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It’s sweet when you see your little one sucking his thumb, as he drifts off to sleep. Or maybe she sticks a finger in her mouth when she is sad or uncertain. Either way, it’s endearing. But is thumb sucking as innocent as it seems? Can it cause dental problems? And when should a parent intervene?

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park, KS, we are here to answer the many questions you have as you navigate the mysterious world of parenting. Dr. Matt, Dr. Craven, and the rest of the team are highly knowledgeable, not only about pediatric dentistry, but also about children and their needs in general. That’s why, when you visit our practice, both you and your child will feel more confident and comfortable. 

To learn more about thumb sucking and other oral health concerns, contact our office today.

Why do children suck their thumbs (or fingers)?

Thumb and finger sucking are both behaviors known as non-nutritive sucking. This is the type of sucking that babies do at the start of breastfeeding before milk lets down. Pacifier use is also a form of non-nutritive sucking. 

Non-nutritive sucking is extremely common, affecting about 90% of newborns. Thumb sucking as a habit typically begins between the ages of 2 and 4 months. It gives infants and toddlers a sense of security and attachment, helping them to calm their nervous system. It also establishes oral awareness, essential for speech and proper eating habits.

Most children naturally outgrow their sucking habit between the ages of 2 and 4. 

Thumb Sucking and Its Effect on Teeth

In all likelihood, you don’t need to be concerned if your child sucks his thumb. But the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends intervention if your child continues non-nutritive sucking beyond the age of 5 or 6. The habit can have serious consequences as permanent teeth start to emerge. These include: 

  • An overbite
  • Gap between the upper and lower teeth
  • An overextended upper jaw
  • Crooked teeth 
  • Tongue thrust and speech impediments 

How to Help Your Child Break the Habit

Remember, thumb sucking is a form of self-soothing, so punishment and shaming is counterproductive. Instead, use a system of positive reinforcement. Praise your child when she refrains from sucking, or offer a small reward, such as an extra story before bed, a trip to the park, or even a big hug. And start small. Challenge your child not to suck her thumb for a set time, such as an hour before nap, rather than asking for the whole day.

Another important step is to identify why your child sucks his thumb in the first place. When older children continue the habit, there typically are emotional or psychological factors at play. Help your child to name his feelings and to adopt healthier coping mechanisms.

If nothing seems to be working, consult your pediatric dentist. In rare cases, he may recommend additional support, such as an oral appliance. And he can determine if your child needs treatment to address the impact of prolonged thumb sucking.

Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids for Additional Support 

To learn more or to schedule an appointment, contact our office today. 

Reach us via our website or call us at (913) 685-9990.

Smiles Dentistry For Kids

14700 Metcalf Ave, Suite 110
Overland Park, KS 66223
(913) 685-9990
Monday
Tuesday
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Telling a parent not to worry about their child is like telling the sun not to rise in the morning. It just isn’t going to happen! Sometimes it seems that, as parents, we are hardwired to worry about any little change that affects our kids. That’s why baby teeth can be so stressful for moms and dads. Is a teething delay a significant problem? How can you make teething easier for your little one? And what can you do to make sure they enjoy good oral health for life?

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park, KS, we’re here to make your job as a parent easier. While we can’t promise to make all your worries go away, Dr. Matt and his team will answer any questions you may have. Our preventive treatments can also protect your child’s baby teeth, and we offer a full range of services if any problems do come up. 

We are proud to walk with you on this crazy parenting journey. Contact us with any questions or to schedule an appointment. 

My child is older than six months, and they still don’t have any teeth. Should I be worried? 

The short answer is no. Six months is the average age at which children get their first baby teeth. But some children begin teething much earlier, and others don’t have any teeth show up until after their first birthdays. 

If your child hasn’t gotten any teeth by the time they turn one, go ahead and schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist. In some cases, significantly delayed teething can indicate an underlying problem such as: 

  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Fibrosis
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Hypopituitarism
  • Impacted teeth 
  • Hypodontia (missing teeth)

In all likelihood, however, it will just be just a few more weeks till you see those first pearly whites

What’s the best way to ease my child’s teething pain?

If possible, distract your little one with playing and cuddling. You can also try softly massaging the gums around the erupting tooth. Teething rings and edible teethers can also be beneficial. For children older than 3 months, you can try a pain reliever like children’s Tylenol®. Be sure to check with your pediatrician for the correct dosage. 

The FDA warns parents not to use teething gels or creams, including homeopathic varieties. These products are not proven effective and can have serious side effects, especially those containing benzocaine. Teething jewelry is also not recommended, as it can be a choking hazard.

