Tooth-friendly snack guide

When you reach for a snack, how much thought do you give to your dental health? First Impressions recommends planning snack times to include more foods that won’t cause cavities and fewer foods that cause cavities easily. Read on to help navigate tooth-friendly snacking!

General snacking guidelines

First and foremost, water is the beverage of choice. Children should sip on water after every meal or snack. This helps to rinse away the sugars from foods so that they aren’t on teeth. Also, try to avoid sticky foods and foods that are high in sugars and/or carbohydrates. Download the kid’s tooth-friendly snack guide.

Tooth-friendly snack guide

So what are the BEST Tooth-friendly snacks/foods for kids?

Some great snack-time choices are raw, crunchy veggies (such as broccoli and carrots); cheese; and nut butters — like peanut butter on celery sticks. These foods generally do not cause cavities. (There are always exceptions, especially conditions like dry mouth, acid reflux, and genetic abnormalities).

There are also “usually won’t cause cavities” foods

The following foods have the potential to cause cavities if meal and snack times are not organized (the sugars won’t stay in contact with teeth for long with organized eating habits): whole milk, fresh fruit (crunchy is best), yogurt, and dark chocolate.  Many of these can even satisfy a sweet tooth without causing too much harm.

Foods that cause cavities easily

Foods that are high in sugars and/or carbohydrates should be snacked on infrequently. Some of these are expected, like cookies and soda. But some may be surprising, like fruit snacks and pretzels. Fruit snacks are sticky and stick to teeth — literally keeping sugars on your tooth’s surface. Also, anything processed is not good for teeth. This goes for pretzels, which are also unfortunately high in carbs. We’re not saying you can never give these foods to your children. These are just occasional “treats.”

Important prevention tips

Just as adults, children should brush twice daily for two minutes.  Parents should help them brush until they are about 6 years old. And as soon as children have teeth that touch, they should floss as well. Schedule an infant screening exam with your pediatric dentist by age one.

When should a child first see an orthodontist?

Ahhh, age seven. It’s the age of cartoons and coloring, bike-riding and … braces? Possibly! A child’s first orthodontic consultation should ideally occur around age seven. Many people are surprised to hear this, as braces are still synonymous with the teen years.

But around age seven, children have a mix of primary (baby) teeth and permanent (adult) teeth. Malocclusions — teeth that are not aligned properly — often become noticeable around this age as the permanent (adult) teeth erupt. And treatment that begins while a child is growing helps produce optimal results. A pediatric dentist can spot problems with emerging teeth and jaw growth early.  

Once they identify malocclusions, the pediatric dentist will recommend that the child see an orthodontist (no referral is needed). Fortunately at First Impressions, both pediatric dentists and orthodontists work in the same location, allowing for seamless communication and treatment.

An orthodontic consultation is a free appointment in which an orthodontist will examine a patient to evaluate whether treatment is necessary. If needed, a free diagnostic digital screening X-Ray will be taken.

Of course, not all children who see an orthodontist early will have braces early. But for those who need them, early intervention can reduce future length, cost and complexity of treatment and also lead to the most ideal end result. For children with significant malocclusions, early intervention can also mean a boost in self-confidence!

For more information about the importance of an early orthodontic check, visit  

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!

Healthy smiles in pregnancy and infancy

Pregnancy is such an exciting time! As an expectant mother prepares for the birth of her child, she considers how her choices impact her unborn baby. While there are many important considerations to make, good dental habits not only help you prevent problems during your pregnancy – they can also affect the health of your unborn child.


Your nutrition can directly affect the development of your child’s teeth. What you eat during the nine months of pregnancy affects the development of your unborn child – including their teeth. Your baby’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth month of pregnancy, so it is especially important to receive sufficient amounts of calcium, phosphorous, and Vitamins A, C, and D.

Dental health and potential complications

During pregnancy, your body’s hormone levels rise considerably. This may result in red, puffy, or tender gums that tend to bleed when you brush your teeth. Be sure to contact your dentist if you are concerned. S/he may recommend more frequent cleanings during your second trimester or early third trimester to help you avoid problems.

Studies indicate that pregnant women who have periodontal (gum) disease may be at increased risk for pre-term delivery, which in turn increases risk of having a low-birthweight baby. Continue to see your dentist regularly for oral exams and professional teeth cleaning. Be sure to inform your dentist that you are pregnant (or are planning to become pregnant soon).

