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Why Should You Wear a Mouth Guard?

A mouth guard is generally considered only necessary for children and adults who play contact sports such as football or hockey. But the reality is, dental injuries can occur with any form of exercise. They can happen anytime and anywhere—at the gym, while eating an apple, or even having your glass bumped at a party.


The simple fact is that wearing a mouth guard—particularly during physical or sporting activities—can prevent a multitude of injuries, from chipped or broken teeth, fractured crowns or bridgework, lip and cheek injuries, root damage to the teeth, to fractured jaws.

Bear in mind that once a permanent tooth has been knocked out, it’s gone for good. There is no substitute for real teeth, so we should do our utmost to protect them and never take them for granted. After all, veneers, bonding, root canals, and fillings are costly and often do not last a lifetime.

Given the risks, it makes a lot of sense to wear a mouth guard when playing any form of exercise or sport, including gymnastics, ice skating, and skiing.

How a Mouth Guard Works

Mouth guards work by absorbing and evenly distributing the force of contact, thereby protecting the teeth, mouth, cheeks, tongue and jaw. For example, when a child falls off his bike, the jaw automatically clenches, causing one tooth to strike another.

While mouth guards are not mandatory in organized sports, the vast majority of dental and facial injuries are sports-related and could be easily avoided by using a mouth guard, which has been likened to an “airbag for teeth.”

The jury is still out as to whether mouth guards offer protection against concussion. But it stands to reason that extra padding between the mandible and the maxilla softens the blow of the mandible against the skull upon impact.

Types of Mouth guard

Made of a soft plastic or laminate that covers the upper teeth, mouth guards typically come in two types and vary according to quality and cost:


  • Convenient and inexpensive to purchase
  • Available at many pharmacies and sporting goods stores
  • Can be bulky, poorly fitting and uncomfortable to wear
  • Offer less protection than custom guards
  • Inhibits speech and breathing
  • Prone to being chewed on (so less effective)


  • More expensive since it is custom made
  • Available from your dentist or orthodontist
  • Made from an “impression” or exact mould of your teeth
  • Thin and snug fit, comfortable to wear
  • Ability to talk and breathe
  • Most effective protection against injuries to the teeth and jaws

How to Care For Your Mouth Guard

Like any retainer or appliance, a mouth guard will last longer if you take care to store and clean it well:

  • Gently scrub with a toothbrush and toothpaste after each use
  • Store in a protective case
  • Keep away from hot water or sun
  • Do not chew on it
  • Replace every season
  • Discard if improper fit

If you have any questions or concerns about your mouth guard, or to schedule an appointment to have one custom made, contact Kids Dental Group today at one of our convenient locations in Stouffville, Richmond Hill, and Markham.

5 Tips to Ease Teething Pains

Teething is a painful process—for parents and babies alike! With 20 primary teeth in total, arguably the first ones hurt the most. Your child’s teeth may start coming in anywhere between 5-12 months, yet signs of discomfort may show even earlier than 6 months as the jagged edges of teeth start to push against the gums.

Ease Teething Pains

The first teeth to cut through are typically the two bottom fronts (central incisors), then the four upper teeth (central and lateral incisors). The (back) molars usually show up shortly after the baby’s first birthday, followed by the pointed teeth between the molars and incisors (canines). The second set of molars arrives behind the first set at around age 2. Sometimes there is no clear teething pattern, with teeth appearing in ‘batches,’ and there is rarely cause for concern.

While your baby is teething you can expect plenty of irritability, drooling, and swollen gums. Your child will begin mouthing any object in sight, so be sure to keep any dangerous items well out of reach. It may be helpful to keep a bib on your child during the day to soak up all that saliva. You may also notice a rash around the mouth at this stage. Pat the area around the mouth to keep it as dry as possible.