When do I need to start brushing baby teeth?

Start brushing your child’s baby teeth as soon as they come in! In fact, good oral care should begin even before teething starts. Several times a day, especially after nursing or bottle feeding, wipe your baby’s gums with a soft cloth.

When should I schedule my child’s first dental appointment?

You should schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist no more than six months after the first tooth erupts. Your practitioner will check your child’s dental development. More rigorous cleanings typically begin after children turn two.

Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids Today

Still have questions about teething and baby teeth? Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids online or call us at (913) 685-9990.

Smiles Dentistry For Kids

14700 Metcalf Ave, Suite 110
Overland Park, KS 66223
(913) 685-9990
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
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November is National Prematurity Awareness Month. Premature babies may face enormous health challenges, and some, tragically, do not survive. But these tiny warriors are fierce fighters, and many demonstrate remarkable resilience and strength. Nonetheless, health problems may continue throughout life. And as your dentist in Overland Park, KS, can tell you, these challenges may also include dental problems. 

If you are the parent of a premature baby, it’s important to include a pediatric dentist in your child’s healthcare team. Dr. Matt, Dr. Craven, and the entire team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids offer compassionate pediatric care. We understand the unique needs of children, including those born prematurely. We can assess your child’s oral development from a young age and provide ongoing care throughout their adolescent years. 

To schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist in Overland Park, KS, contact us today.

Prematurity: What You Should Know

A baby that is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy is considered premature. Premature birth affects 10.4% of all deliveries in the US. Babies born too early have a number of health risks, which increase based on how many weeks they were born before their due date. Fortunately, many of these issues resolve over time. But long term effects, such as cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, and vision loss may be permanent. Dental problems can also be lifelong.

Delayed Teething

Teething usually begins around six months of age. But for preterm babies, it can happen much later, especially if they were very premature. Fortunately, this does not typically indicate a larger problem. Still, if your preemie hasn’t started teething by age 1, you should schedule an evaluation with a dentist in Overland Park, KS.

Enamel Hypoplasia

Enamel hypoplasia is a condition that causes thin or missing dental enamel. Without this hard protective coating, teeth are more subject to sensitivity, cracking, and chipping. Moreover, hypoplastic teeth are twice as likely to have cavities as teeth with normal enamel

For children with this condition, regular exams and cleanings are essential, and they may need more than two dental visits per year. If necessary, other treatments are available, including dental restorations and supplements to remineralize teeth.

Dental Discoloration

Enamel hypoplasia often causes teeth to have a yellow or brown tint. In very rare cases, jaundice, a common condition among preemies, can give teeth a greenish color. Typically, this only happens when babies have elevated bilirubin for months at a time. Fortunately, it only affects the baby teeth, though it can be distressing until the permanent teeth come in. 

Palatal Groove

When babies spend a long time intubated, it can cause a groove to form in the hard palate. This anomaly can cause misaligned teeth, feeding problems, speech difficulties, and, in extreme cases, hearing loss

Orthodontic Issues

Children born early are more likely to have dental malocclusion as they grow older. Researchers speculate that this is also due to intubation. Fortunately, braces are usually enough to correct the problem, and studies show that preemies are not more likely to experience jaw pain than babies born full term.

Contact a Dentist in Overland Park Today

Are you the parent of a tiny warrior? Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids to schedule a consultation for your child. 

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

Smiles Dentistry For Kids

14700 Metcalf Ave, Suite 110
Overland Park, KS 66223
(913) 685-9990
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
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As a parent, you may have noticed that your child’s teeth are not coming in as straight as you had hoped. This common concern often leads to questions about why crooked teeth develop in children. A pediatric dentist near you can determine what’s causing this and how you can help your child’s smile develop properly. Call Dr. Matt today for a consultation!

In this article, we will explore the factors that contribute to crooked teeth in children and discuss what you can do to address this issue.

1. Genetics

One of the most significant factors influencing the alignment of your child’s teeth is genetics. The shape and size of their jaw, as well as the spacing and arrangement of their teeth, are largely determined by their genetic makeup. If either parent had crooked teeth or required orthodontic treatment, there is a higher likelihood that your child may inherit similar dental characteristics.

2. Early Oral Habits

Certain oral habits during childhood can contribute to the development of crooked teeth. These habits include thumb-sucking, prolonged pacifier use, and tongue-thrusting. These actions can place pressure on the developing teeth and disrupt their natural alignment.

