little girl wearing a stocking cap

When you’ve had a hard day, nothing beats the sight of your child’s smile. So when it comes to routine oral care for kids, you naturally want the very best. But what exactly does that look like? 

Children’s dental care looks very much like adult oral hygiene. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, we can provide tips to improve your whole family’s dental care. And, of course, Dr. Matt also provides regular preventive services specifically for young patients. 

To learn more about children’s dental care or to schedule a routine visit for your child, contact our Overland Park, KS, office today.

Daily Brushing and Flossing 

Good daily care is the foundation of oral health. Twice daily brushing and once daily flossing can keep bacteria, plaque, and tartar at bay. Since these are the substances responsible for cavities, good maintenance can lay a foundation for a lifelong healthy smile. 

You may be surprised to learn just how early brushing and flossing should begin. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends wiping down baby’s gums with a soft cloth even before any teeth come in. Once teeth erupt, parents should use a soft-bristled brush and a tiny amount of toothpaste to brush baby’s teeth twice a day. 

Good Hygiene Modeled at Home

As a parent, you know that kids watch everything and try to copy whatever they see, especially in the early years. That is why it is so important that your children see you maintaining good dental care for yourself. From a young age, let them see you brushing and flossing. And when they get old enough to do it themselves, try brushing together as you teach them proper technique. 

Not sure what the proper technique actually is? The American Dental Association has a whole guide

A Healthy Diet

While removing oral bacteria is vital, what kids put into their mouths is also important! Too much sugar not only makes for a crazed kid; it also increases the risk of tooth decay. And refined sugar is not the only culprit. All simple starches, including white bread, rice, and fruit juice, provide oral bacteria with easy energy sources. 

For optimal oral health, limit sugars and starches. Instead, encourage kids to reach for lean proteins, calcium-rich cheese and yogurt, vegetables, nuts, apples, and pears. It’s also important to drink water during and after meals, as this can help to flush away food particles. 

Here is another instance of kids imitating what they see. If you make a habit of reaching for the healthy stuff, chances are your kids will, too!

Biannual Dental Visits

Finally, it is essential to visit the dentist twice a year. Biannual appointments allow a dentist to clean a child’s teeth, check for decay, and look for any problems with dental development. Often, early intervention can prevent serious functional or orthodontic problems later down the line.

Again, you may be surprised at how early this should start. In fact, babies should visit the dentist once their first teeth come in or no later than their first birthdays

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, we focus exclusively on pediatric care. We offer gentle, stress-free exams and cleanings. And we are ready to address any issues with equally compassionate, child-centered treatment.

Contact Us for Gentle Routine Oral Care for Kids

Protect your greatest treasure – your child’s smile! Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids today. 

You can make an appointment online or call us at (913) 685-9990.

Just like age-appropriate vaccines and routine wellness checks, dental checkups are a vital part of your child’s overall health. Good dental care beginning at an early age can greatly reduce your child’s risk for repeated cavities and orthodontic complications

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park, KS, Dr. Matt and his team focus exclusively on pediatric care. Whether it is your child’s first visit or their tenth, we know that appointments can be scary for younger kids. That is why we work hard to make dental appointments fun and to let you know in advance exactly what you can expect. 

Contact us today to learn more about dental checkups or to schedule an appointment for your little one.

Why are dental checkups so important?

Dental visits can prevent serious damage to your child’s teeth. 52% of children aged 6 to 8 have already developed at least one cavity in their baby teeth. This may not seem like a big deal – after all, those teeth will fall out eventually anyway! But early decay can dramatically increase your child’s risk for cavities as an adult

Plus, unchecked decay can lead to premature baby tooth loss. Baby teeth serve as placeholders for adult teeth. Therefore, early loss can result in significantly misaligned permanent teeth

Finally, when very young children are suffering from dental pain or problems with tooth development, they can experience difficulties in eating and speech development

Oral Exam 

All dental checkups include an oral exam. Dr. Matt will evaluate your child’s teeth, looking for any decay, erosion, cracks, or other damage. He or she will also assess the gum tissue to identify inflammation or other signs of gum disease. Though it may not seem like a major concern, periodontal disease affects up to 73% of children between the ages of 6 and 11!

