Downers Grove orthodontist

Tips for wearing a mouthguard with braces

February 22nd, 2021

Adolescents are active, so it is no surprise that there are plenty of questions about mouthguards when it comes to orthodontic treatment. In general, a mouthguard is a great investment for protecting the teeth, especially in high-contact sports. They should be considered for many sports and activities, even if braces are not being worn. Here are some common questions and answers:

  • Can you wear a mouthguard if you have braces?

    Yes, you can wear a mouthguard when you have braces. There are special mouth guards that are made specifically to fit over braces.

  • What sports require a mouthguard with braces?

    Many high school sports associations require a mouthguard for football, hockey, field hockey, lacrosse, and wrestling. The ADA also recommends a mouthguard for other contact sports like basketball and martial arts, as well as other limited contact sports such as baseball, softball, and extreme sports.

  • Is it recommended to use a mouthguard while in braces?

    Unless specifically required by your sports association, it can be a personal decision based on your comfort level and ability to breath adequately while performing. The benefit of a mouth guard is it will limit damage to teeth and soft tissues around the mouth when worn properly. Not only will it help protect the teeth, but it will protect the lips and cheeks from injury from any orthodontic appliances.

  • What is the best mouthguard for braces?

    In our office, we have found that the Shock Doctor Braces Mouthguard has worked well for many patients. It has a strap so that it can be used in sports like football. The strap can also be removed so that it can be used in sports like basketball.

    [caption id="attachment_308" align="alignleft" width="300"] Shock Doctor ® Braces mouthguard[/caption]

  • Can you use a boil and bite mouthguard with braces?

    No, you should not use a build and bite mouth guard with your braces. It may wrap around the braces and get stuck in place, or cause damage to the braces. Also, keep in mind that the teeth are continuing to move, so you do not want to have a mouthguard specifically molded to your teeth as they are changing.

  • Can I use a custom made mouthguard while in braces?

    No, you will not likely be able to use a custom mouthguard since your teeth are still moving. The mouthguard will not fit for the duration of the treatment, and it may get stuck on the braces if it is forced in place.

  • Where can I get a mouthguard for braces?

    You can find a mouthguard for braces online or in some sporting goods stores. Some orthodontists may also have them in their office for patients. At Zach Frazier Orthodontics, we have the Shock Doctor Braces Mouthguard available in office for our patients.

  • Can I wear a mouthguard with Invisalign?

    If you are in Invisalign treatment, you should still wear a mouthguard for sports if it is recommended by your association or a sport with significant contact or injury risk (football, basketball, hockey). You can remove your Invisalign and use a general one-size-fits-all mouthguard while playing the sport. You will not be able to use a custom fitting or boil and bite mouthguard as your teeth are still moving. If you are in a non-contact or limited-contact sport, you should continue to wear your Invisalign while you are playing the sport.

  • Can I wear a mouthguard with a palatal expander?

    Yes, you can wear a mouthguard with a palatal expander. It will need to be trimmed and adjusted around the expander to allow it to fit properly.

I hope this is helpful to provide some insight on mouthguard recommendations for braces. As always, if you need more information, please reach out to our office anytime - we are happy to help : )

Tips for Managing TMJ Pain During Orthodontic Treatment: Questions and Answers

February 10th, 2021

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial research, the prevalence of TMJ problems (also known as temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder) is between 5% - 12% of the population. It is more common in females than males, and tends to affect younger people more often.

While orthodontic treatment does not cause TMJ issues, studies also show that it cannot prevent or treat TMJ pain either. Here are some common questions that you may have if you are in orthodontic treatment and are now experiencing some jaw joint pain.

What does TMJ stand for and what is it?

  • TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. It is located directly in front of your ears, and it is where your lower jaw hinges upon opening and closing.

What are TMJ problems?

  • TMJ problems include clicking/popping joints, painful joints, or restricted jaw movement. TMJ problems may vary in severity from mild pain to severe pain, and the pain may be a temporary pain or a constant pain. TMJ problems may be related to the actual joint (bones and ligaments), or it may be related to the muscles around the joint.

What causes TMJ problems?

  • TMJ problems may be caused by an injury to the face or jaw, grind/clenching of teeth, stress, muscle fatigue or overuse of the jaw joint. Additionally, it is linked to hormonal changes in women that cause laxity of the ligaments in the jaw joint. TMJ problems are most common in teenage girls and young women.

What can I do to improve my TMJ problems or TMJ pain?
Most TMJ problems can be managed by these conservative measures:

  • Maintain a soft diet, and avoid chewy food and chewing gum.
  • Use warm, moist heat on the jaw muscles to increase blood flow and massage the muscles. Alternate the warm moist heat with an ice pack on the joint area which will help reduce inflammation of the joints.
  • Use anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce pain and inflammation. Ibuprofen is the most common, but you should consult your physician with which anti-inflammatory medication is best for you.
  • Avoid clenching your teeth by setting up reminders to keep your teeth apart and jaw muscles relaxed.
  • Monitor your stress and manage it to avoid muscle tension and clenching.

What if my symptoms do not improve with conservative therapy?

  • If your symptoms are not improving, a referral will be made to another doctor who specifically manages TMJ problems. They may recommend more diagnostic imaging (like an MRI) to evaluate the jaw joint to find the cause of the problem. In some cases, a night guard may be recommended to help alleviate some pain.

Can I continue my orthodontic treatment?

  • In some cases, orthodontic treatment may be paused for a period of time, and occasionally it may be discontinued depending on the circumstances. The recommendations are on a case by case basis.

If you have any other questions, please let your orthodontist know. More often than not, a little patience and conservative measures will improve the TMJ pain, so hang in there : )

How we use technology to eliminate unpopular dental procedures

February 8th, 2021

Perhaps you have memories of sitting in a dental chair anxiously waiting for a dental impression (dental mold).  Memories of a cold, gooey mixture inching closer down your throat. Memories of drool hanging off the edge of your lip while the mold is held in place. The very thought of it for some people will make them gag!

We have good news for you: meet the intraoral scanner. While this technology has been out for some time, it is still not universally used. Here are some information about what it is and how it will make your trip to the orthodontist much better.

Dr. Zach Frazier, orthodontist in Downers Grove, with a 3D tooth scanner used for braces and Invisalign treatment.

  1. What is 3D digital intraoral scanner?

    1. It is a high-tech video camera that captures images of your teeth to create a 3D digital model of your teeth.
  2. Does it use any radiation like an x-ray?

    1. No radiation is used - it is simply a video camera that stitches many images together to create the 3D image of your teeth.
  3. How long does it take to have your teeth scanned?

    1. It depends on the experience of the user, but in most cases it will take less than 5 minutes to get a full scan of all of your upper and lower teeth.
  4. What do you do with the 3D image?

    1. We can use the image in lots of ways. We can use it to diagnose your bite or create 3D printed physical models of your teeth. With the printed models, we can make all sorts of orthodontic appliances and retainers without ever having to take a dental mold.
  5. Do you still have to take a mold to get retainers?

    1. No way : ) Our patients do not have to have dental impressions taken at any time.
  6. Can this be used for Invisalign clear aligner treatment?

    1. Yes! Additionally the aligners will be better fitting as a 3D intraoral scanner is more accurate than traditional dental molds.

We absolutely love the 3D intraoral scanners in our office. Treatment is dramatically more comfortable for our patients leading to a better experience. Additionally, we are getting more accurate orthodontic appliances which leads to better treatment and reduced time spent at the orthodontist. Finally, it is great form an environmental standpoint as there are fewer steps, fewer appointments, and less waste by using the scanner.

If you're interested in pursuing braces treatment or you are considering Invisalign clear aligner treatment, make sure you visit an orthodontist with a 3D intraoral scanner. You will thank me later ; )

Thumbs, Fingers, and Pacifiers: Kick the Habit

September 6th, 2020

All of us are born with the innate sucking reflex. It is needed to survive as an infant and helps us eat as babies. As we develop, some babies will use a thumb, finger, or a pacifier as a comforting mechanism. However, at some point, this habit can start to cause harm to the developing teeth and bones of the mouth.