3. Baby Teeth and Permanent Teeth

Crooked baby teeth do not necessarily indicate that your child will have crooked permanent teeth. Baby teeth can sometimes appear misaligned due to their smaller size and irregular spacing, which is normal during the early stages of dental development. However, monitoring your child’s dental development by visiting a dentist near you regularly is essential to determine if any intervention is needed when their permanent teeth start coming in.

4. Dental Crowding

Dental crowding occurs when there isn’t enough space in the jaw for all the teeth to align correctly. This can result in teeth overlapping or becoming misaligned as they emerge. Crowding can be influenced by genetic factors, jaw size, and the early loss of baby teeth. Orthodontic evaluation and intervention may be necessary to address crowding issues.

5. Early Loss of Baby Teeth

The premature loss of baby teeth can disrupt the natural sequence of permanent teeth coming in. If a baby tooth is lost too early due to decay or injury, adjacent teeth may shift into the empty space, causing misalignment. In such cases, space maintainers may be recommended by your dentist to prevent this shift and allow for proper alignment of permanent teeth.

6. Delayed Tooth Eruption

In some cases, delayed tooth eruption can contribute to crooked teeth. If certain teeth take longer to emerge than expected, neighboring teeth may start to shift, creating alignment issues. Regular dental check-ups can help identify any delays in tooth eruption and allow for timely intervention if necessary.

7. Inadequate Oral Hygiene

Poor oral hygiene practices can lead to various dental problems, including crooked teeth. If your child doesn’t brush and floss regularly, they may be at risk of developing gum disease, tooth decay, and other dental issues that can affect the alignment of their teeth. Encouraging good oral hygiene habits from a young age is crucial for preventing these problems.

8. Malocclusion

Malocclusion refers to a misalignment of the upper and lower jaws, which can result in crooked teeth. An underbite, overbite, or crossbite can all contribute to the improper positioning of teeth. Orthodontic treatment may be required to correct malocclusion and ensure proper dental alignment.

Contact A Pediatric Dentist Near You Today

The good news is that many alignment issues can be addressed with timely intervention and orthodontic treatment when necessary. Regular dental check-ups are essential to monitor your child’s dental development and address any concerns early on.

Call Smiles Dentistry for Kids today at (913) 685-9990 to schedule an initial consultation! 

Smiles Dentistry For Kids

14700 Metcalf Ave, Suite 110
Overland Park, KS 66223
(913) 685-9990
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
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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.

Smiles Dentistry For Kids

14700 Metcalf Ave, Suite 110
Overland Park, KS 66223
(913) 685-9990
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
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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.

Smiles Dentistry For Kids

14700 Metcalf Ave, Suite 110
Overland Park, KS 66223
(913) 685-9990
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm

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When your child cut his first tooth, you likely felt a thrill of excitement. Even when teething is difficult, there’s nothing like watching your baby hit those milestones. But one milestone you are not anxious to see is your child’s first cavity. Unfortunately, as your dental office experts explain in this post, baby bottle tooth decay is far too common.

Dr. Matt and the team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids are committed to preventive care whenever possible. Through routine cleanings and education, we want to help your child avoid early childhood tooth decay and other concerns. At the same time, if your child does develop a cavity, we can provide swift, gentle, and compassionate care for even the youngest patients. 

To schedule an appointment or to learn more about oral care, contact our Overland Park, KS, office today.

What is baby bottle tooth decay?

Baby bottle tooth decay is also known as early childhood caries. It refers to tooth decay in children under the age of 2. Typically, it affects the top upper teeth, although any tooth can develop a cavity.

I exclusively breastfeed. Can my child still get tooth decay?

Yes. Breast milk itself is not typically considered a cause of cavities. But when a child falls asleep with milk in her mouth, she can suffer tooth decay. 

Furthermore, according to one study, breastfeeding at night past the age of 18 months can increase the risk of dental caries.

Are cavities in baby teeth really a big deal?

Even though baby teeth will eventually come out, early decay is a major concern. For one thing, children who suffer from cavities have a higher risk for tooth decay as adults. For another, baby teeth act as placeholders. If your child loses a tooth too early, it can cause spacing issues for incoming permanent teeth.

How can I prevent baby bottle tooth decay?

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take, which will dramatically decrease the risk of early childhood caries:

  • Never put your baby to bed with a bottle.
  • Never fill a bottle with juice or sugary drinks.
  • If you breastfeed, remove your breast from your baby’s mouth as soon as he falls asleep.
  • As soon as your child’s teeth erupt, begin brushing with a small, soft-bristled brush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice).
  • Do not share spoons or other eating utensils with your child. Tooth decay is contagious, and doing so can cause harmful bacteria to pass from you to your baby. 
  • If your little one uses a pacifier, make sure that it is clean. Never dip it in sugar to make it more appealing. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents avoid added sugar before age 2 anyway.)
  • Schedule an appointment at your pediatric dental office. Children should visit the dentist once they cut their first tooth or no later than their first birthday. Dr. Matt even offers free exams and cleanings to children under the age of 2!

