Summer of Smiles with CR Pediatric Dentistry

June 29th, 2021

Last weekend was the OFFICIAL start of summer! We’ve compiled some tips to make sure your summer is safe and full of smiles.

Just like we brush, floss, and visit the dentist to have healthy smiles, we also need to protect our skin by playing in the shade, wearing protective clothing, and applying sunscreen regularly.

We know that staying hydrated is an important part of day to day health, but it can also have a big impact on your kids’ oral health. We need to stay hydrated so that our bodies can create the saliva that washes away cavity causing bacteria. When we're playing hard outside, your kids may actually be thirsty when they are complaining of being hungry!!!  Reusable water-bottles to the rescue!

If you’re riding bikes, scooters, or skateboards be sure that your head is protected with a helmet. Check old helmets for damage and replace them every 5-10yrs to be sure the plastic is still solid and working right. Did you know that wearing a bike helmet reduces the risk of head injury by 50%? Let’s keep those smile holders intact this summer.

If you or your children haven’t received the COVID-19 vaccine, don’t forget to continue social distancing, hand washing, and covering our mouths with masks when in public, especially indoors (we're sooooo close to being done with this!).

Make sure your first aid kit is stocked with a kid friendly bug spray, antibacterial ointment, band aids, and hydrogen peroxide.

Protect your smiles by brushing for two minutes, twice a day. Limit sugary snacks, and visit our office every six months!

Most importantly, HAVE FUN! We have a download so that you can list and track the fun activities you have planned for your family.

Here are a few ideas if you need help getting started on your list:

  • Visit a national park
  • Make a WHOLE dinner over a campfire
  • Practice a random act of kindness for a stranger
  • Take a day trip to a place no one in the family has visited
  • Make a blanket fort
  • Make homemade ice cream
  • Brush your teeth after eating homemade ice cream
  • Go to a County Fair
  • Make homemade popsicles (fruit anyone?)
  • Check out a new bike or hiking trail
  • Sleep outside in a tent
  • Have a water balloon fight

What can you think of to fill it in??  We'd LOVE to see what your family has planned so bring it in to our office when you visit or share it with us on Social media! ❤️

Summer of Smiles To-Do List

Safe Travels! Holiday Travel Tips with CR Pediatric Dentistry

December 4th, 2020

During a typical November and December, millions of people gather around the table for a delicious meal and merriment. But as we know, this year has been anything but typical! If you’re planning on traveling this holiday season, here are some tips to help you and your loved ones stay healthy. We would like to emphasize that the surest way to keep everyone healthy is to stay home and celebrate only with the people who live in your home. We also realize that spending quality time with extended family and friends is important.

COMMUNICATION: The first step is clear communication. Whether you’re welcoming guests or traveling to see others, start a conversation about the precautions you’ll take and what kind of safety measures you plan to observe. For example...


GO OUTSIDE: If weather permits, eat outside! If it’s too cold to enjoy your meal outdoors, plan outside activities instead of indoor activities. Going on family walks is great ANY time, not just during a pandemic.


PRE and POST ISOLATE: Self isolate before and after your trip as much as possible to limit the possibility of spreading a virus. Remember that anyone can be an asymptomatic carrier of coronavirus!  Cutting down on socializing in your community helps protect the family you’re visiting. Staying home as much as possible after your visit helps protect your community from anything you were exposed to on your trip.  This is a season for kindness and thinking of others - social distancing and isolating when appropriate is the ultimate thoughtful gift!


DRIVE IF POSSIBLE: If you’re close enough, avoid the airport. Your interactions will be far fewer on a road trip than traveling by plane. Ventilation opportunities are far better, and you’ll have far more opportunities to introduce your children to the wonderful songs of your youth. ?


MAKE A PLAN: Make a plan for what will happen if someone does start showing symptoms of COVID-19.


CHANGE THE DATE: If it works with everyone's schedules, have get-togethers on the wrong dates! Try a Thanksgiving feast the weekend before or after Thanksgiving! Move Christmas Eve to January 2nd! Less people will be traveling, so there will be fewer people to come in contact with.  Hey - Christmas in July sounds nice too ?


SAYING NO IS OK: If you don't feel comfortable gathering around others, THAT'S OK! Tell your family and friends how you feel.  They will likely understand and may have the same concerns.  Holiday games and gatherings over Zoom or FaceTime won't be perfect, but you can make them more fun with some planning! Scavenger hunts, charades, there are lots of family games like these that can be virtually adapted.  You can cook together, eat together, and plan to ship gifts early for virtual opening!


Don’t forget to bring plenty of face masks and hand sanitizer, wash your hands as often as possible, and don’t forget to pack a toothbrush!  Cheers, and merry holidays to our patient families!

Phase One Re-Opening

May 14th, 2020


Hello!! We are so excited to see your smiling faces again starting next MONDAY May 18th
We have missed your kids a LOT and are very ready to start entering a new phase of this pandemic safely with our community. This has been a hard time for everyone – from not being able to play at the park and high five a friend to missing prom and graduation – and we feel for all of the families in our practice that adjusted to a “new normal.” Thank you all for your kindness and understand as our practice works to care for your kids!

We are beginning general patient care in PHASES and will be starting *PHASE ONE* next week. We are going to outline the changes our office has planned for upcoming visits so you know ahead of time and are prepared ??


  • That means things are not quite normal yet… but we have a plan! (insert super-mom bitmoji with cape ?)
  • Our *NUMBER ONE* priority is the oral health, safety and well-being of your child. We remain dedicated to high quality dental care from our Board-Certified Pediatric Dentists and staff. But this is new for everyone and dentistry may “look” different.