At what age do kids need to stop sucking thumbs or using pacifiers?
- Depending on how much sucking pressure your child uses on his thumb or pacifier, you may start to see changes as soon as age 2-4 years old. You may notice flaring of the front teeth and changes to the shape of the smile. Typically, these changes can self-correct if the child is done with the habit by age 6 before the adult teeth start to erupt.

Why do we need to break the habit?
- The habit can permanently change shape of bones of the mouth and permanently change the shape of the smile.  Some long-term habits can cause irreversible changes that cannot be fixed with orthodontic treatment alone. Additionally, it will create issues that can make orthodontic treatment more time-consuming, more complex, and more expensive.

How can we start to break a pacifier habit?
Typically a thumb habit is more challenging to break than a pacifier habit because you cannot take a thumb away : ) In most cases, you will start this process at a younger age while the child is still a toddler, and in many cases they will stop on their own. Avoid harsh words or punishment as this is not effective for this age group. Praise progress and use rewards charts to help encourage them to quit. Beware - in some cases, a new thumb or finger habit may emerge!

How can we start to break a thumb habit?
- Be conservative at first! If your child in pre-school or early elementary school, start by talking about it. Kids must be on board to quit; if they do not want to quit, conservative approaches may not be successful, and you may have to revisit it again after waiting a few months. The earlier you start the conversation, the better of you are since the upper front adult teeth will come in around age 6-7. I recommend starting out with simple reminders such as wearing a Band-Aid on the thumb or finger.

My kid is now on board - what can we do to help him quit his thumb habit?
- While they may relapse at times to find comfort, you may need to use additional items to help kick the habit. You can try a baseball batting glove, thin winter glove, or sock over the hand at night time. You can loosely add medical tape around the wrist to make it more difficult to remove, but please be sure it is not too tight. Another product is Mavala Stop which is a sour tasting nail polish to serve as a reminder. Always remember - couple the reminders with a tracking and reward system to celebrate the small wins. Praise will help keep the kids motivated - remember they want to make you happy!

What if the conservative habit break measures don't work?
- More aggressive physical reminders in addition to the above may be needed. An Ace bandage wrap around the elbow will make it more difficult to bend the elbow which will restrict their ability to bring their hand towards the mouth. You may also consider a wrist guard thumb habit appliance (TGuard brand) that is fixed to the wrist and plastic around the thumb/fingers

What if everything else does not work - what is our last resort?
- Orthodontic appliances are the last resort. If all else fails and we see the habit is causing significant bone changes, we can make what we call a "habit appliance" and cement it to the molars in the mouth. It is like a metal cage that fits near the roof of the mouth and difficult to remove. Typically, we will keep it in place for 9 months, but no less than 6 months in order to break the habit. If this appliance is needed, many times a palatal expander will be needed afterwards to correct the changes that have occurred due to the habit.

Orthodontists are skilled in helping you and your child with their habit issues. Additionally, we are skilled at correcting the problems that prolonged habits may cause. Be sure to talk to your local orthodontist early about breaking the habit - it will certainly make a difference in the long run!

Community Spotlight: Skuddlebutts Pizza and Catering in Downers Grove

May 27th, 2020

We love supporting our community in any and every way possible. We are highlighting another person who deserves recognition in our community for his great service - Danny Glover of Skuddlebutts. He is a DG native who is just as passionate about pizza as he is the community - take a minute to check him out!

MEET DANNY GLOVER - OWNER OF SKUDDLEBUTTS IN DOWNERS GROVE

Everyone around town has seen the generosity of Danny and his crew over the past few months in their support for our healthcare workers, and he has supported the community and schools for many years. He’s truly a hometown hero and continues to motivate every business around to support the community!

Originally opened in 1939, Skuddlebutts became Danny’s back in 2009. Born and raised in DG, he started working there at age 15 as a bus boy, and gradually worked his way to gain the opportunity to buy the restaurant. 

While known for their pizza, Skuddlebutts are masters of catering. With summer coming up, they provide an amazing on-site backyard BBQ that you must check out for graduation parties and celebrations!

Danny is truly motivated to do his best for both business and community. He loves basketball, board games, biking and travel. His mentor Bill Gall (previous owner of Skuddlebutts) really instilled a great work ethic, and this is clearly reflected in Danny’s effort.

Make sure to check out Skuddlebutts here in Downers Grove and support the businesses that shape this amazing village!

Skuddlebutts
440 Ogden Avenue
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Web: https://skuddlebutts.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SkuddlebuttsPizzaAndCateringDownersGrove/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/skuddlebutts/

What are orthodontic tooth separators or spacers?

May 17th, 2020

Orthodontic separators (also known as “spacers”) are small latex-free rubber bands that fit in between two teeth to make space in preparation for fitting an orthodontic band or ring around the tooth. These are commonly placed before a palatal expander is placed.

What can my child expect after the separator or "spacer" is placed?

  1. Mild soreness from the spacer is expected – use over the counter pain medications as needed.
  2. Pressure or feeling of something stuck between the teeth is normal.
  3. If the spacer falls out a few days before the next appointment, that usually means enough space has been made.

Tips:

  1. Do not try to remove the spacers at home – this may delay fitting the orthodontic band or appliance at the next appointment
  2. Avoid sticky and chewy foods that may dislodge the spacer
  3. Brush the area normally but do not floss the area with the spacers

If the spacer falls out before your next appointment, the ring around the tooth should still fit in most cases so there is no need to come in for a separate appointment. If you have any questions or concerns about the spacer, please call our office, as we are happy to help!

Re-opening office after temporary closure: Updates and what to expect at your visit

May 8th, 2020

After being temporarily closed for a long 8 weeks, we are ready to make you smile again! We had to postpone hundreds of appointments, so we have a long road ahead to catch up. Rest assured, we will get there!

As we move forward with some new guidelines, we ask for patience and understanding. The new guidelines are for everyone's benefit in order to have a safe environment for care as well as to provide an efficient way to get everyone back on track.

Here is what you need to know:

APPOINTMENTS AND SCHEDULING:
- PLEASE WAIT FOR OUR OFFICE TO CONTACT YOU FOR AN APPOINTMENT. We have a long list of people to contact, and this will make for more efficient scheduling by our team.
- COMFORT/URGENT APPOINTMENTS: These appointments will still only be seen on an as-needed basis for significant pain or bleeding. For now, broken brackets are not considered urgent comfort appointments. Need advice - click here!
- RETAINER CHECKS: All retainer check appointments will be postponed until the fall with exception of certain cases that Dr. Zach sees necessary; if you have retainer concerns, please call us and we can still schedule an appointment
- GROWTH CHECKS: Growth check appointments will be seen on a case-by-case basis; in many cases, they will be postponed until the fall; if you have concerns and would like to be seen sooner, please call us and we can still schedule an appointment

BEFORE YOUR VISIT:
- PLEASE BRUSH YOUR TEETH THOROUGHLY RIGHT BEFORE YOUR APPPOINTMENT and do not come in with excessive food or debris on your teeth/braces. Our tooth brushing station is closed and is now a designated station for our patients to wash their hands.
- EVERYONE WHO ENTERS OUR BUILDING MUST HAVE A MASK (both patient and parents). Please come prepared.

