little girl flossing on blue background

Oral hygiene begins way before your child can brush his or her own teeth, and it’s more than just toothbrushing. Thankfully, there are steps you can take now and as your child grows to help him or her achieve and maintain optimal oral health. 

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park, KS, we are ready to help you and your little one achieve that goal through routine check-ups, dental cleanings, and other oral health treatments. Give Dr. Matt and his dedicated team a call at (913) 685-9990 now!

Beginning at a young age, you can teach your little one numerous habits that will help them maintain good oral health and hygiene and understand the importance of it. 

1. Make healthy snacks

Instead of sugary treats or drinks, smoothies, and healthy snacks are a great way to encourage good oral health. Think green! You can use healthy ingredients, like:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Avocado
  • Green apples
  • Celery

Use these ingredients in smoothies and salads, pair them with peanut butter or yogurt, or bake them in the oven to create a delicious snack that your child will love. 

These ingredients contain numerous essential nutrients, like vitamins K and C. Both are important for pediatric dental health, as vitamin K helps strengthen teeth while vitamin C keeps gums healthy and vibrant.

2. Offer plenty of water

Water is essential for washing away food debris and bacteria from the mouth. But, kids aren’t exactly thrilled to drink water. 

So, liven things up a bit by adding a couple of drops of food coloring to their water! Alternatively, you can add sugar-free flavor packets (like lime or green apple!) to your kiddo’s water for tasty, healthy hydration.

3. Let them pick their own toothbrush

Dentists recommend swapping out toothbrushes every three to four months. If your child is due for a replacement toothbrush, then try replacing it with one of their choosing! Choosing a movie-themed or character-themed brush will make oral hygiene much more fun and exciting.  

4. Read dental-themed books

There are several children’s books available that teach kids about the importance of dental care. Look for books like “The Tooth Book” by Dr. Seuss or “Brush Your Teeth, Please” by Leslie McGuire.

5. Make dental-care crafts together

Making crafts together is a great way to teach your kids about the importance of dental care while also having tons of fun! You can try making toothbrush holders, tooth fairy boxes, or other art projects that get your little one excited about oral hygiene and pediatric dentistry.

6. Visit a pediatric dentist regularly

Building a relationship with a pediatric dentist is beneficial for both you and your child. You will feel more comfortable asking questions, and your child will feel more and more comfortable after each visit. A pediatric dentist will keep track of your child’s oral health and dental development, so they can spot or predict any oral health issues early on. 

Schedule a dental check-up today!

Ready to put your child on the road to oral health success? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Matt online here, or by calling our Overland Park children’s dental office at (913) 685-9990 today!

Dad plays with his children in a field

Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a condition that can affect people of all ages, including children. It occurs when there is not enough saliva in the mouth, which can lead to a number of uncomfortable symptoms. In fact, it can even lead to dental decay on your child’s baby teeth! That’s why it is important to treat pediatric dry mouth with a trusted children’s dentist as soon as possible.

Do you suspect that your child is experiencing symptoms of dry mouth? Help them get the relief they deserve with Dr. Matt at Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park, KS. Our team can help you pinpoint the cause and provide valuable advice and treatments to address the condition. Contact our children’s dental clinic today at (913) 685-9990 to get started.

In this blog, we explore why children get dry mouth. We also discuss treatment options to help your child get lasting relief.

Why do children get dry mouth?

Xerostomia can make eating and speaking much more challenging for little ones. You may notice that their saliva appears frothy or stringy while they talk. Additionally, you may notice that the odor of their breath is getting worse or that their voice sounds differently when their mouth is dry.

If you notice any of these symptoms, then several factors may be to blame, such as:


Some medications can cause xerostomia as a side effect. Children who take certain types of medication for conditions such as allergies, asthma, or ADHD may be more likely to experience dry mouth.

Here is a complete list of medications that are likely to give your child dry mouth. 

Medical Conditions

Medical conditions often affect other parts of our body, even if they do not seem related. Dry mouth is a great example of this, as many systemic health conditions can limit saliva production. 

Common medical conditions that have a drying effect on the mouth include:

  • Sjӧgren’s syndrome
  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • Cystic fibrosis

Mouth Breathing

Children often breathe through their mouths instead of their noses, especially if they have allergies or a stuffy nose. This can decrease the amount of saliva in the mouth, making it feel dry and tacky.


Children who are not drinking enough fluids may develop xerostomia as a result. This can happen if they are sick with a fever or vomiting, or if they are not drinking enough water during the day.

