Dentistry Toys Make Oral Health Fun!

Do you have a budding dentist at home? A child with a fear of going to the dentist or brushing their teeth? Or maybe you just want to teach your children how to care for their teeth. Whatever your motivation, there are many tooth-themed toys and games out there you may not know about that can make oral health fun!

If you’re looking for a way to make dentistry fun for your kids, check out these cool dental-themed play products.

Thinkmax Play Dentist Set

For the future dentist, the Thinkmax Play Dentist set is available on and contains 15 pieces, including play picks, mirror, toothbrush and even a smiling set of teeth. The pieces come in a cute retro medical bag for storage, so your little one can make house calls without losing all the pieces in the process. This set would be great for kids who both want to be a dentist or are afraid to go to the dentist. Parents can demonstrate how the tools will be used on their child on a favorite toy, showing the child exactly what the dentist does, and how gentle their exam will be.

Crocodile Dentist

This clever and fun game isn’t as educational as some of the other dental toys, but it sure is fun! Kids can press the teeth of the crocodile at each turn, and one unlucky player will get their hand chomped by chance. The “teeth” don’t hurt when they bite, but they definitely can take you by surprise!

Play-Doh Drill’N Fill Set

Another fun game for the orthodontist- or dentist-in-training is the Play Doh Drill’N Fill playset. It comes with a mouth, dentist tools and plenty of Play-Doh to use for making everything from teeth to braces. We let a 4-year-old try it out and it got two thumbs up (they especially loved making green teeth)!

Playmobil Dentist with Patient

Playmobil makes a wide variety of toys for every walk of life, but the company’s dentist with patient playset is great for kids who want to play dentist without having to be the dentist themselves. In addition to the dentist and the patient, the set comes with a chair, dental tools, dental equipment and pretty much everything your child will encounter at their own dental exam.

The Toothless Monster

The Toothless Monster is an adorable plush toy that “grows” teeth each time your child loses a tooth. The toy comes with a book about why it’s important to care for your teeth. It’s not meant to replace the tooth fairy tradition, but it teaches children to help others while keeping the experience of losing teeth positive.

Whether your child loves caring for their teeth and visiting the dentist or is apprehensive about these experiences, these toys can help make oral health fun, and hopefully encourage your child to take control of their own oral hygiene.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Lesko, please call 970-812-0355.

The Surfaces of the Teeth

There may be two sides to every story, but your teeth? Way more sides! And all those sides on our teeth mean there are many surfaces that need care. Have you ever heard your dental team calling out strange-sounding medical terms as they check your teeth? Chances are they are calling out the surfaces of the teeth to identify the location of fillings, decay, chips and more. If you’ve ever wondered what exactly they were talking about, here’s a guide to the surfaces of your teeth.

Buccal: The word buccal literally means “cheek,” so the buccal surface of your teeth is the surface that touches the cheek, or the surface on the cheek side of your jaw. The buccal sides of the teeth are smooth with the exception of what is known as buccal pitting.

Occlusal: The occlusal surfaces are the biting surfaces of the back teeth. Misaligned occlusal surfaces give you what is known as a bad bite or, in technical terms, occlusions or malocclusions. Bad bites can cause difficulty chewing, jaw pain and uneven tooth wear. Occlusal surfaces are not smooth and have pitting and grooves along them.

Lingual: The lingual sides of your teeth are the sides that touch your tongue. Your tongue is responsible for speaking and language, hence the term “lingual.” Lingual surfaces are also smooth like their opposites, the buccal sides.

Incisal: The incisal surfaces are the biting surfaces on the front teeth. Incisors are smooth teeth. We have a total of eight incisors, including our “two front teeth.”

Mesial: Mesial surfaces are the surfaces closest to the midline of the face.

Distal: On the opposite side of the mesial surface lies the distal surface. The distal surface is the surface farthest from the face’s midline.

Proximal: The proximal surfaces are tooth surfaces that are next to each other.

Now that you have a better understanding of the names and locations of each tooth surface, you can better understand some of the dental lingo you might hear at Dr. Lesko’s office during your exam. This can help you understand not just what Dr. Lesko and her team are talking about, but it can also help you describe and locate any trouble areas on your tooth to share with the team during your exam.