YOUR VISIT:
- FOR ALL MINORS (18 and younger), a parent must be at the appointment to sign a questionnaire regarding COVID symptoms and exposure. If you cannot come, you must contact our office prior to the appointment for the form and send a SIGNED COPY with your child. Unfortunately, we cannot make any exceptions to this rule.
- PLEASE ARRIVE ON-TIME. We have staggered arrival times to limit the number of people in our building at any given time. Arriving too early will likely lead to waiting, and late arrivals may need to be rescheduled.
- When you arrive, REMAIN IN YOUR CAR AND CALL our office to let us know you have arrived. We will let you know when to come in.
- For any minor patient, ONE parent/guardian should come in to sign a questionnaire form regarding COVID symptoms and exposure. Absolutely no other individuals will be allowed. We encourage that parents return to their car after signing our questionnaire.
- DO NOT COME IF YOU ARE FEELING ILL. Any question indicating recent exposure to COVID-19 or anyone with signs/symptoms will be asked to leave immediately and will not be able to return for at least the specified 14-day self-quarantine requirement.
- THE PATIENT’S TEMPERATURE WILL BE TAKEN using a touchless thermometer. If the temperature is > 100 degrees F, you will be asked to leave immediately and will not be able to return for at least the specified 14-day self-quarantine requirement.
- PLEASE MAINTAIN 6-FOOT SOCIAL DISTANCING guidelines while in the office and seated in the waiting room. Reception furniture has been limited to accommodate this guideline.
- Patients will be asked to wash or sanitize their hands before and after their appointment.
- Patients will be asked to rinse with Colgate Peroxyl mouth rinse at their chair where an assistant will suction.
- We ask for understanding as we try to address all of your needs at your visit. Individuals with multiple broken brackets or issues may not have everything completed during the visit due to strict scheduling times. If you anticipate you or child needs more time for these issues, let us know beforehand.

AFTER THE VISIT:
- DO NOT DRIVE HOME RIGHT AWAY - WE NEED TO SCHEDULE YOUR NEXT VISIT! For child patients, one of our team members will call you to update you on progress and schedule the next appointment. We will not be scheduling at our front desk at this time.
- ADULT PATIENTS – you will be scheduled while seated in the chair.

OUR NEW PROTOCOLS:
- HOURS: Our office hours are now Monday to Friday 8:00am to 4:00pm until further notice. We have extended our clinic hours to space out appointments, catch up on overdue treatment, and allow for extensive cleaning of our office twice per day. We will notify you once normal hours of operation resume in the future.
- BARRIERS: You will notice clear barriers at our front desk as well as in our consult room. Additionally, we have placed barriers between our chairs in the clinic (which are 7 feet apart). We will continue to operate our medical grade HEPA filter in our treatment area (this has been present prior to the pandemic).
- CLEANING: Office cleaning will take place in the morning, midday, and evening.
- RECEPTION ROOM: Furniture has been limited and no magazines or books are available. We encourage non-patients (parents/guardians) to wait in the car or outside.

TEAMWORK:
- OUR TEAM IS SCREENED ON A DAILY BASIS with a questionnaire, and temperature is taken daily. Any team member with COVID symptoms or a fever >100 degree F will be required to go home.
- OUR TEAM HAS BEEN THOROUGHLY TRAINED on the new protocols. Please be patient as things may take more time at first as we are adapting to our new protocols.

Our priority has always been delivering the absolute best orthodontic in a safe and timely manner - that still remains our top priority. We are still committed to this community for the long haul, so while some things will be different about our office in the short-term, our mission has not changed!

Questions or concerns should be addressed by calling or emailing our office - we are here for you. We understand this may be the first time many of you are leaving your home in 8 weeks, so please do not hesitate to let us know how we can make you feel safe and secure. See you soon!

  • Dr. Zach

Virtual visits and your braces & Invisalign treatment

April 7th, 2020

Hey ZFO fans : )

Given the circumstances of our temporary office closure, I wanted to give some information that you may find helpful.

I understand the need for guidance with your orthodontic treatment, so we have made created another way to stay in touch with you. We are now available to do virtual visits by appointment. Here is what you need to know should you be interested:

1) If you have an appointment that has already been postponed or rescheduled, you will get an additional email with links to video instructions. Please watch the videos : )
2) If your appointment is in the month of April, your additional email will come the week you were due to see us.
3) After watching the videos, if you wish to have a visit with me, please send an email request. We can meet via phone or video conference, or we can simply continue to communicate via email.
4) Note: our email and video conferencing application (Doxy.me) are HIPAA compliant and secure.

Q: What are you looking for in the photos we send?
A: I can assess brushing, rubber band wear, and some general progress.

Q: Can the virtual appointment replace my in-office visit?
A: No, we will still need to see you in person once we are open.

Q: Is the virtual appoinment required or can i just wait for an in-office visit?
A: No, the virtual appointment is optional.

Q: I had a consultation scheduled - can I still reach out to meet virtually?
A: Yes, we would love to meet you and start the conversation regarding your needs! Our in-office visit is still required once we are open.

Q: I have an urgent need and/or pain from my orthodontic appliances - can I be seen?
A: Yes, we are able to see you in our office for emergencies and urgent needs. Please call us.

While we are disappointed that we are closed, we understand that it is the responsible thing to do given the current situation. Please keep up to date with the CDC and please stay at home to follow the social distancing guidelines. We are all in this together. Stay healthy and please reach out with any questions - I am still here for you guys! I look forward to speaking with some of you soon : )

Take care,
Dr. Zach

Managing your braces & Invisalign during COVID-19

March 18th, 2020

With the recent outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), dental and orthodontic offices around the nation are closing due to recommendations by the American Dental Association. While offices remain open for emergency care, many people have questions about how to manage their ongoing orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign. Here are a few guidelines to help you out : )

GENERAL GUIDELINES:

  • Wash your hands very often!
    • Orthodontic treatment involves putting your hands in your mouth. Whether you are placing rubber bands, wax, retainers, or an Invisalign clear aligner, you need to put your hands in your mouth. You should be washing your hands for at least 20 seconds BEFORE AND AFTER putting your hands in your mouth. Additionally, you should be washing your hands, in general, more often.
  • If you can't wash your hands, use hand sanitizer
    • If soap and water are not available, be sure you use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content. Rub all surfaces of your hands well.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
    • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay at home and follow the CDC guidelines for social distancing
    • The illness is spread by close contact with other people or via droplets in the air. Please do not use this time away from work or school to spend time with friends and family. Many people who have the virus do not know it!
  • If you are getting sick, contact your medical health care provider for help.
    • If you are sick, first and foremost, stay away from others so you do not spread the illness to them. Contact your medical professional for advice on what to do next. They are your best resource of information on where to go to get help.

For any significant pain or concern, please call or email Dr. Zach as we are still available to help you out. Here are some common questions we are getting about braces, Invisalign, and retainers:

BRACES - COMMON QUESTIONS

  • Should I wear my rubber bands?
    • Yes! For now continue to wear rubber bands as instructed to continue your progress.
  • What if I run out of rubber bands?
    • Call or email our office - we can arrange a pick up!
  • What should I do if I have a broken brace?
    • If you are not in pain, you can attempt to remove the brace or place wax on it to stabilize the brace. If it is causing a significant discomfort that makes it difficult to eat or sleep, please call us and we can arrange an emergency visit to get you comfortable. Unfortunately at this time, we cannot fix broken braces but we can get you comfortable again.
  • What should I do if I am in pain?
    • Call or email our office - we will set up an emergency appointment to adjust the braces to get you comfortable again.
  • Will the COVID-19 shut down delay my treatment?
    • It depends on how long we are closed, but in the meantime, make sure you do the following:
      • Continue to brush your teeth 3 times per day
      • Avoid hard and sticky foods to ensure nothing is broken
      • Wear your rubber bands as instructed
  • What if I have a question or something does not seem right?
    • Call or email us - Dr. Zach is available for questions : )
  • Other tips:
    • Dispose of your used rubber bands and wax properly - do not put them on counters or clean surfaces
    • Since you are home, brush your teeth and floss them more often. Be sure to wash your hands before and after
    • Avoid sugary drinks to protect your teeth from white spots