How do you treat dry mouth in children?

The treatment for dry mouth in children depends on the underlying cause. Here are some general tips that can help:

  • Encourage your child to drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Avoid giving your child sugary or acidic drinks
  • Use a humidifier in their room while sleeping
  • Encourage nose breathing over mouth breathing
  • Offer saliva-producing treats, like sugar-free gum, cough drops, and candy
  • Consider over-the-counter mouth moisteners or artificial saliva
  • Speak to your child’s pediatrician about medications or conditions that may be causing xerostomia

Pediatric Dry Mouth Treatment in Overland Park, KS

Untreated xerostomia is problematic, as it can lead to extensive cavities and gum disease. The team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids can help you diagnose the cause and explore effective treatments. Schedule appointments for your kiddos here, or call Dr. Matt at (913) 685-9990.

dad holding son on his shoulders in field

Oral health is important for everyone, including kids. However, getting kids to take an active interest in their oral health can be a challenge. Fortunately, Dr. Matt and his friendly team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids have plenty of tips to share!

Is it time for your little one’s yearly dental check-up? If so, then contact our pediatric dental clinic in Overland Park, KS, to get started. Parents can easily request information and appointments at (913) 685-9990.

Is it like pulling teeth to get your child to brush and floss regularly? We can help. Here are a few, easy tips that can make oral health and hygiene more fun and exciting for kids!

Use Colorful and Fun Toothbrushes

Kids are more likely to brush their teeth if they have a toothbrush that they like. Look for toothbrushes with fun designs, colors, and characters that your child likes.

Just be sure to choose a soft-bristled toothbrush. Medium and hard-bristled toothbrushes can be too abrasive on dental enamel, which can lead to tooth sensitivity and cavities.

Let Them Choose Their Own Toothpaste

Children love to make their own choices whenever possible. So, give them the freedom to choose whichever toothpaste they think may make brushing more enjoyable for them.

With plenty of recognizable and lovable characters on the packaging and yummy new flavors (hello, watermelon!), kids’ toothpastes offer a wide variety of choices. But, be warned – your kiddo might not be able to wait until they get home to start brushing!

Sing Songs or Use a Timer

According to the Journal of Dental Hygiene, we should brush our teeth for at least 120 seconds (two minutes) each time we brush. But, brushing for two minutes twice a day can feel like a long time to kids. 

We recommend using a timer or singing a two-minute song to make the time go by more quickly. You can even create your own tooth-brushing song with your child!

Make a Brushing Chart

Create a fun and colorful chart with your little one to track their progress with brushing. We recommend using stickers or other tokens to monitor and incentivize good oral hygiene habits.

Play Oral Health Games

There are several games you can play to make oral health more fun for kids. For example, you can play “Simon Says” with oral hygiene instructions, such as “Simon Says brush your front teeth.” 

Alternatively, you can play a game of “I Spy” to spot different oral hygiene products before putting them to use. You can even create your own little game together to make oral health more exciting!

Conduct Oral Hygiene as a Family

Our children follow our lead. So, set a great example by conducting oral hygiene together as a family. We recommend carving out time in the morning and at bedtime to ensure that children are brushing at least twice a day.

Pediatric Oral Healthcare in Overland Park, KS

Are you searching for a skilled expert to help your little one learn healthy oral health and hygiene habits? Dr. Matt at Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park can help! Contact our friendly team here, or call our office directly at (913) 685-9990.

Little child flashes their baby teeth with a bright smile

Cavities, or tooth decay, can occur in baby teeth as soon as they start coming in. In fact, cavities are one of the most common childhood diseases. So, it is important to take steps to prevent them with a trusted children’s dentist in Overland Park, KS.

Are you noticing yellow, brown, or white spots on your child’s teeth? If so, then it may be the first sign that a cavity is forming. Bite back and stop cavities in their tracks with Dr. Matt at Smiles Dentistry for Kids. Simply call our pediatric dental office in Overland Park, KS, at (913) 685-9990 to get started!

Baby teeth (also called milk or primary teeth) are crucial for your child’s oral and developmental health. Indeed, primary teeth help kiddos learn how to speak and chew while maintaining space for their permanent teeth to come in. Here are some tips on how to fight cavities on baby teeth.

Start Dental Visits Early

The American Dental Association recommends that children see a dentist by their first birthday or within six months of the first tooth appearing. Regular dental check-ups can help catch cavities early and prevent them from getting worse.

