Help! My Kids Won’t Brush Their Teeth!

mom helping young daughter brush her teeth

For some parents, getting their child to brush his or her teeth is one of the biggest struggles of the bedtime routine. If your child doesn’t want to brush, consider some of these tips to motivate them to care for their smile.

Make It a Game

Kids love games of all kinds, so why not turn their teeth-brushing routine into a game? There are many ways to do this. Brush your own teeth alongside them to see who can do a better job. Or try a plaque disclosing tablet. These tablets dissolve in your child’s mouth and leave behind coloring that shows where their brushing isn’t as good as it should be. Then challenge them to remove as much of the coloring as they can. You can even join in the fun and see who can get their teeth the cleanest after using the plaque disclosing tablet.

Let Them Choose

Encourage your child to take the lead in their dental health routine by letting them choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste. Your child may be much more inclined to pick up their toothbrush if it has their favorite cartoon character or sports team logo on it!

Compliment Them

Just like adults, children like to hear when they’ve done a good job. Compliment your child on a beautiful, healthy looking smile. They’ll love the attention and want to keep up their good work. Remind them that their smile is often the first thing people notice about them, so they should try to always put their best smile forward. The easiest way to do that is to keep it healthy with a good brushing routine.

Getting your kids to brush their teeth is a battle many parents fight on a nightly basis. But these tips could make it a little more exciting for your little ones. Don’t forget to schedule your child’s next dental appointment at KidSmile Dental, too!

Should you get your child a mouth guard?

 The answer is YES!!!!!!

With Summer full speed ahead……

Mouth guards can help protect your child from a dental emergency.

When your child beings to participate in recreational activities and organized sports, such as football, basketball,wrestling, lacrosse and any other contact sports, injuries can occur. A properly fitted mouth guard cushions the blow,that would otherwise cause broken teeth, and injuries to the lip, tongue, face or jaw,

It is a very fast and easy appointment for your child. They come into the office and have an impression made of their upper teeth, they even get to pick the mouth guard material. It just takes a few days for us to mold it into a custom fitted mouth guard.

If your child participates in such pastimes, call out office KidSmile Dental (509) 926-1234 and make an appointment to get their custom fitted mouth guard today!

When Should Kids Start Flossing Their Teeth?

young girl at age when kids should start flossing their teeth

As your child’s teeth started coming in, you probably got into a good brushing routine, but what about flossing? Just like your teeth, your child’s teeth need flossing to remove food particles and plaque so they can stay healthy. You don’t have to start flossing at the first sign of a tooth, though. Here are some tips on when and how to start flossing your kids’ teeth.

When to Start Flossing

When teeth first begin to erupt, there is still a lot of space between them. During this phase, brushing your child’s teeth is often enough to keep bacteria at bay and keep their mouth clean and healthy. Once the space between their teeth starts to close up, though – usually between ages two and six – it’s time to start a flossing routine. Make it a fun game to show your child that dental hygiene is enjoyable.

At this age, you’ll need to floss your little one’s teeth for them. We recommend using flat, waxed floss. You can also use the pre-strung floss picks. Whichever you choose, just be sure to be gentle with their soft gum tissue. When you first start a flossing routine, the gums may bleed a little. Don’t worry; this is totally normal and should stop happening within a few days of regular flossing.

When Your Child Can Start Flossing on Her Own

Eventually your child will develop the skills to floss her own teeth, and you’ll have established a routine that she can continue. Once your kid is ready to start their own flossing, proper instruction is key to ensuring that they continue to have good gum health. Just like when you floss your own teeth, the right technique is important.

  • Start with about 18 inches of floss
  • Wrap each end around your middle fingers, leaving a couple of inches in between
  • Hold the excess firmly between each thumb and forefinger
  • Gently slide the floss between each tooth
  • Curve the floss around the base of each tooth making a C shape
  • Don’t forget to get below the gumline
  • Use a new section of floss as you move between teeth

Starting an early flossing routine with your child is so important for their oral health. Healthy gums contribute to an overall healthy smile, so start early and help them learn the proper technique. If you have questions, ask us at your child’s next appointment! Call today or schedule online.

