New year = healthier habits

Ahhh. We’re into the new year and talk continues about resolutions and plans for the year. Many parents may be thinking about fitness and nutrition. Weight loss goals certainly abound in early January!

But as you think about resolutions and goals for 2020, consider flossing. (No, not the dance – though, that’s good for physical exercise!) Aim to floss between your teeth at least once a day. And ensure your children floss daily as well. (First Impressions recommends helping children floss their teeth until they are about 10).

In fact, flossing should begin as soon as a child has two or more teeth next to one another. This seemingly simple habit is integral to good dental health. Regular flossing removes plaque and food particles, and may help prevent cavities.

For adults, flossing also helps prevent gum disease, an inflammatory response which can wreak havoc on your entire body.

So as you look at your 2020 goals, consider your dental health and setting a good example for your children. Get flossing… and keep smiling. Happy New Year!

Braces-friendly Halloween treats

October is National Orthodontic Health Month, so the timing is perfect to share some ideas for braces-friendly treats this Halloween!

Those with braces and other orthodontic appliances should stay away from gooey, sticky, and hard candies such as caramels, taffy, licorice, and suckers.

So what is the best sweet stuff to hand out? Choose soft, melt-in-your-mouth chocolates like chocolate bars, M&Ms, and peanut butter cups. Not only will they be a much-appreciated treat for those with wire brackets and other orthodontic appliances in their mouths, but they rinse away from teeth easier than other sweet treats, which is good news for all ghosts and goblins (not just those with braces).

You may be wondering whether you would really encounter many trick-or-treaters with braces? You may. Children should have an orthodontic evaluation no later than age 7. (By then, they have a mix of primary teeth and permanent teeth, and a pediatric dentist can spot problems with emerging teeth and jaw growth.) And orthodontic treatment often begins between ages 8 and 14.

So celebrate this Fall holiday with some ortho-friendly treats (and don’t forget to brush and floss). Happy Halloween!

Appleton office on the move

Did you hear the news? First Impressions Pediatric Dentistry in Appleton is relocating to a brand new office on Evergreen Court!

That’s right; beginning on Thursday, May 23, our pediatric dentistry patients will be seen at our new location: 3950 Evergreen Court. (Evergreen Court is just off of Evergreen Drive. Take the N. Ballard Rd. exit off of I-41.)

You may be wondering whether this is a second Appleton location. No. We are simply relocating to a brand-new, larger office.

In fact, we’ve outgrown our current space and are expanding into a larger office to better serve our patients.

Kayla Saiberlich, Administrative Team Leader for First Impressions, explains that the office’s open concept will be expanded, and in a much larger scale. “This open concept will help create an even more interactive flow between staff, and it will also positively affect our patients.” She continues, “The hygiene area is full of natural lighting, which is just awesome for our patients.”

Will there still be a play area? Of course! All of the things that you and your family have grown to know about First Impressions will be present in our new office.

Will our phone number change? No. To reach us by phone, you may still call 920-734-4649. You may also request an appointment online.

We are looking forward to many, many positive pediatric dental appointments in our new office. We remain as committed as ever to our mission: to provide comprehensive oral health care for infants, children, adolescents and patients with special needs delivered in a state-of-the-art, child-friendly environment.

We were also featured on Go Valley Kids at

Meet our orthodontists (and brothers)

When it comes to First Impressions Orthodontics, we like to keep it all in the family – literally. Our orthodontists are brothers. 🙂

Dr. Jeff Foster sees patients in our Wausau, Rhinelander, and Medford offices. Dr. Mark Foster sees patients in our Weston, Plover, and Shawano offices.

Mark says, “I actually don’t see Jeff all that often because we work in different offices, but we discuss treatment plans and techniques on a regular basis.” He continues, “It’s great to have Jeff working at First Impressions because we can easily pick one another’s brains.” Jeff agrees, explaining that he doesn’t really work alongside Mark, yet they discuss treatment plans frequently. “It’s comfortable to have a discussion with my own brother,” says Jeff. “We have similar opinions and value each other’s feedback.”

