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Why does my child need phase 1 braces?

Have you been told your child needs braces? Was “Phase 1” braces recommended? At Grand Dental Group, we pair with the specialists at AIM Orthodontics to determine if a pediatric patient would benefit from two phase or single phase orthodontic therapy.

Let us help explain why Phase 1 treatment is becoming more common among young children:

For nearly all children, our orthodontists recommend an evaluation by the age of 7-8 years old. Changes in orthodontic treatments and philosophies over the past couple of decades now encourage early intervention when possible or indicated. It is common for orthodontists to recommend “Phase 1” braces, or early treatment that starts around the ages of 7-9 years. This initial stage assists the child’s growing and developing jaw to form properly and creates more space for future adult teeth to erupt. Oftentimes, Phase 1 can eliminate or reduce the need to have adult teeth removed or other oral surgery. In addition, Phase 1 can prevent a future bite alignment problem from developing, guide teeth into the correct position as the jaw is growing, and improve the aesthetic appearance of the child’s smile. Treatment during Phase 1 may include the placement of brackets and wires, space maintainers, palate expanders, or retainers. What is appropriate for your child will be determined by your orthodontist or braces specialist.

Phase 1 generally lasts 6 -18 months for most patients. Once this is completed, the braces or appliances may be removed for a period of time. In some cases, the orthodontist may place a space maintainer, wire, or bar to hold the position until more baby teeth fall out. When the child is older, preteen or teen years, the second phase of treatment will begin.

Phase 2 orthodontic treatment may run about 12-24 months, depending on the patient’s needs. This phase will move permanent teeth into their final position. It is at this point that parents will be able to appreciate the finished, improved cosmetic appearance and function of their child’s bite and smile. In addition, Phase 2 helps grow the confidence and self-esteem of teens.

Patients that are most likely to benefit from two phase orthodontic treatment are those who have:

Although these conditions seem to cover nearly all patients who would benefit from orthodontic care, not all patients need two phase treatment. When your child visits his or her orthodontist, the doctor will determine what is best. Be sure to ask your orthodontist why two phase treatment is preferred and recommended. Also inquire as to what the benefits or drawbacks may be. Most orthodontists, including AIM Orthodontics, accept insurances and offer payment plans, among other financial arrangement options.

If you have questions or would like to know if your child is eligible for Phase 1 or 2 orthodontics contact Grand Dental today at any of our five locations in Aurora, Lake Zurich, Wilmington, Sycamore, Franklin Park, or Channahon, IL.

February is Children’s Dental Health Month

In recognition of this, the staff at Grand Dental Group has some tips for parents and kids to keep their pearly whites in tip top shape. Good, basic oral hygiene is the foundation for a lifetime of excellent dental health. The more that parents and children focus on establishing good habits at a younger age, the more likely a child is to have positive experiences in the dental office and fewer significant long-term dental needs.

Setting guidelines for basic oral hygiene and good overall health provides an excellent foundation for children and young adults. Kids learn best by mimicking their parents, so of course Grand Dental Group providers recommend that parents also practice what they preach!

What are the common causes for tooth decay in babies and toddlers?

Although cleaning the teeth of a squirming infant or toddler isn’t always an easy task, cavities don’t generally pose a concern for most young children. In fact, it is unlikely that your child will develop significant cavity issues unless certain circumstances are present. Because most infants and toddlers have a diet that is lower in sugar than older children, teens, or adults, the risks of decay due to sugar content is low. In addition, babies and toddlers produce copious amounts of acid-neutralizing saliva ( due to teething) which further lowers their risk of decay. Since teeth are just newly erupting or have only been in the mouth exposed to sugars and bacteria for a few months to a couple of years, it is unlikely that dental decay will be an issue.