Ready to make an appointment and get all those sides cleaned? Give us a call at 970-812-0355.

Teigen Under Fire Over Toddler Teeth

Supermodel and blogger Chrissy Teigen came under fire recently with her social media followers after posting a photo on Instagram of her 3-year-old daughter Luna’s first trip to the dentist. The so-called crime? Many followers are chiding Teigen for waiting so long to take the toddler to her first checkup – a checkup that many experts (and social media trolls) agree should occur between the ages of 6 months and 1 year. But did Teigen really mess up here? When is the right age to bring a child to the dentist, and how big of a deal is it to wait a little bit longer?

“Well, unfortunately, in this case the trolls are correct,” says Dr. Allison Lesko. “Ideally you should bring your child to their first dental exam by 6 months or whenever their first tooth erupts – whichever comes first.”

Lesko is a family dentist practicing in Fort Collins, Colorado, and says despite the general age requirements, it is up to the individual parents to decide when to bring their child to their first dental appointment.

“The sooner you can get your child in to the dentist, the better,” she says, “but many parents end up waiting until their child is walking and talking.”

Lesko says part of the reason parents should consider bringing their child so early is that it helps eliminate some of the odontophobia, or fear of the dentist, that many kids experience.

“When you know what to expect at the dentist’s office, it can be a lot less scary,” Lesko says.

Lesko says the first appointment is generally well tolerated by most children, as it is generally minimally invasive and easygoing.

“We might count the teeth and practice brushing them with the child,” she says. “It’s all very gentle and child friendly, but it helps the child feel comfortable with going to the dentist and with having someone besides a parent’s hands in their mouth.”

According to Lesko, this is very important because it can set children up for a lifetime of excellent oral health habits.

“When your child isn’t afraid to go to the dentist, it will be easier to get him and her to not only go back to the dentist, but to take care of his or her teeth during the rest of the year,” she says. “Oral health never becomes something scary or optional – it just becomes a way of life for the child, and that’s what we want.”

As for Teigen, Lesko says she wouldn’t worry too much.

“Many kids don’t end up in my chair until around that age, and they’re just fine.”

Selfies and Oral Health

You hear about them all the time in the news – people getting in trouble for taking them, people getting hurt while taking them, even people taking lessons on how to take them. They’re those photos we snap of ourselves with our smartphones known as “selfies.” But while some people are quick to decry the selfie culture that we as a country have adopted, selfies, for all their controversy, can still do some good in the world.

A recent study conducted with researchers in India and at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine found that tooth-brushing behaviors changed when participants took selfies while brushing their teeth.

“First the participants were re-trained on how to brush their teeth properly by the researchers in the study,” says Fort Collins, Colorado, dentist Dr. Allison Lesko, “and then they were sent home with instructions to record themselves via video or selfie brushing their teeth.”

The participating university students submitted two weeks’ worth of brushing selfies to the researchers in the project for analysis, and what the researchers found was nothing short of fascinating.

“They found slight modifications in the photos and techniques captured in the selfies,” says Lesko.

So what do researchers think motivated these changes?

“The researchers believe the participants modified their techniques because they knew someone was watching, but also because they were actually trying to improve their brushing technique to the new way they were taught to brush in the study,” she says.

According to Lesko, that’s good news.

“It showed the researchers that these participants wanted to make positive changes, and that the snapping of the selfies was kind of a motivator to stick with that – because they knew in a sense that someone was watching them while they brushed,” Lesko says.

Lesko says that while the study was small, there are still some very important takeaways. For example, the idea that photographing yourself could help positively reinforce a new behavior such as a better way to brush your teeth. Another benefit?

“You can bring those selfies to the dentist with you and have your own dentist evaluate your brushing technique,” she says. “If you’re doing something wrong or inefficient, we can give you pointers or lessons and you can conduct your own home study like the one that Case Western conducted and see if taking selfies while you brush changes anything about your own brushing technique.”