Early dental visits also ensure that your child picks up healthy oral hygiene habits early in their development. Not only that, but it demonstrates to your little one that dentists are friendly, gentle, and can be trusted. This can help reduce dental anxiety (as well as cavities!) as they continue to grow.

Brush At Least Twice a Day

The moment your baby’s first tooth appears, it’s time to start brushing twice a day. Use a small amount of fluoride-containing toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush

You can use a smear of toothpaste for children under age three, and a pea-sized amount for children ages three to six. Be sure to brush all surfaces of the teeth, including the fronts, backs, and tops.

Floss Every Day

As soon as two teeth touch each other, it’s time to start flossing at least once every day.

Flossing helps remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. Use a soft floss or floss pick and gently guide it between the teeth.

Limit Sugar

Kids love sugar! But so do cavity-causing bacteria. So, it is wise to limit the amount of sugar your little one ingests.

For healthier baby teeth, we recommend giving your kiddo:

  • Fruit or fruit-based snacks (like fruit leather)
  • Vegetables (the roughage is great for gently scraping plaque from teeth!)
  • Water instead of juices

Don’t Put Baby to Bed With a Bottle

Prolonged exposure to sugary liquids (like formula, juice, or milk) can lead to tooth decay. If your baby needs a bottle to fall asleep, fill it with water instead.

Lead by Example

Our kids are watching our every move. So, if they see you conducting daily oral hygiene, then they will learn the importance of oral health and hygiene early

You can encourage better oral hygiene by making brushing and flossing more fun with:

  • Music 
  • Games
  • Fun toothbrushes
  • Yummy toothpaste flavors
  • Small rewards

Schedule a Dental Check-up for Baby Teeth

When it comes to fighting cavities on baby teeth, prevention is key. So, don’t wait – schedule a routine dental check-up for your child with Dr. Matt at Smiles Dentistry for Kids today! Parents can reach our Overland Park pediatric dentist at (913) 685-9990 or online here for scheduling.

Little girl smiles after visiting a kids’ dentist in Overland Park, KS

As parents, our children’s health and well-being are our top priorities. Yearly visits to a kids’ dentist in Overland Park, KS, are an ideal way to get dental care geared specifically for little smiles. But, you may not always know when it’s time to contact a kids’ dentist. Dr. Matt is here to help you determine when a trip to a pediatric dentistry is worth it.

If you think that your child could benefit from a trip to a kids’ dentist, then contact the team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids. Parents can reach our pediatric dentist in Overland Park, KS, by calling (913) 685-9990.

When it comes to dental health, it’s never too soon to start taking care of your kids’ teeth. Indeed, according to the American Dental Association, children should start seeing a dentist by their first birthday (or within six months after their first tooth erupts). But how do you know when it’s time to take your child to a kids’ dentist? Here are some factors to consider:

Visit a Kids’ Dentist for Tooth Pain

If your child is experiencing tooth pain or sensitivity, it’s important to take them to a kids’ dentist as soon as possible. Tooth pain can be a sign of tooth decay or other dental issues, such as:

  • Dental infections (tooth abscess)
  • Gum disease
  • Bruxism (the unconscious grinding and clenching of teeth at night)
  • Dental damage, like chips and cracks
  • Malocclusions caused by thumb-sucking or pacifier use
  • Impacted wisdom teeth

The sooner you can address the problem, the better and more comfortable your child will be.

Head to a Pediatric Dentist for Visible Dental Damage

If you notice visible damage to your child’s teeth (such as chips or cracks), then it’s important to have them evaluated by a kids’ dentist. Even if the damage seems minor, it is best to address any issues before they become more serious. Otherwise, the damage may lead to significant issues, including a painful infection.

Your Child Suddenly Experiences Difficulty Eating or Speaking

If your child is having difficulty eating or speaking, it may be due to dental issues, such as:

  • Cavities
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Dental damage
  • Gum disease
  • Loose baby teeth

A kids’ dentist can help identify the problem and recommend treatment options to alleviate any discomfort or pain.

Contact a Pediatric Dentist for Regular Care

Regular dental care with a kids’ dentist in Overland Park is an ideal way to prevent dental issues as your child grows. So, if your child hasn’t been to the dentist in a while, it’s important to schedule an appointment to ensure that their dental health is on track

But, routine dental check-ups don’t just offer preventive care. They also help educate your little ones on the importance of dental health and hygiene. As a result, yearly preventive care with a kids’ dentist can benefit your child for a lifetime!

Meet Our Kids’ Dentist in Overland Park, KS

Set your little ones up for success at Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park, KS. Parents can request appointments online here, or they may call our pediatric dental office at (913) 685-9990.