Dental X-Rays

Typically, we will take x-rays at every other visit, unless your child is experiencing some troublesome symptoms. X-rays help us find hidden cavities and internal damage to teeth. Panoramic x-rays help us assess dental alignment. We can also evaluate permanent teeth that have not yet erupted. 

Parents often worry about the risks of radiation exposure during x-rays. That is why we use digital x-rays, which can reduce radiation exposure by 80% compared to traditional imaging.

Dental Cleaning 

Of course, cleanings are a key part of all dental checkups. One of our skilled dental assistants will carefully remove all plaque and tartar from your child’s teeth. After polishing, she will provide some tips and guidance for maintaining better dental hygiene at home. 

Our team knows how to help kids relax in the dental chair and enjoy their experience. For those children with severe anxiety, we can also provide safe IV sedation.

Schedule Your Child’s Appointment Today

We are excited to be your child’s home for dental checkups and any other treatment they might need. 

Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids online or call our Overland Park office at 913-685-9990.

As a parent, you may wonder, “Is dental care really that important for children? Aren’t kids more resilient to cavities than adults?” The truth is that kids are just as susceptible to dental decay as their parents! Moreover, when they don’t receive proper dental care from an early age, they are likely to suffer from a lifetime of dental problems. That is why we proudly offer pediatric dentistry services specifically tailored for children.

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt and his team perform a full array of pediatric dental care. Though our focus is on preventive services, we are also ready to tackle any problems that may arise. 

To book one of these 4 dental services – or any other care you require – contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids today.

Dental Cleanings and Exams

Of course, brushing and flossing at home are the first  step in preventing tooth decay, but regular trips to the dentist are also vital. Unfortunately, only about half of all US children visit the dentist once a year. Children ages 2 to 5 are even less likely to visit the dentist than older kids. Only 35.1% of this younger group typically visit the dentist once per year. 

The American Dental Association recommends that children visit the dentist no later than their first birthday. We encourage parents to bring their children in no later than 6 months after their first teeth appear. To make early care even easier, we offer free exams and cleanings to children under 2!

Digital X-Rays

X-rays can help Dr. Matt detect hidden cavities. They can also reveal potential orthodontic problems. For instance, they can show whether your child has enough room for his or her incoming adult teeth. 

Like many parents, you may be nervous about exposing your child to x-rays. Following guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, we only take x-rays after age 4 (unless otherwise required). Furthermore, we use digital imaging, which further reduces the already negligible radiation exposure.

Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride is a key component of oral health. This mineral helps to strengthen dental enamel,  providing a barrier to keep bacteria from affecting the soft pulp inside teeth. It can also help to remineralize and repair damaged teeth. 

Although most community water is enhanced with fluoride, bottled water contains no more than 0.17 mg of fluoride per serving. Most foods have negligible amounts of the mineral. To supplement your child’s fluoride intake, Dr. Matt can provide a fluoride rinse or varnish. This topical treatment has no side effects, but it can dramatically reduce your child’s risk of cavities for years to come.

Emergency Care

Of course, we work hard to protect your child’s teeth through routine preventive care. Nonetheless, we know that emergencies can arise. Whether your child suffers decay, sustains an athletic injury, or breaks a tooth biting down on something they shouldn’t, Dr. Matt is on call 24/7 for urgent dental needs.

Schedule An Appointment for Your Child Today

We know your child’s smile lights up your life. Give it the care and protection it deserves with outstanding pediatric dental care. 

Book an appointment online or give us a call at (913) 685-9990. 

Little boy and mom reading

Going to the dentist for the first time can be scary for small children. Even those who have been to the office before may not remember, or they may be alarmed by the unusual sights and sounds. When you are preparing for a trip to the dentist in Overland Park, reading stories can be a great way to prepare. 

