Sweet Grass Dental Associates

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How do I make my child’s diet safe for his or her teeth?

June 19th, 2024

The food you feed your child can have a lasting effect on his or her oral health. In fact, diet plays a major role in whether a child develops cavities and decay, which can lead to many dental visits and potential tooth loss. So what should you feed your child to ensure he or she has a healthy smile for life?

Foods to Avoid

It is normal for your child to take interest in many foods -- especially those filled with sugar and carbohydrates. But as tasty as these foods are, they can cause rapid decay when eaten in excess. That’s not to say your child can never have sugar again. Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our staff suggest limiting starchy and sugary foods such as candy and potato chips as much as possible.

Remember that some seemingly healthy foods can present the threat of decay too. Some of the most common culprits are sticky foods like peanut butter, raisins, and granola bars, which can stick to the teeth after eating. If you serve these foods to your child, be sure to have him or her brush immediately after eating to remove any lingering sugary residue.

Beverages

Many beverages marketed toward children contain sugar servings that far exceed the daily recommendations from national health organizations. They suggest no more than three to four teaspoons of added sugar per day for young children.

Make an effort to serve only water to your child any time other than meal times. During meals, allow your child to have milk or juice, but in limited serving sizes. Most importantly, never allow your young child to sleep with a bottle or “sippie cup” full of juice or milk. Doing so can cause rapid tooth decay: a condition known as “baby bottle caries.”

A Healthy and Balance Diet

So long as your child is brushing regularly and eating a healthy, balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains, you should have little or no problem with tooth decay. For more questions about how your child’s diet affects his or her oral health, contact our Fort Collins office to schedule a consultation.

Convenient Care: Finding a Kids Dentist Near You in Fort Collins, CO

June 12th, 2024

When you become a parent you quickly discover that, from grocery shopping to league sports, convenience is key to maintaining your mental health and happiness! And the realm of dental health is no different. As parents, we understand the importance of finding a pediatric dentist who not only provides top-notch care but is also conveniently located. In Fort Collins, CO, families are fortunate to have access to a range of dental professionals specializing in children's dentistry. Let's explore some tips for finding the perfect kids dentist near you in Fort Collins.

Finding The Best Pediatric Dentist For You in Fort Collins

Six Steps To Finding A Kids Dentist Near You

  1. Start with Recommendations

    Word of mouth is often the best way to find a reputable pediatric dentist. Ask friends, family members, or neighbors for recommendations. Their personal experiences can give you valuable insights into the quality of care provided by different dentists in the area.

  2. Check Online Reviews

    In addition to personal recommendations, take some time to research pediatric dentists online. Many websites offer reviews and ratings from patients. Pay attention to feedback regarding the dentist's chairside manner, office atmosphere, and the friendliness of the staff.

    (Not to brag, but Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies has over 1000 reviews on Google, and maintains a 5 star rating!)

  3. Consider Location and Accessibility

    When choosing a kids dentist, consider the location and accessibility of the dental office. Look for a practice that is conveniently located near your home, your child's school, or your workplace. This makes it easier to schedule appointments without disrupting your daily routine.

  4. Evaluate the Office Environment

    The atmosphere of the dental office plays a significant role in your child's comfort level. Look for a pediatric dentist in Fort Collins who creates a welcoming and child-friendly environment. A colorful and inviting waiting room, as well as a caring and patient staff, can help ease any anxiety your child may have about visiting the dentist.

  5. Verify Credentials and Experience

    Before making a final decision, verify the credentials and experience of the pediatric dentists at the practice. Make sure they are board-certified and have specific training in treating children's dental issues. An experienced kids dentist will be equipped to handle a variety of dental needs, from routine cleanings to more complex procedures.

  6. Schedule a Consultation

    Once you've narrowed down your options, schedule a consultation with the pediatric dentist. This allows you to meet the dentist in person, tour the office, and ask any questions you may have about their approach to pediatric dentistry. Pay attention to how the dentist interacts with your child during this first visit and whether they take the time to address your concerns.

Find Convenient Care at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies

Finding a kids dentist near you in Fort Collins, CO, doesn't have to be a daunting task. By following these tips and taking the time to research your options, you can find a pediatric dentist who provides convenient care and exceptional service for your child's dental needs. Remember, prioritizing your child's oral health sets the foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

We are confident that after you follow these six steps, you’ll agree that Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies offers the care and convenience that you need for your child, and provides plenty of fun along the way. We can’t wait to impress you with our child friendly environment, friendly service, and top-notch dental care. Schedule an appointment today to get started.

Building Blocks for a Healthy Grown-Up Smile

June 12th, 2024

Even before a baby is born, those tiny baby teeth are already forming. Expectant mothers can help ensure that their children’s baby teeth will be strong and healthy by getting the recommended amounts of proteins, vitamins, and minerals in their prenatal diets.

But a mother can’t “eat for two” to make sure her child’s adult teeth are healthy—children’s permanent teeth begin real growth and development only after birth. What can we do to encourage strong permanent teeth as our children grow and develop? Here are four important building blocks parents can use to lay a healthy foundation for their children’s grown-up smiles.

Serve a Tooth-Healthy Diet

The same vitamins and minerals that help create baby teeth are essential for creating healthy adult teeth. Tooth enamel, the hardest substance in the body, is almost completely made up of calcium phosphate minerals.  A diet which provides the recommended amounts of calcium and phosphorus helps your child’s body grow strong enamel. And don’t forget vitamin D, which our bodies need to absorb calcium and phosphorus.

A tooth-healthy diet should include several servings of foods which provide calcium, such as dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), dark leafy vegetables, and fortified juices, cereals and tofu. Phosphorus can be found in proteins like meat, fish, and poultry, as well as beans, nuts, dairy, and whole grains. Egg yolks and fatty fish are natural sources of vitamin D, and it’s easily available in fortified foods such as cow’s milk, soy milk, cereals, and orange juice.

Use the Right Amount of Fluoride

Fluoride is called “Nature’s cavity fighter” for a reason. Fluoride reduces the risk of cavities and helps strengthen tooth enamel. Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman can offer invaluable advice on when to start and how to use fluoride toothpaste to protect your child’s baby teeth and developing adult teeth.

Can there be too much of this good thing? While fluoride is a safe and effective way to protect teeth in normal, recommended amounts, too much fluoride can lead to fluorosis. This condition can cause cosmetic changes in the enamel of permanent teeth, from almost invisible lighter spots to darker spots and streaking.

How to make sure your child gets the right amount of fluoride?

For children under the age of three, use a dab of toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice. Ask Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman if fluoride toothpaste is recommended.

Young children can’t always understand the idea of spitting and rinsing after brushing, so children between the ages of three and six should use only a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste, and need you there to make sure they spit and rinse afterward.

Ask us about local water fluoride levels if you have any concerns about using tap water for drinking or for mixing formula, keep fluoride toothpastes and other products out of the reach of children, monitor your children while they brush, and always check with us before giving your child a fluoride rinse or supplement.

Help Your Child Retire Harmful Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Habits

Your child might self-comfort with the help of a pacifier or thumb sucking, which can be a valuable soothing habit. But it’s important to talk to Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman to see just how long this soothing habit should last. Around the age of four, aggressive thumb or pacifier sucking can lead to problems for permanent teeth.

Vigorous sucking can cause protruding upper front teeth. Aggressive sucking can lead to changes in the shape of your child’s palate and jaw. Open bite malocclusions, where the upper and lower teeth are unable to meet, and overbites, where the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth more than they should, can also be the result of lengthy and forceful thumb sucking.

Take Care of Baby Teeth

Baby teeth are important! They bite and chew food, and they work with the tongue to help your child learn to pronounce words properly. And there’s one more important reason to make sure primary teeth stay healthy: they serve as the place holders which guide permanent teeth into their proper spots.

When a baby tooth is lost too early, due to decay or injury, the teeth on either side can drift into the empty space, preventing a permanent tooth from erupting where it needs to. Any misalignment or crowding which results may require orthodontic treatment in the future.

Call our Fort Collins office if your child unexpectedly loses a baby tooth. There may be no cause for concern, or, if there’s a potential problem, an appliance called a “space maintainer,” which keeps the baby teeth from shifting out of place, can be fabricated especially for your child.

Your child’s adult teeth are being formed now. Work with us to make sure the building blocks of present and future dental health are in place. You’re giving your child the foundation for a lifetime of beautiful, grown-up smiles!

Smile! June marks National Smile Month!

June 5th, 2024

Can you believe it’s already June? Today, Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies thought we’d let you know that June is National Smile Month, so it’s a good time to remind all our young patients to practice proper oral hygiene between their visits to our office!

Below are a few simple steps your child can take to improve his or her oral health so that your family can celebrate National Smile Month for many, many years to come:

  • Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss every day to clean between the teeth
  • Limit the intake of sugary foods and drinks
  • Visit us every six months for regular checkups

If you have questions about any of these tips, we encourage you to give us a call, ask Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman or our team during your next visit, or ask us on Facebook!

Why Baby Teeth Matter

May 29th, 2024

Sleepless nights, crankiness, drooling—how can such tiny teeth cause such a big fuss? But all those uncomfortable days and nights are forgotten when your baby’s first teeth make their appearance. Why? Well, certainly because your child is happier, but also because you know baby teeth, or primary teeth, are important for your child’s growth in so many different ways.

  • Chewing and Eating

Your baby might enjoy solid foods at an early age, but real chewing doesn’t happen until all the baby molars appear between the ages of one to three years. This is the time to feed children size-appropriate and texture-appropriate foods so they acquire proper chewing and eating habits for healthy digestion. Chewing also helps develop your child’s jaw and facial muscles.

  • Developing Speech

Pronouncing many of the common sounds used in speech often requires tongue and teeth working together. If teeth are missing or there is a bite problem such as an open bite, it might be more difficult to pronounce words properly. This could be only a temporary delay, or it could require speech therapy when your child is older.

  • Setting the Stage for Permanent Teeth

Baby teeth not only help with speech and jaw development, but they serve as space holders for permanent teeth. If a primary tooth is lost too early, a permanent tooth might “drift” into the empty space. The adult tooth will not have the room to fit where it should, and crowding or misalignment can occur. This might cause orthodontic problems in the future.

  • Learning Healthy Dental Habits

You are your baby’s first dental health care provider! Wiping the gums and erupting teeth with a soft damp cloth after meals, gently brushing baby teeth when your toddler is young, teaching how to brush as your child gets older, helping to establish daily routines for brushing—all these practices will prepare your child for lifelong healthy dental habits.

  • Making the Dentist a Regular Part of Your Child’s Life

Your child should visit our Fort Collins office soon after that first tooth comes in, and definitely by the age of 12 months. Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman can help with suggestions for your brushing and flossing routine, make sure your child’s teeth are healthy and clean, and ensure that teething progress is on track. In later visits, we will examine your child’s primary teeth and gums, and treat any problems, such as cavities, before they can become serious.

It turns out that baby teeth really are a big deal. Talk to us about suggestions for caring for your toddler’s teeth and about any questions you may have about teething progress, jaw and facial structure, speech development, or any other concerns at any time. We want to have a happy relationship with your child from the very start for a lifetime of healthy and confident smiles.

Memorial Day: Parades, remembrance, and the unofficial start of summer!

May 28th, 2024

“The purpose of all war is peace.” - Saint Augustine

Fire truck sirens, baton twirlers, marching bands covering patriotic tunes, colorful floats, costumes, and millions of red, white, and blue American flags being waved in the air on a beautiful day in late May, that is what Memorial Day is all about. It is a federal holiday celebrated with town parades, remembrance, and a sense of unity and community togetherness.

Our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies wants to take this time to wish you and your family a happy Memorial Day, as well as pause for a moment to reflect on what this holiday means and how it has changed over time. No, this is not a history lesson, but just a couple of thoughts and observances for you to take with you on your way to the next barbecue.

On the last Monday in May, America observes Memorial Day as a time to remember and celebrate the men and women who have lost their lives while serving our country in the Armed Forces. The holiday originated after the Civil War; at that time it was known as Decoration Day. While holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter remain the same from year to year, Memorial Day has changed over time, and in the 21st century we observe a far different holiday than what Americans did after the Civil War, or even the World Wars.

While many people place flags at cemeteries and visit national memorials in order to honor those who have passed away serving the country, Memorial Day is also a time for family barbecues, pool parties, trips to the beach, blockbuster movies, long weekend getaways, and fireworks. In America, Memorial Day has come to represent the unofficial start of the summer – a long, sunny, warm weekend devoted to family togetherness, outdoor events, and community.

It is time to load up the potato salad and the apple pie and head over to the neighbor’s house for their annual barbecue. And yes, contrary to popular belief, we do eat sweets, especially homemade apple pie! Everything in moderation, of course.

So whether you’re in the Fort Collins area or beyond, Happy Memorial Day to you and yours from Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman!

Can a Night Guard Mean Sweet Dreams for Your Child?

May 27th, 2024

Sometimes the reason for a poor night’s sleep is obvious. Maybe your child watched a scary movie. Or loaded up on sugar before bed. Or can’t get to sleep after a night of computer screens or video games. Not much we can do about these problems.

Sometimes, though, the cause of your child’s sleep difficulties is dental in origin, and that is something Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman can help with.

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a very common childhood dental problem. While children with this condition sleep, their jaws clench and their teeth grind against each other throughout the night. When to suspect children might suffer from bruxism? When they experience:

  • Frequent headaches or facial pain
  • Waking with a sore jaw, or popping or clicking jaw sounds through the day
  • Teeth which are chipped, cracked, flattened, worn down, or sensitive
  • Waking up tired, because grinding affects the quality of sleep
  • Siblings who complain about nocturnal grinding noises, which affect the quality of their

Pain and fatigue are unpleasant enough, but there are additional serious consequences for those who suffer from bruxism. Our jaws are extremely powerful, and clenching and grinding can put hundreds of pounds on pressure on teeth and jaws over a few hours of sleep.

These forces can lead to damaged teeth and dental work, and problems with the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, the complex hinge that allows our jaws to move up and down, back and forth, and side to side.

Clearly, prevention is clearly a much better option for a healthy smile. And one of the simplest and most effective treatments for preventing the damage caused by bruxism is a night guard.

Night guards fit over the affected teeth to prevent them from touching directly, saving tooth and enamel from injury and wear. Not only do night guards prevent contact, they spread the biting forces of the jaw over the surface of the guard to greatly reduce their impact. And because they also stop the jaw muscles from clenching tightly, there’s no excess stress placed on the temporomandibular joint.

For all these reasons, a night guard is pretty much a slam dunk for adults who grind their teeth. But for children, it’s not necessarily an automatic decision. Why?

  • If tooth grinding is mild and appears to be limited to baby teeth, children often outgrow the condition. Your dentist can let you know if you need to do more than monitor the situation.
  • Sometimes it seems like your child’s smile changes from day to day. Between losing baby teeth and erupting adult teeth, this beautiful smile is a work in progress. A fitted night guard might not be a perfect fit while your child’s teeth are still coming in and shifting position.
  • Finally, jaw and facial pain can also be caused by problems with your child’s bite or misaligned teeth, and that might mean that an orthodontic consultation is in order.

But if you suspect your child is suffering the effects of night time grinding and clenching, give our Fort Collins office a call. A thorough examination will provide you with the best diagnosis and solutions for helping your child retain a healthy smile and regain a healthy night’s sleep.

And if a night guard is recommended, a dental professional is the best person to see for the most effective night guard.

While over-the-counter products are available, a custom night guard is designed to fit your child’s individual teeth and mouth perfectly. Impressions or 3D scans are taken in the office, and a guard is fabricated with the precise shape, strength, and thickness needed to protect young teeth. And, as a bonus, custom night guards offer the most comfortable fit for the most comfortable night’s sleep.

Scary movies, a late night sugar rush, mesmerizing video screens—not much we can do about those! But if your child is suffering lost sleep and painful mornings because of tooth grinding, give us a call. A night guard just might be the key to sweet dreams.

Why Are My Child’s Baby Teeth So White?

May 8th, 2024

One of the most charming aspects of your baby’s beautiful smile is his brilliantly white teeth. But now that his adult teeth are coming in, the difference in color is very noticeable. Is this something to be concerned about? Happily, probably not.

Both baby teeth and adult teeth have the same basic structure. The inside of the tooth, the pulp, contains blood vessels and nerves. The pulp is covered by a layer of dentin, a hard, yellowish substance composed of living tissue that helps protect the pulp and transmits signals for pain, pressure, and temperature. Enamel is the outer protective covering of the tooth, and its natural color can vary from greyish-white to light yellow.

If primary and permanent teeth are so alike, how can they look so different? As with so many things, the difference lies in the details. In adult teeth, enamel is semi-translucent, so it will allow the color of what is beneath it to show through. And the color of the thick dentin beneath is naturally yellow. Baby teeth have a thinner layer of the yellowish dentin. And while their enamel is also thinner, the enamel in baby teeth is generally whiter and more opaque, so less of the underlying yellow from the dentin is visible.

The result of these small differences is that adult teeth are normally darker than baby teeth to begin with. And when a permanent tooth that is just a bit darker erupts next to a bright white baby tooth, it is going to look even more yellow than it actually is. Once all of the baby teeth in front have been replaced with adult teeth, you will have a much better idea of their real color without unflattering comparisons!

There are times when concerns about tooth color should be looked at by Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman more closely.

  • Unusual discoloration in teeth should be examined. Some discoloration is caused by medical conditions such as hypomineralization, some by environmental factors such as excess fluoride, some by trauma, some by medication. If you notice a discolored section of your child’s tooth, or the tooth has turned a different shade from the teeth around it, give us a call.
  • Your child might have naturally whiter or yellower teeth simply as a matter of genetics. If your child is self-conscious about the color of his teeth, we can talk about whitening solutions when he is old enough to use them safely. Home whitening products should never be used on young children.

Give yourself time to adjust to your child’s new, adult smile. You will probably notice no difference at all once all of his permanent teeth come in. And keep those new teeth their brightest with consistent brushing and flossing, and regular checkups and cleanings at our Fort Collins office. This is the simplest prescription for a charming, white, and healthy smile at any age.

Colorado Tongue Tie: Understanding and Addressing the Issue with Rockies Kids

May 7th, 2024

Fort Collins parents may encounter a common yet often misunderstood issue concerning their children's oral health: tongue tie . Tongue tie, medically known as ankyloglossia, can affect infants and children, potentially causing a range of symptoms that impact their feeding, speech, and oral development. In this post, we'll explain what tongue tie is, its symptoms, and how pediatric dentistry can address this concern for Colorado families.

Lip and Tongue Tie Revision: All You Need to Know

What is Tongue Tie?

Tongue tie occurs when the thin strip of tissue, called the frenulum, which connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth, is shorter than usual or restricts the tongue's movement. Similarly, a lip tie involves a tight or thick band of tissue attaching the upper lip to the gums. These conditions can vary in severity and may go unnoticed in some cases.

Symptoms of Tongue and Lip Tie

Feeding Difficulties: One of the most common signs of tongue tie in infants is difficulty with breastfeeding. Babies may struggle to latch properly, leading to inadequate milk transfer, poor weight gain, and maternal discomfort.

Speech Development Issues: As children grow older, untreated tongue tie can affect speech development. It may manifest as difficulty articulating certain sounds, such as "t," "d," "s," and "z," or in more severe cases, lead to speech impediments.

Oral Hygiene Challenges: Children with tongue or lip tie may have difficulty maintaining good oral hygiene. Limited tongue mobility can hinder effective cleaning of teeth and gums, potentially leading to dental issues like cavities and gum disease.

Oral Functionality: Tongue tie can impact various oral functions beyond feeding and speech, such as licking, swallowing, and even kissing. These limitations may affect social interactions and self-esteem, especially as children grow older.

Orthodontic Concerns: In some cases, untreated tongue or lip tie can contribute to orthodontic problems, such as misalignment of teeth or issues with jaw development. Early detection and intervention can help prevent or minimize these complications.