INVISALIGN - COMMON QUESTIONS

  • Should I continue to wear my aligners?
    • Yes! For now, continue to wear aligners as instructed to continue your progress.
  • If I have rubber bands, should I wear those too?
    • Yes! For now continue to wear rubber bands as instructed to continue your progress.
  • What if I run out of aligners?
    • Please give us a call and we can arrange a pick up if we have more in the office. In the event it was the last of the box, we will have to wait for another 3D scan to order more. If you are on your last aligner for awhile, please be sure to clean it more often.
  • Can I clean them with soap and water?
    • Yes! You can use hand soap to clean your aligners with cold water.
  • What if something does not seem right?
    • Give us a call or send an email - Dr. Zach is available for questions : )
  • Other tips:
    • Clean and brush your aligners more often during this time
    • Clean your Invisalign retainer case often
    • Be sure to carry your hand sanitizer with you
    • Do not set your Invisalign down on any unclean surfaces

PALATAL EXPANDERS

  • Should I keep turning the expander?
    • No, at this time, if you have not been instructed to continue your turns, you should stop and wait until your next appointment with Dr. Zach.
  • Is it OK to leave it in place?
    • Yes. The expander is usually in for 9-10 months.
  • What if my child was due to have it removed during the closure?
    • Please be patient and sit tight. A few extra weeks will not cause any harm.
  • What if it is causing pain or discomfort?
    • Please call our office and we will be happy to help you out : )

RETAINERS - COMMON QUESTIONS

  • Should I continue to wear my retainer?
    • Yes! Please continue as instructed by Dr. Zach
  • Can I clean my retainer with soap and water?
    • Yes! You can use hand soap and cold water to clean your retainer. It is a good idea at this time to keep it as clean as possible. You should clean both before and after using it.
  • What if I lost my retainer?
    • If you lost your retainer and you have your 3D printed model of your teeth, please give us a call and we may be able to make you a new one. We would have to arrange a drop-off/pick-up.
  • Other tips:
    • Clean and brush your retainers more often during this time
    • Clean your retainer case often
    • Do not set your retainers down on any unclean surfaces

If there is any other question you have, let us know! We are here to help you and we can't wait to see your smile again : ) 

Winter Community Outreach in Downers Grove

March 1st, 2020

Winter brings lots of fun for the community with many fundraisers and galas!  Here is a few events we have supported in Winter 2019-2020 : )

Downers Grove District 99 Pizza Wars: We were proud to sponsor this amazing event again held at Downers Grove South High School. The pizza is amazing so if you missed it this year, be sure to check it out next year! Dr. Zach is proud alum of District 99 : )

Downers Grove Icefest: For the past 5 years, we have sponsored an ice sculpture at this event. The weather was perfect this year and we had a great time checking out all the local businesses and their sculptures.

Whittier PTA Spring Fundraiser: Whittier held its annual spring fundraiser at Neat Kitchen and Bar in Westmont this year with the them "Get Out of the Cold." It was a big success!

St. Mary of Gostyn Blue and Gold Gala: SMG celebrated thier 25th annual gala to raise funds for the school at Esplanade Lakes Ballroom in Downers Grove. We were very happy to send our support!

Pierce Downer Trivia Night: In February, Pierce Downer held a Trivia Night Fundraiser at the Moose Lodge in Downers Grove. We are happy to support all of our District 58 schools!

St. Joseph Green and White Gala: St. Joseph school held its annual gala again this year and we were happy to send out support once again!

Downers Grove Christian School Gala: DGCS held its annual gala at the end of February at the Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace. A successful silent auction helped raise funds for the school!

We look forward to the spring as we are going to be sponsoring many more events in the community. We hope to see you out there!

Will sparkling water harm my teeth?

January 23rd, 2020

Ah, sparkling water - so refreshing with its effervescence! With the popularity of sparkling drinks, I often get the question:

Will sparkling water harm my teeth?

The truth is, any drink with carbonation is going to have a higher acid level. Higher acid levels are not good for your teeth as they can wear away the enamel over time. Acid causes tooth erosion and decay. However, researchers have been looking into this to see if the acid content is enough to weaken your teeth.

The short answer is - no, drinking sparkling water will not harm your teeth.

According to the latest studies, they find that in general, drinking plain, sparkling water will not have a significant effect on the enamel of your teeth. Compared to regular tap water, it essentially has the same long term effect.

Here's the catch and what you need to know for your teeth and orthodontic treatment...

  • Everything should be enjoyed in moderation. While sparkling water is fine, regular water is still your best bet as it is great for your overall health and contains fluoride which will help fight against tooth decay.
  • Sparkling water is not all the same - some companies add sugar and citrus flavors. The sugars and citrus flavors do make the drink more acidic, and therefore may put the teeth more at risk if they are sipped throughout the day. The more exposure your teeth have to acidic, sugary, carbonated drinks, the greater the risk for enamel wear.
  • With the growing popularity of Invisalign treatment, many adults want to know if they have to remove their clear aligners to have a sparkling water drink. Basically, if the sparkling water is plain, it should have a significant effect on the teeth (once again, practice moderation). However, be aware that citrus-flavored or added sugar can sit under the Invisalign aligner which can lead to issues with the enamel.

Questions or interested to learn more about diet recommendations with orthodontic treatment? Let us know - we are here to help : )

What age is best for first orthodontic screening?

January 5th, 2020

If you have school age children, determining the age of the first orthodontic visit may be confusing. You may see some first graders in braces and you may be wondering: "Why in the world are they wearing braces already? As a parent, am I missing something?"

It is very common for parents to ask me:

What is the best age to bring my child for their first orthodontic screening?

In my opinion, I believe the best time for a first visit is around their 8th birthday. At this age, children have a mix of both adult and baby teeth, and we can start to foresee how their teeth and jaws will line up in the future. Specifically, I am looking for:
- Cross bites (top jaw is too small)
- Excessive crowding or spacing of the teeth
- Overbites and underbites (mismatch of upper and lower jaw size)
- Missing teeth, late erupting teeth, extra teeth, abnormally shaped teeth
- Environmental factors (thumb sucking habits, mouth breathing, etc.)

While there are many things I am looking for at this age, it does not necessarily mean that I will treat them at this age. In fact, for most kids under the age of 11, I recommend waiting.  While every orthodontist is different, I prefer a conservative approach and I firmly believe "less is more" when it comes to orthodontic treatment.

Why do I take this approach? For many bites, we have studies that show we can get the same result if we treat in one stage instead of two. This not only saves time and money in orthodontic treatment, but it gives your kid the chance to be a kid without having braces from age 8 until 13. Additionally, we have to consider these are their adult teeth - they need to have them forever! Hygiene is very important, and I want to give every kid the chance to keep their teeth clean and cavity-free if possible.

Does this mean I wait in all cases? Not at all! It is true - some cases I do recommend a 2 step approach with early orthodontic intervention at age 8-10 years old. Often times, this is for bone growth issues that are best addressed at that age, or for teeth alignment issues that if left untreated will make for a more difficult treatment in the future. If this is the case, I try to do an early treatment for as little time as possible to help correct the problem. Then we can wait and approach the rest as a pre-teen or teenagerI sincerely look at every child as if they were my own, and if there is a situation that I would treat my son or daughter, then I let you know.