Urgent Dental Care for Children

first aid box bandaids medicine

There are few things scarier than a dental emergency, whether it’s a knocked-out tooth, a severe toothache, or even something getting stuck in your gums. Amazingly, many children handle dental emergencies better than their parents. As guardians of our little ones, though, it’s important to act quickly when your child has a dental emergency. Here are a few guidelines on what to do in the case of a dental emergency with your child.

Has a Baby Tooth Fallen Out and Won’t Stop Bleeding?

Blood can be a scary sight, but bleeding after a tooth falls out is relatively normal. However, if the area continues to bleed, get a clean piece of gauze and gently press it over the site of bleeding. Repeat a couple of times, and if the bleeding continues, give us a call to schedule an emergency appointment.

Did Your Kid’s Permanent Tooth Get Knocked Out?

Oh no! One minute your child is swinging from the monkey bars, and the next their front tooth is on the ground. This scenario can rattle even the bravest children. If your child has knocked out one of their permanent teeth, pick it up carefully by the crown (the top of the tooth), not the root. Try to have your child carefully hold the tooth in their mouth from where it came out. If the tooth is dirty or your child is too scared to reinsert the tooth back in its socket, then put the tooth in milk and come see us immediately!

Is Something Caught Between the Teeth or Stuck in the Gums?

The best solution to dislodge something from the mouth is to try gently flossing, but if that doesn’t work, it’s best to come see us. Trying to pry something from between the teeth or from gums with something other than floss can cause damage. It’s best to leave this scenario up to the dental professionals.

Do You Think Your Child Has a Broken Jaw?

Ouch – this dental emergency is definitely stress-inducing! Keep your child’s jaw stable by tying a handkerchief, shirt, or something around their head (yes, like in the old cartoons) and get to the nearest emergency room or urgent care center ASAP!

Most importantly, stay calm! Your children pick up on your emotions more easily than you realize. If you stay calm, cool, and collected, your children will get through this dental emergency with much less stress and trauma. If you have a dental emergency and don’t know what to do, just call us now and we’ll walk you through it. Schedule an emergency dental appointment by calling our office.

How Early Should I Take My Child to the Dentist?

How early should one take their child to the dentist? This is a great question, and we love it when our patients who are new parents ask us! You may be surprised by the answer. You should bring your baby to the dentist by their first birthday, or after your baby’s first tooth appears, whichever happens first!

Setting a Good Foundation

Taking your baby to the dentist early is beneficial for a number of reasons. Your baby’s oral health is developing just like everything else. At your baby’s first dental appointment, we will check the development of their mouth, the health of their gums, and the health of any teeth they have.

One thing we look out for is cavities, which can occur early but are easily avoidable. One recommendation we make is to not let your baby sleep with a bottle. Sugars from milk can create a breeding ground for bacteria and cause cavities, even in baby teeth!

Also, don’t be afraid to wash your baby’s mouth. We can show you how we recommend doing this in your next appointment. You can take a piece of gauze and gently move it over your child’s gums. This helps to wash away any food particles, sugars, or bacteria.

Invest in Your Child’s Oral Health

Oral health problems are one of the most preventable health problems in children. By bringing your baby in early, and for check-ups every six months as they grow, you’re setting a good example for your child. First of all, they’ll learn the importance of dental visits. You’ll also create positive experiences at the dentist early on, which will encourage them to continue the tradition as they get older. Plus, having good oral health as a child sets the foundation for good oral health as an adult. It’s a win-win situation!

At KidSmile Dental, we love working with children and do everything we can to make their dental visits enjoyable and fun. Schedule your child’s next dental appointment today by calling our friendly team!

Foods that Help Strengthen Kids’ Teeth

young child with bowl of raspberries

KidSmile Dental cares about your children’s teeth, and we want your kids to have strong and healthy enamel to make sure they have beautiful smiles for years to come. Here are some tooth-healthy foods to help keep your children’s oral health strong.

Vegetables & Citrus Fruits

Vitamin C in fruits like kiwis, limes, and oranges kill the bacteria in your child’s mouth that can cause gingivitis. Another good source of vitamin C are vegetables such as orange, red, and yellow peppers, and sweet potatoes. If your kiddos do have some citrus fruit, make sure they wait at least thirty minutes before brushing so the acid doesn’t strip off precious enamel.