However, some factors do significantly increase an infant’s risk of caries or tooth decay. The most notorious culprits are sippy cups and bottles. Bottles and sippy cups filled with milk or juice allow a small child to continuously expose their new teeth to sugars and acids. Drinks given with meals or snacks are not the concern. The problem occurs when children are chronically sent to bed or laid down for a nap with their sippy cup or bottle. The occasional nighttime bottle is nothing to worry about. But babies or toddlers who have become used to taking a cup or bottle to bed are at a high risk for dental cavities. This problem is so significant that it is actually referred to as “baby bottle tooth decay”. Although breast milk also has sugars necessary for brain development, nursing infants and toddlers generally don’t see this same type of tooth decay.

In cases of baby bottle tooth decay, dentists often see cavities form on and in between front teeth. Cavities that form in back teeth are often caused by food stuck in teeth. However, decay on the front surface of anterior teeth are almost always due to chronic use of milk or juice filled sippies and bottles. Parents can best avoid this by reducing or eliminating the amount of times a child goes to bed with a bottle or sippy cup. If your child is already used to this habit, breaking it can be difficult. Try diluting the juice with water and increasing the amount of water vs. juice over time. Milk can be harder to dilute, but the lactose in milk is just as likely to cause cavities as the fructose in fruit juices.

If you are weaning your child off the bottle or cup at night, try removing the item once your child is asleep. If possible, wipe their teeth clean with a gentle cloth. Encourage the use of teething brushes as well. Early childhood decay is almost always caused by the sugars found in milk and juice. Eliminating the overnight bottle or sippy cup use is your best defense against infant and toddler tooth decay. If you notice any stains or pits in your child’s teeth, see your pediatrician or pediatric dentist as soon as possible. Children should have a “well dental” check up by the eruption of their first tooth, or their first birthday, whichever comes first.


Top Fun food that promote good oral care for kids

Getting kids to eat healthy foods is a challenge for most parents. Even when parents are diligent about providing nourishing meals and snacks for their children, unhealthy or cavity-causing sweets and treats are everywhere!

The Grand Dental Group dentists and hygienists who are parents understand this dilemma and have some ideas for other families. Eliminating or reducing the amount of times your child is exposed to unhealthy snacks will help their oral health immensely. Once a child gets taste of juice or pop, water is no longer their drink of choice. Once kids taste fast food chicken nuggets or chips, grilled chicken and veggies are forgotten. But making food fun can change your child’s attitude about healthy snacks.

Today, Pinterest is a great social media site to visit for endless ideas on how to make your child a healthy, but fun snack. Cheese wedges become mice, apple slices become a giant turkey, and every dinner plate looks like a work of art. But for those of us who lack the time, energy, or creativity to make snack time a masterpiece, there are some basic and easy fun options for healthy, tooth-friendly foods:

There are some popular snacks that parents should know are not always the best for your child’s teeth. Dried fruits such as raisins are laden with sugar and can get stuck easily in teeth. Chips, pretzels, and even those cheese fish crackers taste great, but all contain carbohydrates and contribute to decay. Plain popcorn is pretty harmless, but beware of those pesky hulls that can wedge in between teeth and down into gums. When in doubt, ask your dentist or pediatrician what his or her recommendations are. And check online to get creative presentation ideas for your child. As most parents know, how a food looks is more important than taste for some kids!

Baby teeth are important for many reasons. Aside from allowing infants and toddlers the ability to chew their food and nourish their growing bodies, baby teeth are space holders for future adult teeth. Dentists know that caring for your child’s teeth is an integral part of their overall health. Keeping baby teeth clean and decay-free will set the stage for a life time of good oral hygiene and pleasant dental experiences. If a baby tooth does decay or form a cavity, the tooth should be restored as soon as possible. Parents often wonder why they should fill baby teeth if they are just going to fall out. The answer is, some baby teeth do not exfoliate until a child is in their early teens. A decayed baby tooth may become infected and cause the child pain, or worse, develop into a serious, systemic infection. Removing a baby tooth before it naturally falls out can cause future orthodontic problems such as crowding. Parents can avoid many of these problems by following some basic tips and guidelines.

Halloween is this weekend and parents often want to know what Halloween candy and treats are best for their children’s teeth. Parents also want to know what candy to avoid, if possible!

