little girl blowing bubbles

Choosing a pediatric dentist is extremely important. A good pediatric dentist is passionate about helping children, treats your family like their own, and offers comprehensive gentle dental care. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, we do just that (and more)!

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, children should visit the dentist every six months to prevent tooth decay and other oral health problems. These visits begin right after your child’s first tooth erupts. In some cases, the pediatric dentist may recommend more frequent visits.

To schedule your child’s first visit with Dr. Matt, call (913) 685-9990 today.

Regular dental exams and cleanings do more than just keep your child’s mouth clean, continue reading to learn all the benefits of these appointments.

Relationships are developed.

Children thrive on familiarity. When parents choose and stick with a pediatric dentist, the dental team builds a trusting relationship with the child. Imagine your child looking forward to their dental checkup! That’s the goal at Smiles Dentistry for Kids. We want your child to feel welcome, known, and valued each time he or she visits.

This is especially helpful in a dental emergency. While everything else may seem chaotic, you and your child will find relief know exactly where to go and what to expect.

Parents also feel much more comfortable asking questions about their child’s mouth when they know and trust their child’s dentist.

Oral health records are kept.

As your child grows and develops, so will his teeth. A pediatric dentist will track your child’s oral development to predict and try to avoid any potential dental problems.

In the event of an emergency or if a painful dental disorder arises, the dental team will have immediate access to records of your child’s dental history, health, and jaw development for reference.

Children learn good habits.

Pediatric dentists are great at teaching kids how to properly care for their teeth at home. If you’re having a tough time getting your child to brush or floss properly, let your pediatric dentist help! A deep understanding of oral health and passion for children makes for a great teacher.

Eventually (and all too soon!) your child will be scheduling his own dental exams and cleanings. If you prioritize your child’s oral health now, he is much more likely to keep up with it when he is out on his own.

Parents are educated.

First-time parents especially need to be taught how to properly care for their child’s teeth. While Google can be helpful, you won’t get personalized advice like you can get from the dentist himself. Your pediatric dentist will teach you about the following:

Another benefit of getting the advice in person? You can ask all your questions and voice all your concerns, and you’ll receive immediate answers.

Dental problems are addressed quickly.

Regular dental exams and cleanings allow for the early detection of oral health problems like tooth decay or misalignment. The pediatric dentist can then use more cost-effective and conservative treatments to address the problem. In the long run, these appointments could save your child from lots of pain and discomfort AND save you from breaking the bank!

To learn more about our practice or to schedule an appointment for your child, call (913) 685-9990.

little girl flossing

Many parents ask the question: if my child’s teeth aren’t permanent, how important is it for him to floss? To which we answer: extremely! Your child’s baby teeth aren’t just taking up space until they fall out, they allow your child to chew, speak, and smile properly. Without proper oral hygiene, these functions can be impaired. 

Baby teeth also hold space in the jaws for developing permanent teeth. When a baby tooth falls out too early because of decay or trauma, the permanent teeth are more likely to come in crooked. While using floss won’t help fight against trauma, it will remove food particles and bacteria from the hardest to reach places to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

Because of this, pediatric dentists like Dr. Matt and the American Dental Association recommend teaching children to floss when they have two teeth that touch. 

In addition to the reasons mentioned above, teaching your child to floss now will set him or her up for oral and overall health success in the future! 

Here are five surprising benefits of dental floss: 

1. Reduces bad breath

This is probably a little less shocking but flossing also reduces bad breath. If you’ve noticed your child constantly has bad breath despite good brushing habits, give floss a try! 

Allowing tartar to remain on your teeth is like your child leaving a glass of unfinished milk under his bed– over time, it will make itself known (and you’ll probably be the first one to smell it!). 

Have your child floss regularly for a week and see if you notice an improvement. If not, contact your pediatric dentist for an appointment. 