Little boy smiles widely while flashing a thumbs-up

Gum disease (also called periodontitis or periodontal disease) is a destructive condition that can damage our teeth and gums over time. This disease has no age limits, which means that even our little ones can suffer from gingivitis and gum disease. Luckily, February is Gum Disease Awareness Month, and Dr. Matt is here to help us celebrate accordingly.

Does your child appear to have red and inflamed gums? If so, then it’s time to schedule a checkup at Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park, KS. Parents can request appointments with Dr. Matt at (913) 685-9990 for gentle yet proactive care.

Because February is Gum Disease Awareness Month, we want to teach you how to promote good oral health in your home and community. In this blog, we give you three ideas for celebrating Gum Disease Awareness Month the right way.

Take Time to Educate Kids

As parents, it’s important that we educate our children on the importance of good, daily oral hygiene. Indeed, teaching the basics of brushing and flossing can lay a strong foundation for continued oral health and wellness.

So, take the time to educate kids on gum disease, what causes it, and how to prevent it. Here are some ways that you can explain periodontitis to your kiddos this Gum Disease Awareness Month:

  • What it is: Gum disease is an infection in our gums (the pink stuff around our teeth). It can make our teeth and gums hurt sometimes.
  • What causes it: There are germs in our mouths. Many germs in our mouths are helpful, but some aren’t. Too many bad germs in our mouths can cause gum disease.
  • How to prevent it: Brushing and flossing get rid of the bad germs while helping the good germs stay strong. If we brush and floss every day, then we can keep gum disease away!

Make Oral Hygiene Extra Fun

Nothing pulls us out of the humdrum of daily life like the promise of a good time! So, this Gum Disease Awareness Month, make oral hygiene more exciting with:

  • Brand new, fun toothbrushes
  • New and exciting toothpaste flavors
  • Fun songs to dance and brush along with
  • Small prizes, like stickers or toys

Organize a Community Event

It’s one thing to raise awareness inside the home, but how do we educate the rest of our communities? A community event can help patients of all ages understand the importance of oral hygiene for optimal oral health

Here are some community event ideas to promote Gum Disease Awareness Month this year:

  • Orchestrate a free, community dental checkup drive
  • Create a community-centered oral health education program 
  • Launch an art competition illustrating the importance of oral hygiene and health

Getting involved with your kids and community this Gum Disease Awareness Month can help you spread healthy smiles wherever you go!

Celebrate Gum Disease Awareness Month with Dr. Matt

The American Academy of Periodontology recommends gum disease assessments with every pediatric dental checkup your child attends. Has it been longer than six months since your child’s last checkup? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Matt at Smiles Dentistry for Kids now to celebrate Gum Disease Awareness Month the right way.

Parents can request appointments here, or they may call our Overland Park pediatric dental office at (913) 685-9990.

A pile of teeth to indicate National Toothache Day

Did you know that National Toothache Day is February 9th? Now, we know what you might be thinking – why would anyone want to celebrate National Toothache Day? Well, it’s more about focusing on optimal oral health than it is about dental pain. Our pediatric dentist is here to tell you why this little-known day matters.

Is your child currently suffering from a toothache? Help them get the relief they deserve at Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park, KS. Simply give our friendly team a call at (913) 685-9990 to get scheduled for the next available appointment. 

What is a celebration without a little education? In this post, Dr. Matthew Hillman tells you more about toothaches, why they occur, and how you and your little ones can avoid them in the future

What is a toothache?

A toothache is pain that originates in or around one or more teeth. The pain can range from minor discomfort to agonizing pangs. Depending on how severe the pain is, a toothache can make eating, speaking, and even sleeping, learning, and playing much more difficult.

Toothaches can occur for many reasons, and most are easily treatable with restorative and preventive solutions. While some toothaches may go away on their own, it is best to consult with a trained professional to assess the cause of the pain

What causes toothaches?