The hygienists and dentists at Grand Dental Group explain that the best candy are the types that are eaten quickly and dissolve rapidly in the mouth. This reduces the amount of time that sugar sits on the teeth. Sugar exposure causes cavity-forming acids to linger in the mouth. Sugar and acid are part of what causes dental decay. The worst types of treats are ones that are eaten slowly, are sticky, or very acidic.

The professionals at Grand Dental have come up with a list of the best and worst types of candy for your kids this year:

Best Choices for Candy:

Worst choices for candy:

Today, many schools and parent groups are opting for non-food treats due to food allergies, safety concerns, and of course, health reasons. Play-Doh, stickers, temporary tattoos, pencils, and other novelty Halloween toys are just as much fun as candy. Well, sort of!

Now, since Halloween comes once a year, there is nothing wrong with indulging in the delicious treats, candy, and sweets that come with the fun of trick or treating. Moderation is the key factor.

Enjoy any of the above listed candies in small amounts, and limit your kids to a certain number of treats per day. Another great idea is to set some tooth-brushing rules for kids. For example, kids must brush for one minute for every piece of candy they eat, etc. Long term harm will not come to teeth that are brushed and cared for after indulging in the occasional seasonal sweets.

Another excellent option is to donate extra candy within a few days after Halloween. At Grand Dental Group, each of our offices is participating in the Halloween Candy Buy Back Program, sponsored by Operation Gratitude.

Our offices are accepting unopened Halloween candy in exchange for cold hard cash! Candy will be shipped to our military overseas and parents will have a great reason to get rid of all of the extra sweets.

Go to our community events page at granddentalgroup.com or follow us at Grand Dental Group on Facebook and Google +; Granddental on Instagram; or @granddentalIL on Twitter to get the locations, dates, and times of our Halloween Candy Buy Back events!

Most future and long-term dental problems can be preventing by creating good dental habits in childhood. For parents who are concerned about their child’s dental habits, the doctors and hygienists at Grand Dental Group can help.

The number one dental problem in children is dental decay, or cavities. In older kids, poor brushing and flossing habits and a sugary diet are the main causes. However, nearly all dental problems in toddlers and young children are directly related to the use of sippy cups and bottles, and chronic nighttime feeding.

Why are sippy cups bad for teeth?

Sippy cups themselves are generally not a problem. Specifically, it is the liquid in the sippy cup and when they are used that is the issue. Using them during the day and at night does not necessarily cause dental decay. Sippy cups with water or significantly diluted juice are also unlikely to contribute to cavities. However, juice, pop, or milk-filled sippy cups given to a child at night or left in their crib or bed can lead to dental trouble. How does this happen? Milk, juice and pop all contain sugars. When a sippy cup is left within a child’s reach, the child could now potentially coat their teeth with sugar for several hours at a time. Saliva is a natural cavity-fighter. But saliva flow is reduced at night, making the child’s teeth even more vulnerable. Occasional and rare nighttime sippy cup use is not likely to cause cavities. However, once children get used to falling asleep with the comfort of a sippy cup, the habit is hard to break.

Why are bottles bad for teeth?

The same issue pertains to infants and their bottles. Bottles of breastmilk, formula, juice, or milk can also contribute to tooth decay when a child has access to them all night long. Dentists and pediatrician refer to cavities caused by bottle use as “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay”. Soothing a fussy baby or a sick toddler with a rare nighttime bottle should not be cause for alarm – and we all know that parents need to pick their battles sometimes! The concern comes when babies and infants go to bed with a bottle all night on a regular basis. Water is the best choice when giving a bottle to a baby overnight.

In addition to their use at night, bottles and sippy cup use during the day can mean trouble because children tend to graze when they have access to these items. Bottles and cups left within reach of a toddler or young child mean they have the potential to chronically bathe their teeth in sugary substances all day long. This constant and repetitive exposure to sugars leave the teeth vulnerable to decay. When possible, milk, juice and formula should be given with meals or snacks only. Water is the drink of choice during the day and night.

Nighttime breastfeeding

Breastmilk has naturally occurring sugars that are necessary for brain and physical development. However, these sugars can also contribute to tooth decay in infants and toddlers. To reduce the risk of cavities, nursing mothers can attempt to limit the amount of time spent nursing at night and clean their child’s teeth after nursing.