I take pride in our conservative approach to early treatment. Best of all, we do not charge anything for an initial screening - our first appointment is entirely free, and you do not need a referral from your dentist to check us out. Feel free to reach out anytime with questions - I am here to help : )

-Dr. Zach

9 Common Questions about Orthodontics

December 15th, 2019

We receive lots of questions every week from people interesting straightening their teeth to improve their smile and to create a healthy bite. Here are a few of our most popular questions and answers : )

  1. What is an orthodontist, and how is he/she different than my regular dentist?
    An orthodontist is a dental specialist who focuses only on treatment with braces, clear aligners (Invisalign), and retainers. An orthodontist has pursued 2-3 years of additional training beyond dental school in order to specialize in the growth and development of facial structures.
  2. What problems does an orthodontist fix?
    Common orthodontic problems include crowding or spacing of teeth, uneven smile, impacted or unerupted teeth, and improper jaw alignment.
  3. Will getting braces or orthodontic treatment hurt?
    Generally, there is a short period of discomfort for a couple of days in your teeth, gums, and cheeks as you mouth gets adjusted to the braces. Dr. Zach will discuss with you or your parents the best way to manage this discomfort.
  4. What is the best age to see Dr. Zach for a consultation?
    In general, anyone wishing to improve his or her smile can schedule an exam at any age, from children to adults! Most full orthodontic treatments will begin around age 11-13 to coincide with the start of adolescence and the loss of remaining baby teeth. However, some problems can still develop before this age and require a form of early treatment as early as age 7.
  5. How do I take care of my braces?
    Excellent brushing and flossing habits are necessary to take care of your braces and teeth. Also, you will need to follow our instructions on how to avoid any broken appliances and problems.
  6. How long will I have wear braces or Invisalign clear aligners?
    Treatment times will vary on an individual basis depending on your goals and how challenging the tooth movements will be. Treatment times can range from 6 months to 30 months, and the most common treatments average about 18-20 months for a beautiful smile.
  7. Do I still see my regular dentist every 6 months?
    Yes! It is absolutely necessary to see your general dentist every 6 months for regular check-ups and cleanings. The health of your teeth is our number one priority, and your dentist is essential in the maintenance of your teeth before, during, and after treatment.
  8. Will I have problems playing sports or musical instruments?
    Although there is an initial adjustment period, you should not have problems participating in your normal activities with braces. We recommend wearing a mouth guard during contact sports.
  9. Will I have to wear a retainer at the end of treatment?
    Yes, at the conclusion of orthodontic treatment, a retainer is required to maintain the result and keep your smile beautiful.

Still have more questions? Feel free to contact us here or call/text us anytime : ) We are happy to help!

Orthodontic insurance: 8 common questions

December 1st, 2019

Orthodontic insurance coverage can be very confusing to say the least. There are many nuances to the coverage, and it may vary year to year depending on your employer and the insurance company. Here are a few of the most common questions we are asked about insurance coverage for braces and Invisalign.

  1. How much of treatment is covered?
    1. It depends on the policy that has been chosen by your or your employer. It may vary greatly, with many policies covering approximately $1000 - $2500 per person on the policy.
  2. How does insurance pay out the benefit?
    1. Insurance usually pays the lifetime benefit over the course of treatment in monthly installments. It is not typical for them to pay it all out at once at the beginning of treatment, so to receive the full benefit, the plan must be active for the entire course of treatment.
  3. Is adult orthodontic treatment covered by insurance?
    1. In many instances, yes. This certainly depends on the insurance plan and the options chosen by your employer.
  4. Is Invisalign treatment covered by insurance?
    1. Yes, it is considered orthodontic treatment and can be applied to your lifetime orthodontic benefit.
  5. Should I be concerned my insurance will not pay their amount?
    1. No, the vast majority of claims are paid as expected. However, there are no guarantees. If there is a problem, the office can try to resolve it, or you may have to call the insurance company to resolve any payment discrepancies.
  6. What if my insurance does not pay as much as expected?
    1. In the case of underpayment, the remaining balance is owed by the patient for the services.
  7. What if I get new insurance during my treatment?
    1. Some insurances have a "work in progress" policies that allow the new insurance to pick up the coverage. In other cases, the new insurance may consider it an existing condition and may opt to not cover. Calling your insurance company before switching is always a good idea.
  8. How will I know insurance is making payments?
    1. Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) are sent to both the orthodontist and the patient so that you can review the payments being made on your behalf.

At Zach Frazier Orthodontics, we extend the extra courtesy to deal directly with your dental insurance provider. We verify and submit your insurance for you so that you do not have to deal with the hassle of filing insurance claims. If we expect insurance to cover a portion of your treatment, we will collect directly from them to reduce your monthly payment to make treatment more affordable.

Have more questions about dental insurance? Feel free to reach out - we are happy to help : ) We are experienced in helping many patients with braces and Invisalign in Downers Grove!  

 

Fall 2019 Community Outreach

November 22nd, 2019

Fall is always a busy time of year around here, and we make sure we are out there supporting our community however we can!

This fall, we sponsored many different groups, teams, and events around Downers Grove - let's check 'em out : )

Downers Grove North Athenas: We are proud to sponsor the DGN Athenas Dance Team during their 2019-2020 competition season. As a DGN alum, Dr. Zach is proud to be giving back to the purple and white!

Downers Grove South Marching Mustangs: DGS Marching Mustangs are simply amazing! They take pride in their band and they are run a pretty big Music Bowl in the fall. We are proud of the Marching Mustangs and we have many patients participating with them as well!

Navigate Adolescence: This group was put together to help teens and pre-teens as they transition kids to adolescents. This can be a trying time for both kids and parents, so they are there to help educate and support along the way. ZFO is proud to sponsor their annual Pancake Breakfast held at Ballydoyle in Downers Grove - it was a lot of fun!

Downers Grove Junior Women's Club: DGJWC is an amazing group of women who are dedicated to giving back to our community. They are a philanthropic group that participates in many fundraisers and events, and our community is truly better because of their efforts. We love what they do for DG, and we are super proud to support their continued efforts to improve our village.

Fairmount Elementary Trivia Night: Fairmount PTA hosted its annual Trivia Night once again, and we were proud to be a sponsor of this event. Fairmount School in Downers Grove is one of many schools we support, and we are thrilled that the PTA had a successful night raising money for the school - way to go!

Highland Elementary One Book One School Program: Highland School is special for Dr. Z - he spent 7 years there from kindergarten to 6th grade! For the past few years, we have donated to the One Book One School Program which provides the same book to all families that they read together throughout the year. This year's book was Finding Gobi and it was a big hit!

Once again, we cannot thank the community enough for their support. As Downers Grove's hometown orthodontist, we are happy to help anyway we can!

4 tips for affordable braces & Invisalign® in 2020

November 8th, 2019

Hey parents - we get it. Finding room in the family budget for straight teeth is a challenge amongst everything else going on. Sports uniforms, piano lessons, iPhones, vacations - kids sure are expensive. And I totally understand - I have kids of my own, and there always seems to be something coming up.

Looking ahead to 2020, I want to help by giving you some honest and actionable advice to help you save on your orthodontic treatment. It may take a little research, but it will be well worth it in the end!

  1. Employer Insurance Plans:

    If you are looking at plans for 2020 and your employer offers an option with an orthodontic benefit, the best time to plan is now. Schedule a consultation with an orthodontist to see if your child will need braces in 2020. If they do, then you can do the math to see if the extra premium is worth it. If they don't, see if you can get a timeline of when he or she will be ready. This way you only pay the additional premium if you're going to use it.

  2. Insurance Networks:

    Many people do not realize it, but going to an in-network dentist has many advantages that are not often discussed. They are not discussed because many dentists do not participate with insurances. They may say "we work with your insurance," but the true value for you is when they are actually in-network. In many cases, your lifetime orthodontic benefit will be greater if you go to an in-network orthodontist, and their fees are set by the insurance company so they are very reasonable and fair. If you venture out-of-network, the provider can charge you literally whatever they want to!

  3. Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts:

    FSAs are a great way to take advantage of your employer benefits to help reduce some out-of-pocket costs on orthodontic treatment. Visit your orthodontist before you set your FSA limits for 2020 to find out how you can plan your payments. HSAs are also a great way to use pre-tax dollars to your benefit to pay for orthodontic treatment.