Picture books give little ones a visual guide to what they will experience. And when they see brave storybook heroes visiting the dentist, it can give little ones a boost of courage. Of course, Dr. Matt has a great chairside manner and will also help to set your child at ease.

In honor of today’s National Book Lover’s Day, here are 8 great children’s books to help prepare your kids for a dental visit. Ready to visit? Contact Smile’s Dentistry for Kids to make an appointment. 

1. Going to the Dentist: A Toddler PrepTM Book

Going to the Dentist explains exactly what a toddler can expect when visiting the dentist. It includes helpful photographs, which can better help prepare children. 

Keep in mind that, even though this book is geared for toddlers, children should visit the dentist no later than their first  birthday

2. Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer

Part of the beloved Little Critter series, Just Going to the Dentist features familiar characters and illustrations. When the Little Critter finds a cavity, it shows kids that they can handle “scary” dental problems.

3. (NOT) Scary Stuff at the Dentist’s Office by Tana S. Holmes

(NOT) Scary Stuff is meant to be read aloud with frequent shouts of “NOT scary!” This fun, interactive book truly helps put kids at ease. 

4. Brush, Brush, Brush! by Alicia Padron

A rhyming board book geared towards kids aged 1-3, Brush, Brush, Brush! introduces the youngest children to the importance of good oral hygiene.

5. The Tooth Book by Mark Bacera

Even many parents don’t know the order in which teeth fall out. The Tooth Book introduces this topic, the five types of teeth, and other scientific information in a fun and engaging way. 

6. Quinn Amelia Goes to the Dentist by Nicole Rodriguez-Wilson

When four-year old Amelia goes to the dentist for the first time, she even has x-rays taken. Encourage kids to face new experiences bravely with this courageous young heroine.

7. Tooth by Leslie Patricelli

A unique offering, Tooth is a board book about teething. While this can be a great offering for the youngest readers, it can also be helpful for older siblings as they struggle to understand why Baby is crying during this new transition. 

8. Tooth Fairy Wishes by Andre Calbert 

When a little girl loses her first tooth, she learns all about what the tooth fairy most desires – healthy dental habits! In a fun rhyming story, kids discover the effects of flossing, brushing, and a nutritious diet. Plus, the book includes illustrations of a dentist, the tooth fairy, a castle, and even a unicorn! 

Contact a Compassionate Dentist in Overland Park

After all that reading, your child is definitely prepared to visit the dentist! Make the experience even easier by visiting a dentist who cares specifically for kids

Make an appointment with Dr. Matt online or call the office at (913) 685-9990.

young girl with a bowl of cereal for breakfast

The morning is the perfect opportunity to set intentions for the day, and research supports that starting your day with a balanced breakfast can positively impact your overall wellbeing. If you’re having trouble deciding what to put on your next grocery list, start your day with one of the following healthy breakfast foods that can protect your smile while giving your body the complex nutrients it needs:

Whole-Grain Cereals

It’s no secret that kids tend to love the cereal aisle at the grocery store. Here, you can find bright-colored boxes covered with kid-friendly cartoon characters. Many kinds of cereal marketed to children are often labeled as “healthy” but are loaded with sugar, sodium, and artificial ingredients.

Although sugary cereals have a bad reputation, not all cereals are created equal. When finding cereals for your family, look for whole-grain cereals with no sugar added. (Also, don’t forget warm whole grain cereals, like no-sugar-added oatmeal.)

Increasing whole grains in your diet might reduce your risk for periodontitis (advanced gum disease). Also, don’t forget to add a splash of plant-based or traditional dairy milk for extra calcium.

Crunchy Fruit

It’s summer, which means that fruit is in season! When filling up your fruit bowl, consider picking crunchy fruits, like apples and pears, with a high water and fiber content. Crunchy foods benefit oral health and hygiene in many ways, including:

  • Saliva Stimulation: When the mouth produces saliva, it washes away food particles and harmful bacteria.
  • Fiber: Crunchy fruits offer high amounts of fiber, which take more work to consume and digest.
  • Mechanical Scraping: Crunchy fruits act similarly to a natural toothbrush and can scrape away bacteria from the surface of your teeth.

