum disease. Your child won’t have as much of an after-dinner crash, and you’ll feel less bloated!
  3. Portion sizes matter, even on Thanksgiving. Try to fill up your plate with the healthiest options, then when you aren’t as hungry, go back for smaller portions of the not-so-healthy dishes.
  4. If possible, spread the leftovers out among family members. This way, you and your family don’t have three days of Thanksgiving meals instead of just one!
  5. There’s no better way to begin the new year than with a clean and healthy smile. Call to schedule regular dental cleaning appointment for your little one with his or her pediatric dentist. Be sure to do the same for yourself!

Learn More from Dr. Matt

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt’s goal is to help your child gain and maintain a healthy smile year-round. For more oral hygiene tips, or to schedule a dental cleaning for your little one, contact our friendly team today at (913) 685-9990.

little girl with thumbs up on pink background

New parents often have many questions about dental care for their little ones. Starting at about six months, babies begin to develop their first two teeth, and even those require special care! While Google, friends, and family members may offer advice, parents should seek the guidance of a pediatric dentist who can offer personalized oral health tips for their baby.

Topics that a pediatric dentist may discuss with parents include teeth cleaning appointments, baby bottle tooth decay, proper brushing and flossing techniques, nutrition, and thumb, finger, and pacifier habits.

Gaining this advice and education on your child’s oral health is one of the main advantages of attending regular teeth cleaning appointments. Continue reading to learn about the other benefits of bringing your child to the dentist every six months.

1. Creates a positive relationship with the dentist

From the time that your child’s first teeth erupt, you should schedule a teeth cleaning and exam appointment every six months. Though your child may be too young to remember her first few dental visits, she will quickly become familiar with the office environment, dentist, and team members. As she grows, she and her pediatric dentist will create a trusting and positive relationship so that she never deals with dental fear or anxiety.

Additionally, you will feel much more comfortable putting your child in the care of someone you know and trust.

2. The dentist teaches your child good oral hygiene habits

Teaching your child how to brush and floss properly can be a really fun experience, but it can also be really frustrating if you don’t know exactly what your teaching and what he should be doing.

Pediatric dentists are experts at teaching children how to care for their teeth. Many dentists use fun props and tools in their office to show children how to brush and floss. Making oral hygiene fun goes a really long way for kids!

The dentist will also provide tips for how you can teach your child later on.

3. The dentist’s office keeps oral health records

Having one consistent dentist is important for people of all ages, but especially children. When your little attends teeth cleaning and exam appointments every six months, the dentist can easily keep track of his or her dental development and oral health. This allows the dentist to predict any potential dental problems and create a plan to avoid them in the future.

These records also come in handy in a dental emergency. Rather than having to spend time talking to the parents about their child’s oral health history, they can pull out their records and get to work as soon as possible.

4. Serious oral health problems are avoided

Bi-annual trips to the dentist are one of the best ways to prevent oral health problems for children and adults. During these appointments, the dental team uses special tools to thoroughly clean the mouth, and the dentist checks for signs of decay or disease. When those are detected, measures are taken to treat them immediately. The teeth cleaning itself helps stop cavities, gum disease, and other oral health problems from ever developing.

Kids’ Teeth Cleaning in Overland Park

Want to help your child achieve a healthy, beautiful smile? Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Matt. We are passionate about providing personalized, compassionate, and fun dental care, and creating a positive experience for our patients and their parents.

Call us today at (913) 685-9990 to schedule a teeth cleaning appointment.

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