Milk, Yogurt, & Cheese

Your children may love eating potatoes, bread, pasta, and other carbohydrates that break down into sugar, but this sugar feeds bacteria that can cause cavities. Following a carbohydrate-rich snack or meal, try to have your child eat some cheese to counteract this. By eating cheese or yogurt – products that are rich in Vitamin D and calcium – you can actually raise the pH level in your mouth, reduce acid levels, and reduce the risk of tooth decay! Pass the cheese, please!

Crisp, Raw Veggies

Chewing crisp veggies gently scrubs your teeth. Giving your children some crunchy veggies to snack on helps to gently scrape away the plaque that builds up between meals, and even the plaque that kids may miss when brushing. Pack some celery or carrots into your kids’ next lunch bag!

At KidSmile Dental in Spokane Valley, we want your children to enjoy a lifetime of healthy smiles. Starting at an early age, you can teach your children good dental habits and routines, as well as the proper nutrition for a healthy smile. Tooth-friendly foods not only strengthen your children’s teeth, they’re also incredibly healthy!
Schedule an appointment with our kid-friendly team today!

How to Get Your Toddler to Brush Their Teeth

dad and son brushing teeth together

Oh, the toddler years! Bye-bye baby, hello squirmy pint-sized bundle of cuteness! We love the toddler years, but this age comes with its own set of challenges. One of the most difficult tasks parents face is getting their toddler to let them brush their teeth. Sometimes our little ones will scream, protest, and yell so loudly that you might think they’re in genuine pain! Don’t despair, parents; you’re not alone in the battle between the toothbrush and the toddler. Here at KidSmile Dental in Spokane Valley, we’re here to help you overcome the challenges of brushing your toddler’s teeth.

Play “Copycat”

Toddlers love mimicking adults. Some toddlers are master imitators, and some toddlers like to sit back, observe, and process information before they mimic something. Take advantage of your toddler’s propensity to copy you by letting your little one watch you brush your teeth every single time! Put your toddler’s toothbrush within reach, so they can grab it if they’re ready to play along. Also, be sure to brush your teeth with an incredible amount of enthusiasm and excitement, as this will encourage your child to join in on the fun and do what you’re doing.

Try Brushing with a Finger First

If your toddler seems frightened by their toothbrush, try easing them into the idea of brushing by wrapping your finger with gauze and using your finger to brush their teeth. You can even find slip-on gauze pieces specifically for this purpose to make it a little easier. Once your child has warmed up to the idea of brushing, gradually work your way up to using your toddler’s toothbrush. Eventually they’ll want to take over the reins and do it themselves!

Make a Game of It & Play Show-and-Tell

Playing is a great way to teach toddlers how to do things. Get their stuffed animals and dolls, and practice brushing their teeth first. Maybe even let your toddler brush your teeth, so you can show them how fun it is to have your teeth brushed!

When All Else Fails…

Sometimes children need time to ease into things, but while that is happening, you can’t skip brushing entirely. If you have a very resistant toddler, you will need two people to gently hold them while you brush. Dr. Sears recommends that you “have your child lie on your lap with his head facing you, while your partner sits in front of you knee-to-knee, supporting your child’s body in his lap. Have your partner lean forward and hold your child’s arms and legs while you gently brush his teeth from above (a position that will give you easier access and a better view).”

Even if your toddler gets the hang of it and starts brushing their own teeth, make sure you do a once-over to make sure they’ve done a thorough job. We recommend you continue supervised brushing up until the age of at least 7 years old.

If you’re having problems trying to get your toddler to brush their teeth, come see Dr. Blake. At KidSmile Dental, we love working with children and will ensure your child has a healthy and happy smile for years to come! Call our friendly team or schedule your convenient appointment online now.

What Are Preventative Space Maintainers?

young girl smiling gap teeth

In dentistry, taking preventative measures is an efficient way to avoid costly, painful procedures in the future. For example, everyone knows that brushing and flossing regularly is beneficial in preventing cavities, which would require fillings or other procedures. Taking action regarding crowding, gaps, and alignment issues while your children are young can help to prevent the necessity for things like braces and retainers when they get older. Preventative space maintainers are useful in keeping your children’s teeth straight and healthy while transitioning from primary to permanent teeth.

What Exactly Are Preventative Space Maintainers?