Eggs

Whether you love a hearty omelet or a simple scramble, eggs are a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Furthermore, eggs are a versatile food. You can load them up with fresh vegetables to increase fiber and nutrients or sprinkle them with a bit of cheese for extra calcium.

Smoothies

Smoothies are a great breakfast option and are a way to sneak in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, dairy, and fiber in a single glass. The next time you want a smoothie, consider combining your favorite combo of the following oral health-friendly ingredients:

  • Liquid base: green tea, plant-based milk, or low-fat milk
  • Leafy greens: spinach, kale, or Swiss chard
  • Whole fruit: bananas, berries, or apples
  • Protein: Protein powder, cottage cheese, or yogurt
  • Healthy fats: peanut butter, flax, or chia seeds

Yogurt

If you’re on the go, a serving of plain or Greek yogurt is an excellent, convenient breakfast full of probiotics and calcium. Make your simple yogurt a more wholesome and filling treat by adding fun mix-ins, such as nuts, seeds, or fruit.

Take Care of Your Teeth After Breakfast

After eating a balanced breakfast, ensure the food particles don’t hang around. Shortly after mealtime, brush and floss your teeth to remove bacteria, plaque, and food bits to prevent cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.

Also, don’t forget to schedule a children’s dental appointment at least every six months. Dr. Matt and his Overland Park, KS dental team are trained to care for the smallest smiles. Book a kid’s dental visit by calling (913) 685-9990 or messaging us online right now.

Father holding his son on Father's Day

Coincidentally, Father’s Day falls in the same month as Oral Health Month and Men’s Health Month. So, Dr. Matt and his team have compiled our favorite dental care tips for fathers and their children:

Lead By Example

There’s no better role model than you, Dad! It’s no secret that your kids watch and learn from your actions. During the early years, participate in your child’s oral hygiene routine by showing them the ropes (or tubes of toothpaste and best brushing practices). When you demonstrate good examples of oral hygiene in your household, your children are likely to follow suit.

Take Time to Take Care of Your Oral Health

Life never slows down, and this sentiment is especially true for parents. We understand that it can be challenging to pencil in “me” time with working overtime, coaching your kid’s little league team, and so much more. Yet, one way that you can ensure a long, healthy, and happy life is to pencil in moments to take care of your oral health.

Although it may be hard to hear, some gender-based studies propose that men generally take oral health for granted. Furthermore, men are more likely to disregard their oral health, have worse oral hygiene habits, and suffer from greater rates of oral health disease (such as gum disease and oral cancer) as well as dental trauma. Neglecting your oral health is devastating to your smile and can negatively impact your life.

Along with daily brushing and flossing, we recommend seeing the dentist at least twice a year. Regular dental hygiene check-ups and cleanings remove stubborn plaque, the sneaky culprit behind cavities, gum disease, and potentially systemic health conditions like heart disease.

Open Conversation About Oral Health

How often do you talk to your children about how to stay healthy? Father’s Day is the perfect occasion to pass on some wisdom about keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Help your child understand the vital relationships between oral health, general health, and quality of life by opening the floor to the following conversations:

  • Why it’s important to brush and floss your teeth every day
  • The dangers of tobacco and other drugs
  • How mouthguards can protect your teeth during sports
  • Why it’s important not to use your teeth as tools

Treat Yourself to Cosmetic Dentistry

Father’s Day serves as an opportunity to get pampered. If you’ve pushed off repairing a chipped tooth from an old sport’s injury, whitening your teeth, or straightening your smile, seize the day and celebrate Father’s Day by scheduling a cosmetic dentistry appointment with a local Overland Park dentist.