Navigating Allergies at the Dentist

For parents of children with food allergies, navigating life can be a major challenge. Having to read labels and package inserts for products most of us take for granted can be stressful, frustrating and downright scary. Still, many parents must go out of their way to educate themselves about what ingredients are in these products and how they affect their child – something that is made even more difficult when you add in everyday stressors like work and family. Even the most vigilant parents can miss things. That’s what happened when one family missed the dairy-based ingredient added to their severely milk-allergic daughter’s prescription toothpaste, an omission any parent could relate to.

The family, from California, received a prescription for a special fluoride toothpaste for their daughter. Unfortunately, their 11-year-old had a severe milk allergy, a condition the family was well versed in. They considered the problem well managed, but in a move that would later prove fatal, they did not check the ingredients on the new toothpaste. Unfortunately, their young daughter had an immediate reaction at first use and died at the hospital later that night.

“It’s a devastating loss but one we don’t encounter often,” says Dr. Allison Lesko, a dentist from Fort Collins, Colorado, who did not treat the family.

Lesko says that while the accident is a rare occurrence, there are safeguards parents can take to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

“First, let your dentist know what allergies your child has, either on your medical intake forms or as a verbal reminder at any treatment,” says Lesko.

Another sound practice that the young girl’s family got right?

“Stay prepared,” says Lesko. “The parents in this case had an epi-pen and inhaler on hand for emergencies. They did the right thing by administering these medications to try and save their daughter.”

Keep these emergency products in close proximity to a child with life-threatening allergies at all times, and make sure the products have not expired between uses.

“Familiarize yourself with rescue product expiration dates and make sure to replace them before they expire,” says Lesko. “Add it to your calendar or set a reminder on your smartwatch or phone.”

Last, do what the child’s family had grown accustomed to doing over years of managing their daughter’s allergy.

“Learn the names of ingredients to rule out possible contamination,” says Lesko. “In the case of this young woman, her toothpaste contained Recaldent, a milk-based protein.”

Both Lesko and the victim’s family encourage parents to ask questions of any practitioner who is prescribing a medication.

“You never know what could be in a product – and you should never be afraid to ask. Even if your practitioner doesn’t know, we can find out for you,” says Lesko.

Some People Actually LOVE Going to the Dentist

Contrary to the immense fear and dread constantly portrayed in the media about the general public’s feelings toward dental visits, many people don’t mind going to the dentist, and some even say they genuinely enjoy it! Why, you may ask? Let’s get down to the details and find out what makes some Americans love dentists and all they stand for.

The American Dental Association actually surveyed people and got some pretty solid, direct quotes as to why they love the dentist.

One respondent said, “I have a great smile and great teeth. Well, let me clarify. That’s what I’m told when I go to the dentist, and that’s also why I like going. I get a lot of compliments.”

Who doesn’t enjoy compliments?! If you take great care of your teeth, a dental visit can help you feel like that hard work and commitment is paying off!

Another survey respondent said, “I like the goodie bags because they have the GOOD floss. It doesn’t get stuck between my teeth like the cheap stuff.”

We all love freebies!! Remember how cool getting those goodie bags from the dentist was as kids? Well, adults still enjoy the reward they get after a successful checkup. It’s even better when something in the bag turns out to be one of your favorites.

Another respondent, Brita, agrees:” I LOVE the goodie bags. I save every travel-size tube of toothpaste … for travel. Dentist bags are my preferred swag bags.”

“I love having the evidence of my sweet tooth totally scraped and scrubbed off, and then I get to leave with the freshest, cleanest feeling in the world,” said one patient surveyed. “What could be better?”

It IS a wonderful feeling when you rub your tongue over the fronts of your teeth after a dental exam and cleaning. It’s also nice knowing your teeth are incredibly clean and healthy. Some types of plaque can’t be removed without professional tools, making your regularly scheduled dental exams and cleanings incredibly important.

If you haven’t been to the dentist in the last six months, it’s definitely time for your next checkup and professional cleaning. Call us today at 970-812-0355 to set up an appointment.

Put Down the Plaque Scraper!

When you go to the dentist, you get to see firsthand all the tools it takes to remove built-up plaque, food particles and bacteria between teeth; clean the surface of your teeth; and even polish and protect them from future decay or disease. It makes sense that after your dental checkup you want to adopt as many of these techniques as possible at home to help keep teeth healthy and clean in between your six-month checkups and cleanings. While we love the enthusiasm many of our patients have for self-care, there are some things best left to the professionals!