  • Lots of stuff! We’ll break it down into parts for you here. Get cozy … This will be a long one!
  • We’ve also attached a more “condensed” photo to this post if you need the quick gist.
  • We also have a little “FAQ” section down in the comments for your entertainment and information. If you have another question for us... fire away!


  • We’ll be staggering family and patient appointment times to avoid overlap in our clinic
  • We’ll be prioritizing some patients and some procedures that are more urgent
  • We are probably going to change your kids’ appointment times (FACE SLAP! ??‍♀️) – WE KNOW! This is very hard and annoying!! But we want to keep social distancing practices in the office, which means we need to see fewer people each day. And we have 8 weeks of cancelled patient visits to accommodate! Our staff may need cookies and smiles… virtual hugs work too.
  • Our goal is that your family will ONLY interact with necessary staff for patient care, and we are documenting everyone your child contacts
  • Only scheduled patient(s) plus one adult guardian will be allowed in the building. This is our new “Patient Plus One” policy. Adults will be asked to accompany the patient(s) back into clinic or will be asked to wait in their cars for treatment to be completed. Infants (under age 1) are not included in this count and should be in an infant carrier or stroller at all times.


  • All patients will be screened prior to arrival to our office!
  • 48 hours before your appointment date, you’ll receive an email with instructions to our Patient Portal (you can also get there from our website if you already have your log-in!) and receive a text message appointment reminder with instructions to check your email
  • ALL PATIENTS MUST COMPLETE ON-LINE FORMS BEFORE THEIR VISIT – this can be done on a computer, smart phone, or tablet. It’s quite easy!
  • If you don’t have an email on-file, contact our office. Your emails are secured on an HIPPA-compliant local server and are NOT USED for anything other than patient communication with our team.
  • If your forms are not completed, your child’s appointment will be cancelled
  • 24 hours before your appointment, our staff will call and confirm your appointment with you and review your screening questions. Some answers may require our office to postpone your appointment by 2 weeks. We will also review instructions for the next day!
  • Make sure your child brushes very well the night before and the morning of their appointment


  • Wait in your car and call our front desk to let them know you have arrived. A staff-member will then greet you at the door and escort you in.
  • Wear a cloth mask or face-covering into the building. This can be the same mask you wear to the grocery store or when out in public in the community! Everyone age 4 and older is asked to wear a mask. Your child’s mask will be removed when it’s time for treatment.
  • Any scheduled patient and accompanying adult will again be asked screening questions and will have a no-touch temporal (forehead) temperature checked and recorded
  • Everyone entering the building will be given hand-sanitizer before proceeding into the clinic area
  • All patients will then be escorted to the clinic area. The accompanying adult will either follow them to clinic or return to the car. We’ll let you know when your kiddo is done and escort them out!
  • Patients will be asked to rinse with an anti-microbial mouthwash (if they are old enough to swish and spit) or will have their mouth swabbed with a gentle sponge and the anti-microbial mouthwash. The American Dental Association recommends this before treatment starts!


  • Our NUMBER ONE priority is the oral health, safety and well-being of your child! This is always true, and we will not compromise our treatment and care ❤️
  • Because of regulations on procedure types and patient safety, we may not be able to do all of your kids’ planned treatment right now. That means new treatment plans or postponing appointments with “smaller” cavities may occur.
  • We may present less-invasive treatments for now. We may monitor something we had planned to fix. But we will not compromise the well-being and oral health of your child. In Pediatric Dentistry there are LOTS of acceptable treatment options! Even if our “perfect plan” can’t happen right now, eventually we will get there together.
  • If your kiddo is scheduled for a check-up and an exam, you may notice that we will use more “hand tools” and less “power tools” than before. Some of your kids may actually be very happy about this(?)!! We are still providing the same quality, standard-of-care as before, so don’t fret! It’s just more work for the Pediatric Dentist to do things by hand ?
  • When your child is done, they will be escorted to the check-out area and dismissed with you or brought out to your car to meet you. If we need to set up any follow-up visits or review payment or treatment options, we may do that by phone with you.


  • We are following ALL GUIDELINES from the American Dental Association (ADA), Iowa Dental Board (IDB), Center for Disease Control (CDC), Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). This is A LOT of new information and new stuff!
  • We’ve set up new protocols and guidelines for all staff members to follow in accordance with these guidelines. And if one guideline is stricter than what we “legally” have to do here in Iowa… we do the stricter one. Our community’s safety is a priority.
  • We’ve trained everyone on our staff and watched a lot of webinars and continuing education classes over the last 8 weeks! ?
  • Rest assured that our staff is ALSO screened daily for symptoms, will have daily temperature-checks, and are discouraged from non-essential travel. Any staff member with symptoms will be asked to go home and check with their medical doctor before they can return to our office.
  • We have no known staff exposures to COVID-19 and the at this time. If an exposure were to occur, we will contact the Linn County Department of Public Health and follow all instructions on how to proceed.
  • We’ll be wearing new PPE, including masks and face shields at all times. This protects your family and protects us! It is super important! For some procedures, we may even have gowns and special “respirator” masks. Oh boy – do we look silly!
    Our smiling faces are still under there with our stellar personalities – don’t worry! ?
  • We are cleaning all public surfaces continually
  • We are sterilizing and disinfecting all patient care areas continually
  • We have specialized HEPA filters in our treatment rooms and have verified the excellent air-flow with our building engineers in our new and updated offices. We are SO excited that both of our offices are so new and modern ?