Be a Part of Your Child’s Dental Appointment

There’s a delicate balance to the art and science of fatherhood, but what’s most important is that you’re there. Whether you realize it or not, your children value the support and input that you provide in their wellness. Research suggests that children generally do better in life when their father actively participates in their lives.

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park, KS, we always welcome fathers who bring in their children for dental visits. (There’s no reason to miss out on the fun!) Check out what our children’s dentist’s office has to offer your family by calling (913) 685-9990 or messaging us online.

child looking at butterfly on purple flowers during Spring Break in Overland Park, KS

Whether you’re looking for activities in the sunshine or the comfort of cool air conditioning, there are local Spring Break activities to keep everyone in your family busy. So, pull out your planner and start penciling in these engaging activities to do around Overland Park, KS, while your children are out for school. 

1. Stop and Smell the Flowers

If the weather permits, load up on fresh air and Vitamin D while you admire the local natural wonders of the season. Embracing environments with plenty of foliage is linked to many positive effects (such as improved cognition, better coping skills, and less stress). 

Fortunately, our community has many green spaces, including:

  • Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
  • Farmer’s Market
  • Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead
  • Indian Creek Hike & Bike Trail

2. Escape Rooms 

Discover a safe, thrilling, and immersive experience only an escape room can provide. Brain-teasing escape rooms help children think critically and make essential decisions to move through the stages. Therefore, escape rooms are an ideal, entertaining activity for developing problem-solving and objective analysis.

3. Play Board Games

If your kids are bored over Spring Break, bust out the board games! Board games are much more than family fun. Playing multi-player games can stimulate and strengthen parts of the brain responsible for complex thought processes and memory formation for kids of all ages. Additionally, playing board games can:

  • Strengthen bonds between people
  • Release the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals
  • Teach children how to set goals and be patient 
  • Help build self-esteem

4. Clean for Spring

Did you know that childhood cleanliness may impact your kid as an adult? In a compelling, multi-generational study, researchers discovered that young adults who grew up in homes that were rated “clean to very clean” completed more school and earned more money than those who grew up in homes rated as “not very clean to dirty.”

We get it. It can be a pain to teach kids how to clean. Frankly, it’s sometimes much faster to just do it yourself. However, teaching your kids how to clean correctly is an essential life skill that teaches them responsibility and helps them value hard work. So, crank up the tunes and start dusting as a family!

5. Visit a Museum or Two

Just because school is out doesn’t mean kids should turn their brains off. Museums provide multi-sensory opportunities to gain knowledge. Also, some museums allow children to explore their interests through hands-on activities and authentic artifacts. 

That is why your family should check out these local installations to experience the arts, history, science, and more:

  • Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Museum at Prairiefire
  • Kidscape at Johnson County Museum
  • Wonder Wonder?
  • Overland Park Murals

6. Get Lucky at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Mark your calendar! On Saturday, March 12th, Downtown Overland Park will be kicking off its first-ever St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Celebrate this free Irish-themed parade with the entire family. But, most importantly, don’t forget to wear green!

7. Visit Smiles Dentistry for Kids

Since kids get a week away from school during Spring Break, this time serves as a fantastic opportunity to schedule children’s dentist visits. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt and his team believe in keeping your children’s teeth as healthy and clean as possible so that they can smile confidently. Book your child’s next dental visit by calling (913) 685-9990 or messaging us online.

baby celebrating first birthday which means it's time for his or her first dental appointment

Is it finally time to schedule your child’s first dental appointment? If your child has a tooth or has celebrated their first birthday, then the answer to that question is an astounding YES! Before scheduling the first dental appointment, we want to make sure both parent and patient are calm and collected for their child’s big day at our office. In this blog, we discuss do’s and don’ts in preparation for your child’s first dental appointment.

DO be prepared.

Please have medical records and insurance ready before arriving at your child’s first dental appointment. At Smiles for Kids Dentistry in Overland Park, KS, our team tends to run on schedule. Please arrive at least 10 minutes early to your appointment. We need an ample amount of time to accommodate your needs and every child after.