Addressing Tongue and Lip Tie in Rockies Kids

Pediatric dentists play a crucial role in identifying and addressing tongue and lip tie in children. Through a comprehensive oral examination, including assessment of tongue mobility and frenulum attachment, dentists can diagnose the condition and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Frenectomy: For moderate to severe cases of tongue or lip tie, a frenectomy may be necessary. This minor surgical procedure involves releasing the tight or thick frenulum to improve tongue mobility and function. Laser frenectomy, in particular, offers a precise and minimally invasive approach with faster healing times.

Postoperative Care: Following a frenectomy, pediatric dentists provide guidance on postoperative care to promote healing and optimal oral function. This may include exercises to improve tongue mobility, proper oral hygiene practices, and monitoring for any signs of complications.

Multidisciplinary Approach: In complex cases involving speech or feeding difficulties, pediatric dentists collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as lactation consultants, speech therapists, and otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat specialists), to ensure comprehensive care tailored to the child's needs.

Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies Can Help With Your Child’s Lip or Tongue Tie

Ensuring children's oral health is vital for their overall well-being and quality of life. By understanding the symptoms of tongue and lip tie and seeking early intervention from pediatric dentistry professionals, Fort Collins families can address this common issue and support their children's healthy oral development for years to come.

Schedule an appointment  with us at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies to take the first step of your child’s oral health journey.


May is National Teen Self-Esteem Month!

May 1st, 2024

The month of May has the unique distinction of being National Teen Self-Esteem Month. What does that mean?

National Teen Self-Esteem Month was created to raise public awareness about how low self-esteem can negatively affect teens. Especially during May, parents and guardians of teens are asked to be positive role models. If teens can receive positive re-enforcement and their negative images of themselves are improved, then their self-esteem has a better chance of developing in a positive direction.

Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies know there are a lot of young adults living in America are struggling with depressed self-images. These can affect all aspects of their everyday lives. Some evidence shows learning abilities and increased risk of eating disorders can originate in a teen’s low self-esteem. It can also lead to abuse of drugs and thoughts of suicide. Dating violence among high school teens is now more common than previously thought.

What can be done to help?

So what can adults do specifically to help their teens? The National Teen Self-Esteem Facebook page offers a variety of suggestions and positive messages for teens and parents alike. Of all the pages your teen “likes” on social media, perhaps he or she should include this page. Some of the tips offered include:

  1. When you stumble, get right back up.
  2. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
  3. Do things that make you feel good about yourself.
  4. Open yourself up to compliments.

Another great way to build self-esteem is to have a beautiful, health smile, and that’s where our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies come in! Whether your teen is due for a simple cleaning, could benefit from cosmetic treatments, or needs orthodontic care, we can help bestow a confident smile he or she will be proud to show off.

Overall, a more positive approach to life will help us all. It is a very important trait to instill in our teens. As parents, a big part of our responsibility is to show our children there is always another day and bumps in the road are just that. We need to help guide their self-esteem and reinforce their positive traits. We can help them recognize the value of who they are.

We should make our children’s self esteem a priority — not just in May, but throughout the year. Let National Teen Self-Esteem Month serve as the impetus for new levels of self-esteem.

For more information on this topic, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman, please give us a call at our convenient Fort Collins office!

Make Brushing Teeth Fun!

April 24th, 2024

It’s understandable that kids would rather be playing outside or watching their favorite movie instead of doing a “boring” task like brushing their teeth. But there are ways to make brushing fun for your son or daughter, and encourage healthy oral hygiene habits early on! Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team have a few tricks that may help.

Game time

What child doesn’t love a good game? Try to turn brushing time into a game, whether by playing hide-and-seek or singing your child’s favorite song while he or she brushes for two minutes.

Kids also love rewards, so awarding them stickers after a good brushing can encourage them to do a good job every time. You might even tell your child that five stickers will earn a special treat or fun activity at the end of the week.

Fun accessories

Lots of toothbrush options can add something exciting to your child’s daily brushing routine. Toothbrushes that light up tend to be a popular choice with young kids. The same goes for toothbrushes shaped like your child’s favorite animal or cartoon character.

Teaching your kids about how long they should brush each time can also be fun. Let them have the special responsibility of setting a timer for two minutes before they start to brush.

The Great Toothpaste Experiment

Lots of kids can be picky eaters and that can the case with toothpaste flavors. Set aside a time to sample several different flavors, the way they’ve probably tried various flavors at the ice cream shop! Just make sure to be very clear that they shouldn’t swallow the toothpaste.

With your help, your child can easily develop healthy brushing habits over time. If you can find ways to make it fun, it can be an enjoyable experience for both of you!

Call Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman at our Fort Collins office for more fun tips or to make an appointment today!

Make Every Day Earth Day

April 17th, 2024

Earth Day began in 1970 as an event to raise awareness of our environment. What began as a single day in April is now recognized around the world to bring attention and education to global environmental issues. Conserving our natural resources, reducing water and air pollution, and developing green technologies are all ways in which we can improve the environment around us.

Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse

One of the easiest ways to participate in Earth Day is by simply reducing the amount of refuse that ends up in landfills. Many communities have recycling programs for paper, plastic, and metal refuse. By keeping recyclable items out of landfills, we reduce the need for new disposal space and the amount of energy needed for burning refuse. Recycling products also helps conserve the resources that are used in making new products.

You can save money by reducing your consumption of many everyday products. Single disposable water bottles can be recycled but they are costly. By using filtered faucet water, you can conserve your financial resources. Disposable paper towels can also be wasteful. Consider reusable cleaning rags for the majority of your chores.

Reusing items saves both the environment and your finances. A large number of products can be re-purposed to create a new item. Old furniture can be remade into a new piece. Old clothing can be used for craft items. If you are not able to find ways to reuse your old items, donate them to a charity. Remember to continue your positive environmental steps on a daily basis.

Other things you can do to improve the environment

Everyone, young or old, can find ways to participate in improving the environment. Some ideas include:

  • Planting trees
  • Picking up litter
  • Reducing energy consumption
  • Walking, bicycling, or carpooling to work or school
  • Disposing of hazardous waste properly
  • Using rain barrels to conserve water for plants

Earth Day is designed to appreciate and celebrate the health of the earth. Keeping the earth healthy is important, but keeping your mouth healthy is important, too. Healthy teeth and gums contribute to your overall health and well-being, so remember to call our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies to schedule an appointment. Have a happy and healthy Earth Day, from Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman!

Preparing An Oral Health Plan for Your Child in Fort Collins

April 17th, 2024

At Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies in Fort Collins, CO, we understand that as a parent, you want the best for your child's oral health. Establishing good dental habits early on is crucial for their overall well-being. With that in mind, let's discuss how you can prepare an effective oral health plan for your child in Fort Collins.

A Plan for Oral Health Success

Start Early

Begin oral care even before your child's first tooth emerges. Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe their gums after feedings to remove bacteria and prevent gum disease.

First Dental Visit

Schedule your child's first dental appointment by their first birthday or when their first tooth appears. This early visit helps them become familiar with the dentist and establishes a positive association with dental care.

Regular Dental Check-ups

Consistent dental check-ups every six months are essential for monitoring your child's oral health. Our pediatric dentists in Fort Collins will assess their dental development, identify any issues early on, and provide preventive care as needed.

Brushing and Flossing

Teach your child the importance of brushing their teeth at least twice a day and flossing once a day. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste appropriate for their age. Supervise brushing until they can effectively do it themselves, usually around the age of six or seven.

Healthy Diet

Encourage a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limit sugary snacks and beverages, as they can contribute to tooth decay. Drinking fluoridated water can also help strengthen your child's teeth.

Protective Measures

If your child participates in sports, consider providing them with a custom mouthguard to protect their teeth from injuries. Additionally, discuss the use of dental sealants with our pediatric dentist in Fort Collins to prevent cavities in the grooves of their back teeth.

Lead by Example

Children often mimic their parents' behaviors, so be a positive role model by demonstrating good oral hygiene practices yourself. Brush and floss together as a family to make it a fun and routine activity.

Address Dental Anxiety

Our pediatric dentist office in Fort Collins is equipped to handle children's dental anxiety. We create a welcoming environment and use gentle techniques to ensure your child feels comfortable during their visits.

Stay Informed

Keep yourself informed about oral health guidelines and recommendations for children. Our team is here to answer any questions you may have and provide personalized guidance for your child's dental needs.

Consistency is Key

Consistency is crucial in maintaining your child's oral health. Stick to your oral health plan, and don't hesitate to reach out to our pediatric dentist in Fort Collins if you encounter any concerns or need further assistance.

Get the Oral Health Results You Want In Fort Collins

By following these steps and partnering with our pediatric dentist office in Fort Collins, you can lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles for your child. Remember, investing in their oral health today will benefit them in the years to come. Schedule an appointment with us today to begin your child's journey to optimal oral health.


When to Begin Dental Care for Your Child

April 10th, 2024

Children’s oral health differs from that of adults in a variety of ways. Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team want you to understand how you can provide the best care for your son or daughter’s teeth. It’s essential to understand what your child will need from you when it comes to his or her oral health in those first few years.

In-home dental care begins when your baby starts to show signs of developing the first tooth. We recommend that you bring your child to our Fort Collins office between the ages of one and two. Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman will take a look at your child’s tooth development and gums during this first scheduled appointment.

The initial appointment with your little one is designed to get him or her accustomed to our office. We recommend allowing your child to be in the exam room alone with us during the first visit in order to become comfortable with our staff at an early age.

We will go over several general matters during your child’s first visit:

  • Look for signs of decay or other tooth or gum problems
  • Make sure your youngster doesn’t have gum disease or cavities
  • Examine your child’s bite, and check for misalignment that could lead to problems in the future
  • Clean the teeth, and apply fluoride if your son or daughter is old enough
  • Talk to you about proper oral health care for your
  • Give you some tips for brushing and flossing your child’s teeth
  • Answer any questions you may have about caring for your little one’s teeth

Once your child is old enough for his or her first visit to the dentist, you should begin to schedule regular cleanings every six months. If any problems arise before a scheduled appointment, call our Fort Collins location and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Remember, creating healthy oral health habits with your child early on is crucial. We’re here to guide you through this process and make sure your child is healthy and happy.  

Three Reasons We're Fans of Fluoride

April 3rd, 2024

Why all the fuss about fluoride? Your pediatric dentist recommends it, your child’s toothpaste is formulated with it, and most of our drinking water contains it. Just what is it about this mineral that makes dental professionals sing its praises? Read on for three good reasons why fluoride is a healthy choice for healthier teeth.

  1. Fluoride Works!

Fluoride is an attractive option for protecting your child’s teeth—and we mean that literally. Fluoride protects the surface of teeth by working on a molecular level to attract minerals that strengthen enamel and help prevent cavities.

Our tooth enamel is mostly made from calcium and phosphate ions. These elements combine to form hydroxyapatite, strong crystals which make up about 95% of our enamel. Hydroxyapatite is so strong, in fact, that tooth enamel is the hardest part of our bodies. What can go wrong?

Acids. Acids created by the bacteria in plaque and the acids in our diet strip away the calcium and phosphate ions in enamel, weakening the surface of the tooth. This process is called demineralization. Over time, weak spots become bigger as acids eat through enamel to the inner tooth, causing decay and cavities.

So, what can fluoride do?

First, fluoride helps remineralize tooth enamel. Fluoride is attracted to the tooth’s surface and bonds with its minerals. It also attracts the calcium and phosphate ions which are found in our saliva to restore any minerals which have been lost. This process helps repair any weak spots which might have begun to form.

But fluoride does more than restore and repair tooth strength—it improves it! Fluoride ions join with calcium and phosphate to form fluorapatite crystals, which are larger and stronger than hydroxyapatite crystals. Even better? These new crystals are more resistant to acids.

  1. Fluoride Is Doubly Effective

Fluoride works both externally and internally. We just looked at how fluoride helps keep teeth strong when applied to the outside of the teeth. This is called a topical application. Systemic benefits come the fluoride we consume in our diets.

Fluoride isn’t found in many foods, but it is found naturally in lakes, rivers, and other water sources. When the local water’s fluoride level is low, many communities add fluoride for its proven ability to prevent cavities. Water fluoridation is safe, has been studied for decades, and has been shown to reduce the risk of cavities by 25% or more for both children and adults.

Systemic fluoride is important for baby teeth, as fluoride joins with minerals in adult teeth while they grow and develop. This creates stronger, more cavity-resistant teeth even before they erupt.

When your child’s permanent teeth come in, fluoride is still at work! When your child drinks fluoridated water, they increasing the amount of fluoride in their saliva. Just like fluoride toothpaste, saliva bathes the teeth with fluoride ions, remineralizing and strengthening the tooth surface and helping repair weak spots in enamel.

  1. It’s Easy to Get Fluoride Protection

Because so much of our drinking water is fluoridated, most of us really don’t have to think about how to get the recommended amount of fluoride in our diet each day. If your community’s water is low in fluoride, Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman can help you. Prescription fluoride rinses, gels, supplements, and other treatments are available at our Fort Collins pediatric dental office to make sure that your child’s teeth are well protected, wherever you may live. We will let you know which products are best for your child and how often to use them.

Fluoride isn’t, of course, the only way to look out for your dental health. Proper brushing and flossing are still essential for removing plaque. And sealants provide long-lasting protection for chewing surfaces. But when it comes to a proven cavity-fighter that’s simple to use, effective, and easily available—is it any wonder we’re big fans of fluoride?

Are My Child’s Baby Teeth on Schedule?

March 27th, 2024

Your darling three-month old is crying and fussy—can she be teething already? Or, your happy baby boy has just celebrated his first birthday—with only one tooth in that beautiful, gummy smile. Is this normal? Probably! While baby teeth do typically erupt (come in) in the same order for all babies, and around the same time, there is still a lot of flexibility in the time it takes for a full, healthy smile to develop.

Baby teeth actually form before your baby is born, and those 20 teeth are there under the gums waiting to come out and shine. And even though there are no firm and fast dates for each of these primary teeth to erupt, it’s helpful to have a general overview of typical teething patterns so you know what to look forward to.

Incisors

These little teeth create a charming baby smile, and, if your finger has been in the wrong place at the wrong time, a very sharp one as well! That is because these tiny incisors are made to bite into foods. You might notice this when you introduce solid foods, even if the majority of your child’s “chewing” is done with her back gums. These teeth are the earliest to arrive.

  • Six to ten months old: The lower central incisors (bottom front teeth) are often the first to come in.
  • Eight to 12 months old: The upper incisors (8-12 months) are the next to show.
  • Nine to 13 months old: The upper lateral incisors on each side of the front teeth arrive.
  • Ten to 16 months old: The lower lateral incisors appear.

First Molars

Because these are larger teeth, babies often experience another bout of teething pain at this time. The large flat surface of each molar helps your child to chew and grind food, so he can handle a wider variety of foods and develop his chewing skills.

  • 13 to 19 months old: You can generally expect to see the upper first molars arrive.
  • 14 to 18 months old: The lower first molars appear.

Canines (Cuspids)

Fitting between the first molars and the incisors, the strong, pointed shape of the canine teeth allows your child to grip food and break it apart more easily.

  • 16 to 22 months old: The upper two canines make their way into the space between the incisors and the first molars.
  • 17 to 23 months old: The two lower canines appear.

Second Molars

By the age of three, most children have a full set of baby teeth.

  • 23 to 31 months old: The second pair of bottom molars start erupting—you are in the home stretch!
  • 25 to 33 months old: The upper second molars come in—completing that beautiful set of 20 teeth!

Baby teeth are extremely important, as Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman will tell you when you visit our Fort Collins office. They help your child eat and chew, develop face and jaw muscles, assist proper speech formation, and provide space for the adult teeth to come in properly. Now that your child’s smile is complete, keep providing him with the same care and attention you have been giving those little teeth since the arrival of the very first incisor.

It seems that so much of new parenthood is scheduling—when to feed her, when to put her to bed, how many hours between naps. But we soon find out that every baby is not on the same schedule, and the same is true for the arrival of their teeth. We should see your baby when that first tooth comes in, or by his or her first birthday. And if you ever have concerns at any time about your child’s teething schedule or teething delays, always feel free to give us a call.

Dental Care for Your Kids In Fort Collins, CO: What's Important As They Age?

March 25th, 2024

As parents, we understand the importance of maintaining our children's oral health from an early age. Pediatric dentistry plays a crucial role in ensuring that your child's smile remains bright and healthy as they grow. In Fort Collins, CO, Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies is committed to providing the best dental care for your little ones. Let’s explore the key aspects of dental care for children at different stages of their development.

Your Kid’s Stages of Dental Development

Early Childhood (0-2 years): The Foundation of Healthy Smiles

During the first few years of your child's life, dental care is focused on prevention and education. Begin cleaning your baby's gums with a soft, damp cloth after feedings to remove bacteria. Once the first tooth appears, it’s time to switch to a small, soft toothbrush and come in for their first dental visit.  Avoid putting your baby to bed with a bottle to prevent tooth decay.

Preschool Years (3-6 years): Establishing Good Oral Hygiene Habits

As your child grows, encourage them to brush their teeth using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Supervise their brushing to ensure thorough cleaning. Regular dental check-ups become crucial at this stage, helping to detect and prevent any potential issues. Our kids dentists in Fort Collins, CO, focus on making these visits positive and educational experiences for your child.

School Age (7-12 years): Addressing Growth and Development

This is a crucial period for dental care as your child's permanent teeth start erupting. Sealants can be applied to molars to protect them from cavities, and we might recommend an orthodontic evaluation for your kid. Reinforce good oral hygiene habits and educate your child about the importance of a balanced diet in maintaining healthy teeth.

Teenage Years (13-18 years): Emphasizing Independence and Orthodontic Considerations

As teenagers become more independent, it's essential to ensure they continue prioritizing their oral health. Regular check-ups become even more critical during orthodontic treatments like braces. Our Fort Collins, CO pediatric dentistry team provides guidance on maintaining oral hygiene with braces and addresses any concerns your teenager may have.

Preventive Measures: Fluoride and Regular Check-ups

Throughout your child's development, preventive measures such as fluoride treatments and regular dental check-ups play a key role. Fluoride helps strengthen teeth, making them more resistant to decay. Regular check-ups allow us to monitor your child's oral health, address any concerns early on, and provide personalized guidance for optimal dental care.

Let Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies Guide Your Child’s Dental Journey

Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies is dedicated to supporting your child's oral health journey from infancy to adolescence. By focusing on preventive care, education, and personalized attention, we aim to ensure that your child enjoys a lifetime of healthy smiles.

Schedule an appointment with our experienced pediatric dentists to give your kids the best possible start for a lifetime of excellent oral health.


How can I protect my child's teeth during sports?

March 20th, 2024

Sports are great for children for a variety of reasons. Children can develop their motor skills, learn how to solve conflicts and work together, and develop their work ethics. As a parent, you may recognize the benefits of sports, but also naturally worry about your child’s health and safety. Your job goes beyond providing a water bottle and making sure your child follows the rules of the game.

Although you may not think of your child’s teeth first when you think about sports, accidents can happen that affect your children’s teeth. A stray hockey stick, an errant basketball, or a misguided dive after a volleyball are examples of ways a child could lose a tooth. In fact, studies show that young athletes lose more than three million teeth each year.

Becoming a Better Athlete to Protect Teeth

Becoming a better athlete involves refining skills, learning the rules of the game, and being a good sport. These components are not just about winning. They are also about safety. Young athletes who are better ball-handlers and who are careful to avoid fouls and penalties are less likely to have harmful contact with the ball, teammates, or opponents. Children who are better roller-bladers are less likely to take a face plant into the blacktop, and more likely to save their teeth. Being a good sport and avoiding unnecessary contact is one way to protect teeth.