  • During Phase One we are going to postpone appointments on any health-compromised patient and patients living in community-living arrangements. This is, again, using guidelines and standards from governing bodies.
  • We can do TELE-DENTISTRY by video conference or phone/photo combination. It’s kind of cool ? and very useful. It is secure and compliant with HIPPA privacy regulations. We will walk you through it! Some of you may have done this with other medical providers recently, too.
  • If you have ANY questions or concerns, contact our Pediatric Dental Team. We are happy to help! And if your child needs ANYTHING at all during this time or you have concerns about comfort, pain or treatment, please contact us. We always have a Pediatric Dentist on-call if something happens outside of clinic hours. And we want to address all of your oral health needs.
  • If your family DOES NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE coming into our clinic at this time, for any reason, that is OK! Let us know and we will make arrangements for a tele-dentistry appointment, phone consultation, or an appointment at a later date for you.
  • We really do miss you all and look forward to an upcoming interaction with your family! ❤️❤️❤️

Lucky Lists with Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry

March 19th, 2020

Well - this has been a weird week across the board!  COVID-19 is real and here and our lives are very different.  Things are new for families across the country.  But we are resilient and we will figure this all out together!  We can be lucky... right?

CR Pediatric Dentistry close to General Patient Care

This week, we had to close our doors to general patient care for the safety and well-being of our staff, patients and of our community!

Our office will STILL be here to manage emergent and urgent dental needs, so don't hesitate to call our office if something important comes up.

New Normals...

But we all have a little more family time on our hands, don't we?  We have kids with new expectations of what the "day" will be like.  There will be cuddles and crying; family game nights and time-outs; movies and school work... lots of changes.  We'll be here giving you ideas for snacks (try your best to set limits!!) and activities and to answer any dental questions you may have along the way!

We also thought, with this being St. Patrick's Day week, the world could use a little more LUCK and RAINBOWS right about now.

We've made this neat "Lucky List" for you and your families to sit down and do together some time this week.  Feel free to share yours back with us this weekend!  We'll be posting stuff from our families.  Here are some things we can share right now that we feel fortunate and "Lucky" for:

  • Surprise family time
  • Amazing acts of kindness around the community
  • FROZEN II on Disney+ (!!!)
  • Healthcare workers - doctors, nurses, schedulers - across the state working long hours preparing
  • FaceTime and Skype Playdates!
  • Family walks

What can your family come up with??  :)

Lucky List - CR Pediatric Dentistry


CRPD Lucky List PDF

COVID-19 UPDATE - Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry

March 15th, 2020




March 17, 2020                                                                                            RE:  COVID-19 Update


To our Patients and Families,


In the midst of this Public Health Crisis with the novel Coronavirus, we want to inform you of office and policy changes that Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry will implement beginning immediately.  We are making every effort to keep our patients, staff, and community at as low a risk as possible for spreading COVID-19.


We have followed guidance by the American Dental Association, Iowa Dental Board, Centers for Disease Control and Iowa Public Health Board.


The following policy changes have been made effective immediately:


  • Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry will cancel all non-emergent dental appointments until further notice. All appointments currently scheduled will be cancelled.  Our office will be contacting you directly to reschedule these appointments.  PLEASE DO NOT CALL TO CANCEL YOUR APPOINTMENT.


  • Emergent dental needs, such as facial and dental trauma, dental swelling, and pain may contact our office or contact the Pediatric Dentist On-Call. The dental need will then be assessed by the Pediatric Dentists and arrangements for care will be determined and made on a case-by-case basis.


  • In an effort to minimize the number of people in our clinic, families with emergent dental needs are instructed to bring ONLY the patient scheduled plus one adult or guardian for a total of “patient plus one” persons. Infants are not included in this count.



We will continue to follow all public guidance made by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Linn County and Iowa Public Health boards, American Dental Association, and Iowa Dental Board.


Thank you all!  Wash your hands! Practice social distancing!  Stay home and out of public spaces as much as possible.  Help us all work together to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community safe.


-Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry

Sarah Swenson, Teresa Geneser, and Ursula Diehl

COVID-19 Update Policy (PDF)

Let's Talk Children's Dental Health Month with Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry

February 6th, 2020

February is Pediatric Dental Health Month, and we’re excited to kick things off with some tips on keeping your family’s smiles healthy.

Modeling Behavior

Creating good dental habits for your children should start as soon as they wake up. Before breakfast, you should brush your teeth with your kiddos. When children are learning good habits, modeling the behavior can be beneficial. Let them watch you, and then work with them on their skills.

Brushing and Flossing

Start with a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Tooth paste amount is important for their safety and should be put on by a grownup until they are old enough.  One-year-olds should have a smear of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice. Three-year-olds and up can have a pea-sized ball of toothpaste.  Children will need help with brushing until they are about 7 years old or until they are finished with 2nd grade!  Brushing along gumlines is hard – and little wrists may have a hard time reaching everywhere.

Flossing is important because it removes plaque and food that is between teeth. Brushing can only go so far, and flossing does the rest of the job. It’s not only good for your mouth, but helps prevent bad breath, which makes morning cuddles with your kiddos much more enjoyable. Even if your kids’ teeth aren’t touching, you can still work on forming the habit from a young age. Because gums are sensitive, parents should be in charge of flossing until age 6 or 7when kids have better control over fine motor skills.

In addition to brushing and flossing twice a day, you can also take extra steps to protecting your kids’ teeth. The molar teeth are most susceptible to cavities for two reasons. First, their chewing surface have more pits and fissures than the rest of the teeth (they are the wrinkles and grooves on the biting sides!). This can make it more difficult for toothbrush bristles to clean the chewing surface. Second, the majority of chewing is done with your molars, increasing the chances of food and bacteria getting stuck and causing decay.