DON’T use anxiety or fear-based language.

Despite our best intentions, studies show that children with anxious parents tend to showcase anxiety as well (likely due to a combination of genetics and learned behavior). If you feel uneasy about going to the dentist, your child may also develop feelings of apprehension. Please don’t be scared! Instead of allowing your fears to rub off on your children, act out or speak with your child about positive dental experiences (if your child is old enough to understand). 

DO bring comfort items.

Just like the people who rely on them, coping strategies are diverse. When stress and anxiety hit, some children reach for something soft and familiar. By bringing a child’s favorite toy or blanket, children can practice self-soothing and help them feel more secure.

DON’T use negative reinforcement.

We get it. Sometimes, children can behave differently in a clinical setting. Whether your child does not appreciate being in a new environment or maybe that the dentist is taking too long for his or her liking, our pediatric dental team is experienced in handling different types of kids and scenarios. Also, we are hopeful and understand that it typically gets better with each visit. 

It’s incredibly beneficial for parents to reassure their children that these feelings are normal for some kids, that they are in a safe environment, and have a positive attitude. Additionally, parents can praise their children for being brave after the dental appointment.

During difficult moments when your child is not receptive to what you have to say, actions can speak louder than words. Sometimes, a simple hug from mom or dad can help calm young children down. Recent research supports that receiving hugs can reduce cortisol responses to stress. We can assume that when children feel less stressed, they often feel more comfortable.

DO schedule your child’s first dental appointment with a pediatric dentist.

Some parents believe that they can simply take their kids to visit their general dentist. However, not all dentists are trained (or will treat) young children. In contrast, pediatric dentists complete additional training after dental school to learn about all the nuances of rapidly developing mouths.

At Smiles for Dentistry Kids, our team is trained to understand how to comfort and treat young patients with a wide range of needs and stages of development. Schedule your child’s first dental appointment by calling (913) 685-9990 or messaging us online today.

Illustration of the progression of gum disease

Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease or periodontitis) is a progressive inflammatory infection that can be triggered by poor oral health habits, genetics, hormonal changes, and inadequate nutrition. Untreated gum disease can potentially lead to these four detrimental effects: 

1. Bad Breath

Bad breath (halitosis) can be an awkward problem for both the sufferer and those around them. While bad breath can be due to subpar oral hygiene, diet, or other factors, halitosis can be also be caused by gum infections. Chronic bad breath may be attributable to an overgrowth of oral pathogens that emit sulfur-producing compounds into the mouth. Periodontal disease-causing bacteria are housed within the plaque and tartar, which accumulate on the gums and teeth. 

2. Speech Impairment

Did you know that healthy teeth help us speak clearly? Unfortunately, as periodontitis progresses, it can cause teeth to loosen or fall out. The changed position of the teeth can cause issues when pronouncing words, which affects speaking or singing abilities. For example, if the two front teeth in the upper jaw are lost, the airstream broadens and it can make children sound like they have a lisp.

3. Worsened General Wellness

As previously mentioned, gum disease is an inflammatory disease, which means that the immune system is attacking its tissues and results in the inflammatory response to fight infection. Periodontal disease-causing pathogens start as oral inflammation but can spread throughout the body via the bloodstream. In addition to oral diseases, The American Academy of Periodontology recognizes the connection and progression between gum disease and other diseases, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory disease (such as pneumonia)
  • Cancer (including kidney, pancreatic, and blood cancers)
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Admittedly, the link between gum disease is not usually a cause-and-effect relationship but rather a mutual one. For instance:

  • When you treat gum disease and diabetes (or vice versa), both conditions will improve.
  • However, if you ignore treating gum disease and diabetes (or vice versa), both conditions will worsen. 

Also, it’s important to mention that oral inflammation may contribute to chronic inflammation all over the body.