Proper Protective Equipment for Teeth

If your child is in a sport that poses a high threat to teeth, it is essential for your child to wear a mouthguard. Mouthguards fit your child’s mouth and consist of soft plastic. Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman can custom fit a mouthguard if generic ones are uncomfortable. While children may resist wearing a mouthguard initially, your persistence in insisting that they wear it should be enough to convince them. A helmet or face mask provides additional protection.

While prevention is best, rapid treatment can improve the situation if your child does happen to lose a tooth during sports. Rapid implantation can work in about ten percent of cases. To learn about ways to save a lost tooth, contact our Fort Collins office.

St. Patrick's Day: Celtic pride, green shamrocks, and lucky charms!

March 13th, 2024

“St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time -- a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic.” Adrienne Cook

Lucky green shamrocks, leprechauns, and pots of gold – it must be St. Patrick’s Day! If you’re not Irish, how do you go about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? It’s easy: You just put on one of those tall leprechauns hats, dress in green from head to toe, and wear one of those carefree pins that say “Kiss Me, I’m Irish”. On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish, and that is the universal beauty of the holiday. Celtic pride does not discriminate.

Wondering what our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies is doing to celebrate March 17th? Well, we’ve thought about doing everything from handing out lucky gold coins (you know, the fake ones that are made of chocolate) to shamrock stickers. Maybe we’ll even give away green toothbrushes and floss! You’ll never know unless you come in to see Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman !

All kidding aside, St. Patrick’s Day is an important cultural and religious holiday. There are lavish parades and church services across Ireland on March 17th. Over time, however, the holiday has developed into a day to observe Irish culture in general. In places like England and the United States, where there is a large Irish Diaspora, the holiday has greater significance than other countries. From the streets of Boston to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, it is a day of celebration, and many Americans of Irish descent will cook up a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage.

So, to all of you with Irish ancestry, and to all of you who have decided to be Irish for the day, our office wishes you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Good luck looking for a pot of leprechaun gold, which is said to exist at the end of the rainbow. However, keep away from those sugary Lucky Charms; sweet cereals might taste good, but your kids’ teeth might not be feeling too lucky if they eat it for breakfast every day. Have a great St. Paddy’s Day!

Good Nutrition Leads to Healthy Mouths

March 6th, 2024

At Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies, we know the most common oral health diseases are tooth decay and periodontal disease (or gum disease), and both are among the easiest to prevent. One of the most common ways we recommend to boost your oral health is by improving your diet, because you (and your mouth) truly are what you eat. A healthy diet can lead to a healthy mouth and body, while an unhealthy diet can lead to the exact opposite.

The Role Nutrition Plays

While diet is not the only factor that leads to periodontal disease, studies suggest the disease may be more severe among patients whose diets lack essential nutrients. Poor diets will generally lead to a weaker immune system, leaving your body susceptible to all kinds of ailments, including periodontal disease.

A Well-Balanced Approach

There is no “magic” diet that we can recommend to improve your oral health, but the most important thing is to seek a well-balanced approach in your eating. While fad diets that emphasize one food group over another may help you lose weight in the short-term, they probably will not provide all the nutrients your body needs in the long run.

Meals should include a balance of lean meats or other healthy protein sources, colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats. Foods containing substantial amounts of sugar and salt should be consumed in moderation.

Soda and Sugar: A Dangerous Duo

Millions of gallons of soda are consumed every day in America, but sipping a cold soft drink can be very harmful to your teeth. Many of these beverages wear down the enamel that protects the teeth, which weakens and even destroys them over time. The American Beverage Association estimates that soft drinks account for almost 30 percent of all drink consumption in the U.S., averaging an annual total of about 50 gallons per person (up from only 20 gallons in the 1970s). For healthy teeth and a healthy body overall, try to limit your soda intake.

Sugar is another ubiquitous treat in our daily lives. When we eat sugar, naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths convert it to acids that attack tooth enamel. Consuming too much sugar can swiftly lead to tooth decay, cavities, and gum diseases like gingivitis. Most people do not even realize how much sugar they consume each day. It’s important to limit your daily sugar intake by reading the labels of all the food you eat, and sticking with natural food sources that are low in sugar, especially ones that minimize added sugar, such as fruits and vegetables.

If you have questions about your diet and how it may be affecting your oral health, talk to Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman about it. See you soon!

Healthy Diet for Adolescents

February 28th, 2024

Adolescence is a critical period for oral hygiene. By the teenage years, kids will have lost all their baby teeth and replaced them with permanent teeth. Furthermore, many oral hygiene habits solidified in adolescence carry through to adulthood. Teaching adolescents to follow a healthy diet not only benefits their physical fitness but helps them maintain strong teeth and healthy gums.

Fruits and vegetables

Parents know that eating broccoli is important, but were you aware that it can keep teeth and gums healthy, too? Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies will tell you that eating plenty of crunchy fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, celery, apples, and pears, increases your saliva production. Saliva works to brush away bad bacteria that produce dangerous acids that wear away tooth enamel.

It’s also important to avoid acidic foods, which can exacerbate cavities and other dental problems. Although oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit, lemons, and berries are healthy, they can also wear away the enamel of your teeth. To be safe, it’s important to brush after each meal or swish with mouthwash to remove excess acid from your mouth.

Sugar-free foods

Many candies and treats are chock-full of sugar, making them dangerous for your child’s dental health. If you have a sweet tooth, fear not: you don’t have to give up the sweet stuff entirely. Whenever possible, opt for sugar-free substitutes rather than regular sugar. For example, chewing sugar-free gum or drinking sugar-free beverages is better for teeth. These sugar substitute molecules don’t wear away enamel, which makes them safer for dental health.

Watch the beverages

Most adolescents have been told that soda will rot your teeth, but you may not realize that other beverages can be just as sugary. Many fruit juices, even those that boast 100% fruit, contain dozens of grams of sugar per serving. Similarly, popular energy drinks pack a sugary punch. When possible, drink water or milk. If your child is craving a hot beverage, turn to tea over hot chocolate or a sugary latte.

Dairy products

Teeth are like any other bones; they rely on calcium and other minerals to stay strong. To help build strong teeth, have your child drink milk or eat other dairy products to get his or her daily calcium. Yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese are good options as well. If your child can’t tolerate dairy, consider calcium-fortified soy milk or orange juice to provide that daily dose of vitamins and minerals.

For more information on this topic, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman, please give us a call at our convenient Fort Collins office!

Thumb Sucking

February 21st, 2024

Learning to suck their thumbs is one of the first physical skills babies acquire. In fact, ultrasound images have revealed babies sucking their thumbs in the womb! Babies have a natural sucking reflex, and this activity is a normal way for your baby to soothe herself.

If your toddler still turns to her thumb for comfort, no need to worry. Most children give up this habit as they grow, and generally stop completely between the ages of two and four. But what of the child who doesn’t? Should you encourage your child to stop? And when?

When Thumb Sucking Becomes a Problem

After your child turns five, and certainly when her permanent teeth start to arrive, aggressive thumb sucking is something to watch for. This type of vigorous sucking, which puts pressure on the teeth and gums, can lead to a number of problems.

  • Open Bite

Our bites are considered normal when the upper teeth slightly overlap the lower where they touch in the front of the mouth. But with aggressive thumb sucking, teeth are pushed out of alignment. Sometimes this results in a condition called “open bite,” where the upper and lower teeth don’t make contact at all. An open bite almost always requires orthodontic treatment.

  • Jaw Problems

Your child’s palate and jaw are still growing. Aggressive thumb sucking can actually change the shape of the palate and jaw, and even affect facial structure. Again, orthodontic treatment can help, but prevention is always the better option!

  • Speech Difficulties

Prolonged thumb sucking has been suggested as a risk factor for speech disorders such as lisping, the inability to pronounce certain letters, or tongue thrusting.

The consequences from aggressive thumb sucking can be prevented with early intervention. What to do if you are worried?

Talk to Us

First, let us reassure you that most children stop thumb sucking on their own, and with no negative dental effects at all. But if your child is still aggressively sucking her thumb once her permanent teeth have started erupting, or if we see changes in her baby teeth, let’s talk about solutions during an appointment at our Fort Collins office. We can offer suggestions to help your child break the habit at home. There are also dental appliances available that can discourage thumb sucking if your child finds it especially hard to stop.

Work with your Child

  • Be Positive

Positive reinforcement is always best. Praise her when she remembers not to suck her thumb. Make a chart with stickers to reward every thumb-free day. Pick out a favorite book to read or activity you can share.

  • Identify Triggers

Children associate thumb sucking with comfort and security.  If your child turns to her thumb when she’s anxious, try to discover what is bothering her and how to reassure her. If she automatically sucks her thumb when she is bored, find an activity that will engage her. If she’s hungry, offer a healthy snack.

  • Talk about It!

Depending on her age, it might help your child to understand why stopping this habit is important. We are happy to explain, in a positive, age-appropriate way, just how breaking the thumb sucking habit will help her teeth and her smile.

Again, most children leave thumb sucking behind naturally and easily. But if what is a comfort for your child has become a concern for you, please give us a call. Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman will work with you and your child to prevent future orthodontic problems and begin her lifetime of beautiful smiles.

 

The Transformation of Valentine's Day

February 14th, 2024

Did you know the actions leading to the beginnings of Valentine's Day were actually centered on the avoidance of war? A Catholic priest named Valentine defied the orders of the Emperor Claudius II and secretly married young men and their brides after the emperor had declared it illegal because only single, young men could be sent to war. Rather than lose potential soldiers to fight his war, Claudius attempted to hoard them by proclaiming marriage illegal.

Valentine continued to marry young couples anyway and, eventually, was put to death for it in 270 AD. Before his death, he sent a letter to a secret love and signed it “From your Valentine”. Nearly 1,800 years later, people are still signing letters and cards in this manner. This year, carry on the tradition started long ago, while adding your own twist. Here are a few suggestions.

Simple and Creative Valentine's Day Ideas

  • Memorialize it with a Photo. Couples often have photos taken around Christmas, but Valentine's Day photos allow you to capitalize on romance. Famous couple Julia Child and her husband, Paul, had their picture taken together every Valentine's Day and included their sense of humor with silly props.
  • Return to Your First Date Location. Even if your first date together was at a local hotdog stand, its sentimental value can make it a fun part of your Valentine's Day agenda. Be creative and make a treasure hunt with clues that lead your partner to the original date location, where you can express your love with flowers or a gift.
  • “From Your Valentine” Messages. Deliver your message in a creative way to make this Valentine's Day stand out from the others. Bake your partner's favorite treat and write a message on it with a tube of icing, or draw a note on the steamed up mirror so it shows up when your partner takes a shower.

Although Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate love, it doesn't have to be a special day only for couples. If you're single, use this special day to shower yourself with love, because you're worth it! After all, the priest Valentine believed so strongly in the sanctity of love that he was willing to risk his life for it. Whether you're in a relationship or single, young or old, romantic or not, Valentine's Day is for you. Happy Valentine’s Day from the pediatric dental office of Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman.

Looking Out for Your Furry Friend

February 7th, 2024

The grownups in your life help you with your dental care. After all, good dental health makes your life happier. Your teeth and gums feel great. You can eat crunchy foods. Your checkups and cleanings keep your smile healthy and bright.

And you want the same happy life for one of your best friends—your pet! Because February is Pet Dental Health Month, let’s talk about some ways you and your family can keep your dogs and cats healthy and happy, too.

  • Feed Your Pet Healthy Food

The adults in your life make sure you eat a healthy diet. This includes serving foods filled with vitamins and minerals which are good for your teeth and gums. Pets also need to eat healthy meals, and there are special foods and treats made for their dental health. Some foods help keep teeth strong, and some tasty treats help clean the teeth.

Your veterinarian can help you find out the healthiest meals and treats for your dog or cat—and tell you which foods aren’t good for them!

  • “Chews” the Right Toys

Dogs—and some cats—love chew toys, so we need to make sure those toys are safe for them and for their teeth.

Chewing on bones, sticks, and hard plastic toys can break even the biggest and strongest dog’s tooth. If a toy is harder than your pet’s tooth, it can damage your pet’s tooth. Toys should be tough enough not to break into little pieces when they’re chewed, and big enough not to be swallowed. Your vet is a good person to ask about the best and safest toys for your furry friend. And speaking of your vet . . .

  • Take Your Pet to the Vet for the Best Dental Care

We talk about your pet’s veterinarian a lot, because veterinarians are both dentists and doctors for our four-legged friends. And just like you visit your dentist and doctor regularly to make sure you stay healthy, your pet sees the veterinarian for checkups, vaccinations, and dental exams. 

Checking your pet’s teeth regularly is important because, while dogs and cats don’t get cavities the same way we do, they often suffer from gum disease caused by built-up plaque—the same kind of plaque which causes cavities and gum disease in people.

If your pet is showing any of signs of a dental problem—a broken tooth, really bad breath, brown or yellow stains on the teeth, not wanting to eat, pawing at the mouth, or lots of new drooling—it might be time to visit the vet for a dental checkup.

February is Pet Dental Health Month, but your dog or cat is your friend all year long. You and your family can help your pets to have healthier teeth and gums by feeding them the right foods, seeing they have safe toys, and visiting the vet regularly. Your love and care will help your furry friend live a longer, healthier life. That’s happy news for both of you!

Tooth Eruption Timeline

January 31st, 2024

Parents, and even older children, can become concerned about tooth development. Wondering when teeth should erupt, and being concerned when the teeth do not appear on schedule, is common. First, you need to remember that each individual is different. Guidelines are just guidelines, but Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies thought we would pass on this information to help you.

Primary teeth

Children normally have 20 primary or baby teeth. The first two to appear are usually the lower central incisors between six to ten months of age. These fall out between five and seven years of age.

  • Two upper central incisors – eight to 12 months
  • Two upper lateral incisors – nine to 13 months
  • Two upper cuspids or canines – 16 to 22 months
  • Two upper first molars – 13 to 19 months
  • Two upper second molars – 25 to 33 months
  • Two lower lateral incisors – ten to 16 months
  • Two lower cuspids or canines – 17 to 23 months
  • Two lower first molars – 14 to 18 months
  • Two lower second molars – 13 to 31 months

As you can see, all the primary teeth normally have erupted before three years of age, but the timeline can vary by four to six months. Except for the lower central incisors and second molars, upper teeth tend to appear before lower teeth.

Permanent or adult teeth

Adults normally have 32 permanent teeth. However, four of these are wisdom teeth or third molars, which are often removed.

  • Two upper central incisors – seven to eight years
  • Two upper lateral incisors – eight to nine years
  • Two upper cuspids or canines – 11 to 12 years
  • Two upper first premolars or bicuspids – ten to 11 years
  • Two upper second premolars or bicuspids – ten to 12 years
  • Two upper first molars – six to seven years
  • Two upper second molars – 12 to 13 years
  • Two upper third molars or wisdom teeth – 17 to 21 years
  • Two lower central incisors – six to seven years
  • Two lower lateral incisors – seven to eight years
  • Two lower cuspids or canines – nine to ten years
  • Two lower first premolars or bicuspids – ten to 12 years
  • Two lower second premolars or bicuspids – 11 to 12 years
  • Two lower first molars – six to seven years
  • Two lower second molars – 11 to 13 years
  • Two lower third molars or wisdom teeth – 17 to 21 years

Please discuss any of your dental concerns during your visit with Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman. If there is a problem with tooth development, the earlier we address it, the better the outcome. We specialize in pediatric dentistry and look forward to helping you and your child with all your dental needs. To learn more about tooth eruption, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman, please give us a call at our convenient Fort Collins office!

Top Five Things to Keep Your Dentist Smiling

January 24th, 2024

Come say hello twice a year. The American Dental Association says two times is the charm. Multiple visits a year lets us keep an eye out for any developing issues. It’s important to remember that this goes for the whole family. Children over one year old should be seeing Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman!

Stay fresh. At Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies, we have a virtually unlimited stock of toothbrushes and floss, which means you have no excuse to be using a sad, ineffective toothbrush. As soon as bristles begin to fray, pick up a new one or stop by our Fort Collins office and we’ll replace yours. On average, you should be opening a new one every two to three months.

For goodness sake, floss! Flossing is an efficient way to keep your whole mouth healthy. It not only protects your teeth by removing aggregated plaque, it keeps your gums happy, too.

And brush. Practicing regular healthy habits is essential to keeping your mouth—and us—happy! When it comes to brushing that means two minutes, two times a day. If your kids need some encouragement, try making a calendar or playing a song like this.

Tell a friend. One way you can help us is by spreading the love. Tell your friends about what a good thing we’ve got going here. The more the merrier. And the healthier.

They're just baby teeth, right?

January 17th, 2024

“But they are only baby teeth; won’t they just fall out?” Our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies has had these questions asked many times from parents over the years. Primary teeth, or “baby teeth,” will indeed come out eventually, to be replaced by permanent teeth as the child grows and develops. These teeth serve a great purpose as the child continues to develop and require specific care.

Because baby teeth are temporary, some parents are unenthusiastic about fixing cavities in them. This may be due to the cost or having to force a child undergo the process—especially having to receive an injection. But if a cavity is diagnosed early enough, an injection can often be avoided. More important, failure to fill cavities in primary teeth when they are small and manageable can have lasting consequences in cost and health concerns. Serious illnesses in children have been diagnosed which began as a cavity.

Primary teeth act as a guide for permanent teeth. When decay reaches the nerve and blood supply of a tooth, this can cause an abscess. Severe pain and swelling may result. At that point, the only treatment options are either to remove the tooth or to perform a procedure similar to a baby root canal. When a primary tooth is lost prematurely—to decay or a painful abscess—the adjacent teeth will often shift and block the eruption of a permanent tooth. Braces or spacers become necessary to avoid crowding or impaction of the permanent tooth.

There is nothing more heartbreaking for Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman than to have to treat a child experiencing pain and fear. To all the parents of my little patients our team strongly recommend filling a small cavity and not waiting until it becomes a larger problem such as those described above.

Prevention is the key to a healthy mouth for our smallest patients. Parents should allow the child to brush his or her teeth using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and then take a turn to ensure the plaque gets removed from all surfaces: cheek side, tongue side, and chewing edges of all the teeth.

Healthy Teeth and Healthy Gums Make a Great Team

January 10th, 2024

You know a lot about taking care of your teeth. You brush carefully twice each day, you floss, you (mostly!) eat healthy foods, and you see Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman for checkups and cleanings. Good for you! These are some of the very best ways to make sure you don’t get cavities.

But it takes more than taking care of your teeth for good oral health. It also means taking care of your gums, because your teeth and gums are a team.

Clean and healthy gums and teeth work together. Our gums fit snugly around our teeth to help protect them from bacteria and other germs. And clean, plaque-free teeth are important for healthy gums. How? Let’s take a look.

Plaque forms all day long, and sticks to our teeth unless we brush and floss it away. The bacteria in plaque create acids. These acids make our tooth enamel weaker, which can lead to cavities. We don’t want cavities, and so we brush and floss to get rid of plaque.

But that’s not the only reason we clean our teeth well. Plaque is double trouble, because the bacteria in plaque also irritate our gums.

How do our gums react when they’re irritated? They turn darker pink or red, or they get swollen or sore, or they even bleed a bit when you brush. All these signs are symptoms of gingivitis, which is how gum disease begins. (And sometimes people can have gingivitis without any big symptoms at all.)

So, how do you make sure you keep your gums healthy? Just remember to include your gums while you’re doing all the things you already do to take care of your teeth!

  • Brush Well

Lots of people, including kids, get gingivitis, because it doesn’t take long for plaque to build up when we don’t brush often enough or carefully enough. Make sure to brush twice each day, and don’t forget to angle your toothbrush to gently brush along the gum line where your teeth and gums meet.

Gentle brushing is all you need for daily tooth cleaning. Rough brushing and hard bristles can hurt even tough tooth enamel, so you know they’re not good for your gums!