Preventative Options

To protect your children’s molars, we may recommend an application of sealant when they fully come in.  These grown-up teeth usually start to come in by age-6 for the first set and age-12 for the second set.  They are usually finished growing in about 2-3 years after they poke through, and a protective sealant on their biting surfaces can really minimize the chance of a cavity on these important grown-up teeth!  A report published in July, 2017 by the Cochrane Collaboration, a group that studies and analyzes health information, found that the prevalence of cavities was reduced by 51% in children whose teeth were treated with a sealant.  That’s a lot!  It’s one of the beneficial preventative things we can do to protect them.

Healthy Choices

Brushing, flossing and visiting Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry can help keep yoru teeth and gums healthy.  But it’s important to keep them healthy on the inside too! What you give kiddos for snack and what you put on your family’s dinner table has a big impact on their dental health. Be sure to include colorful fruit and vegetables in your family meals!  Be sure to visit our FaceBook Page HERE for more great snack and meal ideas for your family.


Let’s Talk About the ABC’s of Healthy Smiles - Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry

August 20th, 2019

With school starting soon, we thought it would be a good idea to go over the basics of happy, healthy smiles.  So here are the tooth ABC's:


-Always brush & floss twice a day!!

  • Lead by example and make oral care a family affair. Use a toothpaste with fluoride! Using fluoride is one of the greatest ways you can protect your child’s teeth from decay. Start brushing as soon as your child’s first tooth erupts. Starting at an early age helps to create healthy brushing habits. Don’t forget about flossing between teeth as soon as they’re touching. Otherwise, you’ll miss 40% of tooth surfaces! If you’d like a tutorial on how to help your child floss, we’re always happy to demonstrate at your next appointment. Make sure your twice daily brushing sessions last for two minutes. Follow us on social media for tooth brushing tunes to make this time more entertaining. Brushing for the duration of each song will make the recommended two minutes go by fast!


-Bring your child to Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry twice a year for a cleaning and check up.

  • This should starting when their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday. Twice yearly visits set a good foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles. The health of your child’s baby teeth plays a big role in determining the health of their adult teeth. Keeping their little chompers free from cavities and decay is also very important for their overall health. Starting by your child’s first birthday allows us to identify potential issues early. It also gets your children used to dental visits as a normal part of life. Our friendly office is designed to ease anxiety and normalize cleanings. If your child is nervous about visiting our dental practice in Cedar Rapids or Marion, you are welcome to schedule a time to just come in and say hello! We’ll show your family around and introduce them to our wonderful staff.


-Choose healthy food to grow strong bodies and teeth.

  • Healthy teeth and gums come not only from brushing, flossing, and visiting our Pediatric Dental Specialists at Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry in Eastern Iowa... It also comes from the inside! What you put on your family’s dinner table has a big impact on their dental health. The vitamins and minerals in healthy foods help strengthen enamel, and keep inflammation in check with their antioxidants. On the other hand, sugar and food that is known to cause decay will weaken enamel and cause cavities. When your family is indulging in candy, chocolate is always preferable to gummy, sticky candies which are difficult to get out of the grooves of teeth.  Pay attention to how OFTEN your family members snack or eat foods too... sometimes quantity of times they eat is more important than the amount of food they are eating too!  Ask our staff next time you are at Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry to discuss the role of diet in a healthy smile.
As always, call our friendly pediatric dentists and staff at Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry with questions.  We are always here to help!

Let's Talk About Child Abuse Prevention with Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry

April 15th, 2019

While April is known for showers and spring flowers, it’s also National Child Abuse
Prevention Month. President Barack Obama issued a Presidential proclamation in 2016
saying, “During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we recommit to giving every
child a chance to succeed and to ensuring that every child grows up in a safe, stable,
and nurturing environment that is free from abuse and neglect.” 2019’s theme is “Strong
and Thriving Families.” You may have noticed blue pinwheels while you’re out and
about: these are a symbol for child abuse prevention.
I know that this is a difficult topic, but it is a really important one and something we
should be talking about. It is important for us to be advocates for children and families
and to help them find the resources they need. Protecting children is everyone’s job.
The World Health Organization defines child abuse as “all forms of physical and/or
emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or
other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to a child’s health, survival,
development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.”
There’s a 2019 Resource Prevention Guide and Tip Sheets that deal with subjects like temper
tantrums, keeping your family strong, stress and finances, building resilience in your
kids and much more!
The following are six protective factors for families:
1.  Nurturing and attachment
2.  Knowledge of parenting and child development
3.  Parental resilience
4.  Social connections
5.  Concrete support for families
6.  Social and emotional competence of children
It would be wonderful if we could all commit to preventing child abuse and neglect and
remember that every child matters. Let’s stand up, not only for our children, but for all
children in our community with whom we come in contact on a daily basis. We can
make a difference by learning more about this difficult topic and loving, noticing, and
supporting those around us.

Let’s Talk Staying Healthy with Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry

January 23rd, 2019

Did you know that saliva is one of your body’s defenses against viruses and bacteria?

Keeping your mouth healthy helps keep your whole body healthy. Brushing, flossing, staying hydrated, and visiting the best kid dentist in Cedar Rapids, IA twice a year helps your saliva do its germ fighting job! In addition to keeping your mouth healthy, here are some little things with big impact to keep the bugs at bay.

Good hygiene habits like washing your hands often can help stop germs from spreading.

If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer. Washing your hands regularly reduces the chance of spreading respiratory and tummy bugs, so get your kids in the habit when they leave school, after play-dates, and before meals. The amount of time you wash your hands is also very important! 15-20 seconds of hand washing is recommended, so teach your children to sing Happy Birthday to themselves twice before they finish scrubbing.