  4. Payment Plans:

    Most orthodontists will offer in-house financing with 0% interest on the monthly payments. This can be a huge advantage for a family trying to budget out the cost of braces or Invisalign® for multiple kids, so be sure to talk with the office to see how the payments can be arranged. You may be surprised to find out that offices are willing to finance beyond the treatment time or accept a small down payment as low as a couple hundred dollars. All you have to do is ask : )

At Zach Frazier Orthodontics, we take pride in our ability to make treatment affordable while maintaining the highest standards of care and customer service. How do we do it? Well, frankly, we are different than most offices in that we do the following:

As a member of the community, I would not be able to do my job any other way. My patients are your friends, your family, and your neighbors; and we are proud of our reputation. Feel free to send us a text or email - we are here to help you : )

#loveyoursmile
- Dr. Zach

Proud Sponsor of Belle Aire PTA 5K

October 6th, 2019

Wow - what a beautiful day for a fall 5K! The sun was shining and the weather was perfect for the kids fun and 5K. Belle Aire PTA is always planning an awesome event with a great atmosphere. There is music bumping, unique raffle prizes, and tons of games for the kiddos : )

It is awesome to see so many families and local businesses supporting our Downers Grove community. We truly enjoy participating and sponsoring the school events throughout all of DG District 58. At Zach Frazier Orthodontics, we sincerely believe in giving back to the community, and we will continue this mission moving forward as your hometown orthodontist.

Keep smiling : )
Dr. Zach

Proud Sponsor of Whittier PTA Color Run 2019

October 4th, 2019

On Friday, October 4th Whittier PTA hosted its first Color Run at the elementary school. The event kicked off with some pre-race dance performances by local DG District 58 kids. After that - it was race time! As we all ran around the school, no white t-shirt was spared from the colors. I cannot believe how fast these kids run - they are quick : )

It was great to see so many local vendors sponsor the event, and it is always fun to see so many of our smiles out there having fun. We are very proud to support Whittier PTA throughout the year at various events, and we are extremely dedicated to supporting all of our DG District 58 kiddos. As Downers Grove's hometown orthodontist, I look forward to many more events to come in the future!

Great running, everyone!
- Dr. Zach

Proud to Sponsor Lester PTA 10th Annual Fun Run

September 29th, 2019

It was a rainy day in Downers Grove, but the Lester PTA Running of the Leopards was still game-on! The 10th Annual Fun Run had a great crowd, and it was so much fun to see so many kids and parents participating. Despite the weather, there were still so many people that were out along the course to cheer on all the racers, showing how strong the Lester community supports one another. It was amazing : )

Our office is proud to support all of the Downers Grove District 58 Elementary schools, and we look forward to many more this school year. We are proud to be Downers Grove's hometown orthodontist providing braces and Invisalign® treatment to kids, teens and adults.

Great to see everyone!
Dr. Zach

Missing Teeth, Impacted Canines, and Your Family Tree

August 24th, 2019

Teeth genetics are weird. There is so much variation in size, shape, and color teeth. There is also a lot of variation when it comes to timing of when baby teeth are lost. We are all so different from one another, with a few exceptions: our teeth are very much like those of our parents and siblings.

Teeth abnormalities are pretty common in the general public, and many people are affected by them. For example, approximately 30% of people are missing at least one tooth. This is most commonly a wisdom tooth. Also, approximately 2-3% of the population has an impacted canine, where the canine is stuck in the bone and does not want to come in. It is more common on the left side than the right side (how weird!) and it is more common in girls than boys (sorry ladies!).

As a parent, it is important to keep this in mind. Are you missing an adult tooth, or was your brother or sister missing a tooth? Do you still have a baby tooth in your mouth? Do you remember having braces to fix an impacted canine? Your kids will be more at risk for similar problems. Impacted canine teeth can damage other adult teeth, and missing teeth can be a dental problem in the future if not addressed early.

So what do you do? It's simple - get a screening early. I recommend having an orthodontic  screening at age 8 to evaluate for these conditions early. We take a panoramic x-ray that looks at all of the developing teeth so that we can see if any of these problems may occur. Most orthodontists do not charge for this screening, and it basically informational to help you understand your child's current or future needs.

Is it OK to have a screening even if you didn't have these problems? Yes - definitely! You may not know that grandma or great-uncle was missing 4 adult teeth. Additionally, we are screening for more than just missing teeth. We look for crowding issues, spacing issues, overbites, underbites, cross bites, and much more.

At the end of the day, please do not lose sleep over any of these issues. Genetics is out of your control, but we are here to help however we can. We can correct impacted teeth, missing teeth, and bite issues in many different ways with braces and Invisalign®. Feel free to reach out with any question : )

Take care and love your smile!
Dr. Zach

4 Questions To Ask Your Doctor Before Invisalign®

April 29th, 2019

Many adults are seeing the awesome benefits from straight teeth. From improved esthetics and self-confidence to improved oral hygiene and maintenance, it is clear that well aligned teeth are an important piece of keeping you feeling healthy and young.

With Invisalign® treatment as a popular choice for adult orthodontic treatment, it is becoming more popular than ever to have straight teeth as an adult. However, there is a common misconception that Invisalign® is doing the work to move the teeth. The truth is this – the doctors getting the best results in the shortest amount of time are the experienced orthodontists with skills in all aspects of straightening teeth and correcting bites.

To get a feel for your doctor’s skill and comfort using Invisalign® to straighten your teeth, here are four questions to ask before choosing the best person to help you with your smile.

  1. Are you a specialist at moving teeth?

    Orthodontists are the only dental specialists with professionally, certified training to move teeth. This high-level training extends 2+ years after dental school. If you want to get a better smile and straighter teeth with Invisalign®, why wouldn’t you go to an expert in the field?

  2. How many cases have you treated like mine?

    As an orthodontist, I have changed thousands (yes, thousands!) of smiles over my career. Whether it is braces or Invisalign®, there is probably not much I haven’t seen already. Once again, you should look for someone with vast experience in straightening teeth.

  3. What if Invisalign® doesn’t work on my teeth?

    To be honest, I am not perfect, and no dentist can be perfect. However, if something isn’t going as planned or a tooth is not moving as expected, I have additional tools and skills to get you to the finish line. If all your doctor knows is Invisalign® and that doesn’t work, what will you do when the result is not what you expected?

  4. If you wanted to straighten your teeth or your child’s teeth, who would you go to?

    Besides treating many dentists and their family members, we often treat their team members and their team members’ children! When it comes to getting the best result, ask your family dentist who they prefer for their orthodontic care : )

Keep these in mind as you start your journey to a new smile. Our office offers complimentary consultations to anyone considering orthodontic treatment. So if you want to see what I can do for your smile using Invisalign®, give us a call or send us a message via text or email!

- Dr. Zach

Direct-to-Consumer Orthodontic Treatment - What to know before you consider being your own orthodontist

February 25th, 2019

Direct-to-consumer orthodontic treatment has been expanding quickly with new companies entering the market all the time. While it may seem like it is harmless to straighten your teeth on your own, the truth is that unsupervised health care treatment can have negative effects. As an orthodontic specialist and an expert in the art and science of moving teeth to create amazing smiles and healthy bites, I am obviously biased. Nevertheless, I believe as a  professional, it is my duty to my community to shed light on some of the things the DIY companies fail to talk about. Let's break down the three most common reasons people participate with DIY orthodontics from both sides!

First, let's take a look at some of the real reasons someone might consider the DIY option:
1) Cost - all of these companies market against one another for the cheapest solution and thus use the cheapest means to deliver the treatment. However, they don't have many of the costs an orthodontic office has with team members, an office space, and the latest in-office dental technology. This makes for a cheaper alternative to seeing a professional.
2) No appointments - no visits to the doctor's office means that you get to do all the treatment from your home and can progress the treatment as it fits your own schedule.
3) Convenience - for the first molding of your teeth, they will send you materials to your house so you can do the molding yourself. Then, the aligners are delivered directly to you.