  • Floss Well

Flossing gets plaque that your toothbrush can miss. After all, it’s hard for bristles to squeeze in between those tight teeth. And flossing is especially important for your gums, because it removes plaque that is hiding near the gum line.

But figuring out the best way to floss teeth can be hard even for adults! Luckily, you have an expert to help you find out just how to use floss and just the right floss to use—your dental hygienist. When you have your teeth cleaned at our Fort Collins office, ask about the easiest and best ways to floss for your own special teeth and gums.

  • Eat Well

All of the foods which are good for your teeth—milk, cheese, yogurt, fruits, vegetables—are good for your gums, too! And the foods which aren’t so great for your teeth—sticky, sugary foods—aren’t great for your gums, either. Sugar feeds the bacteria in plaque, and plaque irritates gums.

This doesn’t mean no treats ever. It does mean that it’s important to brush well after enjoying desserts, or chips, or candy, or any food that sticks around your teeth and gums after eating. And if you can’t brush, a drink of water helps wash away bits of food which are still hanging around.

  • See Your Dentist Regularly

Regular visits to Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies can catch any gum problems before they become more serious. And, if you’ve been missing any spots when you brush and floss, your dentist or hygienist will let you know.

If you notice any signs of gingivitis—puffiness, redness, bleeding, or pain—tell a grownup right away. One of the fantastic things about the way our gums work is the fact that careful brushing and flossing are often all you need to make them healthy again! If you need more help, your dentist is the person who can treat gum problems to keep your smile feeling and looking great.

Work together with Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman to make sure your teeth and gums are their healthiest. Just like healthy teeth and gums are a great team, you and your dentist make a great team, too!

Preparing for 2024: Oral Health for Children

January 9th, 2024

As we step into the new year, it's crucial to prioritize your child's oral health. A bright smile not only boosts confidence but also lays the foundation for a lifetime of overall well-being. At Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies, we understand the importance of early dental care and are dedicated to providing the best dental services for children in and around Fort Collins, CO, and the Northern Colorado region.

Why Choose a Kids Dentist Near Me?

Finding the right dentist for your child is the first step towards ensuring their oral health. A "kids dentist near me" search is likely to yield several results, but not all dental practices are tailored to meet the unique needs of children. Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies is a specialized dental clinic designed exclusively for kids, conveniently located near Fort Collins and serving families throughout Northern Colorado.

The Importance of a Dentist for Kids

Children's dental needs differ from those of adults, and a pediatric dentist is trained to understand these distinctions. Our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies consists of experienced professionals who specialize in providing dental care for children, creating a positive and child-friendly environment to ensure a stress-free dental experience from the very first visit. 

Children's Dentist Near the Rockies: Our Commitment to Excellence

Located in the heart of the Rockies, our dental clinic is committed to excellence in pediatric dentistry. We understand the unique challenges that come with providing dental care for children in this region and strive to make every visit enjoyable and educational.

Dentist for Kids Near Fort Collins, CO

Our conveniently located clinic near Fort Collins allows easy access for families in the surrounding areas. We believe that access to quality dental care should be convenient for parents and fun for kids, and our Fort Collins location is designed with this principle in mind.

Comprehensive Pediatric Dental Services

Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies offers a comprehensive range of dental services for children, including routine check-ups, cleanings, preventive care , and treatments for common childhood dental issues. Our team is passionate about educating both parents and children on the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene habits from an early age.

Preparing for a Healthy 2024: Schedule Your Child's Dental Check-Up Today

As we enter 2024, make your child's oral health a priority. Schedule a visit  to Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies, the leading children's dentist near the Rockies. Our dedicated team is here to provide compassionate, expert care for your child's dental needs. Give your child the gift of a healthy smile that lasts a lifetime.


Cleaning Your Baby’s Teeth

January 3rd, 2024

In the eyes of most parents, nothing is cuter than their baby’s smile. Did you know your little one’s smile (that is, his or her oral health) actually plays a huge role in determining the child’s overall well-being? In order to keep your youngster healthy and smiling, you need to know when and how to take care of those tiny teeth.

Baby teeth aren’t just temporaries that will fall out eventually. They help your baby chew and talk, and they reserve space in the jaw for permanent teeth later on. Since they’re so important, the right time to start dental care is only a few days after your infant is born.

Take a soft, wet washcloth or piece of gauze and gently wipe your baby’s gums. The earlier you begin, the more accustomed your child will become to a daily dental hygiene routine.

Babies that are put to bed with a bottle may be at greater risk for developing cavities. Milk, juice, and any other drinks that contain sugar instigate tooth decay while the child sleeps.

If your baby must go to bed with something, a bottle of water is the healthiest option. Remember to wipe your little one’s gums after each feeding, whether it’s formula from a bottle or breast milk.

As soon as your infant’s first tooth comes in, it’s time to start brushing! Twice a day, take a small amount of toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) and brush your son or daughter’s teeth gently in circular motions. As soon as your toddler has multiple teeth that touch one another, floss up and down the sides of the teeth to remove any plaque between them or below the gumline.

Babies’ teeth are prone to cavities and gingivitis, so you’ll want to be on the lookout for telltale signs. Check regularly for red, swollen gums, because this may be an indication of developing gum disease. Discoloration, white spots, or small pits in the teeth can signal a forming cavity.

As long as you follow these simple guidelines and schedule regular dental checkups with Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman at our Fort Collins office, you can help to ensure your baby has a healthy mouth. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your happy baby’s healthy smile.

Dental-Healthy Snacks for Your School-Aged Child

December 20th, 2023

Kids are constantly active and constantly growing. No wonder they’re constantly hungry! When it’s time for a snack, here are some tips to make between meal treats timely, tasty, and tooth-friendly.

Keep snacks to a minimum

Every time we eat, we’re also providing food for the bacteria in our mouths. Bacteria use sugars to produce acids. These acids weaken our enamel and can lead to cavities. Luckily, we have a natural way of protecting our teeth. Saliva washes away food particles and bacteria, and even provides substances that strengthen our teeth in the hours between meals.

When we eat throughout the day, there is no chance for this recovery period to take place. Small children aren’t usually able to get through the day without a few snack periods, which is perfectly normal. Just try to make sure that snacking doesn’t become all-day grazing!

Avoid foods that contain sugar and carbohydrates at snack time

We know that sugar leads to an increased chance of cavities because bacteria convert this sugar into acids that damage our enamel. But carbohydrates should also be in the no-snack zone. Why? Because carbohydrates break down into sugar very quickly. So while you wouldn’t offer your child a daily mid-afternoon snack of sodas and chocolate bars, those muffins, doughnuts, chips, and bagels should be on the “special treat” list as well.

Dental-healthy snacks

Luckily, we are left with many healthy and convenient choices when your child needs a nibble.

  • Crunchy, crisp fresh fruits and vegetables provide vitamins as well as a gentle scrubbing action to help clean teeth. They are also rich in water, which helps us produce the saliva that naturally washes away food particles and bacteria.
  • Low-fat yogurts and cheeses provide essential calcium for strong teeth and the vitamin D that helps us absorb calcium.
  • Whole grain breads, cereals, and crackers are healthier than products made only with white flour because they retain valuable vitamins and minerals that have been removed from refined grains.
  • Lean meats, peas, legumes, and eggs provide protein that helps build connective tissue and maintain tooth structure.
  • Water helps stimulate saliva production and provides cavity-fighting fluoride. Win/win!

You are constantly looking for ways to make your children’s lives better. Mix and match any of these foods for a snack that’s not only good for their teeth, but rich in the proteins, vitamins, and minerals needed to keep them active and growing throughout their school years. If you have questions about your child’s dietary needs, feel free to ask Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman at our Fort Collins office.

Use Pediatric Dentists to Treat Children

December 13th, 2023

There are many different types of dental specialties out there, so how do you know when you should see a general dentist (your regular dentist), and when you should seek the help of a dentist with specialized training? This article covers the basic differences between a pediatric dentist and a family or general dentist, and why it may be beneficial to find a specialized doctor to work with your children’s teeth.

What is a pediatric dentist?

All dentists, regardless of which specialty they practice, attend a four-year dental school for either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. Once they have completed the initial degree program, some dentists choose to proceed to additional training in an area of dental specialty. Pediatric dentistry is one of those specialties.

A pediatric dentist will study the development of teeth from infancy through the teen years. Babies, toddlers, school-age children, and teenagers experience different growth phases and have different needs for their oral health care from adults. A dentist with post-graduate training in this specialty can often provide a more comprehensive approach to treatment to meet those needs.

Specialized Needs Pediatric Dentists Can Address

Starting with the first teeth that grow in your child’s mouth (usually around six months of age), you need to begin caring for your child’s teeth. However, it’s not as simple as just doing the same things you do for your adult teeth, because children have specific needs and may have concerns and issues that you do not face for your oral health care as an adult.

There are several concerns unique to younger dental patients. Beginning with babies, parents need to be aware of the specific oral care required for children. For example, babies who drink from bottles can develop baby bottle tooth decay if parents do not properly clean their teeth. Young children may develop a habit of sucking their thumb, which can contribute to poor oral hygiene. Children who have trouble with teeth grinding may need specialized care. And children have specific dietary needs that serve their need to develop strong teeth and gums.

All these concerns can be addressed by a pediatric dentist with specialized knowledge of childhood oral health and teeth development. General dentists often know some of this information, but without the specialized training they may not be able to provide the care that is geared toward the needs of your children. In addition, pediatric dentists will often have a practice that is built entirely with children in mind, with décor, staff, and other elements that can help put children at ease when it’s time to visit the dentist.

If you have young children, consider our pediatric dentistry office. At Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies, our specialized care for young patients features a caregiver with the knowledge and training to provide your children with the best possible care.

Happy Holidays! Healthy Holidays!

December 6th, 2023

It’s the holiday season! With so much to do and so much going on, you want to be at your best. We have some ideas to help make your season bright with a few easy tips for a healthy smile.

  • Keep Your Smile Merry and Bright

There’s a lot going on during the holidays. Visiting friends. Traveling to see family. Parties and get togethers. With all the enjoyable festivities on your holiday schedule, you might be tempted to overlook brushing or flossing. But, please don’t!

Many of our favorite holiday traditions and activities are centered around sharing good company, good cheer—and good food.

Indulging in more treats throughout the day, especially sugars and simple carbs, provides more fuel for the bacteria in plaque. These bacteria produce acids that weaken tooth enamel—the first stage of tooth decay. Plaque buildup also irritates the gums, causing swelling, redness, pain, bleeding, and chronic bad breath.

How to avoid these not-so-jolly consequences? Make time in your holiday schedule for dental care! Brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing once each day removes plaque buildup and helps prevent cavities and gum disease.

  • Holiday Snacks—Naughty or Nice?

We’re no Scrooges—enjoying holiday treats is one of the ways we celebrate. But since we’re trying to prevent a plaque buffet of sugar and simple carbs, it’s a good idea to add some healthier foods to the mix.

Whether it’s platters of snacks around the game table or a stylish hors d’oeuvre array, don’t forget to add nutritional, dental-friendly items to your plate. Options such as fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, nuts, and whole grain breads and crackers are great partners for more indulgent selections because they’re lower in added sugars and provide vitamins and minerals to strengthen teeth and gums.

And from the candy bar? Hard candies and candy canes make our naughty list because they take a long time to dissolve while bathing your teeth in sugar. So do caramels, toffees, and gumdrops, which stick between teeth and gums. Soft chocolates? A much nicer choice, because they are more easily rinsed away by saliva or a drink of water. Which leads us to . . .

  • A Toast to Your (Dental) Health!

The holidays offer some of our favorite seasonal beverages. But spiced lattes, mochas, and hot chocolate can be full of sugar.

The answer? Enjoy in moderation, and enjoy with a glass of water. Water washes away sugars, neutralizes acids, helps increase saliva flow for tooth and gum health, hydrates, and, when it’s fluoridated, protects and repairs your enamel. That’s a lot of gifts in one convenient package!

  • Dashing through the Snow?

If you’re taking to the slopes, or the hills, or the rink for a little holiday exercise, don’t forget to protect your teeth and mouth. It’s not just sports like football and hockey that cause dental injuries—it’s any sport where you can fall or make contact with someone or something.

If you don’t have a mouthguard, they’re available at sporting goods stores in stock sizes or models that can be molded to your teeth. A custom mouthguard from our Fort Collins office is more comfortable, fits better, and protects you better. This is a perfect gift to give yourself so you can take advantage of all those cold weather sports with confidence.

We all look forward to holiday surprises—but not when they take the form of cavities, gum disease, or dental injuries! In the flurry of holiday activities, keep up with your regular dental care, and you’ll be looking forward to a new year filled with happy and healthy smiles.

Thanksgiving Trivia

November 22nd, 2023

At Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies we love learning trivia and interesting facts about Thanksgiving! This year, Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman wanted to share some trivia that might help you feel a bit smarter at the holiday dinner table and help create some great conversation with friends and family.

The Turkey

There is no historical evidence that turkey was eaten at the first Thanksgiving dinner. It was a three-day party shared by the Wamponoag Indians and the pilgrims in 1621. Historians say they likely ate venison and seafood.

According to National Geographic, the dinner at the Plymouth colony was in October and included about 50 English colonists and 90 American Indian men. The first Thanksgiving dinner could have included corn, geese, and pumpkin.

Today, turkey is the meat of choice. According to the National Turkey Association, about 690 million pounds of turkey are consumed during Thanksgiving, or about 46 million turkeys.

The Side Dishes

The green bean casserole became popular about 50 years ago. Created by the Campbell Soup Company, it remains a popular side dish. According to Campbell’s, it was developed when the company was creating an annual holiday cookbook. The company now sells about $20 million worth of cream of mushroom soup each year, which is a major part of the recipe.

While there were likely plenty of cranberries for the pilgrims and Indians to enjoy, sugar was a luxury. What we know today as cranberry sauce was not around in those early Thanksgiving days. About 750 million pounds of cranberries are produced each year in the US, with about 30 percent consumed on Thanksgiving.

The Parade

Since Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday until Lincoln declared it in 1863, the annual parades were not yearly events until much later. The biggest parade that continues to draw crowds is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Beginning in 1924 with about 400 employees, they marched from Convent Avenue to 145th Street in New York City. Famous for the huge hot-air balloons today, it was actually live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo that were the stars of the show then.

However you choose to spend your Thanksgiving holiday, we wish you a safe, happy and healthy holiday with those you love.

Finding the Right Dental Products for Your Child

November 15th, 2023

Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team know how overwhelming it can be to pick the right dental products for your children. When you visit the dental aisle at the grocery store, you see too many options to choose from. We want to help you make an informed decision based on your son or daughter’s needs.

First, you should consider your child’s age and where he or she is in terms of development. Most kids are unable to floss properly until around 12 years of age because of the necessary dexterity. If your youngster is under 12 years old, make sure to assist with flossing every night.

Another option is to use flossers for children. This will make the exercise a bit easier for your little one, because flossers have different-sized handles to fit all ages of hands.

When you’re looking for a child’s toothbrush, the head should be a little bigger than the top portion of your son or daughter’s thumb. If a toothbrush is too big, it won’t be able to reach small areas in the mouth properly. Battery-powered toothbrushes are also recommended because they improve overall brushing quality for both adults and children.

If your child is too young to spit, he or she should use toothpaste without fluoride. Small children tend to swallow toothpaste, even when they don’t intend to. Try looking for a toothpaste that has xylitol listed as the first ingredient. This is a natural sweetener that is beneficial to teeth.

You should also try to identify a flavor that appeals to your child. Same as adults, children like to brush more if they enjoy the flavor that lingers in their mouth after brushing.

It’s smart to look at the ingredients in a toothpaste for the benefits your child needs. Some toothpastes contain sodium fluoride, which fights effectively against cavities. If your child has a sweet tooth, or has already had a cavity, we recommend buying a toothpaste with this ingredient.

Stannous fluoride is another popular ingredient that discourages cavities and includes anti-bacterial properties. You should also watch for the ingredient triclosan, which also suppresses bacteria. These ingredients are both recommend for children who have a high risk for cavities.

Anti-sensitivity toothpaste should also be easy to find in the dental aisle of the store. It contains potassium nitrate to help with sore gums and teeth.

If you’re still unsure which dental products your child should be using, contact our Fort Collins office. Once we have general information about your child and his or her dental health, we can guide you in the right direction.

When it comes to picking the right toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash for your child, Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies is always here to help.

We Are Thankful To Provide Pediatric Dental Care for Fort Collins

November 14th, 2023

When it comes to pediatric dental health in Fort Collins, Colorado, our mission is crystal clear: we are committed to providing top-notch care for your little ones, ensuring their bright smiles and healthy teeth. As a child's dentist and a dedicated advocate for family dental health in Fort Collins and the surrounding areas, our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies is proud to offer comprehensive pediatric dental care. We consider it a privilege to serve the wonderful communities of Fort Collins and Northern Colorado, nestled in the heart of the Rockies.

Pediatric Dental Health: A Precious Investment

The importance of pediatric dental health cannot be overstated. Ensuring the well-being of your child's teeth and gums from an early age can set the stage for a lifetime of healthy smiles. That's where we come in – your trusted partner for total pediatric dental care.

Child's Dentist: Not Your Average Dental Visit

Our team understands that a trip to the dentist can be a daunting experience for kids. Therefore, we take a patient and gentle approach, making every visit a positive one. Our child's dentist is not just a healthcare provider but a friend who guides your child through the world of oral health. We focus on building trust and comfort, so every child feels safe in our care.

Family Dental Health: A Shared Responsibility

While pediatric dental care is our specialty, we also emphasize the importance of family dental health. After all, a child's oral health is deeply interconnected with that of their parents. We offer guidance and support to ensure the entire family maintains healthy smiles. We're not just your child's dentist; we're here for the whole family.

Our Commitment to Fort Collins, CO, and Nearby Communities

Located near Fort Collins, our pediatric dental clinic serves families not only in Fort Collins but also in the beautiful communities of Northern Colorado. We are thankful for the trust you place in us as your chosen provider of pediatric dental care. It's our commitment to offer the best services and support for the thriving smiles of your children.

Nurturing Smiles in the Shadow of The Rockies

As we work diligently to enhance pediatric dental health in Fort Collins and surrounding areas, we feel fortunate to be nestled in the magnificent backdrop of The Rockies. The breathtaking natural beauty of our region inspires us to mirror the same resilience and strength in our pediatric dental care.

Our Gratitude Knows No Bounds

We are grateful for the opportunity to serve the communities of Fort Collins, CO, and its neighboring regions with our total pediatric dental care. As your child's dentist, we take our responsibility seriously and will continue to strive for excellence in pediatric dental health. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your family's journey to radiant smiles and enduring oral health.At Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies, we look forward to nurturing the dental health of your child and your family in the years to come. Together, we'll ensure that those beautiful smiles keep shining, right here in Fort Collins and beyond.Call our Fort Collins office today at (970) 829-8258 to schedule your child’s next appointment.

When do children usually lose their baby teeth?

November 8th, 2023

Many parents worry that their children’s teeth are not falling out on time. A lot of concerned parents want to know: When will my child lose his or her first baby tooth? At what age should the last tooth fall out? Is there a specific order in which the teeth are lost?

Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team explain that a child's 20 baby teeth (primary teeth) typically come in by age three and begin to loosen and fall out on their own to make room for permanent teeth, which usually appear by the time your child is six. It is important to know that timing may vary, and girls typically lose their baby teeth earlier than boys. The last baby teeth will likely fall out by the time your child is 13.

So, which teeth do children lose first? Baby teeth tend to fall out in the order in which they came, which means the lower center incisors are usually the first to go when your child is between six and seven years old. The next teeth your child will lose are his or her top center pair, also called the upper central incisors.