There are many reasons why a toothache may develop, including:

  • Loose baby teeth that are making way for adult teeth
  • Adult teeth that are erupting through the gums to take the place of baby teeth
  • Abnormal bite patterns (malocclusions)
  • Cavities (the most common dental condition in children, according to the CDC!)
  • Thin tooth enamel
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth infections
  • Sleep bruxism (the unconscious grinding of teeth at night)
  • Dental damage, like cracks or fractures
  • Food debris lodged between the teeth

How to Celebrate National Toothache Day

The best (and easiest!) way to celebrate National Toothache Day is to prevent them! Thankfully, there are plenty of things you and your little ones can do to keep dental pain at bay, including:

  • Brushing twice a day
  • Flossing once a day
  • Eating a nutritious diet
  • Drinking plenty of water 
  • Visiting a pediatric dentist in Overland Park at least twice a year for routine checkups

But, what do you do if your little one is currently living with a toothache? Well, here’s what we recommend to ease the pain until you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Matt:

  • Rinse the mouth with a warm saltwater solution to control microbial growth
  • Use over-the-counter painkillers and oral analgesic gels to minimize discomfort
  • Serve room temperature food and drinks to prevent additional pain
  • Limit sugar intake
  • Apply cold compresses to the face for 20 minutes at a time

If you suspect that your child may have a toothache, don’t delay. The sooner they get treatment, the sooner they can get back to being a kid.

Celebrate National Toothache Day with Dr. Matt Hillman

So, what is the best way to celebrate National Toothache Day this year? With a preventive checkup and dental cleaning, of course! Schedule a routine dental exam and cleaning online here, or call our Overland Park pediatric dental office at (913) 685-9990. 

If you have been told that your child needs tooth extraction, it can be a bit alarming – both for you and for your child. Fortunately, knowing what to expect can make the whole process easier and help you prepare your child for treatment. 

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, we take our responsibility to children and their parents seriously. We want to make every treatment, whether it is a routine cleaning or a dental extraction, as easy and stress-free as possible. Dr. Matt and the team at our Overland Park, KS, office will answer all your questions. And, of course, we will perform a gentle procedure with minimal discomfort and recovery time

Contact us today to learn more about tooth extraction or to schedule an evaluation for your child. 

When is tooth extraction necessary?

There are several reasons that extraction may be required:

  • Cavities are the most common reason for pediatric tooth removal. According to one study, tooth decay accounts for half of all extractions in patients between the ages of 3 and 13. That being said, extraction is a last resort. If your child has a cavity, Dr. Matt will first try to treat it with a filling or other restorative procedure.
  • Dental trauma, such as a broken or cracked tooth, may necessitate extraction. Here, too, tooth removal is a last resort.
  • If your child has severely crowded teeth, extraction could create space in their mouth. This will allow for proper dental development. 
  • Most people need to have their wisdom teeth removed. Oral surgeons and dentists typically recommend doing it at a younger age before the teeth erupt. This will help to prevent problems such as impaction and overcrowding.

What’s the difference between a standard and a surgical extraction?

During a standard extraction, Dr. Matt will simply loosen the tooth roots before removing the tooth from the mouth. A surgical extraction requires the removal of some gum or jawbone tissue. These procedures are usually necessary for impacted teeth.

Will tooth removal hurt?

Prior to the procedure, Dr. Matt will numb your child’s tooth and gums. He or she should experience no pain, at most feeling only a mild sense of pressure. We can also provide nitrous oxide sedation if your child is anxious.

What can my child eat afterwards?

Your child will need to eat a soft diet for several days. It’s a good time to treat your little one to all the milkshakes, smoothies, and ice cream they want! Of course, good nutrition is important for healing, so make sure they are getting plenty of protein and vitamins. Avoid very hot foods and drinking from straws for a few days, as this can irritate the extraction site. 

Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids Today

To learn more about what to expect during tooth extraction or to find out if this treatment is necessary for your child, contact our Overland Park, KS, office today. 

Reach out online or call us at (913) 685-9990.

Smiling Boy in a Parking Lot

It’s normal for children to be scared of new experiences. And since kids typically only visit the dentist twice a year, it may be several years before your little one remembers and recognizes what is happening. Plus, some kids continue to feel nervous at the thought of dental care. Anxiety is normal. And it is manageable, especially when you visit an experienced children’s dentist in Overland Park

Dr. Matt and his team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids focus exclusively on pediatric care. Our bright, colorful office is full of activities and visuals to keep kids distracted and entertained. Most importantly, our fun-loving and understanding team love working with kids. We know how to help children feel at home so that they look forward to their dental visits year after year.

Contact your children’s dentist in Overland Park to schedule an appointment.

1. Visit the Office in Advance 

For some kids, just being in a new environment can be a harrowing experience. That’s why schools offer a “meet the teacher” event before the first day of the academic year. If your child is ill at ease in new places, come into our office beforehand to get a taste of what to expect.

