Dr Matt and his team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids are excited to welcome Dr Tara Craven to the Smiles Dentistry for Kids team! Dr Tara received her Doctor of Dentistry Degree at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry and will complete her rigorous 2-year training program in Pediatric Dentistry at Children’s Mercy Hospital this June. During her training Dr. Tara received numerous awards and was part of the Pediatric Dental Honors Program where she cared for pediatric patients with special needs and those requiring advanced care. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, families can always expect to be seen by a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist.

We are confident that Dr. Tara will provide the highest quality care and attention that our families have grown to expect and appreciate at Smiles Dentistry for Kids. Dr. Craven will begin seeing patients in August, 2023. To help our patients get to know her better we asked Dr. Tara a few questions:

Why did you choose to specialize in Pediatric Dentistry?
Pediatric dentistry is my dream job and an incredible avenue that allows me to connect with kids and families. Children not only bring excitement to the field of dentistry, they bring magic, hope and adventure. I feel honored to get the opportunity to not only provide education and knowledge about dentistry but to empower kids to enjoy brushing their teeth and coming to the dentist.

What are you looking forward to most as you start caring for families at Smiles Dentistry for Kids?
I am so excited to be able to serve this community and build relationships with kids and their families. I am passionate about providing a positive dental experience for kids that will last a lifetime.

Anything else you would like our families to know about you?
Outside of pediatric dentistry, I love spending time outdoors with my husband and Labrador, traveling to new places and spending time with friends and family.

baby boy drinking water from a green cup

When it comes to staying hydrated and healthy, water is the best option. Juice, soda, tea, milk, and sports drinks all have benefits (well, maybe not soda), but they also have several negative effects. For example, children who drink milk right before bedtime are much more likely to develop cavities than children who drink water at nighttime. Sports drinks, sodas, and juices are also filled with sugars that interrupt the health of the oral microbiome.

While it may take some convincing, it’s worth it to get your little one to drink more water! Here are the benefits of water for oral health:

1. Water can strengthen dental enamel.

Since 1945, fluoride has been added to public water systems. Fluoridated water has proven itself as one of the best defenses against childhood tooth decay. When children drink water that contains fluoride, it mixes with saliva and remineralizes and strengthens dental enamel, lessening their chances of developing cavities.

If your child is drinking mostly bottled water, he probably isn’t experiencing these benefits! Be sure to find a bottled water that contains fluoride to reduce your child’s risk of tooth decay.

2. Water cleans the mouth.

Unlike sugary drinks, water rids the mouth of food particles and cavity-causing bacteria without leaving anything behind. Sports drinks, soda, juice, and even milk leave unwanted sugar and acids lingering on the teeth and gums that can cause cavities.

Water also removes stains that could cause your child’s teeth to become dull or yellow. Sugary, dark-colored drinks are one of the most common teeth-staining agents.

3. Water helps the mouth produce more saliva.

Did you know that saliva actually plays a very significant role in your child’s oral health? More concerning than your little one producing too much saliva is when he or she isn’t producing enough!

Saliva helps us break down and digest food properly and keeps us from experiencing dry mouth (which can be extremely uncomfortable!). The more water your little one drinks, the better she will digest food and avoid dry mouth.

Check out this blog to learn how to help your little one if he or she is experiencing dry mouth.

4. Water doesn’t contain any sugar.

Children over two years of age and older should consume no more than 25 grams of sugar per day. Just one apple juice box can contain 23 grams of sugar!

Not only does sugar contribute to cavities, but it also contributes to childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes. By simply avoiding these drinks, your child’s oral and overall health could dramatically improve.

If you want to “spice up” your little one’s water to make it more appealing, try adding fruit, such as strawberries and blueberries to give it a little more flavor. Some parents add a small amount of juice to their child’s water too.

For more tips to improve your child’s oral health…

Contact our friendly dental team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park! Dr. Matt and his team of hygienists are passionate about helping children avoid childhood tooth decay. That’s why we offer preventive dentistry methods that are safe and effective and focus on educating our patients and their parents in easy-to-understand language.

Join our family! Call (913) 685-9990 to schedule your child’s first visit.

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, it’s our privilege to serve the Overland Park community by providing kid-friendly, compassionate, and excellent dental care. If you’re new to the area or are just searching for a new pediatric dentist, we would love to meet with you! Until then, check out this blog to learn more about our dental practice.

But first, let us introduce you to our pediatric dentist!

Dr. Matt

Running his own pediatric dental practice has always been Dr. Matt’s dream. In doing so, he is able to teach kids and their families about the dangers of tooth decay and how to avoid it in a fun, non-clinical environment.

Dr. Matt’s education at the UMKC School of Dentistry and the Pediatric Dentistry at Northwestern University has prepared him to be an incredible resource for parents. The countless hours of hands-on experience he received at Children’s Memorial Hospital has equipped him to provide excellent care to children and teens.

All of this combined with his passion for working with children, flexibility, and high energy, make him the best choice for children’s dentistry in Overland Park.