If you are feeling sick, stay home!
Keep Cedar Rapids healthy by limiting interaction whenever necessary until you feel better. Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing and sneezing is also a great habit to teach little ones (Pssst - use your elbow!). Ask their teacher and day care providers if they have enough tissues and hand sanitizer for their classroom. We know that all of the teachers of Cedar Rapids Community School District, College Community School District, Lin Mar, Marion, Benton Community, and Clear Creek Amana School District will appreciate it! (Phew!  We cover a LOT of school districts with our patients :))

Germs enter our bodies through our eyes, nose, and mouth.

Keep hands from touching faces (including their own) as much as possible. Teach your child never to share a straw, cup, or toothbrush, and be sure to replace toothbrushes whenever someone has been sick. Get everyone at home on board with cleaning their doorknobs and room surfaces. Keeping sanitizing wipes or a spray bottle filled with kid-safe cleaning spray in plain site around the house is a great reminder to keep things clean and healthy.


Harley A. Rotbart, M.D., says that, ‘"Exercise is better than any advertised cure or miracle." His studies show that regular, moderate exercise can reduce the number of cold and flu episodes that occur over the course of a year by 25-50 percent, possibly by boosting the circulation of infection-fighting cells. Make sure everyone is getting physical activity (spend some time playing outside if it isn't too cold or running around the Play Station!), their recommended hours of sleep, is drinking enough water, and eating nutritious food.

Meals with plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables will help boost your child's immune system.

Look for foods rich in vitamin C (broccoli, strawberries, and oranges) and vitamin D (tuna, fortified milk, and cereals). Eating yogurt with active cultures (probiotics) can also help build defenses. All of the healthy kid recipes we’ve shared in the past year are a great place to start! See them all here!
Dr. Swenson, Dr. Geneser and Dr. Diehl and the rest of our care team at Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry wish you a very healthy and happy 2019!

Holiday Traditions Around the World with Dr. Geneser of CR Pediatric Dentistry

December 17th, 2018

Holiday traditions are everywhere!  And different places around the world celebrate in many unique and cool ways.


In Italy, gifts are given on the day of the Feast of the Epiphany. A kind witch named La Befana flies around on her broomstick delivering gifts through the chimney and filling stockings. Instead of the milk and cookies we leave for Santa Claus, families leave a plate of broccoli and sausage and a glass of wine for La Befana.

Ecuadorian families make a man made out of straw for New Year’s Eve. They write a will for the straw man that lists each family member’s faults for the previous year, then they burn the straw man and his will in hopes of letting go of those faults for the new year.
Many Asian countries celebrate Lunar New Year by exchanging red envelopes, or silk pouches with money. The exchange is said to bring luck to the giver and recipient for the new year. Another tradition is to clean your house before the Lunar New Year to sweep away bad luck. Families then wait a few days before sweeping after the celebration so that they don’t sweep away the good luck from the paper wrappings, firecrackers, and wrappers on the floor.
In Portugal, instead of a traditional Nativity scene, families build the entire city of Bethlehem beneath their Christmas Tree - sometimes it's the size of an entire room!  The Manger scene is accompanied by shepherds with sheep and animals in fields, village people doing laundry, people dancing... anything you can think of.  People will visit door to door with neighbors, family and friends to see each other's "Pesebre" creation.

Hindu families celebrate the Diwali Festival of Light in November. The triumph of light over darkness is celebrated with feasts, community performances, and exchanging of gifts. The celebration honors Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and gifts given during the five day festival are symbols of luck and future good fortune. The Diwali Festival also bring together politicians and community leaders and has become symbolic of inclusion and peace.

In Austria, Santa has an evil counterpart named Krampus. He is said to roam the streets to frighten children. He rattles chains and bells and whisks away naughty children. YIKES!
In Columbia December 6th is celebrated as the, ‘Day of the Little Candles.’ To honor the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception, candles are placed in paper lanterns in windows and front yards.
In Caracas, Venezuela, church goers wear roller skates to Christmas Eve service! The streets are closed so that the skaters can take over the roads on their way to mass. Do you think the Cedar Rapids Police Department would be okay with us closing the streets on December 24th this year?  Hmmm...

In Iceland, 13 mischievous characters called the Ice Lads come out to play. In the 13 days leading up to Christmas, they leave treats in the shoes of good children, and rotten potatoes in the shoes of bad children!

In Japan it has become a tradition to have a feast from Kentucky Fried Chicken on ChristmasEve.

In Wales, from Christmas to mid-January, groups of people go out caroling with one person dressed as a dead horse. Excuse me?

To welcome good luck in the new year, Ukrainian families decorate their Christmas trees with spider webs. There is a story of a poor family who had no money to buy decorations. When they woke on Christmas morning, they found that spiders had spun beautiful webs to decorate the
What are your family traditions? What do you love about the holidays in Iowa?

Gratitude with Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry

November 25th, 2018

The topic of GRATITUDE seems to be everywhere this month. Why is it important? How do we
incorporate it into our kids’ lives? Why is a Pediatric Dentist office in Cedar Rapids
talking about gratitude?
Robert A. Emmins, Ph.D. is a professor of psychology and gratitude expert at UC Davis who
has spent years researching how gratitude practices impact overall mental and physical health.
He has found that people who are grateful have higher self esteem, are more resilient, less
retaliatory, and happier overall.