2. Talk about What Will Happen

In accord with American Dental Association guidelines, Dr. Matt recommends that children have their first dental appointment as soon as their teeth come in or no later than their first birthday. At this age, of course, kids probably don’t have the vocabulary to understand what will happen. But if your child is older, talking about what to expect can really set her mind at ease.

Discuss your own experiences at the dentist, but, of course, use positive language. However, if you have struggled with dental anxiety yourself, it can be helpful to share. Talk about how you overcame your fears and had a positive experience.

3. Read Books about the Dentist

There are lots of books about the dentist. Find an age-appropriate one to read aloud. Use it as an opportunity to discuss your child’s own upcoming appointment. Read it for the first time several weeks prior to the visit, and reread it several times before coming into the office

4. Bring a Lovey

Does your child have a security blanket or favorite stuffed animal? Bring it with you! We welcome all favorite dolls, dogs, bears, blankets, trucks, and more! 

5. Find a Compassionate Dentist Specifically for Kids

There are many gentle dentists who work with anxious patients. Nonetheless, a dentist who exclusively sees children may be better able to set anxious kids at ease

As your children’s dentist in Overland Park, Dr. Matt offers a full range of pediatric dental services, including preventive care and emergency treatment. Your child will see the same dentist every time. We want children to understand what is going on and will use age-appropriate vocabulary to explain every step of treatment. Plus, our welcoming office has cartoons, movies, and video games to keep kids entertained! 

6. Offer Sedation, If Needed

For many kids, our expertise and welcoming environment is enough to set them at ease. But if your child suffers from more severe anxiety or is preparing for an extensive procedure, we can also provide nitrous oxide sedation. More commonly known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is safe and wears off quickly. Our team is appropriately trained in the use of sedation and will carefully monitor your child throughout treatment.

Contact a Fun, Gentle Children’s Dentist in Overland Park

Dental care should be a pleasant experience – both for your child and for you! Contact our office to schedule your stress-free appointment. 

You can reach us online or call us at (913) 685-9990.

Baby sucking on a pacifier

When your baby is sobbing inconsolably, popping in his pacifier is a huge relief – for both of you! But is it really the best thing to do? Parents get a lot of conflicting information about pacifiers, and major health organizations have weighed in on the issue. Sorting through it all can be a headache. Fortunately, your dentist for kids is here to help!

Dr. Matt and his team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids stay up-to-date with the latest oral and physical health information for young patients. At our Overland Park, KS, office, we are happy to help you wade through the sea of information to make the best decisions for you and your child

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids today.

The Benefits of Pacifiers

The most obvious benefit of pacifiers is that they soothe crying – and fast! Experts warn against using them every time a child cries. But they can be especially beneficial under stressful circumstances, providing a quick and easy distraction. They can also help restless children fall asleep. And they can lessen the irritation of teething, especially if they have been chilled. 

But perhaps the biggest benefit of pacifiers is that it can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by as much as 90%.

Pacifier Teeth 

At the same time, pacifiers do have one primary disadvantage – their effect on developing teeth. Sucking on a pacifier (or, it must be noted, a thumb) could eventually affect dental development. Children may suffer from protruding front teeth, or their teeth may not come together properly when they bite down

The conflicting evidence can leave a parent baffled. Fortunately, as your dentist for kids points out, the risk of developing pacifier teeth is low for very young children. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children stop using a pacifier by the time they are three years old. They note that dental misalignment can be affected when children use pacifiers after 12 months. However, these issues will resolve, provided that pacifier use is discontinued before age three.

Other Drawbacks of Pacifier Use 

Some parents choose to wean their babies from the pacifier earlier. Studies suggest that pacifiers increase the risk of ear infection. That is why the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests limiting pacifier use after 6 months of age. 

Additionally, sucking on a pacifier could prevent a baby from developing a proper latch when nursing. Experts suggest waiting until mom and baby have established breastfeeding before introducing a pacifier. Usually, this will take 3 to 4 weeks.

How to Stop Using a Pacifier 

Guidelines are all well and good, but actually weaning your baby from the pacifier can be a challenge. The right method will depend on your child and at what age you choose to wean. 

Cutting back gradually may be easier than stopping all at once. Also, be sure to start the weaning process when things are stable and a routine is established. Avoid weaning around a major event or a vacation, when things will already be chaotic. Above all, be gentle with your child and with yourself during this difficult transition.

Find a Dentist for Kids to Answer All Your Oral Health Questions

Concerned about your child’s tooth development? Looking for more information about pediatric dental care? Contact your dentist for kids today! 

You can reach Dr. Matt online or give our office a call at (913) 685-9990.

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