During this time, babies may experience a loss in appetite and have trouble sleeping. Some parents even report ear pain, diarrhea, and low-grade fever in their teething infant. Be mindful, a fever that is persistent or above 101 degrees will requires a visit to your child’s doctor, as the cause is unlikely to be related to teething.

Teething TLC

  1. Massage

Gently rub your child’s gums with a clean finger or a wet cloth. Light pressure feels good and soothes sore gums.

  1. Chill

A cold compress helps reduce inflammation. Try having your baby suck on a chilled, twisted cloth or teething ring. Bear in mind that chilled items will only stay cool for around 20 minutes, so you may wish to keep, and rotate, a few teething rings in the fridge.

  1. Gnaw

Opt for ridged or bumped rubber instead of liquid-filled teething rings, which can puncture after repeated chewing. Hard vegetables, such as peeled and chilled carrots or cucumbers, can double as homemade teethers. But make sure to supervise your child closely since such items could pose a choking hazard.

  1. Medicate

Many parents swear by liquid Tylenol for pain relief if the pain gets too much. Follow dosage instructions carefully, though, because too much Tylenol, too often can be harmful to your child. And always consult your child’s doctor if the pain persists beyond a few consecutive days.

  1. Distract

Sometimes affection and distraction are the only remedies for fussy babies. If nothing else, rocking and hugging your child may bring them momentary comfort.

For more advice about teething stages and relief, Kids Dental Group would happy to help. Contact us at any of our convenient locations in Stouffville, Richmond Hill, and Markham.

10 Factors to Consider When Choosing an Orthodontist

0 Factors to Consider When Choosing an Orthodontist

  1. Credentials

Orthodontists are not regular dentists. They must have specialist qualifications and experience—a Bachelor of Dentistry and a Master in Orthodontics. They should also hold membership with a professional body such as the Canadian Association of Orthodontists.

  1. Clientele

Although the vast majority of orthodontic patients are children, adults are increasingly looking to correct their smiles. It’s important that your orthodontist is skilled and experienced in treating patients of all ages.

  1. Treatment options

Orthodontics has moved on in recent years. There is now an array of orthodontic treatment methods available. Your orthodontist should offer the latest techniques and cutting-edge treatments, from tie-free braces to Invisalign. Do some research beforehand to get you an idea of which treatments may be most suitable for you and your lifestyle. 

  1. Reputation

Your orthodontist should proudly showcase their work online via testimonials and ‘before and after’ photos. Ask to see examples of previous work, and ensure you are satisfied with the quality before starting treatment. A reputable orthodontist should have plenty of satisfied patients.

  1. Initial consult

Embarking on orthodontic treatment is a big decision. Most orthodontists offer a free consultation in which they assess your medical and dental history, as well as your treatment goals. This will likely involve taking photographs and x-rays, and providing a detailed quote of a treatment plan. In most cases, this initial examination is free. Be sure to ask any questions and address any concerns before you commit to treatment.

  1. Financing

Orthodontic treatment requires a significant financial investment, so most orthodontists provide flexible payment plans to help you cover the cost. Before you begin treatment, make sure you have a detailed quote of all fees involved, including post-treatment fees. Post-treatment care is also a vital stage of treatment since it ensures your teeth stay in place once you have finished your plan. Make sure any such fees are included in your original quote.

  1. Retainers

Although every orthodontist operates their own fee structure, be mindful that some charge for retainers following treatment. Check to see whether post-treatment care and retainers are included in your plan before you commit to a plan. You do not want to get met with hidden extras once you have completed treatment.

  1. Emergency care

While undergoing treatment, you will visit your orthodontist approximately every eight weeks, in addition to your regular dental appointments. It’s important to know your orthodontist’s out-of-hours protocols in case you need emergency assistance in between scheduled appointments.

  1. Lifetime guarantee

Does your orthodontist offer a lifetime guarantee? Some orthodontists offer a guarantee to treat your smile for the rest of your life, even if your teeth shift or crowd years after treatment.