4. Decreased Confidence

When young people do not like how their smile looks, it influences how they feel about themselves. According to a study published in The Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, dental disorders cause a profound impact on adolescents’ aesthetics and psychosocial behavior, which affects their self-esteem. Maintaining excellent oral hygiene and eating the right foods can help control visible signs of periodontal disease, including dark spots from untreated dental decay and tooth loss.

Avoid Gum Disease with Periodic Dental Appointments

In summary, untreated periodontal disease can profoundly impact the physical, emotional, and social components of a person’s life. Thankfully, gum disease is largely preventable. Visiting the dental clinic every six months gives dentists a fighting chance of catching and treating the signs of gum disease while it’s still in the reversible stage (gingivitis). 

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, our team of dental professionals helps keep children in Overland Park, KS, and surrounding areas gums healthy by:

  • Educating young children about how they can keep their smiles healthy for life
  • Providing dental hygiene and other oral health services
  • Offering a no-cost dental exam and cleaning for children under two

Prevent the adverse effects of periodontal disease by scheduling your child’s next dental checkup and cleaning by calling (913) 685-9990 or contacting us online today.

Unhappy girl suffering from toothache from cavity, touching cheek

Cavities are permanent holes in the teeth’s surface caused by tooth decay. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half of all children aged 2 to 19 years old experience a cavity. Poor oral hygiene, a diet high in starches and sugars, and other factors raise the risk of developing tooth decay at any age.

Although children may not experience symptoms initially, cavities get worse and more prominent over time when left untreated. If you believe that your child may have a cavity, here are five signs to look out for:

1. Toothaches

Discomfort is one of the most common symptoms of cavities. However, cavities typically do not hurt until they are deep enough into the tooth to affect the underlying tissue and nerves. Pain can range from mild to unbearable. Toothaches can come suddenly, be ongoing, or trigger when chewing or biting down. 

2. Sensitivity

Does your child experience a sensitivity that lingers after enjoying food and drinks that are:

  • Hot
  • Cold
  • Sweet
  • Acidic
  • Sticky

Sensitivity could be a sign of a cavity. As the enamel (surface of the teeth) erodes, it can affect the dentin (layer of dental tissue below the enamel). When there is an inadequate amount of enamel, the dentin is exposed and can stimulate the cells and nerves inside the tooth.

3. Stains

If you notice white, brown, or black stains on the surface of your child’s tooth, it may be the start of a cavity. As dental decay advances, the staining becomes darker (brown or black spots) and more widespread.

4. Holes or Pits in Teeth

When stains worsen, they turn into a hole or pit in the tooth. In terms of size, they can range from tiny openings to being large enough to break the tooth itself. They may be visually noticeable or able to be felt when your child runs their tongue over the surface of their teeth. Some holes or pits, especially in crevices or between teeth, are challenging to see or feel. However, they may still cause discomfort or sensitivity. 

5. Abscessed Tooth

In a worst-case scenario, an untreated cavity can spread to the gums and cause a tooth abscess. An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms around the infected tooth root caused by bacterial infection. Some symptoms of an abscessed tooth include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Intense, unrelenting pain that is severe enough to interfere with daily activities and sleeping
  • Discomfort in the jaws, ears, or gums
  • Swelling in the gums or face

In treatment, dentists must drain an abscess. Some patients may require a root canal and dental crown. If the infection spreads to the jawbone, the tooth must be pulled.

Schedule a Pediatric Dental Exam in Overland Park, KS

Overall, the symptoms of cavities greatly depend on the size and location in the mouth. For example, larger cavities are more noticeable and may cause more discomfort as the tooth weakens. Furthermore, cavities often form in the back teeth (molars and premolars) because they have many grooves and pits that collect food particles and bacteria.
Excellent dental care, offering nutritious snacks, and routine dental checkups can prevent the formation of cavities. However, if you suspect that your child may be suffering from tooth decay, it’s imperative to seek immediate attention so that the problem does not worsen. Dr. Matt applies contemporary techniques to identify and treat childhood cavities. Schedule an appointment with us by calling (913) 685-9990 or conveniently requesting an appointment online.

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