After baby’s birth

Baby’s here! Yay! After getting accustomed to numerous feedings, changings, and attempts at catching naptime (!), and as you settle into a new routine, include wiping baby’s gums in your routine. A damp washcloth or wet piece of soft gauze will wipe away any sugars left behind after each feeding.

Your baby’s first set of teeth – the primary or “baby” teeth – will begin to erupt about six months after birth. Unfortunately, these little pearly whites are susceptible to decay as soon as they appear in the mouth. Schedule your child’s first pediatric dentist appointment after the first tooth pokes through (and no later than the child’s first birthday). Studies show that children who visit a dentist by age one have 3.5 fewer cavities.

Moreover, strong, healthy primary teeth help your child to chew food, learn to speak clearly, and give your child’s face it’s shape and form.

Your child’s first dentist appointment

Consider your child’s first dentist appointment a “well-baby check-up” for their teeth. You will discuss feeding habits, care of teeth, and any concerns you may have. The appointment will include a cleaning while your child is in your lap. A pediatric dentist will examine your child’s teeth and mouth.  

In addition to the valuable conversation regarding diet, habits, and prevention of decay, early dental appointments also help establish a positive relationship between your child and their dentist! This rapport may set the stage for a lifetime of good dental habits!

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 braces-friendly Halloween 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.

Early pediatric dental care important

Adults know they should brush and floss twice daily, and see their dentist every six months. But many young parents aren’t aware of when their children should begin seeing a pediatric dentist.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a dental appointment when the first tooth appears or no later than baby’s first birthday.

(Similar to a pediatrician, pediatric dentists and orthodontists specialize in oral health for children from infancy through adolescence. Pediatric dentists attend two additional years of specialized training in children’s behavior, growth, and development.)

This first visit is full of valuable information about the proper way to clean infant teeth, feeding habits, and pacifier use. First Impressions calls this protocol Best Care. This conversation between dentist and parent/caregiver sets toddlers up for greater success when it comes to their dental health and healthy habits as they grow. Establishing healthy habits early is integral to preventing decay and maintaining oral health.

This first appointment also includes an exam. Thereafter, exams are typically only needed yearly until the child reaches age three.

This preventive care pays off both in the short-term as well as long-term. In fact, a 2014 study reported by Pediatric Dentistry confirms that children who visit a dentist by age one have 3.5 fewer cavities.

So let’s support young parents. Share your knowledge and encourage a dentist visit before their child blows out that first birthday candle!

Check out Dr. Joe’s interview with WSAW Ch 7,

First Impressions named “Best Pediatric Dentistry Practice”

Global Health & Pharma (GHP) magazine has named First Impressions S.C. the Best Pediatric Dentistry Practice 2018 — Midwest USA. GHP announced this distinction as part of their Oral Health & Dentistry Awards. We are very proud to be recognized as experts in our field!

In order to be considered for the award, we provided written responses to several questions about our pediatric dentistry practice, the industry, trends and challenges, and what makes us different.

GHP selects winners based on merit, including those most deserving for their ingenuity and hard work. “The aim is showcasing the achievements of enterprises associated with this vital sector to global health,” says Edward Faulkner, Awards Coordinator for GHP.

Dr. Tom Turner expands on what sets First Impressions apart. He explains, “Everything was designed to make going to the dentist an anxiety-free experience – from our brightly-colored walls to the child-sized furniture. As pediatric dentists, we have received advanced training in managing pediatric oral conditions, in addition to the behavior, growth, and development of children.” He adds, “Our entire office is committed to providing the best care possible for our patients.”

We are grateful to have earned other awards in the past. In 2013, we received the Northwoods Hero Award. Four of our partners were named Wisconsin Small Business Person of the Year in 2012, including Turner, Dr. Corey Brimacombe, and Dr. Josh Spiegl. Turner was named America’s Top Dentist in 2007.

He continues, “All of our dentists are dedicated to maintaining the highest levels of accreditation and remain up-to-date in our fields by frequently attending courses and lectures on a variety of topics. We have presented locally as well as internationally. First Impressions pediatric dentists are advocates for children and their oral health care experience.”

GHP is a quarterly magazine published by AI Global Media Ltd. To learn more about the working practices of the “best of the best” in health industries, visit To see their complete awards feature on recipients of the Oral Health & Dentistry Awards 2018, visit