These days they are exceedingly cooperative and complementary. But it wasn’t always that way. Mark explains, “Jeff was a typical older brother. We shared a room so there were fights, and we were both very competitive, especially in athletics, which sometimes led to some ‘battles.’ But overall we got along.”

When you ask anyone on the First Impressions team what sets them apart, they all say the same thing: they have opposite personalities. “Jeff is much more outgoing and talkative, whereas I am more quiet,” explains Mark.

However, it’s their striking similarities that are a source of strength for First Impressions. “Mark and Jeff are similar in the way they care for their patients, and in their practice philosophy,” explains Arnie Knox, Operations Officer for First Impressions. “They both put their patients’ care first.”

And they’re both quick to discuss how rewarding their career is; they love to see the confidence emerge in a patient whose smile has been straightened. “It’s rewarding to see the changes that occur from start to finish during treatment – not only in a patient’s smile, but also in their comfort level,” says Mark.

Together with their parents Syd and Kathy and older sister, Sara, Jeff and Mark grew up in Delavan, Wisconsin. Mark calls this small Southern Wisconsin town of 6,500 a “tight-knit community” and says he’s still good friends with many of the people he grew up with.

Though they each attended a different university for their undergrad studies, Jeff and Mark both chose Marquette University to complete their Doctorate of Dental Surgery, specializing in Orthodontics. They also both completed their Orthodontics Residency there as well.

“It’s great to practice Orthodontics with someone who has had the same training,” says Jeff. “The modalities are all the same.”

Now, they’re both happy to have settled in the Wausau area.

Jeff, his wife Carrie, and their children enjoy outdoor activities, especially soccer, skiing, and fishing. He also loves coaching his kids’ sports teams.

Mark and his fiancée Heather also both enjoy being outside (especially in summer), and like gardening. They also really enjoy traveling together. “We are both of the mindset that we would rather have memories than material possessions,” he says. They are tying the knot this month.

First Impressions is grateful to have two Dr. Fosters, and appreciates their dedication to their patients.

Too many children using too much toothpaste

Many young children are using more toothpaste than is needed. Is your child one of them?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a study indicating that nearly 40 percent of the three- to six-year-olds studied were using more toothpaste than recommended by dental professionals.

Swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can cause dental fluorosis, a condition causing discoloration of teeth including white lines and streaks. Fluorosis only affects children because damage only occurs while teeth are developing under gums.

How much toothpaste?

First Impressions reminds parents that children three years and older should use a pea-size squeeze of toothpaste.

Children under three should only use a small smear of toothpaste – like a grain of rice. Use an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth erupts.

Pediatric dentists also urge parents to understand that the study reminds parents of the proper amount of fluoride toothpaste to use. They should not to stop using fluoride toothpaste altogether.


Other trends

Interestingly, the CDC also discovered that nearly 80 percent of children studied began brushing their teeth later than recommended. The American Association of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD) recommends that parents begin brushing their child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts. Sometimes this happens as early as six months, but usually not past one year old. Yet only about 20 percent of the parents included in the report said they helped their child brush their teeth by age one.


One caveat: the report relied on parents self-reporting the information. The researchers did not directly observe the brushing technique and toothpaste use of the children. It’s possible that parents may misinterpret how much toothpaste their children are really using.

How old should children be before they brush without supervision? Parents should stick around until at least age six.

Welcome Dr. Joe

Like our patients, First Impressions is growing! We are excited to announce the addition of Dr. Joe Jackson to our practice. He is now accepting new patients at our Wausau and Plover locations.  

Dr. Joe practiced pediatric dentistry in both private practice and for a regional health consortium in Juneau, Alaska, before calling Wausau home.

 He was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His love of the Midwest began while pursuing his Doctorate of Dentistry from the Indiana School of Dentistry. He also quickly realized he enjoyed working with children and completed his Masters in Pediatric Dentistry at The Ohio State University while completing his residency at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

In 2012 Dr. Joe received the Richard C. Pugh Award for scoring in the top 3% of candidates taking the written specialty exam. He is active in the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, and the Wisconsin Dental Association.