It’s important to note that if a child loses a baby tooth early as a result of decay or an unforeseen accident, his or her permanent tooth may erupt early and potentially come in crooked due to limited space. If your child suffers an injury or has tooth decay, we encourage you to give us a call to set up an appointment with Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman.

While we know some children couldn’t be more excited to lose their baby teeth, we know others are anxious about this childhood milestone. When your child starts to lose teeth, our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies encourages you to stress the importance of proper dental care on a daily basis.

Remember to:

  • Remind your child to brush his or her teeth at least twice a day. Supervise and offer assistance as needed.
  • Help your child floss his or her teeth at bedtime.
  • Limit eating and drinking between meals and at bedtime, especially sugary treats and drinks, such as candy and soda.
  • Schedule regular dental visits for your child every six months.
  • Ask about the use of fluoride treatments and dental sealants to help prevent tooth decay.

To learn more about baby teeth, or to schedule your child's next visit with Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman at our Fort Collins office, please give us a call today!

Pediatric Dental Emergency Know-How

November 1st, 2023

Parents are usually expert at taking care of their children’s injuries. You know how to disinfect a cut, soothe a bump on the head, and apply a bandage faster than you can blink.

But what happens if your child suffers a dental injury? Teeth can get broken, knocked out, or displaced from a forceful impact, and parents ought to know what to do in those situations, too. Luckily, Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team are here to be a resource for such incidents!

Chipped front teeth are a common injury for young children. First, check to see if the teeth have been broken to the nerve. You can tell this is the case if you see layers and a pinkish center.

Then, wiggle each tooth to make sure it is not loose. If the teeth still feel firmly in place, that’s a good sign. Don’t worry if they are a little loose, because they will tighten again with time.

If your child develops a high temperature or bite sensitivity, treatment is necessary and could include a root canal.

A knocked-out tooth is an injury that requires more attention than just observation. Locate the tooth as soon as you can, and touch only the crown, not the root. Rinse any debris gently with milk or water and place the tooth back in its socket as soon as possible.

According to the American Association of Endodontists, a tooth has a high chance of survival and retention for life if it is returned to the socket within five minutes, and possibly up to 60 minutes, if soaked in milk or saline solution in the meantime.

Say your child is elbowed in the mouth and a tooth gets severely displaced but does not get knocked out. Attempt to shift it back into place by applying light pressure, but be careful not to use too much force. Give your child a cold pack for the swelling and contact our office as soon as possible.

Dental emergencies can be frightening for the child as well as the parent. The best advice we can offer is to stay calm and be assured that we are always here to help! Contact us at our Fort Collins office as soon as you can, if your child encounters a dental emergency.

“Witch” Halloween Treats Are Trickiest for Your Teeth?

October 25th, 2023

It’s that time of year again—Halloween! Carving pumpkins. Creating costumes. And, of course, collecting candy.

But some of the candies in that collection aren’t much of a treat for your teeth. When you’re deciding on the perfect pieces to choose from the candy cauldron, here are some tricks from Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies to identify the ones that can be more frightful than delightful for your tooth enamel:   

  • Is it Chewy or Sticky?

Any sticky or chewy candy—caramels, taffy, licorice, gummy anything—is candy that also sticks to your teeth. And it really sticks in between your teeth, where it’s harder to brush away.

The problem? Bacteria in plaque love sugar, and sticky candies provide them with hours of sugary feasting. Bacteria use this sugar to make acids, and acids cause weak spots in tooth enamel. These weak spots will get bigger over time as the bacteria keep on attacking your enamel, and that’s how you can end up with a cavity. Less sugar that spends less time on your teeth = fewer cavities!

  • Is it Sour?

Sour candies get that intense, lip-puckering taste because they’re so acidic. What’s wrong with acids? Just like the acids made by bacteria, acids in food attack our tooth enamel, too.

Sour candies are hard on your teeth all by themselves. When you eat a candy that’s both sour (acidic) and gummy (sticky), all coated in sugar, that’s triple trouble!

  • Is it Hard or Crunchy?

Some kids like hard candies like lollipops and fruity drops because they last a long time. But that’s the problem. All that time a hard candy rolls around in your mouth is time spent bathing your teeth with sugar.

Thinking of shortening your sugar exposure by chewing hard candies? Also a bad idea! Crunching into a piece of hard candy can chip or crack a tooth and even damage fillings.

Luckily, there are healthier trick-or-treating choices if you know what to look for. 

  • Soft Candies and Chocolates

A chocolate bar, a peanut butter cup, mint patties, and other soft candies won’t stick around on your teeth the same way chewy or hard candies do. No sour acids, either. And because dark chocolate has less sugar than lighter chocolates, it’s an even healthier choice.

  • Sugar-Free Gum

This treat is not only sugarless, but chewing it helps us make more saliva. Saliva washes away sugary food particles and helps lower the amount of acids in the mouth. You can get the same results with sugar-free lollipops or hard candies—just don’t crunch down on them.

No need to skip the trick-or-treating this year. Occasional sugary or acidic treats can be balanced out with daily brushing and flossing, a healthy diet, and regular visits to our Fort Collins office for exams and cleanings. When you do enjoy a treat that’s sugary or acidic, there are tricks to help you keep your smile healthy and cavity-free.

  • Eat a treat or two with your meals instead of snacking through the day. You won’t be exposing your teeth to sugar for hours at a time, which means bacteria and acids won’t be haunting your enamel all day long.
  • Drink water. If you eat your candy with an acidic soda or juice, you’re getting sugar + sugar + acids. That’s a scary recipe when it comes to healthy teeth! Water helps wash away sugar and acids—and, if you have fluoridated water in your community, you’ll be getting a bit of fluoride to strengthen your enamel, too.
  • Halloween is no time to ghost your toothbrush and floss. Be extra careful to brush and clean between your teeth after eating sweets.

Any questions? Talk to Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman to learn the best ways to keep your smile looking boo-tiful all year long!

What Your Dentist Checks During a Checkup

October 18th, 2023

You’ve been going to Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies for a while now, so you pretty much know what to expect when you get to our Fort Collins office.

You’ll see Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman, your hygienist, and all the other members of your friendly dental team again. You’ll sit in a comfortable chair just your size. And you’ll have a checkup to make sure your teeth are healthy.

But once you’re sitting back in that comfortable chair, you might be wondering just what exactly gets checked during your checkup. The answer is, a lot!

  • Checking Your Tooth and Gum Health

It’s important to have regular checkups because finding a small problem right away, like a weak spot in your tooth enamel, means your dentist can prevent it from becoming a bigger problem, like a cavity, later!

So your dentist will carefully examine each tooth for signs of tooth decay, using a little mirror to see behind your front teeth and around those hard-to-see teeth in the back of your mouth. The visible part of your smile doesn’t always tell everything about your dental health, though. At some checkups, you might need X-rays to make sure the insides of your teeth and their roots are healthy.

Oral health means more than just your teeth. That’s why your dentist will examine your gums and the inside of your mouth, too.

  • Checking Your Bite

Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman will check the way your teeth fit together when you bite, and can take X-ray images to show the size and shape of your jaw bones and the size and position of your permanent teeth before they even come in.

If your teeth and jaws fit don’t together just right, or if it looks like there might not be enough room for all your adult teeth to come in without crowding, your dentist might recommend pre-orthodontic or orthodontic treatment. 

  • Cleaning Your Teeth

Plaque can hide in hard-to-reach places between your teeth and around your gums. You might know that plaque can cause cavities if it’s not brushed away, but did you know that plaque can also hurt your gums? That’s why an expert cleaning is usually part of every checkup.

Your hygienist will use special dental tools and carefully remove any plaque you might have missed or any tartar (hardened plaque) that’s built up over time. Then after flossing and rinsing, you’ll have a clean, sparkling, plaque-free smile.

Bonus: Your dental hygienist can teach you how to brush and floss better if you’ve been missing a few spots!

  • Can Your Teeth Use Extra Protection?

Once your teeth are cleaned and examined, your dentist might use a fluoride treatment or sealants to give your teeth extra protection against cavities.

Fluoride treatments help make your tooth enamel stronger. If your dentist thinks you need this kind of fluoride protection, your teeth will be coated with a special fluoride gel or varnish or foam. This treatment doesn’t take long and will strengthen your enamel for months afterward.

People’s molars get the most cavities because their uneven surfaces make good places for plaque and bits of food to hide from brushes. A sealant is a thin coating which is brushed on the top of your molars to prevent plaque from hurting your enamel.

  • Checking In with You!

Part of your checkup is talking to your dentist about how you can protect and even improve your dental health.

  • Find out whether the foods you eat make your tooth enamel stronger—or weaker.
  • Discover how brushing and flossing help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, and see if your brushing and flossing skills need any work.
  • Learn how to protect your teeth during active sports (hint: wear a mouthguard).
  • If you have habits which can hurt your teeth, like nail biting, get advice on how to quit.
  • Don’t forget to ask any questions you might have!

Your checkup might be a little different, because your exam is designed just for you, but there’s one thing which all of us can expect. Visit our Fort Collins pediatric dental office for regular checkups, work together with your dental team, and you can expect a healthier, happier smile!

Child Tooth Extraction in Fort Collins: Nothing to Fear

October 17th, 2023

As parents, ensuring the well-being and health of your child is a top priority. Sometimes, this may involve procedures like tooth extractions, which can be a cause for concern and anxiety.

At Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies, we believe that understanding what to expect during your child’s tooth extraction can help ease your worries and make the experience smoother for both you and your little one. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the entire process of tooth extraction for kids, from preparation to aftercare.

What to Expect from a Kids Tooth Extraction

Preparation and Assessment

Before the actual tooth extraction,the team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies will conduct a thorough assessment of your child's oral health. This evaluation will include X-rays and a physical examination to determine the necessity of extraction. Factors such as infection, overcrowding, or tooth damage will influence this decision.

Discussion and Consent

Our team will discuss the need for the extraction with you, explaining the reasons behind it and any available alternatives. This is also an opportunity for you to ask questions and voice any concerns. Once you are comfortable with the decision, you will be asked to provide informed consent for the procedure.

Appointment Scheduling

If extraction is deemed necessary, we will schedule the procedure for a time that suits your child's needs. It is important to choose a time when your child is well-rested and not hungry to minimize stress and discomfort.

The Day of the Extraction

On the day of the extraction, it's important to prepare your child mentally and emotionally. Reassure them that they’ll be well taken care of in our office in Fort Collins, CO and explain the importance of the procedure in simple terms. Encourage them to ask questions if they have any.

Anesthesia and Pain Management

Most tooth extractions for kids are performed under local anesthesia, which will numb the area around the tooth. In some cases, our team may recommend sedation or general anesthesia for children who may have difficulty remaining still or are extremely anxious. Your dentist will discuss the best option for your child's specific case.

The Extraction Process

The dentist will gently extract the tooth using specialized tools. The procedure is generally quick and minimally invasive. Our team will ensure your child is comfortable throughout the process. You may be allowed to stay in the room for support, depending on your child's comfort level.

Post-Extraction Care

After the tooth is extracted, your child will be monitored to ensure there are no immediate complications. Our Fort Collins, CO office will provide post-operative care instructions, including details on pain management, oral hygiene, and dietary restrictions. Following these guidelines is crucial to ensure a smooth recovery.

Recovery Period

Recovery time varies depending on the complexity of the extraction and the child's individual response. Some discomfort, swelling, and mild bleeding are normal in the first few days. We will schedule a follow-up appointment to monitor the healing process and remove any stitches, if necessary.

Potential Complications

While complications are rare, it's essential to be aware of possible issues such as infection or excessive bleeding. If you notice any unusual symptoms, contact your pediatric dentist immediately.

Long-term Oral Health

Following a tooth extraction, your child's dentist will discuss long-term oral health strategies. This may include discussions about space maintainers, orthodontic concerns, and future dental care to ensure the best possible outcome for your child's smile.

Trust Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies with All Your Child’s Oral Health Needs

A child's tooth extraction may sound daunting, but with the right preparation and understanding, it can be a manageable and relatively painless process. Our team in Fort Collins, Co will be there to communicate and provide advice for pre and post- operative care, leaving you free to provide your child with the emotional support they need. With proper care, your child will be on their way to a healthy and happy smile in no time.

Schedule an appointment at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies today to get your child started on a lifetime of healthy smiles.

Make Dental Hygiene Exciting: 10 Games and Activities for Kids

October 11th, 2023

Fun Activities For Kids To Learn About Dental Hygiene in Fort Collins

Dental hygiene for kids is essential to maintain healthy teeth and gums. However, getting kids excited about brushing and flossing can be a challenge. To turn dental care into an enjoyable experience, we've gathered 10 exciting games and activities that will make dental hygiene fun for kids! What’s more, they’re so simple, you can do them anywhere– even at home in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Toothbrush Obstacle Course

Set up a mini obstacle course in the living room or backyard, and make brushing an adventure! Place cones or markers for kids to navigate around while brushing their teeth. The aim is to complete the course before the two-minute timer runs out. When they’re ready for the big leagues, you can try throwing a flossing event into the mix.

Plaque Disclosing Tablets

Remember all the infographics that popped up in 2020 showing all the places that rarely got cleaned when you wash your hands? You can achieve the same effect yourself at home with toothbrushing! Use plaque disclosing tablets or solution to identify areas where plaque remains after brushing. Let the kids brush their teeth as usual and then use the disclosing tablets to see the remaining plaque. This activity teaches the importance of thorough brushing.

Dental Health Board Game

Create a board game with dental health-themed questions and challenges, and make sure to let the kids decorate it. Players can advance on the board by answering questions correctly or completing dental care tasks, making learning about oral hygiene fun and interactive.

"Guess the Smile" Game

Show your kids pictures of famous smiles or cartoon characters with unique teeth. Have them guess whose smile it is and discuss how proper dental care can help achieve beautiful smiles like their favorite personalities–or in some cases, how their favorite cartoon characters might benefit from orthodontic treatment. 

Tooth Fairy Treasure Hunt

Organize a tooth fairy treasure hunt in the house or backyard. Give kids clues leading to hidden dental care-related goodies like a new toothbrush, floss, or a dental-themed storybook. This game adds excitement to losing baby teeth and reinforces good oral care.

DIY Toothpaste Art

Let kids design their own toothpaste tube labels using colorful markers or stickers. You can also provide them with empty squeezable toothpaste tubes and a safe, edible homemade toothpaste mix. This activity encourages them to use their personalized toothpaste and brush willingly.

Brushing and Storytime

Combine storytime with brushing! Pick dental-themed storybooks and read them together while kids brush their teeth. This way, they'll associate the fun of storytelling with their oral care routine. Plus, it will ensure that they brush for a full 2 minutes at least.

Dental Hygiene Pictionary

Play a game of Pictionary with dental hygiene-related words and phrases. Kids can take turns drawing images related to dental care, such as toothbrushes, floss, dental visits, and healthy snacks. Feel free to bring in the portraits you draw of your favorite dentists and hygienists on your next visit.

Tooth Fairy Dress-Up

Set up a dress-up station with tooth fairy wings, wands, and crowns. Let the kids take turns being the tooth fairy while others play the role of a dentist or dental patient. This imaginative play promotes positive attitudes towards dental visits.

Dental Hygiene Song Contest

Encourage kids to create their own dental hygiene jingles or songs. Have a "Dental Hygiene Song Contest" where they perform their compositions. This activity makes oral care routines more enjoyable and memorable. It also might lead them to a lucrative career in marketing– everyone knows toothpaste jingles stick in your mind like nothing else.

Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies is the Place for Oral Health Fun

We can make dental hygiene fun for kids in Fort Collins. By incorporating these creative games and activities into their daily routine, kids can develop positive dental hygiene habits while having loads of fun. Parents and caregivers play a vital role in making oral care enjoyable for children, and with these engaging ideas, maintaining healthy teeth and smiles will become a delightful adventure for the whole family!

Schedule an appointment for your child’s next appointment and let us know what activities are brightening up your daily hygiene routine.

Five Tips for Taking Tots to the Dentist

October 11th, 2023

Toddlers are notoriously balky about strangers. But their first dental visit should not be cause for fear and tears. Nor should you assume that getting your toddler to Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies is going to involve a full-blown tantrum or Mafia-style bribery. “Honey, don’t worry. We’ll go get ice cream after…” sort of defeats the purpose of making that first dental appointment.

These five tips will make your toddler’s trip to see Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman as fun as a stop at an amusement park.

1. Before you make a dental appointment for your child, take him or her on a ride-along to one of your dental appointments. Let your son or daughter experience the office and get the lay of the land. Toddlers don’t like surprises. But if your little one is already familiar with the big chair that goes up and down, the next time he or she will have no problem taking a seat.

2. About the big dental chair … well, it’s really an amusement park ride. See how it goes up and down? Toddlers love games, and turning the trip to the dentist into a game is among the oldest (and most successful) tricks in the parent playbook.

3. Positive reinforcement is a good thing. That's why Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our staff hand out cool toothbrushes or stickers to children after their appointment. A fun-colored toothbrush with a suction bottom is a good incentive to come back for another cleaning.

4. Timing is everything. Don’t take your child to the dentist an hour before the daily nap. Make the appointment with your child’s schedule in mind. This increases the chances of success.

5. A few days before the scheduled appointment, start reading your toddler bedtimes stories about what happens at the dentist. Dora the Explorer’s Show Me Your Smile, written by Christine Ricci, is a popular dental story that your child might relate to.

Fall’s in the Air? Think Fall Dental Care

October 4th, 2023

Whether you already miss the sun’s bright rays, or can’t wait for some cool, crisp weather and colorful leaves, summer is making way for fall. And the change of seasons might mean it’s time for some adjustments to your dental care routine.

Fall’s in the Air, and You Can Feel It

You might enjoy the brisk weather and the cool autumn breezes, but you’d enjoy fall much more without the tooth sensitivity that cold weather can bring. Sensitivity can be the sign of a cracked tooth, gum disease, or even something as simple as too-energetic brushing. If you’re experiencing sensitivity outdoors or with hot and cold foods, don’t give up your nature walks and hot cider! Give Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman a call, and we’ll get to the root of your problem.

Fall Sports

The baseball mitts, surfboards, and water skis have been retired for the year, but that won’t stop you from enjoying exercise and team sports. And while you’re keeping your body healthy, remember to keep your teeth and jaws healthy as well. A mouth guard is an essential piece of equipment for any autumn contact sport like football or soccer, and is also a good idea for biking, skateboarding, and other physical activities where a fall or a collision is a possibility.

Fall Feasts

‘Tis the season for sugary Halloween treats, bountiful Thanksgiving desserts, and those over-the-top holiday lattes. By all means, celebrate the season. And celebrate your dental health (and your overall health) as well by enjoying these treats in moderation.

Why not take this opportunity to explore some of autumn’s more nutritious seasonal offerings? Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, and apples are part of a fall harvest of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and other nutrients that help keep our teeth and gums their healthiest. (And if the pumpkins and apples make their way into pies, no one will complain.)

Fall Semester

Many schools require a dental exam before the start of the academic year. If you haven’t made an appointment for your child, now’s the time to do it! And don’t forget a professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar. Nothing starts a school year off better than entering the classroom with a bright, healthy smile.

And don’t forget to call our Fort Collins office for your own regular checkup if it’s that time of year. Spring, summer, winter, fall—it’s always the right season for taking care of your dental health!

Providing the Right Dental Care for your Children

September 27th, 2023

You already know that Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies recommends you come in for a checkup and cleaning at least every six months, but do you know what your child’s dental needs are? From the time children are babies and growing in their first teeth, their oral health care needs may be different from adults. It’s important to know what they need, and when, to help them grow strong, healthy teeth.

When to See Our Team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies

While dental care (at home) can begin as soon as your baby starts to show signs of that first tooth, most experts do not recommend you see a dentist until your child is at least one year old. The child will likely be too young at this point to have a full dental exam, but we can take a look at your baby’s teeth and give you tips for brushing and flossing properly.