2. Prevents gingivitis

Flossing removes plaque buildup on the gum line that leads to gingivitis. The first sign of gingivitis (which is the first stage of gum disease) is bleeding gums. However, don’t be alarmed if your child’s gums bleed the first few times he flosses– this is normal. 

If your child’s bleeding gums are also red and swollen, a trip to your pediatric dentist may be necessary. 

3. Reduces risk of heart disease

Heart disease is often associated with gingivitis. Bleeding gums opens the pathway for bacteria to enter into the bloodstream and attack the heart. This may result in heart disease or blood clots. Daily flossing is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of heart disease (especially in men). 

You probably aren’t worried about your child developing heart disease now, but in twenty years, you’ll be glad you taught him how to floss. 

4. Controls diabetes

As surprising as it sounds, flossing and diabetes have something in common– oral bacteria. For children and adults with diabetes, the removal of oral bacteria with dental floss actually helps stabilize glucose levels. 

To experience this benefit, consistency is key. Be sure to floss at least once a day to eliminate as much bacteria as possible. 

5. Reduces risk of pulmonary disease

When our mouths are healthy, the rest of the body benefits. This is because the mouth is a direct channel to the other organs in the body, including the respiratory system. Sometimes, the oral bacteria in our mouths find their way into the lungs and can lead to bronchitis and pneumonia. 

However, this only happens when there are large amounts of bad bacteria in our mouths. Dental floss is a sure way to limit the number of disease-causing bacteria. 

Types of floss

There are several types of floss to choose from:

  • Flavored floss
  • Dental tape
  • Monofilament floss
  • Floss pick
  • Waxed and unwaxed floss

It doesn’t matter which one you choose as long as you do choose one!

Flossing for fun

Teaching your child good oral hygiene habits is no easy task, but it can be done! Check out this blog to learn how to floss properly and ways to make it enjoyable for your little one.

Along with brushing and flossing, be sure to schedule regular dental appointments with a pediatric dentist near you to keep your child’s smile bright and healthy. 

To schedule an appointment at our kid-friendly dental office, call (913) 685-9990 today. 

father and daughter flossing

The responsibilities of parenting are great, but also rewarding. As parents, we are responsible for teaching our kids how to clean up after themselves, feed themselves, and maintain good hygiene. Oral care is a huge part of an effective hygiene routine. Most parents do a great job of teaching their children how to brush properly, but flossing tends to be more difficult.

Children can begin flossing their own teeth at age seven or eight, but it’s never too early to teach them! In fact, you should start teaching your child to floss when he or she has two teeth that touch one another.

In this blog, Dr. Matt gives dental care tips that will help make flossing simple and enjoyable for your little one!

Before we begin, we should answer: Why is flossing important?

Brushing is obviously the first line of defense against decay, bad breath, and gum disease, but flossing is a close second. Dental floss gets to the parts of the mouth that toothbrushes can’t.

Food and plaque love to hide between teeth and along the gum line. If not removed by flossing, cavities or gum disease may develop. 

Now that you know the “why”, let’s get to the “how”.

Proper Flossing Technique

Dental floss comes in two types: traditional dental floss and dental floss picks. The technique you use will depend on which type of floss you and your child choose.

Traditional Floss

Break off about 18 inches of floss and have your child wrap most of it around one finger (usually the pointer) on the left or right hand. He or she will wind the rest of the floss around one finger on the other hand (just make sure it’s not too tight!). The finger with the most amount of floss will release between each tooth and the other will collect the used floss.

Have your child take the floss up one side of the tooth and down the other side making sure to get along the gum line of both the top and bottom teeth.

Repeat this between each pair of teeth.

Dental Floss Picks

Many children (and even many adults) prefer to use dental floss picks. Honestly, they are easier, but they aren’t quite as effective as regular floss. For adults, we would suggest using traditional floss, but picks are still a great option for kids who have a more difficult time with traditional floss.

Dental floss picks are either harp- or Y-shaped. Simply run the floss up and down the teeth like you would with traditional floss. Rinse off the floss between teeth and switch the pick when the floss looks worn.