Attitude of Gratitude

-Set up a gratitude station at your house for the holiday season. Create the
opportunity for people to share with their family members what makes them feel grateful
about them. For ours, we put a piece of Kraft Paper on the wall and then taped a lunch bag for each
family member onto it. We put some index cards and pencils on the table below and voila! A
place to reflect on gratitude and share those feelings with the ones we love most. It could also
be as simple as putting a notebook in a common area for everyone to share what they’re
grateful for.

Gratitude scavenger hunt

-Explore kid friendly areas of Cedar Rapids in teams of two and make
sure each team has a camera or camera phone. Give everyone a list of photos to hunt for
related to things that make them feel grateful. Examples: Find something that makes you happy.
Find something that makes someone in your family smile. Find something that you love to smell.
Find something that is your favorite color. Find something you are thankful for in nature. Find
something that you can turn into a gift for someone else. After your hunt, have everyone share
the treasures they captured.

Family Research Project

-Take advantage of family get togethers and turn your kids into investigative journalists! Have
them ask family members about what they’re grateful for and record their answers using your phone.

Flip it Around

-Take a recent negative experience (a bad grade, a lost game, a behavior that could
put you on Santa’s Naughty List) and create a positive narrative around it by focusing on
lessons learned.
Example: On our last visit to Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry (Cedar Rapids’ best dentist
for kids - wink wink) we had a cavity that needed to be fixed. We learned that getting a filling
isn’t as scary as we thought, and that we need to spend more time brushing, flossing, and eating
healthy foods so we don't get any more cavities!
As you can tell, we want the kids of Cedar Rapids to be healthy physically and mentally.
Practicing gratitude leads to lots of smiles.

Let's Talk Candy with Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry

November 2nd, 2018

Halloween has passed ... and thus begins the onslaught of the holidays with all their treats and candies. It can be hard to navigate this as an adult and with your children. Below are a few full simple rules to help keep you and your teeth healthy during these times of celebration.
  • It’s okay to eat candy and treats ... in moderation.  It's important to teach our kids that sweets are ok SOMETIMES.
  • Frequency is more important than Quantity... Any time you eat a treat (or any food), your mouth becomes coated in sugars for about 20-30 mins.  The bacteria in your mouth eat those sugars and release an acid that lowers the pH in your mouth and damages your tooth.  This is called acid attack, and it happens whether you eat 1 candy or 20 candies in that 20 minute period.  Eat treats once then brush your teeth and don't have any more until next week!
  • Be picky when candy is sticky! If it’s hard to get off of your teeth, skip it.
  • Hard candies can break your teeth and take longer to eat. They bathe your teeth in sugar for a prolonged period of time. This lowers the pH of your saliva and the sugar fuels the bacteria that causes cavities – a perfect storm for decay!
  • Sour candies are acidic. They can actually burn your tongue. They also decrease the pH in your mouth putting your teeth at risk for extra cavities.
  • Chocolates, especially dark chocolate, are one of the better candies for your teeth because they wash off easily!  They’re also delicious and one of our favorite treats all year round!
  • If you want to indulge, do so right after meals! (Like a dessert.) You are less likely to binge and eat too many sweets. And the increased amount of saliva from your meal will help rinse the candy sugars off of your teeth.
  • Snacking often on candy during the day increases your risk for cavities, and it’s not great for your diet.  Remember... frequency is important!
  • Pick your favorites and donate the rest! Senior centers, churches, and many other community centers would probably love to take unopened treats!  You can also mail them to military members.  (Or just throw them away.... Shhhh, the kids don't have to know!)
  • Drink more water.
  • Stay away from beverages with added sugar like juice, soda pop, or sports drinks.  The candy treats already has enough sugar in it!
  • Enjoy the treats and make them something special!
The holidays are fun, and you only get to be a kid once. It is okay to indulge occasionally. What matters more is consistently brushing
your (and your kids’) teeth twice a day for two minutes, flossing once a day, and visiting us twice a year.
Dr. Geneser and Dr. Swenson let their toddlers have some candy treats during the holidays too. We're happy that we have family and friends
who love them and want to spoil them. As parents, we like to indulge them occasionally too. But we try to limit the amounts they get, and we always make sure to brush and floss their teeth well on days when they have special treats.  Teaching little ones when it's ok to have sweets and how much is appropriate is an important life lesson.
This time of year, it can also be a lot of fun to give away things other than candy to those sweet little peanuts of ours. Try bubbles, play dough, pens and pencils, slinkies, stickers or tattoos, and slime - all kid favorites!
We enjoy you all and hope that your holiday season is as sweet as you and your little ones are! We are here for you!
Call us anytime at (319) 364-2413 (Cedar Rapids) or (319) 377-5155 (Marion)

Let's Talk Halloween Safety with Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry

October 14th, 2018

Frightening Fact:
Halloween night sees two to four times as many child pedestrian deaths than any other night of the year. We want to make sure your little ghosts and goblins are safe and informed and encourage you to speak with them about halloween safety. This blog post will cover some talking points for you and your children to discuss, and also some things parents can do to make sure the kids in their community have an injury free night!
Most of the tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and a couple were thoughts of by Dr. Swenson, Dr. Geneser, and Dr. Diehl.  Here is a Swenson Family Dress-up Picture to get us all in the mood!
1) Make sure that your child’s costume isn’t longer than their ankles, or where their pants would normally hit. Doing this will help avoid trips and falls, and will decrease the chance of a jack-o-lantern candle igniting the fabric of their costume.
2) Check to make sure your costumes use flame resistant fabric.
3) Consider drawing or painting on pumpkins instead of carving with a knife - the pumpkins will be less of a fire risk and will last longer! Dr. Geneser's family made these pumpkins this year:
4) If you do carve your pumpkins, use a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle inside to reduce the risk of fire and burns.
5) Opt for face makeup instead of a mask that can make it difficult to see. Be sure to test the face makeup a few days before halloween to make sure that skin doesn’t react badly, especially if you or your little have sensitive skin.
6) Make sure that your yard is free of sticks, hoses, toys, cords, and other tripping hazards. Check that all of your lightbulbs are working and that your pets are in a secure place.  Have a talk about being cautious of other people’s yards, walkways, and porches as well.
7) Establish a meeting place in case anyone gets lost or separated.
8) Put a post it note or business card in your child’s Trick-Or-Treat bag just in case they are separated and need to call you. Also include the Cedar Rapids Police Department Non-Emergency phone number. (Pssst... the number is 319.286.5491)
9) Put a flashlight in your child’s Trick-Or-Treat bucket for dark areas of your neighborhood.
10) If your children are old enough toTrick-Or-Treat by themselves, plan a route with them and review it a few times before they leave. Set a curfew. Stress the importance of staying in a group on well lit streets and sidewalks.  (Safe Kids, a non-profit dedicated to preventing protecting kids from unintentional injuries says that children under 12 should NOT  Trick-Or-Treat alone) 
11) Make sure everyone eats a good meal beforehand! Try one of the delicious and healthy Halloween meals we’ve shared on social media this month:  www.facebook.com/crpediatricdentist

Let's Talk Carseats - Staying safe in the backseat!

October 7th, 2018

New Carseat Guidelines from the AAP!

Since the leading cause of death for children over 4 years of age is motor vehicle crashes, we decided to take a closer look at car seats and safety. The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) just came out with an update for their "Recommendations for Car Seats for Children" on August 30, 2018. Here are some of the highlights of the new recommendations:

  • All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible - up to age 4 if your car seat can accommodate your child appropriately!!
    • Most can safely handle children up to 35-50 lbs and many can go up to 75+ lbs!
  • All children who have outgrown (weight or height) a rear-facing car seat should use a forward-facing car seat with a harness for as long as possible.
  • All children whose weight or height is above the forward facing limit for their car seat should use a belt positioned booster seat until the vehicle lap and shoulder belt fit properly (at 4’9” in height and around 8-12 years in age).
  • Older children should always wear the lap and shoulder seat belts.
  • All children younger than 13 years should sit in the rear seats of vehicles.

If you prefer to see a flow chart, click here.

There are several excellent resources to help out parents as they try to decide what car seat is right for their child. Below we have listed of some of our favorite resources.·

You can also stop by the Cedar Rapids Fire Department to have your car seat checked for proper installation!  Be safe friends!

Eat the Rainbow and Care for your Teeth!

March 7th, 2018

Hello all!  This month, we'd like you to explore foods and nutrition with us!

Taking care of your teeth from the inside is just as important as taking care of them on the outside. Brushing, flossing, and dentist visits are so important, but so is eating nutritious food. This month, we'll be Eating the Rainbow, and hope you'll join us! See below for an "Eat the Rainbow"; tally sheet for you and your family to keep track of all of the colorful fruit and vegetables you eat this month. We'll be sharing our favorites too.

cedar rapids eat the rainbow

We've also included a March tooth brushing calendar!  Use it to keep track of your family's good brushing habits and to help encourage our little ones to work hard and brush and floss every day!

crpd march chart

Let's Talk Toothpaste! with Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry

January 11th, 2018

Let’s talk toothpaste

with Dr. Terry Geneser of CR Pediatric Dentistry

in Cedar Rapids, Iowa


Fun fact; people have been using material to clean their teeth since 500 B.C.. It started with crushed burnt hooves and egg shells. Thankfully, things have improved since then and we now have a wide assortment of toothpastes to choose from.

Ingredients in ‘natural’ and ‘conventional’ toothpastes are very similar. The choice comes down to your kids taste preference, and your preference with how they’re flavored and dyed. For this post we did a super scientific CR Pediatric Dentistry experiment (just kidding, we just went to Target on Blairsferry Road and looked at the labels. Ha!) and compared Colgate’s Strawberry Smash Toothpaste, and Tom’s of Maine Silly Strawberry.

To start with, for the happiest smiles (and happiest kid dentists' in Linn County), make sure there’s fluoride in your toothpaste. In fact, among the many shared ingredients between the two toothpastes we compared, the most important is fluoride. Fluoride helps prevent painful cavities and decay by strengthening the outer surface of your kids' teeth, helping keep a healthy and strong smile. Most kids who have fluoride in their drinking water AND use a toothpaste that contains fluoride are getting a sufficient amount to prevent issues. You can see if it’s in your drinking water here:


In the past, some have said that fluoride toothpaste should only be used for kids old enough to know how to spit into the sink. However, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend fluoride toothpaste be used from the start - and we here at Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry agree! The amount recommended varies depending on age.

A tiny smear amount - the size of a grain of rice - should be used for kiddos two and under. This amount is SAFE if ingested. However, you should start encouraging your child to lean forward so they can practice the idea of spitting at an early age.  Once they get to the age of two, it’s easier to tell them to spit their toothpaste out, and they can have a pea sized amount of toothpaste (they may not be perfect spitters until they reach kindergarten!  So no worries if it still gets swallowed - a pea sized ball of toothpaste for children over two years old is still SAFE!)

If your kids have a sensitive mouth, or you notice that they’re resistant to brushing their teeth, try switching things up! It could be that a more conventional brand has an abrasive or detergent that is too harsh for them. It could also be that they prefer one flavor over another. Sometimes it's a texture thing - there are gel-based (smoother) and paste-based (grittier) options out there!  Maybe they need a superhero or animal on the tube?! Take a trip to the store together the next time you’re ready to re-stock! Giving your kiddos say in their toothpaste decision can be empowering, and make them more willing to keep their twice daily tooth brushing schedule.