Overactive Gag Reflex in Children

Gag reflexes are important and help protect us from choking on items or aspirating them. However, an overactive reflex can be troublesome when it comes to visiting the dentist, or brushing and flossing your child’s teeth. In many cases, gagging is a psychological or emotional condition. There is no physical stimulation of the soft palate and the patient is not actually choking. Gagging when something is not even in the mouth or throat is an example of psychological or emotional gagging. In fact, just reading this paragraph could stimulate the more sensitive people! True physiological or functional reflex occurs when children try to eat or when objects in their mouth trigger the reaction. For many children, a stressful event or illness that resulted in a strong gagging reaction can set the stage for a lifetime of emotional reflex incidents.

Although this is a challenging situation for both parents and dental health care providers, there are some strategies that can be applied to reduce a child’s gag reflex reaction.

Reduce the size of objects in the mouth

Reducing the size of any objects in the mouth and the duration of time that they are in the mouth is key. For example, parents who try to floss their children’s teeth with a piece of floss may notice more gagging. Using two adult-sized hands in a child’s mouth is the problem in these cases. Try using a flosser or flossing pick. When using these aids, only the tip of the flosser is in the mouth. Hands and bulky handles are outside of the mouth, making the procedure more comfortable for kids.

Use a child-sized toothbrush

Use a small or child-sized toothbrush when brushing, instead of the more popular large-headed or adult brushes. Although power brushes do an excellent job cleaning teeth, the vibration can trigger a gag reflex in some children. For sensitive children, a manual brush may be the better choice. For many families, it is a matter of trial and error to find out what works best. When flossing or brushing, have your child lean forward, rather than backwards. This will allow gravity to pull toothpaste foam and saliva to the front of the mouth, away from the soft palate. Children also tend to gag less when they brush and floss their own teeth. Encourage your child to brush and floss first, before the parent helps.

Take breaks during brushing and flossing if the child becomes anxious or upset. Oftentimes, anxiety will exacerbate gagging. Allowing the child a chance to stop and take a few deep breaths can help reduce their anxiety and reaction.

When visiting the dentist, inform the dental team about your child’s reflex history. Dental professionals can implement tactics that will help your child have a more pleasant experience. Many times, using alternative materials in tandem with treatment techniques can reduce both emotional and functional triggers. In lieu of large fluoride trays, dental providers can use a swab-on fluoride varnish. Small, digital x-ray sensors can be used when taking images of your child’s teeth. Sitting partially upright in the dental chair, offering several breaks during treatment, and even allowing your child to hold their own suction tip and polisher can help.

If your child’s gag reflex is severe and chronic, speak to your pediatrician about therapy options. If eating and maintaining a child’s oral health is compromised due to a strong reflex, medical intervention can be helpful for the entire family.


Are fluoride supplements for children necessary?

The American Dental Association recommends the use of systemically ingested fluoride drops or tablets only for children at high risk for severe dental decay. These are typically children who live in non-fluoridated areas and who also have eating habits or medical considerations that put them at an extreme risk for cavities. However, these are rare cases and the dentist at Grand Dental Group don’t usually prescribe systemic fluoride supplements. Parents of high cavity risk children should contact their dentist and pediatrician to determine if such a prescription is necessary. It is important that children and adults receive the optimal level of topical and systemic fluoride to receive the benefit without the risks. Too much fluoride ingested can cause tooth malformation and discoloration. Too little fluoride will not provide a benefit at all. The right amount of topical and systemic fluoride, especially while the teeth are forming, can aid in the development of stronger teeth and reduce the likelihood of dental decay. Because fluoride is readily available in some bottled waters, in canned vegetable and fruits, and in packaged foods, most children receive enough fluoride without adding supplements.

What causes white spots on teeth?