Contact Our Dental Office for More Information

Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids to learn more about baby bottle tooth decay or to schedule a preventive cleaning

You can get in touch online or call us at (913) 685-9990. 

Smiles Dentistry For Kids

14700 Metcalf Ave, Suite 110
Overland Park, KS 66223
(913) 685-9990
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm

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Whether you’re a first time parent or a veteran, we know you worry about your kids. And teething can cause a whole host of new concerns. Are your child’s teeth coming in normally? Is your child sick or just teething? And how do you keep problems from occurring in the future? At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, we know all about baby teeth complications and are here to reassure parents.

Dr. Matt and his team exclusively treat pediatric patients, but we also believe that we are partners with parents in creating a foundation for lifelong oral health. No concern is too small. Whenever you have questions or concerns, we are here for you. 

Whether your child is experiencing baby teeth complications or if you just want to make sure that everything is going normally, contact our Overland Park, KS, office today.

Delayed Teething 

On average, children begin teething around six months of age. But as a parent, you know that milestones are different for every kid! Some children don’t cut any teeth until they are closer to a year in age. If your child has not begun teething by his or her first birthday, you should bring them into the dentist for an evaluation.

Most children are finished teething by the time they are three. Again, you should bring your child to the dentist if they do not have all their teeth by the time they are four.

Teething Symptoms 

You just settled into a somewhat manageable sleep schedule (hopefully!), and then your child starts teething. Along with interrupted sleep, there are several other common symptoms of teething. These include:

  • Drooling
  • Constant chewing or gnawing
  • Fussiness 
  • A facial rash, due to drooling
  • A mild fever of less than 101 degrees

Contrary to popular belief, teething does not cause babies to be sick! If your child is vomiting, has diarrhea, or is running a high fever, contact your pediatrician right away.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the most common of the baby teeth complications. It may be a surprise to learn that very young children can develop cavities, but 23% of children ages 2 to 5 have sustained tooth decay. In fact, that is why the condition is sometimes called “nursing caries” or “baby bottle syndrome.”

If you notice the symptoms of tooth decay, be sure to schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist. These symptoms can include: 

  • A white spot on the tooth just above the gums
  • Brown or black spots on the teeth
  • Swollen gums or pain around teeth that have fully erupted

Of course, good oral care and habits can often prevent decay and other baby teeth complications. Begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they come in, and schedule a dental appointment no later than your child’s first birthday. In addition, you should never put your child to bed with a bottle or fill a bottle with anything other than breastmilk, formula, or water. 

Contact Us to Learn More about Baby Teeth Complications 

If you are worried about your child’s tooth development, or if you simply need to schedule their first dental appointment, contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids today. We proudly offer free exams and cleanings to kids under 2. 

Make your appointment online or call us at (913) 685-9990. 

Smiles Dentistry For Kids

14700 Metcalf Ave, Suite 110
Overland Park, KS 66223
(913) 685-9990
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
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Even though most babies are born without teeth, you can expect 20 primary teeth before turning three. For this reason, it’s vital for mothers, fathers, and other primary caregivers to protect your baby’s smile to the best of their abilities. In honor of Mother’s Day, Dr. Matt offers this guide to keeping your baby’s mouth healthy until their first dentist’s appointment.

Clean Your Baby’s Gums

There are few things cuter than a gummy baby smile! Even if your baby doesn’t have teeth yet, it’s never too early to care for your baby’s gums. Gently wiping your baby’s gums with a wet rag helps your baby acclimate to the feeling of having a foreign object in their mouth. Eventually, you may upgrade to a soft baby toothbrush. Over time, their teeth will finally emerge, and they should be used to having their teeth scrubbed.

Most importantly, wiping down your baby’s gums after feedings help your little ones eliminate bacteria, liquids, and food particles from their mouth.

Please Do Not Send Bottles to Bed

Although some babies may relax and drift into sleep with a bottle of milk, we don’t encourage using a bottle as a sleep aid. In a worst-case scenario, a baby who falls asleep while drinking can draw liquid into their lungs and choke.

Secondly, your baby’s oral health doesn’t benefit from a milk nightcap. Breastmilk and formula contain lactose (a sugar found in milk), which can coat and damage your baby’s gums and tiny teeth. Even though your baby’s primary teeth eventually fall out, keeping baby teeth healthy provides space and a baseline for permanent teeth.