While the reasons may seem valid and make sense, there are some issues with this reasoning:
1) Cheaper materials means you will likely get lower quality treatment. While this may not matter at first, when the result is low quality, you may wonder how much money you actually saved for getting a less than ideal result. As they say, you get what you pay for : )
2) When your care is not supervised by an orthodontist, you are responsible for monitoring your own outcome and the side effects of treatment. If you aren't aware of what to look for, you may end up in a worse spot than where you started. For example, you may have closed the gap in your teeth, but now your bite does not fit together. Or you may have corrected that crooked tooth, but now there is excessive gum loss. Orthodontic appointments in our office are typically pretty short and painless - they are worth it to ensure the best result.
3) While it may be convenient to do all of this in your pajamas at home, you should really have a professional exam and x-rays prior to starting. There is a lot of nuance to orthodontic treatment. Even if a company claims you will have a "doctor assigned to you," if you don't know whom he/she is, how can you be sure they really care about your outcome? It is all up to you!

A few other considerations:
1) In our office, we use Invisalign which incorporates a series of attachments on the teeth along with other appliances to ensure a smooth experience and a great result. Attachments are bonded to your teeth to help them move. DIY orthodontics may work for some very limited and minor movements, but chances are if you want a more dramatic change, you will need something more robust to complete the complex tooth movements.
2) Orthodontic treatment can be a significant expense and we acknowledge that. However, we offer very flexible payment plans and we will work with insurance to keep the cost very reasonable. When you break it down, it might not cost that much more to see an orthodontist and in fact, with insurance, it may not be much different than a DTC company's cost.

While DTC orthodontic treatment may be tempting for a few reasons, I encourage you to seek an orthodontic consultation if you are curious about straightening your teeth. We don't charge anything for a consultation, so it is very low risk! We can guide you and educate you on the best way to achieve your goals, and we can save you time and money in the long run.

I have some patients that attempted the DTC route prior to coming to our Downers Grove office, and every single one of them wished they didn't waste the time or money trying to go it alone. The advertising makes it sound so simple and easy. But, how often do you cut your own hair? There are so many things that we could do ourselves, but we know if we trust someone with experience, the result will be so much better!

Now go out there and find your neighborhood orthodontist : )

- Dr. Zach

Sleep Issues in Children – Read before your child’s next physical exam

February 3rd, 2019


When you hear the words sleep apnea, you probably don’t think much about kids. However, sleep apnea affects 2-3% of kids, and the symptoms are subtler than they are in adults. Children with sleep apnea may appear totally normal at a physical exam, but there are some signs to watch out for. This list is not all-inclusive, nor does it mean that any one of these indicates a problem. However, if some of these describe your child, it may be a good idea to consult with your family doctor about the possibility that sleep may a problem.

  • Snoring – No child should snore – period. An occasional load breath may be heard, but your child should not be snoring or breathing loudly at night on a regular basis. Snoring in children goes hand-in-hand with sleep apnea, and this should definitely be brought the attention of your family doctor.
  • Teeth grinding – Grinding teeth at night may be a defense mechanism for the body. If your child is struggling with proper airflow at nighttime (due to a collapsed airway, tonsils, adenoids, allergies, etc.), pushing the lower jaw forward often helps open the airway to allow a better passage of air down the throat. This protective measure for the body is helpful for breathing, but can really cause long lasting harmful effects on the teeth.
  • Bedwetting – Typically, by around the age of 5, most kids will be able to sleep without wetting the bed. An accident here or there is much different than an older child who is wetting the bed frequently. Although this can be due to other medical conditions, bedwetting can be linked to sleep disorders as the body fails to awaken when the bladder is full.
  • Mouth breathing – While humans are able to breathe through both the nose and the mouth, we are technically “obligate nasal breathers” as a species, meaning we are supposed to breathe through our nose. Deviated septum, allergies, and other nasal airway obstructions can make it difficult to breathe through the nose. Mouth breathing can affect the development of the face, jaws, and teeth position, often times leading to orthodontic treatment to normalize the effects of letting the mouth hang open all the time.
  • ADHD – Sleep issues may contribute to problems relating to attention span. When some kids don’t get enough sleep, they actually act opposite of what we would expect – they actually become hyperactive rather than tired. Additionally, they may be irritable, unfocused, and easily distracted, and these consequences can have a very negative effect on school performance. Studies have shown that 1/3 kids with ADHD also snore while sleeping.
  • Morning headaches – If your child’s airway is partially blocked while sleeping, the amount of oxygen in the blood will be reduced. This reduction in oxygen level may lead to headaches, specifically in the morning after waking from a poor night’s sleep.
  • Sleepwalking and sleep talking – Typically if these are observed, they are usually shortly after going to bed and associated with “confused arousal.” This means that something startles the child awake, but they are still subconscious and may not be fully awake. This arousal may be from other medical conditions, but it may also be from airway obstruction that causes sleepwalking and/or sleep talking.

The bottom line is this – sleep is obviously important for all of us, but many kids with sleep issues are not being identified. As an orthodontist, I am a specialist in facial growth and development, and my job is to simply screen for some of these issues. I can fix some of the side effects on the teeth and jaws, but ultimately a physician (sleep specialist or ENT physician) needs to put all the pieces together to make a diagnosis. So, if you see these issues at home, or your dentist or orthodontist has mentioned some of them to you, make sure to follow up with your physician. Improving your child’s sleep very well could change their life, so the sooner we do it, the better : )

- Dr. Zach

Thank You to Our Community

December 16th, 2018

Downers Grove has always been a special place for me. I grew up here, went to the local schools, and even went to Downers Grove North right down the street from my office. One thing that strikes me is how many people share my story: they grew up here and now they have come back to raise their families in DG as well. It truly speaks volumes about our community.
Since opening my practice in 2015, I have been overwhelmed by the amount of the local support. I’m truly grateful for all the families that have come to visit me and have trusted me with their kids, as well the adults that have come to visit me that trust me with their smile. Now, we’re creating hundreds of smiles every year for people in the area, and it’s truly been a special ride. In 2018, we donated over $10,000 back into the community in the forms of sponsorships to PTAs, schools, churches and sporting events. In 2019, we want to make that even bigger by continuing our support. So look for us around town - you may see us at a local restaurant or at a local event. We truly love this community, and we truly want you to love your smile : )
I'm proud to be your hometown orthodontist!
- Dr. Zach

Keep Your Kids and Their Teeth Safe!

November 2nd, 2018

In the past couple weeks, we have seen multiple children with injuries from one thing - trampolines! I know - the kids love them and they seem fun, but an article by the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that there are about 100,000 emergency room visits per year due to trampoline injuries. That is a lot!

The injuries can range in severity, from bone fractures to sprains to spinal cord injuries. With trampoline parks becoming more and more popular for birthday parties and events, we have to make sure we are considering the safety of our children.

So why is the orthodontist talking about this? Teeth can get pretty banged up by trampoline injuries as well. The teeth can be displaced or pushed back into the bone due to heavy impact, and this can compromise the tooth forever by damaging the nerve and blood supply. If the nerve and blood supply are damaged, root canals and crowns may be necessary on the front teeth which will lead to tens of thousands of dollars in lifetime maintenance of these critical front teeth. Even worse, front teeth may be completely knocked out and lost from trampoline injuries.

The front teeth are a critical component of our smile, and although the injury can be expensive, the effect it will have on a smile is even more devastating. A lifetime of fake or missing teeth in the front is not worth the risk. We cannot protect our kids from every injury in the world, but in my opinion, I recommend that your kids skip the trampoline park!

- Dr. Zach

IT'S ABOUT MORE THAN JUST STRAIGHT TEETH

October 13th, 2018

Orthodontics is awesome. Using braces or Invisalign, we have the ability to shape a person's smile over the course of 12-24 months. It's simply amazing to see the transformation in esthetics and bite correction along the way.