Dr. Matt has worked hard to create an office where our patients and their parents feel welcome and cared for. Part of this is ensuring that we consistently create enjoyable experiences.

At our pediatric dentist office, here’s what you can always expect:

Personalized Care

We recognize that every child is unique which means that every child requires unique care. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, that’s what they get!

Our team gets to know you and your little one so that he or she can have the best dental experience possible. Does your child have a favorite TV show or book character? Is he more shy or outgoing? Does she play a certain sport? We take these into consideration before every single appointment! Knowing more about our patients makes the entire dental experience better for all parties involved.

No Surprises

Dental insurance can be complicated, but our administrative team works diligently to ensure you’re never surprised by unexpected expenses. We have a comprehensive understanding of your benefits and will communicate those effectively, so you always know what to expect.

Additionally, we strive to be consistent in every area of our practice because we know that familiarity brings comfort.


Every patient deserves to receive diligent care from focused dental professionals. This way, we never miss an oral health care problem that needs to be addressed or an opportunity to teach your little one how to care for his teeth properly (that is our job after all!).


Consistency is so important for children because it helps dissolve worrisome feelings. Dr. Matt understands that being a consistent figure in your child’s life will make sure going to the dentist is never a cause for fear or anxiety. This means, your child will always meet with Dr. Matt and no one else for every single appointment.

This isn’t just beneficial for our patients; Dr. Matt loves building relationships with his patients. He is just as excited about dentistry as he is about working with children, so every appointment is his dream come true!

Schedule an Initial Consultation

When you and your little one are ready, we’re here for you. Call (913) 685-9990 to schedule your child’s first visit.

laughing little boy

Choosing a pediatric dentist for your little one is an important and meaningful task. As a parent, we know that you desire for your child to grow up to be happy, healthy, and successful. Though we may have different definitions of those words, we can all agree that good oral hygiene affects each of those areas. After all, healthy, beautiful teeth certainly encourage smiling, improve confidence, and have a positive impact on overall health.

So, what’s the first step in helping your child achieve good oral hygiene? We believe the answer is finding the right kid’s dentist! Aside from asking for recommendations from friends and family, we recommend using the internet and your research skills to find the best “kid’s dentist near me.”

In this blog, we’ll explain exactly what to look for and where to find it!

1. Experience

The saying “experience is the best teacher” is a saying for a reason—it’s true! It’s the reason we ask for references when we hire a handyman or babysitter. We want to know that the person is good at what they do and that they have had enough experience to perfect their craft.

When searching for a “kid’s dentist near me” to care for your little one, experience is a must. Pediatric dentists are trained to know how your child’s mouth should be developing but experience helps them know what to do when it’s not. Experience is especially helpful when learning how to handle children’s behavior in the dentist’s chair.

Where to find it: You should find information about a dentist’s experience on his website under the “About the Dentist/Doctor” tab. You can read about our pediatric dentist, Dr. Matt, here.

2. Good communication skills

A pediatric dentist should know how to communicate well with both children and adults. It is their responsibility to teach toddlers, adolescents, teens, and their parents about proper oral hygiene habits and routines.

Where to find it: The best way to learn if a dentist has good communication skills is to visit the office in person. However, we know that’s not always possible. The next best thing is to read patient reviews on Google. You can find ours here!

3. Passion

There’s nothing worse than dealing with a person who doesn’t love his or her job. Not only are they miserable, but they bring everyone around them down too. We see this in every profession, and pediatric dentists are no exception.

Patients can easily tell if their dentist is passionate about what he does. It shows in his countenance, office environment, and even on his website! Find the “kids’ dentist near me” that seems to give his all in every area of his practice.

Where to find it: Visit the dentist’s website, watch any informational videos, and read through the reviews for details about the dentist.

4. A welcoming presence

Children are often nervous or scared when they visit the dentist for the first time. A great pediatric dentist will make every patient (and their parents) feel as comfortable as possible during their visit. This includes making sure every team member is friendly and warm as soon as patients walk through the door.

Where to find it: We recommend an old-fashioned, in-person visit for this one! Of course, online reviews are helpful too.

Our Kid’s Dentist Near You

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, we always look forward to welcoming new patients into our family! We do our best to provide a warm, fun, and safe environment for children of all ages. We know you’ll find all these qualities and more at our Overland Park office.

Call (913) 685-9990 today to schedule an initial consultation for your little one.

close up of first teeth

A child’s first visit to the pediatric dentist can be overwhelming for both the parent and the child. Unfortunately, dentists get a bad rap, but our team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids is here to change that! During your child’s first visit, and every visit after that, we promise to provide gentle and compassionate care in a fun environment.

If you didn’t know, children should visit the dentist six months after their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday (whichever comes first). In this blog, we’ll discuss what happens during this appointment and provide tips to help parents prepare for their child’s first visit to the dentist.

The First Visit

At our practice, your child’s comfort, happiness, and dental health are our top priorities. We know the first visit will have a lasting impression on you and your child, so we want to make it a good one!