  1. Clinical environment

Since you will be receiving orthodontic treatment anywhere between 1-2 years, it’s crucial that you feel comfortable and well supported at the clinic. The initial consultation is a good time to assess whether staff is warm, friendly, and efficient. Also bear in mind that while an orthodontist oversees your treatment, they work as part of a team that includes orthodontic therapists, dental nurses, treatment co-ordinators and hygienists. Each professional who will be working with you must be competent and supportive.

If you have any questions about orthodontics or would like to schedule an initial consultation, contact Kids Dental Group at any of our convenient locations in Stouffville, Richmond Hill, and Markham.

Oral Piercings: what You need to know

Piercings to the tongue, lips, cheeks or even uvula (the little flap at the back of the throat) are increasingly popular today in the way that pierced ears once were. However, unlike earlobes, oral piercings come with many potential health risks and complications:

  • Infection, swelling and choking.Because the mouth is home to a number of bacteria, the risk for contracting infections like hepatitis or endocarditis is great. Piercings may cause the tongue to swell, which can block off your airway and prevent breathing. There is the added risk that you could accidentally swallow or choke on the metal jewellery, should it break or come apart in your mouth.
  • Damaged teeth and gums. Excessive fiddling or “playing” with a piercing could chip off the enamel on your teeth or damage existing fillings, crowns, and caps. Gums may also become cracked or sensitive from the constant exposure to a piercing. Receding gums can make you more susceptible to periodontal disease and decay.
  • Allergic reaction. It’s not uncommon for people to develop allergic reactions to the metal of piercings.
  • Nerve damage. Although your tongue may go numb after a piercing, sometimes nerve damage can be permanent. Lack of sensation could affect your ability to move your mouth or tongue, an even diminish your sense of taste.
  • Blood loss. Poking or piercing the blood vessels in your tongue during piercing could lead to severe blood loss.
  • Drooling. A piercing in the tongue can cause the mouth to produce too much saliva. It can also affect your ability to swallow and speak properly.
  • Dental complications. Jewellery can make it difficult for your dentist to perform routine X-rays and other necessary dental procedures.

The best advice about oral piercings like studs, tongue barbells and lip rings is to avoid getting them altogether. Failing that, make sure an experienced professional does the piercing.


Kids Dental Group recommends the following care tips for oral piercings:

  • Clean the site with a mouth rinse after every meal, brush and floss every day.
  • Avoid clicking and “playing” with the piercing to avoid potential infection and damage to teeth and gums.
  • With clean hands, check and tighten piercings closures every now and then.
  • Remove the piercing or wear mouth guard when playing sports.
  • Have regular check-ups to make sure your mouth and teeth are healthy.


Contact Kids Dental Group at one of our locations in Markham (905 294 0995), Richmond Hill (905 709 3888) or Stouffville (905 642 3642) or your child’s doctor right away if you notice any signs of infection, such as swelling, fever, chills, pain, or a red-tinged ring around the piercing.

Children Need to Floss, Too

It can be tempting to think that young children don’t need to floss since their baby teeth are only going to fall out eventually. Be that as it may, a child’s gums and jawbone are there for life. And cavities can hurt, making it hard for kids to sleep, eat and learn. Decay in primary teeth can also lead to complications necessitating further procedures. So the earlier we establish good oral habits to protect teeth and gums from harmful bacteria and plaque, the better.


Why floss?

Floss manages to get into places that a toothbrush can’t. It’s that simple. Removing hidden plaque and bacteria prevents cavities from forming in the short term, and gingivitis and periodontitis in the long run. Giving gums a regular workout stops them from becoming inflamed and infected.

When to start

Habits don’t happen overnight. They take months, even years to form, and they can mean the difference between good or poor health. So it’s wise to treat floss with the same respect as the toothbrush.

Children should start flossing with help when they are 2 to 3 years old. By the time they are 8-10, they should be ready to go it alone.