He is looking forward to helping local children establish healthy dental habits. “Early healthy habits can set children up for a lifetime of healthy smiles,” he explains. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a dental appointment when the first tooth appears, or no later than baby’s first birthday.

He and his fiancée Jenn and are excited for all the outdoor recreational opportunities the area offers. In his free time he enjoys rock climbing, CrossFit, meditation, and reading.

Dr. Ned Markey and team assist Panama mission

Dr. Ned Markey of First Impressions’ Wausau and Medford locations, and two of his dental assistants, Connie Brown and Lindsey Frahm, recently returned from a remote jungle region of Panama after providing dental care to children. 

Markey and his assistants, along with his wife, Molly, and their three daughters, took part in a mission for the organization Floating Doctors.

For a week, Markey and his assistants provided dental services to children in several remote villages of the First Nations peoples, Ngäbe-Buglé, of Panama. Dental care is almost impossible for them. In addition, access to toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental hygiene supplies is almost nonexistent, and increasingly sugary diets result in severe dental issues being ubiquitous throughout the region.  

Markey and his team provided services from extractions and fillings to cleanings and dental hygiene education. They funded the trip entirely on their own, including all travel costs, and donated the materials they used during the mission.

Floating Doctors points out that, “over 80% of the world’s population lives within five miles of a coast, but far too many communities still live in remote poverty without access to basic health care. Poorly-charted waters and rugged terrain, political factors, social disenfranchisement, poor health knowledge, poverty, and lack of infrastructure separate these communities from care.” The Floating Doctors medical team, along with volunteers such as Markey, Brown, and Frahm, answer these challenges to health and deploy medical teams by boat.

They had talked about volunteering for a long time. Markey says they decided on this particular organization and location because the need is significant, Spanish is the language of the region, and the area is tropical and mountainous while also being relatively safe. He adds, “I wanted to help kids that really had no other hope for seeing a dentist.”

When asked why he and his wife took their children along on this week-long immersive experience, Markey says, “I want my kids to experience what life is like outside of our little Wausau, Wis. bubble, and the USA. I want them to appreciate hard work and the amenities that we enjoy here at home.” What a great opportunity for that this was. All participants stayed at the Floating Doctors medical support base on Isla San Cristobal; the headquarters is an off-the-grid remote facility located on a mangrove island, relying on solar power, rain catchment and filtration, and bio-treatment of waste. There is no air conditioning, but electric fans and mosquito nets were provided for every bed. The kitchen is run by a team of women and men from the neighboring village of Valle Escondido. 

For more information on Floating Doctors, visit

What is a pediatric dentist?

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to keep your children healthy and happy. Thankfully, when it comes to your children’s dental care and taking care of that precious smile, there are pediatric dentists available to provide the best care possible.

So what exactly is a pediatric dentist, and what do they do?

What sets apart pediatric dentists from general dentists is their training. Pediatric dentists received additional instruction on managing pediatric oral conditions, in addition to 2-3 years of specialized training in children’s behavior, growth, and development. This specialty training allows them to develop a deep understanding of the care of children. The pediatric dentists at First Impressions recognize no two children are alike. We approach each patient individually – and identify and address your child’s specific needs and personality.

You’ll also find that the atmosphere inside a pediatric dentist office is tailored toward kids, from the furnishings to the demeanor of the hygienists and assistants. At First Impressions, everything was designed to make going to the dentist an anxiety-free experience – from the brightly-colored walls and child-sized furniture to the iPads in the waiting room. “Because children are our sole focus, we make sure that everything we do is tailored to their needs and comfort,” says Dr. Tom Turner, Pediatric Dentist and Owner.

All of this is done so you can be confident your children are given expert care in a patient and understanding environment. Having positive experiences at the dentist in childhood helps establish a lifelong healthy approach to regular dental visits. And that’s something to smile about!