Traditionally, orthodontics has been focused on just the teeth - which, I agree, is the main point : ) - but there is so much more to it than just straightening teeth. The teeth, more importantly, are the focal point in the smile. A smile is our own, personal, lifelong asset that is truly unique to us. It conveys emotion to our friends, family, and strangers, and it will show up in photos that capture the most important memories and events of our lives.

It should come as no surprise that with so much emphasis on our smile, some people are truly not happy with it. They may feel they have to hide it, or worse, that others are teasing them in school because of their appearance. This can be very challenging for both kids and adults alike, and this is why orthodontics is so much more powerful than straight teeth.

 

In the course of wearing braces or Invisalign, we get to see the change in confidence and self-esteem of so many people. It is truly gratifying to know that treatment can affect a person's life in such profound ways. There are many studies that support that orthodontic treatment has positive psychosocial effects, and this is truly what it is all about.

It's about improving lives by improving smiles. It's about feeling confident in all those important moments in life. It's about giving your child more self-esteem in all those awkward years of their young lives. It's about looking back at photos of those milestone days of our lives and really appreciating that each and every one of us has a unique smile, and we should not be afraid to show it : )

- Dr. Zach

 

Retainers for LIFE : )

August 19th, 2018

Many people are surprised to learn that the teeth continue to move throughout life. This always leads to many questions about retainers and keeping the teeth straight. Let's dive into a few common questions.

Why do we need retainers?
Retainers help keep the teeth straight after they have been aligned with braces or Invisalign. Our teeth are held into the bone by ligaments, and over time as we age, our bones and ligaments change. As these changes occur, our teeth will unfortunately move.Example of teeth that shifted due to lack of retainer wear. We corrected the teeth with Invisalign, and placed a "fixed" retainer glued to the back of the teeth to prevent future shifting.

What types of retainers are there?
Retainers come in many shapes and forms. In our office, we use three main types of retainers. We use "fixed" retainers (AKA glued retainers, bonded retainers, permanent retainers) in many cases to hold the lower teeth straight. We use these retainers often because the lower front teeth tend be the teeth most affected by crowding as an adult. We use clear retainers (AKA Essix retainers, Invisalign retainers) in most cases, and these retainers wrap around the entire surface of your teeth like a mouthguard. In some cases, we use Hawley retainers (AKA wire retainers) which are made of acrylic and wire. Depending on your circumstance, we recommend what is best for you and give you options.

Will may retainers last forever?
We wish they could last forever, but just like anything else - glasses, shoes, etc. - they will wear out over time and need to be replaced. They tend to last longer if they are well maintained and cleaned regularly. If you need to have them replaced or feel that some teeth are shifting, make sure to call us to replace it before teeth move too much.

How long do we need to wear retainers?
The honest answer is you need to wear them as long as you want to keep straight teeth : )  Everybody is different, and some people may experience very minimal shifting without retainers while others will see lots of shifting. Unfortunately, we cannot predict whose teeth will move and whose will not, so many orthodontists now recommend "lifetime retention" to ensure a beautiful, straight smile. Dr. Zach is definitely on board with "lifetime retention" and he still wears his retainers to keep his teeth straight.

Think of this way: If you wear glasses or contacts, you must use them in order to see. They are simply a tool to help you see more clearly. Retainers are essentially the same thing: they are just a tool to help keep your teeth straight. So when you go to bed, you wear retainers as part of your maintenance to your body. It's that simple!

Wear your retainers : )
- Dr. Zach

Simplified Braces Diet

July 9th, 2018

The first thing anyone asks when they hear they need braces is inevitably "What am I going to be able to eat?!?!" Many people worry that they will not be able to eat the foods they enjoy, and that is not necessarily the truth. Although we encourage that some of the hard foods listed below are avoided, there are ways to still enjoy some of these foods. On the other hand, sticky candy and chewy snacks with high sugar content should be avoided - with or without braces on : )

If you take a quick look at our list below, you will also see items like hard bread, chips, and popcorn. Occasionally, these foods can be eaten, and with careful chewing, these foods can still be enjoyed during your braces journey. You will also note the delicious foods listed at the bottom - apples, corn, chicken legs, and ribs - that can be eaten by just breaking them down into smaller pieces before you take a bite.

So why do we have a special braces diet? Basically, it comes down to two things. The first is that candy and sugary snacks are in the hard, sticky food department, and these foods are not good for your teeth as they promote plaque to form acid on the teeth. The acid can erode the teeth and lead to white scars around the braces. The second is simple - hard and sticky foods will break the braces which leads to more appointments and more time in the braces.

So don't worry - you will still get to eat well as you make the commitment to a straighter smile. Questions about other foods not on the list? Fee free to reach to us anytime - we would be happy to help guide you!

- Dr. Zach

7 Common Questions About Invisalign Clear Aligners

June 15th, 2018

Clear aligner treatment, like Invisalign, is another tool that we use to straighten your teeth and give you an awesome smile. As someone who has gone through Invisalign treatment myself, I can tell you that is relatively easy and well worth the investment. While many people are familiar with braces, we get a lot of questions regarding Invisalign. Here are just a few of our most popular questions:

How does Invisalign work?
Invisalign is a series of clear, plastic retainers that put pressure on the teeth in order to move them. Each one has a small movement built into the shape of the aligner, and progressively over time, the slight changes in shape lead to dramatic changes in your smile and bite.

What are the "bumps" or attachments on the teeth?
For most cases, small attachments or "bumps" are glued to the teeth with transparent dental filling material. This material is the same thing dentists use to fix cavities on your teeth, and they are removed at the end. The small attachments allow for more complex movements of the teeth to ensure we can deliver the result you deserve.

Are my teeth going to be sore?
Any time we apply pressure to a tooth, it will be sore. Teeth don't know whether they are being pushed by braces, Invisalign, or a retainer. The adjustment period is usually about one week at the start of treatment, and it can be easily handled with a softer diet and over-the-counter pain medication.

How often do I wear them?
In order to be effective in changing your smile, they must be worn at least 22 hours per day. There really is no exception to this rule as teeth need constant pressure to change their position. They are removed for eating and brushing, and each aligner is replaced by a new on a weekly basis in most cases.

How long does the total treatment take?
Invisalign treatment time varies based on the complexity of your treatment. Some cases require more movement and bite correction. A typical Invisalign treatment may range from 4 months for small movements to 24 months for complex movements. However, the average time in treatment is usually around 12 to 15 months.

Does dental insurance cover Invisalign treatment?
Yes - if your dental insurance has orthodontic coverage, the benefit may be used for braces or Invisalign. This is great news as you can choose the treatment option that best suits you and your lifestyle. We offer flexible payment plans which makes treatment much more affordable than people expect.

How do I know if Invisalign is right for me?
Invisalign treatment does require excellent participation during treatment, but the benefits are huge! If you would like to change your smile without compromising esthetics or your diet, Invisalign may be a great choice for you. The best way to find out if you are a candidate is to schedule a complimentary consultation with our office.

Want more information about your Invisalign experience with our office? Give us a call or send an email - we are always happy to help : )

- Dr. Zach

Our Mission - Support the Community

May 25th, 2018

Why is the community so important to me? It's simple - I love to support the families that trust us with their smiles. As a lifetime resident of Downers Grove, it has been amazing to come back to my hometown and give back so much. I truly believe that it is part of what makes us unique as we support the community more than any orthodontist in the area.

Over the past year, we have sponsored and donated to over 25 local organizations, PTAs, sports teams, and school districts. Not only that, I am constantly looking for opportunities to support local small businesses through partnerships as well as attend the local events we support.

As we continue to spread awesome smiles in Downers Grove and the surrounding area, look for our name around town. If you have an organization that is looking to team up with us, feel free to reach out anytime. My job is to straighten teeth and create beautiful, healthy smiles; but as Downers Grove's top orthodontist, my mission is to make my community a better place. See you around town : )

- Dr. Zach

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