Flossing only takes a couple of minutes, and should be done at least once every day. The most effective time to floss is just before bed.

The ‘Spool Method’

The easiest way to teach a child to floss is using the ‘spool method’:

  • Cut off a piece of floss approximately 18-20” in length
  • Wind each end around your middle finger several times
  • Using your thumbs and index fingers, guide the floss in between teeth in an up-and-down motion toward the gum line
  • When you are flossing correctly, the string should form ‘C’ around each tooth.

Bear in mind that although water picks and irrigators are convenient tools for those with braces or other orthodontic appliances, they are no substitute for conventional floss since they do not remove surface plaque.

How to make flossing fun

Let your child ‘play’ with floss in various formats to get used to the sensation of string in their mouths. Kids Flossers can be a great place to start since they are small enough for small hands, and come in a variety of fun colours and styles. Some are even flavoured!

For younger children, it may be enough to make up a silly rhyme or song to accompany the ritual, while others may enjoy earning a sticker for a reward chart.

‘Monkey see, monkey do’ is often the most powerful motivator for children. Enthusiasm is contagious, but so is apathy and negativity. It stands to reason that we are role models, even when it comes to oral health. So by all means let your children see you flossing at every opportunity!

Not only does flossing help excise food particles and bacteria stuck in between teeth, it can also help prevent bad breath. That should be enough to persuade the grown ups to get spooling!

If you have any questions, or need help teaching your child how to floss, Kids Dental Group would be happy to help. Feel free to drop by one of our convenient locations in Markham (905 294 0995), Richmond Hill (905 709 3888) or Stouffville (905 642 3642).

The Scariest Part of Halloween: Tartar

Trick or Treat season is around the corner, and with it the greatest Halloween horror: tartar. Kids love candy, and you love their teeth. Here’s how to let kids have fun but keep their teeth safe from plaque and the even bigger monster, tartar.

What is Tartar anyway?

When plaque—a sticky residue of food and bacteria—is left to collect on and in between teeth and along the gum line, it can harden to a cement-like substance called tartar. A build-up of tartar can eventually lead to gum disease or even tooth loss. The bad news is that once tartar has formed, it can only be removed by a hygienist. Although more prevalent in older children and teenagers, tartar can still affect younger kids.


  • Having regular dental check-ups (at least twice a year) and professional cleanings.
  • Thorough brushing (for at least two minutes) twice a day, and flossing (at least once a day) around the gum line and in between teeth—places your brush may not reach.
  • Limiting sugary or “sticky” snacks to meal times, since saliva from eating helps rinse off plaque acids. Rinsing with water or chewing a sugarless gum after meals can also help boost saliva and wash away acids.
  • Not all candies are created equal. As a general rule, the longer your child needs to suck or chew on a candy, the worse it is for their teeth. Things like gummy bears, toffee, even dried fruit, create more acid that will linger on enamel.
  • Sour candy has a high acid content, so your child should wait 20 minutes before brushing their teeth after eating a sour patch to avoid pushing the acid deeper into the teeth.
  • And at Halloween, treats are not the only potential evil. Wearing mouthpieces such as vampire fangs for an extended period can irritate gums and lead to plaque build-up.
  • Sealants can be a great tool to prevent plaque build-up and protect your child’s teeth against tartar.


The staff at Kids Dental Group want to keep your child’s teeth happy and healthy. Book an appointment at one of our three locations – Richmond Hill, Markham or Stouffville.


What Should You Do About Your Child’s Wiggly Tooth

To pull or not to pull? That’s the question many parents ask themselves when a wiggly tooth is bothering their child.

When do baby teeth fall out?

Most kids start to lose their baby teeth around the age of 6 or 7, when the roots of the primaries naturally dissolve to make way for permanent teeth. The first to come in are the typically the first to fall out.