A plaque scraper, also known as a dental scaler in the dental industry, is a metal tool with sharp edges used to remove plaque and tartar from the surfaces of your teeth. Many stores have begun selling them to the general public without realizing that it could actually cause harm to the teeth when not used by a trained dental professional such as a dental hygienist or dentist. These dental professionals spend years in school learning techniques and safe ways to remove plaque without harming healthy gum tissue.

When someone without training uses a dental scaler or plaque scraper, it’s incredibly easy to damage the gums and even cause gum recession. This happens when the gum begins to pull away and sensitive parts of the root of the tooth are exposed. Many people have also damaged their cheeks, tongue and mouth tissue using a plaque scraper or dental scaler without proper training and technique.

We absolutely want you to take great care of your teeth between dental checkups and professional cleanings. But leave the plaque scraping to us! If it has been more than six months since your last professional cleaning or you are simply concerned about tartar or plaque buildup, please call us today and we would be happy to talk to you about how we can help. Give us a call at 970-812-0355.

What Does that Dental Professional Do?

When it comes to oral health professionals, there are a lot of different types of specialists out there. For the average patient, it can be confusing to figure out what type of oral care professional they actually need. For those who are confused about what these dental specialists do, here’s a closer look into the world of oral health professionals!


An orthodontist is probably the most easily recognized type of dental professional besides a dentist. Orthodontists are dentists who receive additional training to learn how to straighten the teeth and correct the bite using orthodontic devices, such as braces, expanders and retainers. Many dentists offer orthodontic services, but most orthodontists do not offer dental cleanings and exams.


An endodontist is a dental professional most people really don’t want to have to see. The endodontist specializes in what is considered one of the scariest dental procedures: the root canal. Thankfully, a root canal sounds a lot scarier than it really is; in fact, it’s not scary at all, especially at the hands of a skilled dentist or endodontist. Endodontists are truly experts in root canals, receiving years of additional training just on that one procedure.


A periodontist specializes in the care and treatment of the gums. If you are diagnosed by your dentist with periodontal disease or another gum infection, you may be referred to a periodontist for further treatment. A periodontist may also treat gum recession and perform gum-grafting surgical procedures.


A prosthodontist specializes in treating dental and facial problems that result from missing teeth. Prosthodontists receive an additional three years of dental training beyond dental school. Prosthodontists specialize in dental implants, dentures, crowns, bridges and any other prosthetic teeth that help restore the shape of the face and the function of the teeth and mouth.

Maxillofacial Surgeon

A maxillofacial surgeon works with the soft tissues of the face and jaw, including the gums, lips, cheeks and other surrounding muscle and tissue. Maxillofacial surgeons can perform a variety of dental surgeries, including tooth extraction and cleft palate procedures. Here’s an interesting fact: Maxillofacial surgeons are the only medical professionals who can provide every possible level of sedation besides actual anesthesiologists!


Dentists provide cleanings, dental exams and even minor surgical procedures. Hopefully your dentist is the only dental professional you will ever need, but if you’re concerned about any dental issues, your dentist is a great first stop to have it checked out. If your dentist can’t cover it, she will refer you to a qualified specialist who can.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Lesko for a cleaning or for any other concerns you may have, please call 970-812-0355.

They Found Teeth Where?

There are some places we expect to see human teeth. In our mouths, for one. Maybe even a picture of them in a dentist’s office, or on a box of toothpaste at the supermarket. But these people got a lot more than they bargained for when they found teeth – a lot of teeth – in some very unexpected places.


Sedation Dentistry Helps Calm Patients’ Anxiety

One of the most commonly dramatized fears portrayed in sitcoms and movies is the fear of the dentist. While most people don’t suffer from the paralyzing fear played up by actors on television and the big screen, many of us do suffer from anxiety ranging from mild to severe when it comes to having our teeth cleaned, examined and potentially worked on. Sedation dentistry offers new hope for those whose anxiety is actually getting in the way of receiving the oral health care they need.