By the time your child has all of his or her baby teeth—usually around 24 to 30 months of age—we can begin scheduling regular checkups and cleanings.

What to Expect on the First Visits

The first visit to our Fort Collins office for a full exam will mostly involve getting to know Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and staff members, and making your child feel comfortable. Let us know if you would like to sit in the exam room during the appointment, but keep in mind that it may be beneficial to leave your child alone with Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman for a portion of the appointment so we can start building trust with your child.

Our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies will likely do some or all of the following during your child's visit:

  • Look for signs of decay or other tooth or gum problems
  • Examine your child’s bite, checking for misalignment that could lead to problems in the future
  • Clean the teeth, and apply fluoride if your child is old enough
  • Talk to you about proper oral health care for your children
  • Answer any questions you may have about caring for your child’s teeth, which may include topics like fluoride needs, nutrition and diet, teething, and the frequency of future checkups

In most cases, we will recommend that you bring your child in every six months for regular checkups, the same as your recommended frequency.

Understanding your child’s unique dental needs is important for providing the best possible care when it becomes necessary. We look forward to building a good relationship with your child so coming to the dentist is a fun, rewarding experience and not a frightening one.

Sippy Cups

September 20th, 2023

What a milestone! The transition from bottle to sippy cup is one of baby’s first steps toward toddler independence. And like all first journeys, some helpful guideposts come in handy. That’s why Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team have several recommendations to help you navigate this transition, making sure your baby’s dental health is protected along the way.

Choosing a Sippy Cup

Sippy cups are often a parent’s first choice for this big step in baby’s development. While sippy cups offer a variety of child-safe materials, lively colors, and comfortable handle options, the feature of interest from a dental perspective is lid design.

Sippy cups curb spills because their lids don’t allow liquids to flow out freely, ensuring that drinks make it into baby’s mouth instead of onto furniture or floor. Cup lids might incorporate:

  • Built-in straws
  • A drinking edge around the rim of the cup which seals when your child isn’t drinking
  • Soft spouts
  • Hard spouts
  • Spouts with valves to prevent liquids from leaking out. (Spouts with valves work like a nipple, which means baby is sucking instead of sipping.)

Which design is best? For short periods, any of these designs can work for you. Over long periods, spouted cups could have the same effects as prolonged thumb-sucking and pacifier use, potentially affecting a child’s tongue positioning, tooth alignment, bite, and speech development. Your dentist will be able to suggest which cups are best for your child’s dental health both short and long term.

What to Put in a Sippy Cup

Once your baby has begun drinking from a cup, it should only hold tooth-friendly drinks.

  • Pediatricians generally recommend breast milk and/or formula until your child is 12 months old. You can switch to regular milk (or a healthy milk alternative) once your child is a year old with your doctor’s okay.
  • Water can be introduced when your pediatrician thinks your child is ready, usually around the age of six months.
  • Because even natural fruit juices have lots of sugar, dentists and pediatricians suggest giving your baby small amounts only—or feed your child fruit instead!
  • Skip the sugared drinks, sports drinks, caffeinated drinks, and sodas. They aren’t healthy for little bodies or little teeth.

Help Prevent Tooth Decay

Just like adults, babies can suffer tooth decay, too—and for the same reasons. The bacteria in plaque use the sugars found in our diets to create acids, and acids erode tooth enamel.

When a toddler totes a sippy cup around all day, even filled with healthy drinks, those baby teeth are constantly exposed to the natural sugars found in breast milk, formula, and, for older children, milk. Drinks with more or added sugars, such as juices or sweetened drinks, cause more damage to tooth enamel. Use a sippy cup wisely:

  • Offer the cup with meals and snacks, when increased saliva production can help wash away sugars and neutralize the acids which cause cavities.
  • Offer water between meals.
  • Don’t let your baby take a sippy cup to bed. Some spill-proof cups are designed to be sucked like bottles, and, like bottles, sugary liquids can pool in babies’ mouths as they sleep.
  • Get into a tooth-cleaning routine as soon as your child’s teeth start to arrive.

And, while we’re talking about healthy teeth, please don’t let your child toddle around with a sippy cup. A fall while drinking can injure a baby’s mouth and teeth.

Partner with Your Child’s Dentist

The journey from baby to toddler can seem overwhelming sometimes for both you and your child, but you have expert help available! It's a good idea to make a first dental appointment at our Fort Collins office sometime between the appearance of the first baby tooth and your child’s first birthday. This initial visit is an opportunity for Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman to:

  • Check your child’s overall dental health and development.
  • Look for signs of early decay.
  • Talk about proactive dental care, including how and when to clean your child’s teeth.
  • Answer questions about how you can support your child’s dental health, including the advantages and disadvantages of sippy cups.

Used properly, sippy cups can be a helpful transition on your child’s journey from bottle to cup, and from baby-who-relies-on-you-for-everything to take-charge-toddler. Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team are an ideal guide as you and your child chart this path together.

Periodontal Disease in Adolescents

September 13th, 2023

Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies know that periodontal disease isn't something exclusive to adults. It can affect adolescents as well. Gingivitis, which is a milder form of periodontitis, is a form of periodontal disease, and a warning that more serious problems may arise. Untreated gingivitis can develop into full-blown periodontitis.

The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) explains that research proves that younger people may develop more severe forms of gingivitis. Gingivitis is linked to periodontal disease. Children and adolescents who have type 1 diabetes or immune deficiencies are more likely to suffer from periodontal disease.

There are three types of periodontal diseases Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team see in children and adolescents.

Chronic gingivitis

Parents may suspect that their adolescent has chronic gingivitis if he or she shows or complains of symptoms such as redness, swelling, or bleeding gums. Early treatment may prevent gingivitis from developing into a more severe form of periodontal disease.

Aggressive and/or chronic periodontitis

Once called adult periodontitis, the term chronic replaces “adult” because periodontitis can occur in people in their early teenage years, and progress throughout their teens. Chronic and aggressive periodontitis primarily affects incisors and first molars. One of its distinguishing characteristics is bone loss. Curiously, patients who suffer from this form of the disease have minimal dental plaque on examination.

Generalized aggressive and chronic periodontal disease

This form of periodontal disease has many of the same characteristics of the chronic and aggressive form, but this more severe type of the disease affects the entire mouth. Symptoms include major plaque and calculus accumulation, and inflamed gums.

In both forms of more severe periodontal disease, the overall gum structure may change. The severity of these changes may alter gum strength enough to loosen teeth, or even worse, cause them to fall out.

The success of any treatment is largely contingent on early diagnosis. Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman should conduct a thorough periodontal exam as part of an adolescent’s twice-yearly complete dental examinations.

The mouth is full of bacteria. Some of it is necessary for food digestion. Diseases are more likely to develop if bacteria travel to open places in the mouth, such as exposed gum pockets or cavities. Proper dental hygiene is essential for a healthy mouth, and a healthy mouth offers greater protection against painful dental diseases.

Be sure every member of your family has a complete dental exam and cleaning twice a year, and contact Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman when you or your young kids or adolescents complain of pain, sensitivity, or other oral problems. Early detection at our Fort Collins office leads to treatment of oral problems and prevents them from turning into serious periodontal disease and potentially irreversible problems.

September is National Childhood Injury Prevention Month!

September 6th, 2023

September is National Childhood Injury Prevention Month, and Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies are excited to share some tips to keep your child safe. Childhood is a time when dental injuries are common. Even a simple fall on the playground at recess can lead to a lost or broken tooth. What can you do as a parent to protect your child’s teeth in addition to his or her head and bones? These tips will help you prevent mouth and dental injuries to your kids.

First, use common sense when your children play sports. An estimated 13 to 39 percent of oral-facial injuries occur when children are playing sports. Make sure your child wears a face guard, mouthguard, and helmet as appropriate. Contact sports, such as football, require this gear, so insist that it gets worn.

Next, teach your children not to walk or run with things in their mouths. This is particularly difficult for toddlers and preschoolers, who love to explore the world orally. Insist that items are removed from the mouth whenever the child is in motion, and try to redirect the child to softer items for oral stimulation.

For small children, be careful when you put a spoon or fork in the mouth. While this won’t damage teeth, it can damage the delicate skin between the lips and gums or under the tongue. Allow your child to direct his or her own feeding; never shove a spoon in your child’s mouth if he or she is not interested, to avoid this type of injury.

Finally, make sure your children are seen regularly by Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman. Regular dental checkups will keep the teeth clean, strong, and healthy, and limit the risk of injuries.

If your child is injured in spite of your best efforts, contact our Fort Collins office right away. Quick action may be able to save a missing tooth, and a quick response on your part will limit the long-term effects of the injury.

Positive Dental Visits for Children

September 1st, 2023

How to Promote Positive Dental Experiences for Children

Dental anxiety in kids is a common issue. Many children feel scared or nervous about visiting the dentist. They may be afraid of pain or the unfamiliar environment. Dentists who specialize in treating children know how to make them feel more comfortable. They use child-friendly language, show them the dental tools, and provide distractions like toys. Communication and explanation of procedures in a simple way help kids feel more in control. Sometimes, sedation or nitrous oxide can be used to help them relax. By addressing dental anxiety early and creating positive experiences, children can develop better oral hygiene habits and overall dental well-being.

At Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies, we can help! As a pediatric dentist in Fort Collins, our team is trained to handle anxious children with care and compassion. We employ various techniques to create a more comfortable and friendly environment, such as showing dental instruments before their use, explaining procedures in child-friendly language, and providing distractions like toys or screens.

Dental Anxiety

Dental anxiety in kids is a common issue where children feel scared or nervous about going to the dentist. For many children, the dental office can be an overwhelming and intimidating place. The bright lights, unfamiliar sounds, and strange instruments can contribute to their anxiety. Additionally, the fear of experiencing pain during dental treatments can heighten their anxiety levels. Furthermore, the prospect of having a stranger examine their teeth can make children feel vulnerable and anxious.

The Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies Approach

At Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies, we do all that we can to ensure dental visits are positive and comfortable for your children. Here are a few things we do:

  • Child-friendly environment: We’ve created a welcoming and child-friendly atmosphere in our dental office, with a waiting area full of toys, books, and colorful decorations to help children feel more comfortable and at ease.
  • Gentle approach: We use a gentle and reassuring approach when interacting with children. We understand the importance of building trust and establishing a positive rapport with their young patients.
  • Communication and education: Our dentists and hygienists communicate with children in a language that is easy to understand. They explain dental procedures using simple terms and demonstrate the tools or equipment to reduce fear and anxiety. By educating children about oral hygiene practices, they empower them to take care of their own dental health.
  • Distraction techniques: We often use distraction techniques to divert children's attention during dental procedures. This can include providing toys, showing videos, or playing soothing music to help children relax and stay engaged.
  • Positive reinforcement: We always provide positive reinforcement and praise for children's cooperation and bravery during dental visits. This helps build confidence and a positive association with dental care.
  • Pain management: Our dental team is skilled in minimizing pain and discomfort during dental procedures. We may use local anesthesia or numbing gels to ensure that children have a pain-free experience. They are also trained to identify and address any signs of discomfort promptly.

By implementing these strategies, the team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies in Fort Collins, CO strives to create a positive and supportive environment for children, promoting good oral health habits and reducing dental anxiety in the long run.

What Parents Can Do

As a parent, there are several steps you can take to help your child have positive dental visits. Here are some suggestions:

Start early: Begin dental visits early, ideally by the age of one or within six months after the first tooth erupts. This helps your child become familiar with the dental office environment and establishes a routine of regular dental check-ups.

Choose a pediatric dentist: Look for a pediatric dental practice– like Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies– that specializes in treating children. They are experienced in handling dental anxiety and know how to create a child-friendly atmosphere.

Set a positive example: Maintain good oral hygiene habits yourself and let your child see you taking care of your teeth. This can help alleviate their fears and normalize dental care.

Talk positively about dental visits: Use positive language when discussing dental appointments with your child. Avoid using words that may cause fear or anxiety. Explain that the dentist is there to help keep their teeth healthy and strong.

Read books or watch videos about dental visits: There are numerous children's books and educational videos available that introduce dental visits in a fun and informative way. Sharing these resources with your child can help them understand what to expect and ease their anxiety.

Play pretend dentist at home: Use playtime as an opportunity to familiarize your child with dental tools and procedures. Pretend to be the dentist and let your child practice being the patient. This role-playing can help alleviate their fears and make dental visits seem less daunting.

Practice relaxation techniques: Teach your child simple relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or counting exercises, that they can use during dental visits to help them stay calm and relaxed.

Offer rewards and praise: Encourage and praise your child's bravery and cooperation during dental visits. Consider offering small rewards or incentives as a positive reinforcement for their good behavior.

By following these steps, you can help create a positive mindset and reduce dental anxiety in your child, making dental visits a more enjoyable and stress-free experience for them.

Let Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies Work For You

At Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies, we understand your child’s dental needs, and we know how to deliver the care they need in an environment they enjoy.  Make an appointment today to get your child started on a lifetime of oral health and loving the dentist.

Happy Labor Day!

August 30th, 2023

Labor Day is upon us, and that means the non-official end to summer. Before the kids head back to school and temperatures start to cool down, this is your last chance to barbeque in the beautiful Fort Collins community, head to the lake, and wear your favorite pair of white pants.

About Labor Day

Each year, Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September. It is the one day of year Americans celebrate their achievements in work, which the US Department of Labor says has contributed to prosperity and well-being of America as a whole. Americans have been celebrating Labor Day since the 1880s, and today it is an official federal holiday.

Interesting Facts About Labor Day

  • Every year, more than 30 million Americans travel over Labor Day weekend.
  • Canada was the first to celebrate Labor Day, and the US soon followed.
  • President Cleveland made Labor Day and official US holiday in 1894.
  • Labor Day marks the beginning of the NFL and NCAA sports seasons for fans.
  • Labor Day marks the end of hot dog season, when Americans consume seven billion hot dogs.

Thanks for being a valued patient of our Pediatric Dentistry office. Our staff would like to wish you a safe and happy Labor Day weekend. Enjoy your time off!

Five Tips to Help Kids Overcome Their Fears of the Dentist

August 23rd, 2023

Is your child nervous about visiting Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies? Today, we put together some tips to help ensure your little one relaxes before his or her next dental checkup!

  1. Start early. The earlier your child visits our Fort Collins office, the better. This will provide your child with a familiarity and ensure that he or she is comfortable with our team, office, and surroundings, whether it’s for a preventive visit or an emergency. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child first visit the dentist at age one or when the first tooth is visible.
  2. Choose your words wisely. When preparing for a visit, go easy on the details. Over-explaining and adding more information about treatment such as a filling will lead to more questions as well as add unnecessary alarm. Remember to keep a positive attitude!
  3. Bring a distraction to your child’s appointment. Bringing along music is a great idea. Just plug in those earphones, have your child close his or her eyes, and get lost in the tunes. Listening to music can also be a pain killer.
  4. Consider a “pretend visit.” Before your child’s appointment, try role playing with him or her—you be the doctor and your child is the patient. All you'll need is a toothbrush. The key is getting your child familiar with the routine so that he or she is more relaxed once it’s time for the real visit with Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman.
  5. Stress the importance of good oral health. Instill in your child that visiting the dentist is a necessity, not a choice, and that visiting the dentist will lead to a lifetime of smiles.

We hope this helps! For more on dental anxieties, ask us during your next visit to Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies! Or, ask us on Facebook!

Keeping Your Teeth Strong and Healthy

August 16th, 2023

What is the strongest part of our bodies? Do you think it might be our bones, which help us move and protect our brains, hearts and other organs? Or could it be those tough fingernails and toenails that guard our fingertips and toes? Nope! You might be surprised to learn that the hardest thing in our bodies is the enamel which covers our teeth!

Our bones grow with us and can even knit back together in case we have a broken arm or leg. Our toenails grow more slowly, and our fingernails grow more quickly, so regularly trimming is required for both. But our enamel doesn’t grow or repair itself when it is damaged, so it needs to last us a lifetime. How can such a strong part of our bodies be damaged? And can we do anything to protect our teeth? Luckily, we can!

Prevent Chips and Cracks

You might be the fastest on your bike, or the highest scorer on your basketball team, or able to do the most amazing tricks on your skateboard. But even the strongest teeth can’t win against a paved road, or an elbow under the basket, or a cement skate park. If you’re physically active, talk to us about a mouthguard. This removable appliance fits closely around the teeth and can protect your teeth and jaw in case of accident. And protect your enamel even when you’re not being adventurous! Don’t bite down on ice cubes or hard candy, and save your pens and pencils for writing, not chewing.

Guard Your Teeth from Tooth Grinding

If you grind your teeth, you’re not alone! Many other young people do, too—mostly in their sleep. In fact, it might be a parent or sibling who lets you know you are grinding at night. But constant pressure on your enamel can lead to cracked enamel, sensitivity, and even worn down teeth. How can you protect them? Once again, a mouth guard can be a great solution. We can custom fit one to allow you to sleep comfortably while protecting your teeth.

Eat Healthy Foods & Brush Regularly

We all have bacteria in our mouths. Some are helpful, and some are not. The bacteria in plaque can change food products like sugar and starches into acids. These acids actually break down our enamel, which can lead to tooth sensitivity and decay. Making sugars and carbs a small part of your regular diet, and eating meals rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals, will help stop acids from attacking your enamel. And careful brushing and flossing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste can help keep those minerals in enamel from breaking down and even help restore them.

Your enamel is the strongest part of your body, and you can help it stay that way. Protect your teeth from accidents, let our Fort Collins team know if you or a parent suspect you are grinding your teeth, eat healthy foods, and keep up your regular brushing. And remember, we are here to help keep your family’s teeth and mouth their healthiest for your strongest, most beautiful smile.

Getting to the Bottom of Chewing Gum Myths

August 9th, 2023

It's a moment many of our patients have experienced. One second you're chewing on a piece of gum, then suddenly you forget to keep chewing and swallow the entire rubbery gob whole! It's at this point you remember your mother warning you as a child that if you swallow gum it will stake a claim and take up residency in your belly for seven years. Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies hate to take all the fun out of the mystery, but the truth is that chewing gum, when swallowed, will enter your stomach and move through your digestive system just like any other piece of food. So, if you ever accidentally swallow a piece of gum, there is no need to worry!

That being said, it's important to know that gum does not have any dietary benefits, so while it’s not exactly harmful to swallow, you still want to avoid swallowing it. If you are an avid gum-chewer, we encourage you to chew sugarless gum, especially if you are wearing braces, because gum with sugar can lead to cavities. Sugarless gum still has the same amount of flavor, but has fewer cavity-causing ingredients. In fact, many brands contain an additive called xylitol, a natural sweetener known to fight cavity-causing bacteria. Xylitol is also known to increase salivary flow as it rinses away plaque and acid.

The fact is, when the bacterium in your mouth breaks down sugar, what’s left behind is acid. This acid eats away at the enamel coating of your teeth, causing holes that we call cavities. Cavities can lead to other long-term mouth problems if they are not treated in time, so it is best to try and avoid overexposing your teeth to too many harmful substances!

If you have any questions about chewing gum, please contact our office. Happy (sugar-free) gum chewing!

Teens and Gum Disease

August 2nd, 2023

You have a lot going on. School. Sports. Activities. Family. Friends. Teens lead busy lives and have busy schedules, so you need to budget your time and energy. One thing you don’t want to spend any of your time and energy on? Dealing with gum disease.

Gum disease most often begins as a reaction to plaque and tartar. The bacteria in plaque produce acids which irritate gum tissue, causing inflammation, swelling, and bleeding. This is gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease.

Left untreated, early gum disease can become periodontitis. Periodontitis is a serious gum infection which can cause receding gums, loose teeth, and even tooth and bone loss.

We usually think about gum disease as something that only older adults worry about. But the unfortunate fact is that children and teens are also at risk for gum disease—and the teen years bring special risks. Why?