Within a few weeks, ridges will show in the gums and the new tooth will finish growing a few months later. Sometimes permanent teeth appear behind baby teeth. It is rarely a cause concern, but it is worth letting us know if the permanent teeth are more than partway in or if they are coming in crooked.

On average, children will lose 3-4 teeth per year. By age 12, all 20 baby teeth are usually gone.


Other reasons for a loose tooth

Of course there are plenty of other reasons for a child having a loose tooth. In cases where the tooth has been struck through play or injury, let Kids Dental have a look to ensure there is no risk of infection or permanent damage. If a tooth is knocked out, have your child suck on a clean cloth then rinse their mouth out with water. The bleeding will usually subside within an hour.

Resist the urge to yank

Fortunately the days of tying a piece of connecting string around a wiggly tooth and a door handle are long gone! Forcefully extracting a tooth that is not quite ready to come out can be painful and bloody. Your child may also be at risk of an infection.

In most cases, the best bet is to be patient and simply allow nature to run its course. Kids can help things along by wriggling the tooth— just be sure their hands are clean.

When a tooth is ready to fall out, the process should be virtually painless and involve very little blood loss. The area may tingle, but rest assured your child can still eat and play as normal. If your child complains about the loose tooth hurting, you may wish to apply a topical numbing agent like Orajel to gums.

Swallowing a tooth is not dangerous, as it can easily pass through the body. But you may have some explaining to do to the Tooth Fairy!

If you are at all concerned about a wiggly tooth, give us a call or book an appointment at one of our three locations.

The “Healthy” Foods that are Bad for your Child’s Teeth

We all want our kids to eat nutritious foods. The trouble is, many so-called “healthy” snacks are actually harmful to children’s teeth. It’s not that these foods are bad per se, yet it’s probably a wise idea to avoid packing them for lunches since they have the potential to cause tooth erosion and decay.


Here are some of the biggest snack offenders:

Granola Bars

Whether homemade or store-bought, granola bars often contain artificial and natural sweeteners like honey to bind the mix together. Combined with dried fruits and chocolate or candy, granola bars tend to have incredibly high amounts of sugar, which can lead to tooth decay.

Citrus Fruits

At face value, fruit may seem like a healthy choice. Although high in vitamins, citrus fruit is also high in acid, which can cause tooth enamel erosion. Instead of oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit, opt for apples, bananas, watermelon, and cantaloupe.

Juice and Soda

Juices and sodas of any kind should be avoided in favour of good old-fashioned water. The sugars and acids contained in juices (even the freshly squeezed variety) tend to sit on the teeth, potentially for hours, leading to decay. And flavoured water, with added sweeteners, is no better.

Not only does filtered water contain no sugar or calories, it acts as a great cleanser for your child’s teeth during and in between meals. We recommend keeping a thermos handy at all times.


At the risk of stating the obvious, candy is your teeth’s worst enemy. Hard candy, especially, is notorious for getting stuck in all the crevices and turning into plaque.

Even sugary cherry and honey-flavoured cough drops can linger on enamel.

Trail Mix and Fruit Snacks

Don’t be fooled by the name. Touted as a healthy and convenient snack, trail mixes is anything but, dried fruit like raisins and cranberries are twice as sugary their natural counterparts, and all that gooeyness is guaranteed to stick in teeth until the next brushing.

Although dried fruit may seem convenient, it does your child’s teeth and overall health no favours. Many manufactured fruit snacks and bars contain artificial flavourings and very little nutritional value.

Where possible, always opt for fresh whole fruits and vegetables like carrot sticks, apple slices, grapes and celery.

Realistically, we at Kids Dental Group know that kids will eat unhealthy snacks and drinks from time to time. So here are some ways to mitigate the impact of all that sugar and acid on their teeth:

  1. Consume sugary and acidic foods with a meal.
  2. Wait 20 minutes to brush teeth after eating acidic foods, as the acid will seep into your teeth.
  3. Ensure your child uses a toothpaste containing fluoride, which repairs enamel and lowers the risk of decay.