The toothpaste we use at CR Pediatric Dentistry is Crest Kids' Sparkle Fun. Dr. Geneser and Dr. Swenson both likes it because it is bubble-gum mint flavored (a good mix that most kids like!) with a fun name and fluoride to keep that smile healthy.  You can get samples at your next check-up!

[video width="1440" height="1080" mp4="http://www.cedarrapidspediatricdentist.com/assets/uploads/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/toothpaste-gif2.mp4"][/video]

Plaque HD Toothpaste: Let's find these germs!

October 13th, 2017

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Brushing off plaque can greatly reduce your risk for cavities and gum disease!  But it can be really really hard to do.  Why?  Plaque is white and fuzzy, and on a white tooth, it's very hard to see.  It usually hugs right along gumlines, where little ones and teenagers don't like to brush.  And plaque is super sticky stuff!  It takes a while to brush it all off.

As Pediatric Dental Specialists, we have been frustrated at the lack of good dental products to help show kids and grown-ups where these plaque germs are being left behind.  Moms and Dads - do you remember when you were little, we use to chew on those red tablets that turned our mouths pink where the germs were?  That was great, right?!  We could see the germs!  Well - those plaque disclosing tablets are hard to find (though you can find them here if you're interested) and the red dye stains counters and sinks.  There used to be a great over-the-counter mouth wash called "Agent Cool Blue" that would turn the germs blue before you brush - but Listerine has stopped making it.

Frustrating, right?!  How can we show kiddos where the germs are and help them brush better?  Well, Cedar Rapids Pediatric Dentistry has started working with Plaque HD - a company that has designed a toothpaste with plaque disclosing built right in!  It's really easy and has two yummy flavors (Mint and Bubble Gum Berry).  You can get tubes directly from our office at any time!  Tubes are also available online at the company's website: www.PlaqueHD.com .  The tubes are large and should last a while at your home, and even grownups can use it to see their germs!  Using this toothpaste can make brushing more effective and more fun for everyone.  It keeps kids brushing longer and in the right places, and it's easy for parents to step in and demonstrate because grownups will see the germs too!

Follow the simple instructions above!  Each tube will have instructions enclosed.  This is a real game-changer for oral health and we are so excited to be able to offer it to our families.  If you have any questions about this or any other oral health product, don't hesitate to ask one of our pediatric dentists or any of our trained staff members!

And for any nerdy parents out there, or those that would like more information, here are links to a few great studies showing how the use of this product can help your family achieve better oral health outcomes!




Electronic Forms

September 6th, 2017

We have updated our software system!  Parents and guardians will now receive TEXT MESSAGE CONFIRMATIONS for upcoming appointments (YAY!) with the time and location of your visit.  Parents can also FILL OUT FORMS FROM HOME before check-up visits!

1 week before your scheduled dental check-up, grown-ups will receive an email asking to fill out forms - these include:

  • Health History
  • Accompany Forms (for other grown-ups to bring the kiddos)
  • HIPPA updates
  • Consent forms
  • New Patient forms

You can also view account information and update anything that looks incorrect (like phone numbers, addresses, or emails) or review previous bills.

Why the update?

Filling out forms before your appointment is especially important to do if your kids are older and bringing themselves or if someone other than a legal guardian is bringing the children!

If you do not fill out forms before you come, don't worry!  You can still fill them out on our tablet at the office... AND IT'S BETTER!  Our tablet system is updated and much more user friendly.  We promise :)

To receive and email with link to forms, we will need an email address on file.  If you don't think you've ever given us one, feel free to call in and update your information over the phone!  Once you've received an initial log-in email, you can always review your account or update forms by following the patient forms link from our website.

If you fill out forms at home, YOU WILL STILL BE HANDED THE TABLET TO SIGN IN TO YOUR APPOINTMENT.  Don't get upset.  Just sign in, verify who you are, and you should be all set.  We promise!

Our Favorite Parts...

What's our favorite part?  Well, the text messaging is pretty great.  BUT our new health history form is integrated! (And also very detailed - which makes Dr. Terry and Dr. Sarah very happy.)  This means that after you fill it out for the first time, your answers will be remembered.  You won't have to list 3 medications or 2 allergies, or all of your kiddos' medical conditions on there.  Every. Single. Time.  The first time you fill out this form it may seem lengthy (but easy!).  But every time after, when you log on, you will be told:  "Hey!  It looks like Johnny has Asthma and takes Albuterol and has No Known Allergies.  Anything else change?  Want to add anything new?"  Ta-Da!!  Done.

Please let our staff know what you think of our new system or how you would like it changes or adapted.  Call our office at 319-364-2413 to update us on changes to your email address or new cell phone numbers that you would like to receive text message confirmations on.  Thank you in advance for all of your patience while we enhance our system.  And thank you for being such great families  :)

A Mother's Day Message...

May 14th, 2017


We know how busy life can be.  We know because we are parents, too!

Thank you for letting us help you care for your children.  Thanks for letting us give them high fives and hugs.  And thanks for helping them feel brave even when they're scared.

And THANK YOU for taking care of your children's health - mouths included!  Thank you for picking healthy foods and drinking lots of water.  Thanks for taking away snacks even when your kids get mad at you.  And thank you for helping their mouths stay healthy and clean.

Being a mom (or a dad!) isn't an easy job.  There are a lot of tears and hard choices.  But there are hugs and kisses, too.  We hope you get a lot of those last two this weekend!

And come visit us soon :)