How to Make Flossing Fun

If you’re struggling to get your child to floss, here are three ways to make it enjoyable:

  1. Do it together! Put on some fun music, make silly faces in the mirror, and get to flossing. Your child will love spending extra time with you (and will hopefully enjoy flossing too!).
  2. Use a reward system. A flossing chart is a great way to encourage your child to floss daily. Each time your child flosses, put a sticker on the chart. For every five consecutive days he or she flosses, offer a reward of some sort—we’ll let you decide what that is!
  3. Let them choose the floss. Before teaching your child to floss, take him to the store to pick out the type and flavor of floss he wants to use. Flossing with their favorite color or a tasty flavor is a great incentive.

Another Dental Care Tip

Along with brushing and flossing, your child should visit a pediatric dentist every six months for a dental cleaning and exam. Contact a pediatric dentist near you today to schedule an appointment.

To meet with Dr. Matt or for additional dental care tips, call (913) 685-9990.

Christmas stockings

Can you believe Christmas is right around the corner? If you’re a parent, one of the best things about Christmas is the look on your child’s face as he or she opens presents and discovers their stocking stuffer goodies. If you’re here, you are probably looking for some alternative ideas to candy and other typical stocking stuffers. We’ve got you covered!

Check out this list of great stocking stuffer ideas that make dental care for kids a priority and help your child look forward to their oral hygiene routine.

1. A toothbrush

What better time to get your child a super-fun toothbrush than Christmas? Whether your child likes Batman, My Little Pony, or something in between, you can find a toothbrush they will enjoy using every morning and evening. Toothbrushes that sing and electrical toothbrushes are great for helping kids effectively brush their teeth.

You can find the perfect toothbrush for your child on Amazon!

2. Tasty dental products

Bubblegum, fruity, and sweet-flavored toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash will be an exciting change for a child who isn’t a fan of minty dental products—just make sure they don’t swallow it!

When choosing a toothpaste or mouthwash for your child, keep these things in mind:

  • Choose products that contain fluoride
  • Look for the ADA Seal of Approval
  • If your child is under two, check with your dentist about which types of toothpaste to use
  • Children under six shouldn’t use mouthwash

3. Healthy snacks

We know you will probably throw some chocolate, sour candy, or hard candies into your child’s stocking, but you can add more variety with these delicious and nutritious treats:

  • Raisins
  • Nuts
  • Sugar-free gum

Maintain Healthy Smiles Year-Round

These stocking stuffers will not only bring joy to your children, they will also set them up for success when it comes to their oral (and overall!) health.  With their new toothbrush and toothpaste, teach them how to properly care for their teeth with a fun and effective oral hygiene routine.

This routine should include:

  • Brushing: Teach your child to brush for at least one minute in the morning or evening. He or she should use small circles to brush all sides of each tooth. If you bought your child a singing toothbrush, the song should end when your child should stop brushing! This is such a fun way to keep your child brushing. (Don’t forget to join in on the fun by brushing your teeth at the same time or singing along with the toothbrush!)
  • Flossing: Children should begin flossing as soon as their teeth fit close together (so, as young as two). This will probably require some help from you in the beginning. You can make flossing more fun by creating a story about the hero (the floss) who saves the teeth from the “plaque monster” that hide between teeth.
  • Mouthwash: For children over the age of six, now is the time to put that tasty mouthwash to use! Take part in this oral hygiene habit with your own mouthwash and make silly faces while you both swish the mouthwash around in your mouths. After one minute, have a silly-face contest to see who can make the other spit it out faster! Disclaimer: this can be messy, but it’s so worth it!

One of the most important parts of maintaining your child’s oral health is visiting the dentist every six months. After the busyness of the holidays is over, contact your pediatric dentist to schedule an appointment.

To visit our Overland Park children’s dentist, contact us today at (913) 685-9990.

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