White spots on your teeth or your child’s teeth can have many causes. Most commonly, white patches on permanent teeth are a sign of fluorosis, or an over-consumption of system fluoride while the adult teeth were forming. This is generally not harmful or indicative of any further problems. White halos along the gumline or around orthodontic brackets are typically areas of decalcification, or early dental decay. Cavities often start when plaque sits along the gumline or braces and etches the enamel, causing a white line or semi-circle. Other causes of permanent white marks can be from facial or oral trauma or excessive antibiotics or other systemic medications as a young child. When in doubt, ask your dentist to evaluate the appearance of your teeth. Many times, your dentist can offer services and procedures to reduce the appearance of white spots and offer a more esthetically pleasing result.

Why is my child’s baby tooth pink?

Looking into your child’s mouth and seeing a pink tooth seems worrisome. Parents should know that is it not generally a serious situation, however. Pink-tinted teeth are a sign of tooth resorption. This is most common in baby teeth, and typically harmless. Pink adult or permanent teeth can indicate a more significant concern and patients with permanent teeth that are turning pink should consult their dentist. In baby teeth, root resorption occurs as the tooth is shedding. The root resorbs and begins to dissolve. Once the root is completely resorbed, the baby tooth will fall out. This is why baby teeth that fall out have no roots; only the crown is present. If the resorption of the root continues up into the crown of the tooth, the tooth can take on a pink shade. The pink color is a result of the thinning or the translucency of the enamel. This looks odd, but is not cause for alarm. Parents can always contact their dentist for an evaluation if the tooth causes pain, has an adult tooth growing in in front or behind it, or if they would like peace of mind.


When do baby teeth come in or start to fall out?

Your baby’s first teeth most likely to erupt will be his or her lower front teeth. These central incisors come in around the age of 6-10 months. However, it is also considered normal for infants to begin teething as early as 3-4 months or as late as one year. The dentists and hygienists at Grand Dental have provided this chart to show the typical eruption and exfoliation (shedding) dates of baby teeth.

Although this is the classic flow for eruption and exfoliation, it is not uncommon that children’s teeth may not follow this chart exactly. Variances are acceptable and not usually cause for alarm. If teeth are delayed by several months, parents should seek the advice of a general or pediatric dentist. More than likely, the delay is normal, but in some cases, the dentist will recommend that the child consult with an orthodontist. If adult teeth begin to erupt behind or in front of baby teeth that are still in the mouth, parents should also have their dentist examine their child.

When should my child start seeing a dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that parents take their child to the dentist upon the eruption of their first tooth or by age 1, whichever comes first. Your dentist will use this appointment to review your child’s dental hygiene, discuss dietary concerns, review bottle and sippy cup use, and plan for a future of proactive dental care. These early appointments are meant establish healthy habits and eliminate the fear and anxiety that the dental office can spark. Many times, children are not actually seen for treatment, such as a cleaning and x-rays, until they are 2-5 years old. Children who wait too long to see a dentist often already have large cavities and evidence of infection in their mouths. To avoid unexpected dental problems in your child, Grand Dental recommends that you see a dentist no later than 2-3 years of age.

Should my child see a pediatric dentist?

Pediatric dentistry involves dentists who have additional education and training specifically in the needs of babies, toddlers, children, and teens. General dentists may also see children, but will refer to a pedodontist when a child would be best suited in a specialist’s care. At Grand Dental, we have general dentists and pediatric specialists to care for the entire family. Families can elect to see a pedodontist until adulthood, or transfer to a general dentist at any time during childhood, if the dentist and family are both comfortable with the transition.

When should my child see an orthodontist?

Today, the American Academy of Orthodontists and Aim Orthodontics recommend that children have their first consultation between the ages of 7-9. As new techniques in orthodontic therapy have evolved, children are starting care at a younger age. Orthodontists are using children’s growth spurts to encourage teeth to move and shift earlier, in an effort to avoid surgeries or more extensive treatment. Orthodontic treatment is often separated into two phases now, with the first phase often starting during elementary school and the latter treatment completing during middle school or junior high. Children with a family history of braces, who thumb suck, or who show signs of crowded teeth, gaps, overbites or underbites, would benefit from treatment. When in doubt, ask your child’s dentist if and when an orthodontic consultation is indicated.