  • Braces

The teen years are the most common years for orthodontic treatment. Wearing traditional or lingual braces can make removing plaque from around brackets and wires, between the teeth, and near the gum line more challenging, and gum disease can be the result. When you’ve been working so hard to create a healthy attractive smile, you don’t want to delay your orthodontic progress to treat gum disease.

  • Less-than-Nutritious Snacking

When you have after school commitments like sports practices, play rehearsals, or work, you probably carry a snack to give you the energy you need until dinner. Popular snacks like energy drinks, chips, or candy bars are common go-to choices, but they contain acids, simple carbs, and sugars which are bad for both gums and tooth enamel.

  • Hormones

Increased hormone levels during puberty can make the gums more sensitive and more easily irritated.

  • Your Busy Life

Maybe you’re not getting enough sleep. Or eating as well as you could. Or you’re feeling anxious. Lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and stress can affect your body’s immune system and your ability to fight off infection. And if you’re also not brushing and flossing regularly, your gum health can really suffer.

How do you know if you have gum disease? Good question! Sometimes the early stages of gum disease aren’t obvious. Perhaps you’ve noticed changes in your gums, such as:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Soreness
  • Bleeding
  • Bad breath even after brushing

Any of these changes can be symptoms of gum disease and are a good reason to give our Fort Collins office a call, since time is important when treating gum disease.

Caught early, gingivitis is usually very treatable—in fact, you can often reverse early gingivitis by paying more attention to your daily dental hygiene. If gingivitis is more advanced, or if periodontitis develops, you need professional dental care to prevent serious damage to your gums, teeth, and bone.

Preventing gum disease from ever developing is always best, though, so let’s look at what you can do to keep gum disease from becoming a problem.

  • Keep Up with Healthy Dental Habits

Even though you’re leading a busy life, take time for your dental care. Brushing twice a day for at least two minutes per session and flossing once a day take just a bit of your time and are the best way to keep your gums healthy. If you wear braces or have a tendency toward cavities and gum disease, Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman might recommend brushing or flossing more often.

  • Use the Right Tools

Using the right tools makes a big difference. You should always choose a toothbrush with soft bristles to protect your delicate gum tissue—especially if it’s extra sensitive. Too-harsh brushing can damage even your super-hard tooth enamel, so you can imagine what it can do to your gums! Change out your brush every three to four months when it starts to get frayed and worn.

If you wear braces, ask Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman to recommend the best kind of floss to clean between your teeth and around your brackets and wires. The right tools will make flossing a lot easier, and will help you keep your gums healthy and your orthodontic treatment on track.

  • No Matter How Busy You Are, Treat Yourself Well

Watch your diet. Drinking water to hydrate is a healthy (and inexpensive) alternative to sugary and acidic drinks. When you know you have after-school commitments, pack yourself a healthy snack. After snacking, it’s a good idea to rinse with water when you can’t brush to remove any food particles sticking around your teeth and gums.

And even though your schedule is demanding, caring for your mind and body should be a priority. If you have difficulties with sleep or stress, or questions about a nutritious diet, talk to your doctor for some valuable tips to make your daily life healthier and more enjoyable.

With so much going on in your active life, gum problems are problems you really don’t need. Make room in your schedule now for careful daily brushing and flossing, a healthy lifestyle, and regular visits to Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies, and you’ll be living that active life with a beautiful, healthy smile!

Dangers of Thumb Sucking

July 26th, 2023

It’s common for children to suck their thumb at a young age. Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team want you to understand the potential issues that can surface down the road if the habit isn’t broken early on.

It’s normal for infants to explore the function of their mouths by putting objects like their thumbs inside it. You shouldn’t be concerned if your baby regularly sucks his or her thumb. For infants who are still growing their baby teeth, thumb sucking can help with stimulating growth and development of their baby teeth.

Thumb sucking is not a problem among infants because they generally do it to sooth and comfort themselves. Problems can occur of kids continue the habit when their baby teeth begin to fall out, around six years of age.

If you have a young child whose adult teeth are starting to come in, that’s when thumb sucking can start to be a problem. Most children stop thumb sucking between the ages of two and three years. According to the American Dental Association, if thumb sucking continues as adult teeth come in, this can lead to problems involving improper alignment of teeth and growth of the jaw, gums, and roof of the mouth.

It may also affect your child’s speech after that, by causing a lisp or other speech impediments. As a parent, you may need to begin to regulate and intervene if thumb sucking starts to become a bigger problem for your child.

How to Stop Thumb Sucking

  • Provide comfort to your child if thumb sucking happens when he or she is anxious.
  • Limit thumb sucking initially to bedtime or naptime.
  • Employ positive reinforcement for good behavior.
  • Talk with your child about the potential problems that come from this habit.
  • Distract your son or daughter with activities such as fun games any time you notice it starting.
  • Involve your little one in choosing methods for stopping, like positive rewards.
  • Have Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman talk to your child to reinforce concerns about thumb sucking.

Don’t forget that thumb sucking is a common habit that many children indulge in, and it should not be a concern right away. If you’re worried about your child’s thumb-sucking habit, start to address the issue as soon as possible.

The above techniques can help to reduce the amount of time your child sucks a thumb. Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team are here to help you if you have any questions or concerns about this habit.

Feel free to call our Fort Collins office and we will be happy to help you and your child.

Infant Teething Remedies: What Might Help—And What to Avoid

July 19th, 2023

Some lucky babies wake one morning displaying a brand new tooth to the complete surprise of their unsuspecting parents! But your happy baby is irritable and drooling. Or your hearty eater doesn’t feel like finishing her food. Perhaps she finds it hard to go to sleep when she’s usually nodded off before you finish the first lullaby. A small number of children suffer little or no discomfort teething, but for the majority of babies who do, here are some helpful ways to ease their teething pain.

  • Massage--Rubbing your baby’s gums with a clean finger or piece of gauze—gentle pressure is all you need. And do be careful of your fingers once those teeth start coming in!
  • Chewing—there are many colorful and easy to grasp teething toys available, including BPA-free models.
  • Cool Relief—Cool a solid teether in the refrigerator to help ease discomfort. Placing a teething ring in the freezer is not recommended, as extreme cold can be damaging to little mouths and gums.
  • Comfort Food—If your baby is eating solid foods, try cold applesauce or other purees.
  • Skin Care—Drooling is often part of the teething process, but try to keep your child’s face free from rash and chaffing by wiping with a clean cloth when necessary.

And while you are trying to keep your baby comfortable, also be sure to keep her safe!

  • Know what your baby is putting into her mouth. All teething items should be non-toxic and free of harmful chemicals. Teethers filled with fluids may break or leak, so a solid toy is best.
  • Make teething items size-appropriate. Avoid anything small or breakable that might present a choking hazard.
  • Over-the-counter gels and liquids containing benzocaine, meant to reduce pain in the gums and mouth, may on rare occasion lead to serious health conditions in small children. Always check with Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman or your pediatrician before buying an over-the-counter teething medication for your baby.

For many babies, teething can be a long and sometimes difficult process. If there is anything we can do to help you and your baby in this journey, please give our Fort Collins office a call.

Dental Emergencies in Children

July 12th, 2023

Dental emergencies are bound to come up when you have young children. Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team want to you to be prepared in case you run into a difficult situation. Problems can vary, from minor gum irritation to knocked-out teeth. Take a look at the different possibilities and how you can handle them.

Teething

Depending on the age of your child, there are common things to watch for when it comes to his or her teeth. Starting from a young age, your son or daughter may experience teething pain. This starts at about four months and can last up to three years.

Teething may cause your little one to become irritable and more prone to drooling due to tender gums. This is very common in young children who are teething, and can be alleviated by giving them a cold teething ring or by rubbing their gums with your finger.

Teething pain is as normal as your child’s first set of teeth falling out. On the other hand, if a baby tooth is knocked out in a forceful accident, make sure you bring him or her into our Fort Collins office to check that other damage hasn’t occurred in the mouth. On occasion, permanent teeth may grow in before baby teeth have fallen out. This may not cause any discomfort, but Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman should make sure the teeth are growing in properly. Catching teeth that are coming in incorrectly can prevent issues from arising in adulthood.

Gum Issues

If you’ve noticed your child’s gums bleeding often, this could result from a number of things. Bleeding gums may be an early sign of periodontal disease, which is caused by poor oral hygiene when it appears in children. Excessive gum bleeding can also occur when children brush their teeth too hard, or suffer an injury to their gum tissue.

If bleeding is continuous, rinse your child’s mouth with warm salt water and apply light pressure to the area. If you become concerned about the amount of blood, contact our Fort Collins office and we will schedule an appointment for your youngster as soon as possible.

Depending on what type of dental issue your child is experiencing, you should make sure to treat it quickly and properly. If you have questions or concerns about what you can do to help your son or daughter develop better oral hygiene habits, ask Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman for tips during your next appointment.

Don’t forget: As a parent, you can provide the best education to your children on the importance of proper oral hygiene by setting a good example. 

Summer Sports and Mouthguards

July 5th, 2023

School’s out and you’ve emptied your gym locker until next fall. But while you’re stowing away the football gear, the basketball warm-ups, the field hockey sticks, and all the other equipment you’ve collected over the school year (that’s where that other shoe went!), be sure to keep one item handy: your mouthguard.

Team and contact sports like football, basketball, and wrestling aren’t the only potential dental dangers. In fact, almost any sport or activity can be made safer when you use your mouthguard.  While you’re keeping active and fit in the summer months, remember to look out for your smile.

  • Sports on wheels

Biking, skate boarding, rollerblading—it only takes one fall to make you realize that roads, sidewalks, and concrete are not ideal landing pads. If you do take a spill, using a mouthguard, along with your helmet, will help protect your teeth and jaw.

  • Court sports

Handball and tennis are not what we consider contact sports, but an unexpected bounce from a ball, or a completely unexpected backhand from your partner, can lead to dental injuries. Ace your workout and wear a mouthguard.

  • Water sports

A fall in the water can lead to a collision with your surfboard or water skis, and water polo often seems to be a game of stamina, accuracy and elbows. Wear your mouthguard on land and sea, and help reduce your chance of dental injury.

  • Team sports

Anyone who has played summer league baseball, softball or soccer knows that occasional contact with other players is pretty much a given. Cushioning your head, mouth, and teeth with a mouthguard will not only protect you, but keep you in the game—and your teammates will appreciate that!

If you already use a mouthguard, keep up the good work! If you don’t, talk to Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman about the importance of protecting your smile with a mouthguard. There are ready-made options available at drug stores and sporting goods shops. These will provide protection to your mouth and teeth, but can sometimes be bulky and uncomfortable and should never be used with braces. If you would like a mouth protector that provides the best fit and comfort, or if you wear braces, we can customize a mouthguard in our Fort Collins office that will be a perfect fit for your teeth and bite.

Whatever activity you choose, play it smart! Don’t gear up without your mouthguard, and you’ll greet next year’s classes energized, fit, and sporting a beautiful smile!

Happy Fourth of July

June 28th, 2023

Every year, Americans all over the world celebrate the birth of the country and its independence on the Fourth of July. There are countless ways that people celebrate and they range from community parades and large scale gatherings to concerts, fireworks displays, and smaller scale celebrations among family and friends. For some people, July 4th is synonymous with baseball, while for others it is all about the beach of barbecues. However you celebrate, you can be sure that red, white, and blue is visible everywhere throughout the area.

The Beginnings of Fourth of July Celebrations

Although it wasn't officially designated as a federal holiday until 1941, the actual tradition of celebrating Independence Day goes back to the time of the American Revolution (1775 – 1783). At the time of the American Revolution, representatives from the 13 colonies penned the resolution that ultimately declared their independence from Great Britain. The continental congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 2nd of 1776. Two days later, Thomas Jefferson's famous document that is now known as the Declaration of Independence, was adopted by delegates representing the 13 colonies.

First States to Recognize the Fourth of July

In 1781, Massachusetts became the first state (or commonwealth) whose legislature resolved to designate July 4th as the date on which to celebrate the country's independence. Two years later, Boston became the first city to make an official designation to honor the country's birth with a holiday on July 4th. In that same year, North Carolina's governor, Alexander Martin, became the first governor to issue an official state order stipulating that July 4th was the day on which North Carolinians would celebrate the country's independence.

Fun Facts About the Fourth of July

  • The reason the stars on the original flag were arranged in a circle is because it was believed that would indicate that all of the colonies were equal.
  • Americans eat over 150 million hot dogs on July 4th.
  • Imports of fireworks each year totals over $211 million.
  • The first “official” Fourth of July party took place at the White House in 1801.
  • Benjamin Franklin didn't want the national bird to be the bald eagle. He believed that the turkey was better suited to the coveted distinction. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson disagreed with him, and he was outvoted, so the bald eagle became the official bird of the United States.

For many, the tradition is something entirely different. Along the coastal areas of the United States, people may haul out huge pots to have lobster or other types of seafood boils. Others may spend the day in the bleachers at a baseball game, or at a park, cooking a great traditional meal over an open fire. No matter how or where you celebrate, one thing is certain: all Americans celebrate July 4th as the birth and independence of our country.

Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies wish you a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Mamelons

June 21st, 2023

Quick trivia question: define “mamelon.” Some kind of warm blooded animal? No, not a member of the mammal clan, but good guess. A fruit of the gourd family? Nope! There are watermelons, and honeydew melons, and even canary melons, but no ma-melons. Those little rounded bumps you notice on the edge of your child’s permanent incisors when they first emerge? We have a winning answer!

  • Why Do We Have Mamelons?

We have eight incisors, or biting teeth, in the front of our mouths—four on top and four on bottom. Mamelons are actually a clue as to how these incisors were formed. Even before a baby is born, the permanent teeth begin to take shape. Three different groups of cells develop to form the incisal edge of these front teeth. As they fuse together, they create three lobes of enamel on the erupting edge of the tooth. It’s these lobes, or bumps, that give the teeth a serrated appearance.

Whether your child’s mamelons are quite prominent or barely noticeable, if you are worried about them, relax! They are almost always a temporary part of your child’s smile, and disappear over time with chewing and normal wear. But what if the mamelons overstay their welcome?

  • Cosmetic Concerns

Because mamelons are composed of enamel, without the underlying dentin layer found in the body of the tooth, they can appear translucent or a bit different in color. They might wear away unevenly, leaving the tooth edges looking misaligned. Or, they might not wear away at all if your child’s tooth eruption is delayed. Talk to Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman if mamelons are a cosmetic concern for you or your child. You might discover that they are wearing away naturally, or we can discuss ways to polish or smooth them down if needed. This is a painless procedure that doesn’t require an anesthetic. Generally, however, this is a matter where time will resolve the issue for you.

  • Orthodontic Implications

Occasionally, mamelons might become a topic of discussion for orthodontic reasons. Sometimes, mamelons do not wear away over time because of a malocclusion (misaligned bite). Your orthodontist will let you know your child has a bite problem and can explain treatment options. Your orthodontist might also suggest smoothing away the mamelons to ensure that the edges of the incisors align correctly and symmetrically while the teeth are in the process of straightening. Again, this is not always considered a necessity, so weigh your options with your dental care provider.

So, if you notice that your child’s beautiful new teeth are bumpy or serrated as they erupt, don’t be concerned! If you have any questions about mamelons, talk to Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman at your next visit to our Fort Collins office. This is a natural occurrence and most likely just a temporary “bump” in the road. Soon enough, mamelons will be a memory—and the answer to a pretty difficult trivia question.

Pediatric Dentistry: The benefits of dairy

June 14th, 2023

When you were a child, your mother may have instructed you to drink all your milk to build strong bones. Now that you have children of your own, you may hear yourself parroting those instructions you received years ago. Getting enough dairy is essential for young children whose teeth are growing. A child who consumes the recommended daily serving of dairy will develop healthy, strong teeth for the rest of his or her life.

Structure of the Tooth

To fully grasp the importance of dairy for dental health, it is necessary to understand tooth structure. Your teeth are made of living tissues covered by a hard outer shell. The inner dental pulp is fed by blood vessels and connects to a nerve bed in your gums. Surrounding the pulp is dentine, a calcified tissue that is less brittle than the tooth’s outermost layer, the enamel. The enamel layer is the white part of your teeth, 96% of which consists of minerals such as calcium phosphate.

How does dairy help my child’s teeth?

Milk and other dairy products are excellent sources of calcium. Your child’s body deposits this calcium into her growing bones, including the teeth. Calcium contributes to bone growth and strength, and it forms an important part of the solid enamel that surrounds each tooth’s fragile inner pulp. Milk also contains vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium, and proteins. Magnesium promotes calcium deposits in your enamel, while phosphorus forms a small barrier against acidic foods that cause cavities. Vitamin D and protein are used by a child’s body to build bone tissue and maintain dental health.

How much dairy does a child need?

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, the majority of Americans do not receive enough calcium. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that children under the age of eight should receive at least two and a half cups of dairy per day. Children older than eight need three full cups — the same as adult men and women. Supplying your child with nonfat milk to drink and yogurt to eat every day is a great way to increase dairy consumption.

Growing children who do not get enough dairy in their diets risk improper tooth development and other dental health problems. Drinking sugary beverages in place of milk causes cavities and tooth decay. As a parent, it is essential to monitor your child’s dairy consumption to ensure he or she grows healthy teeth to last a lifetime.

June is National Smile Month: Show off your smile!

June 7th, 2023

The community health awareness group Oral Health America has reported that 82 percent of adults are unaware of the role that infectious bacteria can play in tooth decay or cavities, and almost three out of five children aged 12 to 19 have tooth decay. Since June is National Smile Month, Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies thought we’d remind our patients about the importance of good oral hygiene visits between office visits.

To keep your family’s smiles healthy and beautiful for years to come, be sure to:

  • Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss every day to clean between your teeth
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Reduce your intake of sugary foods and drinks
  • Visit Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman for scheduled appointments

If you want to know more about healthy home care habits, feel free to ask our team at your next appointment, or ask us on Facebook!

Halitosis in Children: Causes and treatment

May 31st, 2023

Halitosis is the scientific name for bad breath. It is one of the most common oral concerns, and it affects a large percentage of the population, including children. Having bad breath can be embarrassing and a nuisance. When considering what to do about halitosis, the team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies highlights that you need to focus on the cause, rather than just masking the problem.

Children commonly have bad breath because of an upper respiratory infection. This includes a common cold, postnasal drip, or allergies. When this is the case, treatment may be complicated if one or more of these issues is chronic.

Another cause of halitosis in children is a condition with their teeth or gums. Just as in adults, gum disease has a distinctive malodor. The quality of brushing and flossing in children directly influences the presence of gum disease. If there is a large untreated cavity, there will be a strong smell causing bad breath. Both of these issues need professional attention, including a visit to the dentist.

Tonsillitis can also cause halitosis in children. It happens because of a constricted airway, resulting in mouth breathing. Mouth breathing is a concern because of how much it dries the tissue in the mouth. This makes any bacterial infection in the mouth worse and causes an increased potency within the bacteria in the mouth.

Treatment of halitosis is as varied as the causes listed above. Beware of ingredients in products that mask bad breath. Sucking on a mint on a regular basis will cause more harm than good because of potential decay. Chew sugarless gum and mints.

If you have any other questions, feel free to call us at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies or ask Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman during your next appointment!

Memorial Day

May 24th, 2023

Memorial Day is not only a federal holiday in the United States, but it is a day of observance and remembrance of those who died in service. Originally known as Decoration Day, this solemn day has been marked on calendars since the end of the American Civil War as a day to commemorate both the Confederate and Union soldiers who fought and died in the war.

Marking the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers, wreaths, or other tokens has been practiced throughout history, but it wasn't until the mark of the end of the Civil War that a special day was decided upon as the one to spend in remembrance. By 1890, every state in the country was observing Decoration Day. It wasn't until 1967 when the name formally changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day, in order to encompass all fallen American soldiers in all wars and conflicts. In June of 1968, Congress moved the official date of Memorial Day to the last Monday in May in order to create a three day weekend.