For more helpful tips from Kids Dental Group, give us a call or book an appointment at one of our three locations.

Why You Should Ditch Your Child’s Sippy Cup?

There’s no denying they are convenient. But when it comes to your child’s oral health, sippy cups may be doing more harm than good.

Unlike a bottle or breast, the hard spout of a sippy cup can alter the structure of your child’s palate, jaw, and oral cavity—all of which may prevent your child’s mouth from developing properly, necessitating later orthodontic treatment. Prolonged use of a sippy cup could even lead to speech impairment and sleep concerns.

And sipping on juice, soda—even milk—throughout the day bathes your child’s teeth in sugar and acids that can lead to decay. Although baby teeth do eventually fall out, developing cavities at an early age can impact adult teeth, and change the size and shape of the oral cavity.


Let Kids Dental Group help you ditch the sippy cup with these tips:

  • Your child can start drinking from an open cup from the time they start eating solids (between six months to a year). Opt for a BPA-free plastic cup with your child’s favourite superhero or cartoon character. Fill it halfway to minimize spills, and be sure to praise your child’s attempts to drink from a “big boy/girl” cup.
  • If you do use a sippy cup, only serve water. All other drinks should be reserved for mealtimes, and juice can be diluted. Let your child learn to enjoy drinking water. If they want something sweet, serve whole fruits washed down with water to ensure that natural sugars and acids do not linger on the teeth.
  • If you are looking for a convenient, spill-proof alternative, try a cup or thermos with a built-in straw. Unlike the rigid spout of a sippy cup, a straw can bend and mould with the shape of your child’s mouth. Again, only serve water and avoid sending your child to bed with a sippy cup.

Last but not least, don’t cry over spilled milk. It is far easier to clean up a few spills here and there than to console a toddler whose mouth is full of cavities.

For more help or advice, Kids Dental Group would be happy to assist. Contact us at our Markham (905 294 0995) | Richmond Hill (905 709 3888) | Stouffville (905 642 3642) location.

Caring for Your Child With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

A routine visit to the dentist can be extremely difficult for children with special needs such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Although the manifestations of autism vary from one individual to the next, kids with ASD typically experience challenges with communication, social interaction, and may display restrictive behaviours and interests. While some children are completely non-verbal, others may be able to speak in full sentences, yet still require support to express themselves or understand instructions. Children with ASD may experience heightened sensitivities to their environment that make the lights, sounds, smells, and tactile sensations in a dentist’s chair uncomfortable, even painful.

A caring and compassionate approach by the paediatric dental team is paramount in order to build trust with your child and family. Maintaining your child’s oral health is vital and should start early, to avoid serious complications or concerns.

The team at Kids Dental Group is highly trained to deliver a variety of dental services  for children with special needs. Our top priority is making you and your child feel as comfortable as possible.

Some ways we can help your child with autism:

Social stories

Social stories are simple stories that contain pictures and use few words to provide a step-by-step description of exactly what will happen at each visit. Because individuals with ASD are very visual and routine-driven, letting them know exactly what to expect ahead of time can help mitigate any anxiety during the visit.


Some children also respond well to rewarding or reinforcing activities during or after their visit, such as special toys, movies, and games.


For children with sensory issues, it may be necessary to schedule frequent “desensitizing” visits in which the child is gradually exposed to the clinical setting and process. For instance, the first visit could simply involve meeting the hygienist and sitting in the chair, with the child eventually allowing the dentist to look inside their mouth.

In some cases, it may be necessary for a child to undergo a form of sedation—mild or “conscious” sedation or sedation via a general anaesthetic—to enable the dentist to perform a procedure. As always, our team at Kids Dental Group is happy to discuss any concerns or questions you may have involving your child’s treatment. Contact us at our Markham (905 294 0995) | Richmond Hill (905 709 3888) | Stouffville (905 642 3642) location. We would love to hear from you!


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