Take a Moment to Take Care of Yourself

Mothers sacrifice for their children—but your oral health should not be one of those sacrifices. Commonly, new moms neglect to take care of their own needs, including dental care. To prioritize their baby’s needs, a new mom may be guilty of losing sleep, not brushing their teeth as often, or not drinking enough water. However, these small actions can add up to more extensive oral health problems, such as cavities, gum disease, teeth grinding, and dry mouth.

Moreover, you may be surprised to discover that maintaining good oral health is vital for your baby. When a baby enters the world, his or her immune system is still weak. Cavity prevention is crucial for new moms because it’s too easy to transfer tooth decay-causing bacteria from a mother’s mouth to a baby’s mouth. The bottom line, scheduling self-care is a way to take care of your children.

Don’t Share Saliva

Although baby’s kisses are irresistible, you could be passing harmful germs that put your baby at risk. As general rules, avoid kissing your baby on the mouth, eating with the same spoon, or cleaning pacifiers with your spit—instead, clean spoons and pacifiers with soap and water (or a pacifier wipe if handy).

Don’t Hesitate to Book Baby’s First Dentist’s Appointment

Many new parents are eager to take their baby to their first dental appointment. So, we suggest scheduling this special initial appointment after their first tooth emerges or around their first birthday.

Is your child under the age of 2? Find out how they can score a free dental exam and clean at our Overland Park office by calling (913) 685-9990 or messaging us online.

Smiles Dentistry For Kids

14700 Metcalf Ave, Suite 110
Overland Park, KS 66223
(913) 685-9990
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm

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Their toes, toys, and even your phone–does everything your baby gets their hands-on end up in their mouth? If so, don’t worry. Oral exploration (also known as “mouthing”) is an expected milestone of your baby’s development and can be a positive experience for their wellness.

When your child is mastering how to reach for and grab for objects (typically at 3 to 5 months), it may seem like nothing is safe to your sweet baby’s drooling mouth. This happens for several reasons:

1. They are discovering their surroundings. 

Oral exploration is a key developmental stage, and you may notice that your child may put anything up their mouths that their chubby little hands can grab. A baby’s mouth and lips are full of sensory nerves that help a baby identify something else. For example, a baby can tell if a block is hard or squishy by chewing on it.

2. They’re building their immune systems.

While your baby is learning about their surroundings through oral exploration, their immune system is also learning about different types of germs and how to protect their vulnerable little bodies best. While it may seem gross to introduce germs to your baby, it’s not necessarily harmful. 

Even though this act can build the immune system, it’s essential that babies do not share contact with saliva from other babies or family members. Some may not realize that cavities can be contagious. Studies prove that the oral bacteria that cause tooth decay can be transmitted through close contact with another person who has poor oral hygiene. For example, care-takers can transmit cavity-producing oral bacteria to babies by cleaning pacifiers with their mouths or by sharing spoons. So, avoid these acts.

3. They are searching for a snack.

Did you know that your baby’s taste buds form during early pregnancy? Before babies are born, they already have a sweet tooth and prefer things that taste sweet over sour or salty foods. Paired with the fact that growing babies are almost always insatiably hungry with a sweet tooth, babies like to check if the objects around them are sweet enough to eat. 

Thankfully, babies are born with an extrusion reflex that helps prevent choking. However, parents should not rely on reflexes alone to keep babies safe from choking hazards. 

4. They’re self-soothing and trying to relax.

Before your baby learns how to suck on their thumb, they may suck or bite on their entire hand or anything they can get their hands on. Like adults, babies can engage in self-soothing behaviors to help them feel more relaxed when they feel unsafe, hungry, sleepy, or otherwise uncomfortable.

5. They are teething.

Can you imagine your teeth coming in all at once? Paired with sore gums, we can assume that teething is an excruciating experience for babies. Therefore, babies use their mouths to nibble on anything because it feels good when teething. Instead of letting your baby chew on anything in arm’s reach, consider icing their sore gums with frozen milk or formula into a “teething popsicle” to soothe sore gums and encourage additional hydration. 

Is it time for your little one to visit the dentist?

If your baby has cut their first tooth or has already celebrated their first birthday, it’s time for them to meet with a pediatric dentist. At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt inspects little mouths to ensure they develop properly, setting a foundation of wellness early. 

Want to learn more about scheduling a free exam and cleaning for your child under age 2? Call (913) 685-9990 or message us online for more information. 

Smiles Dentistry For Kids

14700 Metcalf Ave, Suite 110
Overland Park, KS 66223
(913) 685-9990
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