Preventative space maintainers are appliances that are made of either metal or plastic. Space maintainers are custom fit to a child’s mouth, and the child generally adjusts quickly to the feel of the maintainer.

While transitioning from primary teeth to permanent teeth, a child’s permanent tooth grows from the gum, pushing the primary tooth out and taking its place. If a child loses a primary tooth too soon, a preventative space maintainer can be used to prevent complications as the permanent teeth grow in.

What Do Preventative Space Maintainers Do?

  • Hold open the space left by a lost tooth until the new tooth comes in
  • Stabilize remaining teeth to prevent them from tilting into the open space
  • Keep other teeth from growing in crooked
  • Help prevent teeth from crowding as they grow in
  • Save money and time

Preventative space maintainers are an effective way to keep your child’s teeth from growing incorrectly and requiring later orthodontic procedures and appliances, such as braces and retainers. It is better to allow teeth to grow naturally straight than to attempt to correct them after they’ve grown in crooked or crowded.

Does My Child Need Space Maintainers?

If your child has lost teeth too soon, it is important to take preventative action now and prevent damage and complications later. Dr. Joel Blake and the KidSmile Dental team will be able to analyze your child’s dental needs and determine the best course of action.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your child. We’ll be happy to discuss your concerns!

They are NOT “just baby teeth”



Many parents wonder “Why fix baby teeth that have cavities on them?” We often hear “They are JUST baby teeth, they will loose them!”

NO they are not JUST baby teeth! Primary (or baby) teeth are very important to your child’s oral health and development. They help children speak, chew and smile. They also hold space for the permanent teeth still developing. If they lose them too early the other teeth may move forward into that space causing crowding later.

Untreated dental disease compromises the child’s ability to eat,speak, sleep and function well at home and at school. The unaesthetic nature of untreated dental decay can effect the child’s self esteem and social development.

Studies have shown that more than 50 million hours of school are missed each year due to dental related illness!!!!

Good News!!!

Tooth decay can be preventable!!!! To assure good oral health please bring your child in for their first dental visit 6 months after the first tooth erupts or by their 1st birthday. Continue care by taking them to the dentist every 6 months. We also recommend that you brush their teeth 2 times a day and floss every night for them until they are 8 years old. Also limit sugary drinks and snacks to a minimum.


Healthier Treat Alternatives for Your Child’s Stocking


The holidays are a time of year when we are surrounded by sugary sweets, and we can’t forget about the impact that has on our children’s dental health. Here at KidSmile Dental, we care about your kids’ teeth, but we know that Santa still likes to leave them some special holiday treats in their stockings. While it’s true that the less sugar you eat the better, you can still give your children some healthier goodies that won’t leave them feeling deprived:

  • Chocolate. If you’re going to give your kids sweets, chocolate is a better option than sticky candies like taffy, lollipops, or caramel, all of which stick to teeth like glue and require diligent brushing. The longer a candy sits in your mouth, the more acidic it becomes, leading to more risk of tooth decay. Chocolate dissolves more quickly and is easier to brush away. Opt for dark chocolate since the sugar content is lower than milk chocolate and your little ones will likely feel more satisfied with a smaller amount.
  • Pretzels. Give your kids something crunchy and salty that takes them away from the sugar for a bit. Pretzels are less likely to get stuck in your teeth than popcorn, but they still give kids the feeling that they are getting a treat.
  • Dark chocolate-covered nuts. Peanuts or almonds covered in dark chocolate give you the crunchy-and-sweet combination without the gooey caramel of nut-filled candy bars that cement the food to your teeth.
  • Sugarless gum. If you are going to give your child a treat that will stay in their mouth for a while, opt for a sugar-free version. Some sugarless gums can actually help to clean your teeth after eating, so this is a better choice than lollipops or hard candies.
  • Toys and other non-food treats. It’s always fun for kids to open their stocking and find a small toy or other treat that isn’t edible. Plus, now is a good time to throw in a cool toothbrush or two with some of their favorite characters to encourage good brushing habits.
  • As with any food, it’s still essential for kids to brush well after eating them, but some of these options will help their teeth to fare a little better over the holidays. KidSmile Dental is here to make sure your children maintain healthy and strong teeth and gums during the holiday season and throughout the rest of the year. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.