Today, while there is certainly an air of remembrance on Memorial Day, it has become more a day of spending time with family, friends, and other loved ones. This day is also heralded as the start of summer, with many schools finishing for the year around this time. Our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies remembers it as a day to take solace and remembered those lost.

Traditional observances of Memorial Day are still held, and they often involve raising the American Flag then lowering it to a half-staff position until noon, and then raising it once again to its full height afterwards. The flag is lowered to remember those who've lost their lives while in service to their country, and then it is raised to signify our willingness to not let their sacrifice be in vain.

From community parades in the Fort Collins area, backyard cook-outs, and fireworks to formal ceremonies, Memorial Day is commemorated in many different ways. No matter how you choose to spend this day, take a moment to remember those who've lost their lives in an effort to preserve our freedom.

Kids and Teeth Grinding

May 17th, 2023

Grind, grind, grind… if your little one happens to be a teeth grinder, you may be familiar with this unpleasant sound. Teeth grinding, or what Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies also call bruxism, is common in children. In fact, three out of ten kids grind or clench their teeth, usually in response to stress, jaw growth, malocclusion, losing teeth, or other discomforts, such as allergies. Kids typically outgrow teeth grinding by the time they reach their teenage years.

Many kids who grind their teeth in their sleep have no idea they’re doing it. In fact, when they wake up in the morning they feel no jaw, facial, neck, or shoulder pain. In most cases, if it hadn’t been for a parent or sibling telling them about it, the teeth grinding would have gone unnoticed.

There are children, however, who wake up with jaw pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and headaches. Teeth grinding can cause a host of dental complications, from cracked teeth and receding gums to a misaligned jaw. Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman will tell you that teeth grinding is not something to take lightly. Teeth grinding can have serious consequences that, if left untreated, can lead to tooth fractures and damage to the temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ.

The first step in helping your child recover from teeth grinding is noticing and diagnosing the problem. Symptoms of teeth grinding typically include:

  • Grinding noises when your child is sleeping
  • Complaints of tightness or pain in the jaw
  • Complaints of headaches, earaches, or facial pain
  • Complaints of pain when chewing
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Chipped, worn down, or loose teeth

If you suspect your child is a teeth grinder, Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team will be able to help. Please give us a call at our convenient Fort Collins office! We look forward to treating your child!

Wishing all our moms a happy Mother’s Day!

May 10th, 2023

"Motherhood: All love begins and ends there." - Robert Browning

We would like to take this moment to thank all the great moms out there for being so great during their child’s visits to Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies. Whether it’s driving their kids to regularly scheduled appointments or for “being there” while their child is treatment, the moms who come to our office are all stellar individuals, so Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our entire staff would like you to know that we appreciate you all!

Happy Mother’s Day and enjoy your special day!

Summer is Almost Here: Tips for a bright, white smile!

May 3rd, 2023

Summer is almost here, which means a season full of vacations, adventures and great memories is just around the corner for our patients at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies.

Everyone wants a glowing and radiant white smile when the sun comes around and we have a few reminders to keep your pearly whites healthy and beautiful over the summer! Try to stay away from drinks that will stain your teeth like coffee, soft drinks, or dark colored juices. Not only will drinks like this weaken your enamel but they will also darken that fabulous smile you're working on! Another tip is to try and focus on brushing your teeth; everyone knows that when busy schedules start picking up, getting a good brushing session in tends to take the backseat! A good tip for keeping your mouth safe from staining and other possible pitfalls is to rinse your mouth with water after any meal you can’t fully brush your teeth after. Your teeth, inside and out, will benefit!

And remember, whether you are headed to a barbecue, a camping trip, or just having fun in the backyard this summer, we want to hear all about it! Make sure to let us know what you’re up to below or on our Facebook page! We also encourage you to post any photos from your adventures!

What is a water pick and do I need one?

April 26th, 2023

Water picks, sometimes called “oral irrigators,” make an excellent addition to your regular home care regimen of brushing and flossing. Especially helpful to those who suffer from periodontal disease and those patients of ours undergoing orthodontic treatment with full-bracketed braces, water picks use powerful tiny bursts of water to dislodge food scraps, bacteria, and other debris nestled in the crevices of your mouth. Children undergoing orthodontic treatment may find using a water pick is beneficial if their toothbrush bristles tend to get caught on their wires or brackets.

When you use a water pick, you’re not only dislodging any particles or debris and bacteria you might have missed when brushing, you are also gently massaging the gums, which helps promote blood flow in the gums and keeps them healthy. While water picks are an excellent addition to your daily fight against gingivitis and other periodontal diseases, they are incapable of fully removing plaque, which is why Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies want to remind you to keep brushing and flossing every day.

If you have sensitive teeth or gums and find it uncomfortable to floss daily, water picks are a good alternative to reduce discomfort while effectively cleaning between teeth. Diabetics sometimes prefer water picks to flossing because they don't cause bleeding of the gums, which can be a problem with floss. If you have a permanent bridge, crowns, or other dental restoration, you may find that a water pick helps you keep the area around the restorations clean.

So how do you choose the right water pick?

Water picks are available for home or portable use. The home versions tend to be larger and use standard electrical outlets, while portable models use batteries. Aside from the size difference, they work in the same manner, both using pulsating water streams. A more crucial difference between water picks is the ability to adjust the pressure. Most home models will let you choose from several pressure settings, depending on how sensitive your teeth and gums are. Most portable models have only one pressure setting. If you want to use mouthwash or a dental rinse in your water pick, check the label first; some models suggest using water only.

Please give us a call at our Fort Collins office if you have any questions about water picks, or ask Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman during your next visit!

Earth Day

April 25th, 2023

The idea for Earth Day was the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin. He envisioned an Earth Day that would be a kind of environmental teach-in. The first Earth Day celebration took place on April 22, 1970, and a surprising 20 million people participated on that day. Ultimately, it became the largest organized celebration in US history.

Earth Day Over the Years

Over the years, the recognition of the day, and the number of people celebrating it all over the world, turned Earth Day into an international celebration. Because it is celebrated throughout the world, it is not only the largest international environmental observation, but it is also more widely celebrated than any other environmental event in the world. Today, Earth Day is celebrated in 175 countries where over 500 million people participate in celebrations.

The Earth Day Movement

The Earth Day movement is credited with developing the idea that people should “think green”. It encouraged congress to enact laws, including one that resulted in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. It also inspired the passage of the Endangered Species Act.

The Five R's and Their Importance

  • Reduce – Reduce by avoiding unnecessary purchases. Reduce your use of materials that wind up in landfills. Reduce the use of chemicals around your house. Reduce your use of disposable bags, plates, cups, eating utensils, and batteries.
  • Reuse – Instead of using plastic bags for your groceries or purchases, bring your own reusable bags. When you go to buy coffee at Starbucks, take a travel mug so you don't have to get your coffee in a disposable paper cup. Instead of storing food in disposable refrigerator containers, buy containers that can be washed and reused. Don't use regular batteries. Whenever possible, opt for rechargeable batteries that you can reuse.
  • Recycle – Most cities offer a recycling program to collect used bottles, cans, and newspapers. Recycling includes collecting recyclable materials that would otherwise be considered waste, sorting and processing recyclables into raw materials such as fibers and manufacturing raw materials into new products.
  • Re-buy – Make an effort to purchase things that are made through recycling. When purchasing furniture, look for items that are made from reclaimed wood. When buying paper for kids school work, computer printer paper, holiday cards, or anything else, make a point of purchasing recycled paper products. Instead of buying clothing at full retail price, shop for second hand clothing. You will save a lot of money by doing so!
  • Rethink – Rethink the way you do things so that you do them in an eco-conscious way at all times. Instead of driving to work alone, consider taking the bus or going in a carpool. Walk or ride your bike when you're only going a short distance. Plan your shopping trips and errand runs so that you can do everything on one day, and do it in a way where you can save time and gas.

Other ways to "think green" include growing your own food, composting yard waste and food scraps, or by participating in local recycling programs. Join a group like Freecycle so you can share your unneeded and unwanted possessions with people who can use them. Likewise, you'll be able to get things you need or want for free.

Earth Day teaches people that the planet belongs to everyone, so everyone is equally responsible for protecting it. Although Earth Day is an environmental celebration, our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies wants to remind you that you don't have to wait until then to make changes that will allow you and your family to live a greener life.

Happy Earth Day from the team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies.

Curious About Cavities?

April 24th, 2023

Part of every dental checkup is making sure all of your teeth are strong and healthy. Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman will have you open wide to look at your teeth, use special little mirrors to get a good look around each tooth, and take X-rays to make sure your teeth are healthy both inside and out.

Why does your dentist want to check each tooth so carefully? One big reason is to look for cavities. What are cavities, and why don’t you want them? We have some questions and answers if you’re cavity-curious!

Just What Is a Cavity?

A cavity is a little hole in your tooth caused by tooth decay.

A Hole in My Tooth? How Did It Get There?

Most of the time, we get cavities because of plaque buildup.

Plaque is a sticky film that builds up on our teeth all through the day. It’s mostly made up of saliva (or spit), tiny bits of the food we chew, and germs called bacteria.

The bacteria in plaque use these food particles from our meals for their own food. Part of the way they use that food is to create acids.

Even though our teeth are very strong, acids can make them weaker as they break down the hard enamel on the outside of the tooth. This is the start of tooth decay. As time goes by, and more acids attack our tooth, a weak spot can grow larger and deeper, making a hole in the tooth.

Why Are Cavities Bad for My Teeth?

If a cavity gets too big, it can reach the inside of your tooth. Inside each tooth, we have pulp. Healthy pulp keeps our tooth alive, and it contains nerves which can feel pain. This is why a deep cavity gives you a toothache. If the pulp is damaged, your tooth is in danger.

How Can My Dentist Help?

When you have regular checkups, Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman can find small cavities and treat them before they become big ones. This helps keep your smile healthy and toothache-free!

To start, your dentist will give you medicine to make the area around your tooth numb if you need it. When your tooth is numb, your dentist will clean away all of the decay with special small drills. They can be noisy, but they won’t hurt.

Once all of the decay is gone, your dentist will fill the hole with—a filling! A filling can be made of metal or a material which matches your tooth color.

When your appointment is finished, your tooth will be free from all the bacteria that were hurting it, the hole in your tooth will be filled, and you’ll be able to eat and bite and chew just like you could before. But what’s even better than treating a cavity? Preventing one!

How Can I Prevent Cavities?

There are lots of ways to get a cavity. Sometimes it’s caused by what people do, like eating lots of the foods which cavity-causing bacteria love. Sometimes, a cavity is caused by what people don’t do, like not brushing and flossing enough. And some people get cavities even with careful brushing and a healthy diet, so they might need extra help to protect their teeth.

Here are three very good ways to help stop cavities before they ever start:

  • Don’t Feed the Bacteria!

The bacteria in plaque like sugars and starches because these foods are the easiest for them to use. And when they get more food, they make more acids. Desserts and sodas, soft breads and chips, and sugary cereals—these foods make tasty meals for bacteria and they stick to your teeth. Eating a balanced diet without too many sugary and starchy treats means fewer acids—and fewer cavities!

  • Brush and Floss

Brushing at least twice a day helps get rid of the sticky plaque holding those cavity-causing bacteria. Flossing helps remove plaque where your brush has a hard time reaching, like the spaces between your teeth. Your dentist and hygienist can show you the very best ways to brush and floss to get rid of the most plaque.

  • Cavity-Fighting Treatments

Your dentist can also treat your teeth to help keep cavities from ever starting, especially if you’re someone who gets cavities more easily. Professional cleanings at our Fort Collins dental office and dental sealants are two ways to protect teeth from plaque and bacteria. Your dentist will have some ideas just for you.

Together, you and your dentist make a powerful cavity-fighting team. If you have any questions about keeping your teeth their healthiest, your dentist has the answers!

April is National Facial Protection Month

April 5th, 2023

facial protection

The Importance of Facial Protection

Americans from all walks of life should mark April as National Facial Protection Month on their calendars. The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, Academy for Sports Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons have combined forces to sponsor this annual campaign, which aims to educate and remind us of the importance of protecting our face and teeth against impacts and injuries.

Wearing a helmet can save your life and prevent devastating physical damage in a variety of situations, from playing football to riding a bicycle. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, helmets reduce the risk of various head injuries by as much as 85 percent. Whether helmet laws apply in your area or not, Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman and our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies want you to make sure you and your loved ones wear helmets with the appropriate safety ratings for specific activities. (A sticker on or inside the helmet will usually indicate this rating.) Helmets can also help save your teeth if they come with an attached faceguard, an essential addition for football players and others involved in contact sports.

Preventing Dental Injuries

A mouthguard can protect you against a variety of dental injuries, such as cracked, broken, or knocked-out teeth. The American Dental Association states that mouthguards play an essential role in preventing up to 200,000 dental injuries each year, and many states mandate their use for sports activities such as football and hockey. The Academy for Sports Dentistry warns, however, that these mouthguards must be custom-fitted as precisely as possible to prove effective. Have a professional-quality mouthguard molded and fitted by our team at Pediatric Dentistry of the Rockies for better protection than a generic store-bought or “boil-and-bite” variety can offer. These cheaper versions tend to wear out quickly, interfere with proper breathing, and provide uneven degrees of cushion against impacts. Always have a fresh mouthguard fitted for each new sports season.

Choose the right combination of helmet, faceguard, and mouthguard to protect your teeth and face this April, and tell your friends to do the same! To learn more about mouthguards, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman, please give us a call at our convenient Fort Collins office!

First Filling?

March 29th, 2023

fist filling

It’s your child’s first filling at our Fort Collins office, and perhaps you’re both a little nervous. Your child doesn’t know what to expect, and you want to make sure this is a positive experience. We have some suggestions that might help both of you!

  • Partner with Your Child’s Dentist

Because a pediatric dentist is a specialist in treating children and their dental needs, your dentist will have some suggestions for making that first filling a comfortable and comforting experience.

And because you’re the expert when it comes to your child’s needs, you can let Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman know about anything that might cause your child difficulty or anxiety beforehand.

  • Age-Appropriate Explanations Are Best!

It’s a good idea not to make any explanations too complicated. “Your dentist will help your tooth get strong and healthy again” might be all a young child needs to hear. And talking about drills or needles can be scary, especially when kids have no experience with dental tools and procedures.

A pediatric dentist can help you describe cavities and the filling procedure in an age-appropriate, non-scary way—and can recommend helpful story books for reading ahead of time!

  • Discuss Sedation Beforehand

If you think your child would benefit from light sedation options such as nitrous oxide or oral medication, talk to Dr. Van Tassell and Dr. Alleman about sedation procedures.

Your dentist will also have child-appropriate ways to talk about local anesthetics if they’re needed to numb the area around the tooth.

  • Tool Talk

Most adults are familiar with dental tools, but this will be a new experience with new sensations and sounds for your child. A pediatric dentist can describe what each tool is and what it does so kids are comfortable when an instrument is used.

Sometimes a tool can be noisy or vibrate. Some tools squirt water and some (loudly) suck water and debris away. If noises are a problem for your child, let your dentist know in advance, and ask about music or headphones to help minimize sounds.

  • Filling Material Concerns?

For molars, which bear the weight of chewing pressure, a silver-colored amalgam might be recommended. For a filling in the front of the mouth, a tooth-colored composite could be used to blend in. Fillings can also be made with gold or ceramic materials. A severely decayed tooth might require a crown, which is often made of stainless steel when used for a baby tooth.

If you have questions or concerns about the type or appearance of filling material, ask! Your dentist will be happy to explain which material is best suited to restore the appearance and function of your child’s tooth.

  • Getting Ready for the Appointment

Choose an appointment day with a light schedule and let your child dress comfortably. Ask if your child can bring a favorite toy or a stuffed animal friend for comfort.

Your mood will influence your child, so make the day of the appointment as stress-free as possible for the both of you! That’s why it’s a good idea not to talk about any dental fears you might have, or any discomfort your child might experience. Your child will pick up on your feelings, so projecting a calm and positive attitude will help.

  • Aftercare

Your dentist team will give you instructions for your child’s quickest, most comfortable recovery. These instructions include how to treat the extraction site, which foods are best, and over the counter pain medication.

It’s best not to plan strenuous activities immediately after a filling.

  • Partner with Your Child’s Dentist

Yes, we know we already talked about this, but it can’t be stressed enough. When your child has his or her first filling, in a way it’s your first filling, too! Your pediatric dentist is there to help you navigate this procedure and to help make sure that the experience is a positive one for both of you.

How Do We Clean Your Child’s Teeth?

March 22nd, 2023

cleaning your childs teeth

Baby teeth are very important to your child’s present and future dental health, so we want to help you keep your child free from cavities and gum disease even before those permanent teeth erupt. That’s why we recommend professional cleanings at our Fort Collins office—to keep plaque and tartar from damaging little teeth and gums.

But a dental cleaning might be a bit stressful for young children, especially when they’re not used to the steps, the sounds, and the sensations of the cleaning process.

So, just as we strive to make every examination and visit a positive experience for your child, we do our best to make their cleanings a happy, stress-free time. How do we do this? With your help!

  • Preparation

A happy experience begins even before your child arrives in the office. If you are relaxed and positive before an appointment, you’ll help your child feel relaxed and positive, too.

Explaining what goes on during a cleaning even before your visit will help your child feel more comfortable when unfamiliar tools like dental mirrors, scalers, and polishing brushes are used. You can talk about your own experience, read a book together, watch a video, or find online resources to help your child understand what will happen during your visit, and why cleanings are so important for happy, healthy teeth.

Sometimes children benefit from a form of mild, conscious sedation (such as nitrous oxide) when they have special health needs or dental anxiety. If you feel this is an option we should discuss, please talk to us in advance and we’ll answer any of your questions.

  • Pre-Cleaning Examination

After being made welcome in the office and settled comfortably in the dental chair, we’ll examine your child’s teeth and gums for any signs of plaque and tartar.  A small, handled mirror is used to check out hard-to-see places behind the teeth and in the back of the mouth. Gum health is also important, and your child’s gums will be examined for any signs of gingivitis, or mild gum disease.

Plaque and tartar cause cavities and gum disease, even for young children. Finding any trouble spots will let us know where to concentrate on cleaning, and where you can help your child to brush more effectively.

  • Removing Plaque and Tartar

No matter how well a child (or an adult!) brushes and flosses, plaque can build up in some hard-to-reach spots, especially between the teeth and along the gumline. And if plaque isn’t removed within a few days, it starts hardening into tartar—and tartar can’t be brushed away.

That’s why removing tartar is a job for a dental professional. Using a special tool called a scaler, we gently scrape built-up plaque and tartar off tooth enamel (especially where it tends to accumulate behind and between teeth) and near the gumline. Sometimes an ultrasonic scaler can be used to dislodge tartar with sound waves.

Scalers can make a scraping noise and cause some pressure, and ultrasonic scalers use a stream of water as they clean. We’re happy to explain, in an age-appropriate way, why tools make these noises and how they work to clean little teeth.

  • Polishing & Flossing

After the plaque and tartar are removed, your child’s teeth will be polished with a power brush and a special gritty toothpaste. This is usually a bit noisy as well. A careful flossing and a final rinse will wash away any leftover particles or paste.

Once the teeth are cleaned, you may choose to have a fluoride treatment or a dental sealant applied to your child’s teeth.

  • After a Cleaning

Your praise and encouragement are always welcome! Giving children praise for helping keep those little teeth clean, shiny, and healthy makes them partners in the process.

How do we clean your child’s teeth? Gently. Thoroughly. Expertly. We want to make sure each cleaning is just one of the many positive dental experiences your child will have in our office. Help us make your child’s cleaning appointment stress-free with positive preparation and reinforcement, and together we’ll start your child on the path to a lifetime of shining smiles and proactive dental care!