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.

kid dressed as superhero

We all desire for our children to grow up happy and healthy, and their mouths have so much to do with that! When a child or teen has a healthy, beautiful smile, they feel more confident and capable to do things that they may otherwise shy away from.

The key to helping your child create good oral hygiene habits is choosing a kids’ dentist (also called a pediatric dentist) that they love. Finding a great dentist for your child could be the difference between creating a positive, healthy view of oral hygiene and a negative, fearful one.

To find a great pediatric dentist, you must know what you’re looking for. When you ask friends or family members for recommendations, or when you search Google, be sure to choose a “kids’ dentist near me” with these five qualities:

1. Experience

Pediatric dentists are specialists. This means that a large part of their education was centered around working with children and learning how their mouths develop. It’s important to choose a kids’ dentist that knows and understands exactly what should be happening and when as it pertains to your child’s teeth.

Pediatric dentists also have years of experience in handling children of all ages (and attitudes). In fact, it’s what they sign up for! Choose a kids’ dentist so you know he won’t be surprised by anything your child throws at him (literally and figuratively).

2. A desire to educate

Kids’ dentists have a huge responsibility—teaching toddlers, adolescents, teens, and their parents the most effective oral hygiene habits. Your child’s dentist should be enthusiastic about teaching you and your child how to brush and floss properly. He should also do so in a way that’s easy for kids and adults to understand.

A pediatric dentist will be eager to answer any questions you have about your child’s oral health. After all, you two are working together to achieve the same goal!

3. A passion for children

Did you ever have a teacher in grade school that seemed to dislike his students? Unfortunately, that doesn’t just happen in the education field—it can happen in dentistry too. Make sure the kids’ dentist you choose actually enjoys children.

You’ll should be able to tell pretty quickly how much the dentist enjoys children by the office environment, the attention he gives your child, and his overall countenance. Truly, it’s not hard to tell when someone doesn’t enjoy their job. Just don’t let it affect you! Move on to the next pediatric dentist until you find one who cares about your child’s oral health as much as you do.

4. Knowledge of children

In addition to knowing how children’s teeth work, pediatric dentists must understand how children are wired in order to work with them. Your child’s dentist should know how to keep your child’s attention, distract him from uncomfortable moments, and help him relax in fun ways.

5. A friendly spirit

Taking your child to the dentist for the first time can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. A great pediatric dentist will ensure you and your child feel welcome and valued during the first visit and each time after by doing the following:

  • Getting to know you
  • Getting to know your child
  • Providing a comfortable, fun environment
  • Offering a tour
  • Having a kind, welcoming dental team

Our Kids’ Dentist

Looking for a kids’ dentist in Overland Park? Look no further! Dr. Matt at Smiles Dentistry for Kids has all of these qualities and more. Our desire is to create a fun, comfortable environment for kids of all ages to enjoy.

To meet with our friendly and experienced pediatric dentist, call (913) 685-9990 today.

little girl brushing teeth

Dental care for infants and children can seem overwhelming but having a knowledgeable and helpful pediatric dentist on your team can make everything much simpler! A great pediatric dentist is passionate about three things: dental care, children, and patient education. This trifecta ensures that the dentist you choose will care for your little one’s oral development just as much as you do AND have the tools to teach you everything you need to know.

Our pediatric dentist, Dr. Matt, certainly meets the standard of a great pediatric dentist. For this reason, he is the go-to guy for so many parents in the Overland Park area.

Here are some of the most frequent questions he receives from concerned and caring parents every day:

1. How do I best clean my baby’s teeth?

Your baby’s teeth should be cleaned as soon as they erupt. Simply use a clean, damp washcloth, finger brush, or gauze pad to wipe the top, front, and back of the new teeth and the tip of the tongue. This should be done after meals and at bedtime.

You may also use a pediatric-dentist-approved baby toothbrush with a rice-grain-sized amount of toothpaste. These toothbrushes are extremely soft and have no more than three rows of bristles. Toothbrushes or finger brushes that are more than two months old should be thrown out and replaced.

2. How old should my baby be before I introduce her to fluoride toothpaste?

As soon as the first tooth emerges! Dentists used to recommend waiting until age two, but new discoveries have changed that fact. As stated in question one, you’ll only use a rice-grain-sized smear of toothpaste until your baby reaches three years of age.

3. How do I keep my kid’s teeth healthy?

For children above age three, follow these guidelines:

  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste in the morning and evening
  • Floss daily
  • Reduce sugar in their diet
  • Drink lots of water
  • Visit a pediatric dentist regularly

To receive more detailed oral health tips, visit a pediatric dentist who can evaluate your child’s mouth and determine his specific oral health needs.

4. What should I do if my child has a toothache?

If your child is complaining about tooth pain, first rinse the area with warm saltwater. Then, place a cold compress on the side of the face where the pain is (especially if it’s swollen). If necessary, give him or her children’s pain medication. Be sure to follow the dosage instructions on the bottle. Finally, contact your pediatric dentist.

If your child is experiencing a fever, bleeding, or other concerning symptoms along with the toothache, contact your pediatric dentist immediately for an emergency visit.

5. How are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful?

Fortunately, most children stop these habits on their own so they don’t pose any problems. However, if your child still sucks his thumb or uses a pacifier past age three, you may need the help of a pediatric dentist to avoid oral development problems such as:

  • Misalignment
  • Overbite or underbite
  • A lisp
  • Sensitivity or changes to the roof of their mouth

6. At what age should a child brush their own teeth?

Most children learn to brush their teeth around age six. However, as the parent, you know your child best! It’s never too early to begin teaching your child to brush his own teeth. Just remember to oversee and assist him until you’re confident he’s doing it correctly.

7. When should my child receive their first dental exam?

At least six months after their first tooth emerges. The pediatric dentist will check to make sure everything is developing properly and give you tips on how to care for your child’s mouth.

8. What should I expect on our first visit?

Your child’s first visit to the dentist usually lasts between 20 and 40 minutes. It will be very laidback and simple. Not every dentist is the same, but here’s what our first-time patient experience includes:

  • Office tour
  • Meeting the dentist and team members
  • Reviewing your child’s dental and medical history
  • Discussion about healthy teeth and jaw development
  • Review of your oral healthcare routine
  • An oral exam
  • A conversation about your child’s oral health needs

If appropriate, the pediatric dentist may suggest a dental cleaning.

9. How frequently should a baby see the dentist?

Infants, toddlers, adolescents, and adults should all visit the dentist every six months. This is the best way to prevent cavities and other dental problems.

In some cases, your pediatric dentist may recommend more frequent visits.

10. What’s the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?

Pediatric dentists are to dentistry what pediatricians are to medicine. Pediatric dentists complete two to three years of specialty training that makes them experts on children’s oral health development. Family dentists treat patients of all ages, including children, but without the same training.

To meet with our pediatric dentist for specific advice about your child’s mouth, call (913) 685-9990 today.

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.

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