Here’s what happens during your child’s first pediatric dental appointment:

1. Review medical and dental history

While your child may not have a long medical or dental history, every detail matters. The dentist may also ask for details about your dental and medical history to help him predict any future oral health problems or orthodontic issues that your child could encounter.

2. Dental cleaning or polishing and discussion about oral hygiene habits

If necessary, a dental assistant will perform a gentle dental cleaning or polishing. During this time, the assistant and dentist will also inform the parent of the best oral hygiene habits for their little one. This might include:

  • Cleaning the gums after feeding
  • Types of toothpaste
  • Baby bottle tooth decay
  • Thumb and pacifier habits
  • Cavity prevention

3. An oral exam

During this part of the appointment, your child’s teeth, gums, and jaw will be examined by the dentist to ensure they are developing properly. If there are any signs of tooth decay, he will recommend the appropriate treatment. Dental x-rays may also be taken if necessary.

When parents bring their children to the dentist regularly, he is able to track the child’s oral health development to predict and prevent future problems.

Tips for the First Visit

Though we are committed to creating a fun and positive experience for every child, there’s only so much we can do. Parents are the experts on their children, and we need their help!

Here are three tips for parents who are preparing for their child’s first visit:

  1. Schedule the appointment at a good time. You know when your little one is happiest. For many, its right after a nap or early in the morning. If possible, try to schedule his or her first visit at that time. This makes the entire appointment more pleasant for your child, you, and us.
  2. Watch a dental-themed TV show. Your child’s favorite TV show character probably has an episode about his or her first visit to the dentist. Watching that episode can help your child view the dentist’s office in a positive light and reduce any fear or anxiety.
  3. Bring comfort items. You are most likely your child’s favorite comfort item, but he probably has a favorite stuffed animal or blanket that he likes to carry around, too. Bring whatever it is along to help him feel safer and more comfortable in our chair.

Schedule Your Child’s First Visit Today

As a part of his commitment to good oral health for all children, Dr. Matt offers free cleanings and exams for children under two years old. We’re excited to have your family join ours at Smiles Dentistry for Kids!

Call us today at (913) 685-9990 to schedule your child’s first visit.

kids looking at camera

Your child’s first dental experience could impact the way he feels about the dentist for the rest of his life. Feeling the pressure? Don’t stress! Choosing a kids’ dentist that prioritizes your child’s comfort and overall experience is simple when you follow four simple steps.

When you select a dentist like Dr. Matt, your child will actually enjoy going to the dentist—we guarantee it! Our dental team puts our patients first by treating them like family, caring for their developing smiles, and providing a kid-friendly office environment.

 To find a great kids’ dentist near you, follow these practical steps:

Step 1: Read reviews

The quickest way to find the nearest pediatric dentists is to type “pediatric dentist near me” in the Google search bar.

The best pediatric dentists have raving reviews. To find these, check out Google Reviews or the dentist’s Facebook page. The dentists with the most five-star reviews are the ones you need to add to your list.

Be sure to read through the reviews to learn more about the dentist, the office environment, and available services.

To ensure you’re choosing the best kids’ dentist, look for reviews like this one:

“Dr. Matt and his team are extremely professional and our incredible with their patience. My daughter has a lot of anxiety about going to the dentist and they always treat her with extreme patience and kindness. The office is decorated and bright colors and makes you want to be a kid again yourself! I would recommend this place to anyone.” – Amy Allen

Step 2:  Visit the website

Now that you have a list of pediatric dentists near you, it’s time to check out their websites. Usually, the website reflects the office environment. For example, if the website is full of fun colors and happy children, that’s most likely what you’ll find when you visit the office in person!

On the website, you should also find information about:

  • The dentist’s background and education
  • A meet the staff page to familiarize yourself with people you may meet
  • Expectations for the first visit
  • Interesting blog topics

Take a good look around to find all the information you need to make the best decision for your child. If the website doesn’t answer a question you have, feel free to call the office to ask a team member.

Step 3: Schedule the First Visit

The best way to learn about a dentist, his team, and the office environment is to schedule an introductory visit. Most importantly, your time at the office will give your child a chance to develop his own opinion about the dentist and office. Remember, your child’s opinion is the most important!

Not all pediatric dentists are the same, but at Smiles Dentistry 4 Kids, you can expect the first visit to include:

  • An office tour
  • Meeting the dentist and team members
  • A review of your child’s dental and medical history
  • Information about healthy teeth and jaw development
  • Reviewing your oral healthcare routine
  • A dental cleaning (if appropriate)
  • An oral exam
  • A conversation about your child’s specific oral health needs

These visits typically take between 20 and 40 minutes. For the first appointment and each one after, you and your child can count on consistent, personalized care from our friendly dental team.

Step 4: Make the commitment

If the visit was less than satisfying, feel free to move on to the next pediatric dentist to compare experiences. However, if your first experience was exceptional—and kid-approved! —there’s no need to go anywhere else!

We believe these four steps will lead you to a kids’ dentist who meets your little one’s specific needs, offers simple and effective advice, and provides a relaxing but fun environment.

To schedule a first visit with our Overland Park pediatric dentist, call (913) 685-9990.  

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