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Health Matters

Dental Sports Guards

SPORTS GUARDS - submitted by Signature Orthodontics

With spring around the corner, a whole new season of sports is about to begin.  There is much controversy around whether or not to wear a sports guard during contact sports.  From an orthodontic stand point, we encourage all of our patients to wear a sports guard for many reasons.

A sports guard, also known as a mouth guard, is an appliance that is used to protect your teeth from blows to the face during a contact sport.  Not only does a sports guard protect your teeth from injury, it can also help minimize more serious injuries that occur when the lower jaw and teeth hit the upper jaw and teeth.

As a parent, it can be extremely stressful to get is a phone call from the school saying your child was injured playing at school, or to watch your child get hit in the face with an ill placed foot during a soccer game.  Many types of accidents can be minimized or prevented from wearing the proper equipment during contact sports, and a sports guard should be part of that equipment.

Types of Sports Guards

Custom sports guard

This type of sports guard is made just for your mouth.  A mold is taken of your teeth, and a dental professional fabricates the sports guard.  There are many colour options available.  It is comfortable and offers the best protection against injury.

Boil and Bite Sports Guard

These sports guards are made out of thermoplastic material that softens when placed in hot water.  It is then molded to your teeth using your fingers, lips, and tongue.  Sports guards can be purchased at most drug stores, recreational stores, or at your dental office.  Some types of boil and bite sports guards can be remolded 3-4 times before the need for replacement.

Stock Sports Guards

These sports guards are prefabricated and not moldable, they come ready to wear.  They are purchased from drug stores or sports stores as well as online.  They are the least expensive but not a lot can be done to adjust the fit.  They can be bulky and provide the least amount of protection against injury.

A custom sports guard is always best, but can be costly for anyone in orthodontic treatment as their mouth is always changing.  A custom sports guard is recommended with or without braces, but may only last a month or two before it no longer fits.  The boil and bite sports guards are a reasonable alternative for orthodontic patients if the cost of having 2-3 custom sports guards made during your sporting season is not possible.

If a mouth guard is not worn and an injury occurs, follow these first aid tips.

Broken teeth

  • Clean the injured area and put an ice pack on the lip or gum
  • Cover any exposed area with sterile gauze
  • Save the tip of the tooth (for possible reattachment) and call your family dentist right away
  • Store the tooth fragment in water

Loosened Teeth

When an accident causes a tooth to come loose from the socket, the tooth can be:

  • Pushed into the socket (intruded)
  • Knocked part way out of the socket (extruded)
  • Pushed sideways, but still in the socket (luxated)

What to do if this happens:

  • Apply an ice pack to the injury
  • Attempt to gently push an extruded tooth back into the socket
  • Call your family dentist for immediate attention. Early stabilization is the best chance for the tooth to reattach itself.

Knocked Out Permanent Tooth

Time is critical.  A tooth might be saved if cared for properly and re-implanted as soon as possible.  Timely treatment may improve the chances of reattaching an injured tooth.

  • Call your family dentist for immediate attention
  • Locate the tooth; hold it by the crown (the wide part that you see in your mouth, not the pointed end/root)
  • Remove large pieces of debris, but avoid rubbing or touching the root
  • Rinse the tooth, do not scrub. If using a sink, be sure to place the plug in the sink so you don’t accidently drop the tooth down the drain.
  • Put the tooth in milk or sterile saline solution, DO NOT soak the tooth in water because water will kill the cells on the root that are vital for successful re-implantation.
  • Do not let the tooth dry out.

Jaw Injury

If teeth appear to fit together properly when the mouth is closed:

  • Apply ice to control the swelling
  • Restrict diet to soft foods and if no improvement occurs within 24 hours, seek dental care to rule out subtle injuries.
  • If in doubt at any time, contact your family dentist or seek medical attention.

If teeth do not fit together properly when the mouth is closed:

  • Seek emergency medical attention

About Us

Signature Orthodontics is a specialty orthodontic practice in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Dr. Ian McKee, Dr. Shawn Russett, and Dr. Dolly Bharwani have a vision to create a warm and welcoming professional environment, and to build a strong team of dedicated people committed to patient care. Over the past 11 years, Signature Orthodontics has continued to grow, and today we are a team of over 30 dental professionals devoted to providing the very best in orthodontic treatment for our patients.

Signature Orthodontics, Your Smile ~ Our Passion ~ Your Life.

Early Orthodontics

Submitted by Signature Orthodontics

The Canadian Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child get an orthodontic check-up no later than age 7. By then, your child’s teeth have developed enough to where malalignments and subtle problems can be detected with jaw growth and emerging teeth.

So what happens when you take your 7 or 8 year to the orthodontist, and early orthodontic treatment has been recommended? You’re likely thinking to yourself, “It’s too early, he/she is too young.”

There are many different reasons an orthodontist recommends treatment early. Certain types of bites or growth are best corrected at a young age, and can minimize the amount of correction needed when your child is old enough for full treatment.

Early treatment may give your orthodontist the chance to:
• Guide jaw growth
• Lower risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
• Correct harmful oral habits
• Improve appearance
• Guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position

Some Reasons for Early Orthodontics

Crossbite: This is when a single tooth, or multiple teeth, on the top are biting on the inside of the lower teeth. It can be in the front or the back. Crossbites can cause premature wear on your teeth, jaw/bite shifting, and chipping and breaking.

Narrow upper arch or palate: When your child has a really narrow upper jaw, they are likely in crossbite in the back on both sides. Keep in mind that although your child will grow, the arch will remain narrow, and there won’t be enough room for all of the adult teeth to fit together. Early orthodontics can create more space for the permanent teeth.

Underbite: This is when your child’s lower jaw is more prominent than the upper jaw, resulting in an edge to edge bite in the front or even complete crossbite as shown here. Early orthodontic treatment can guide the growth of the upper jaw more forward to minimize the future underbite potential as your child continues to grow.

Overbite: This is when your child’s upper front teeth are overlapping most of the lower front teeth, which can sometimes result in the lower teeth hitting the roof of the mouth. The concern here is premature wear on the lower teeth, trauma to the gums on the roof of the mouth, and discomfort for your child. Early orthodontics can improve the deep bite.

Overjet: When your child’s upper jaw is significantly more forward than the lower jaw it can be very difficult for your child to eat certain foods and can increase the risk of trauma to the upper front teeth. Early orthodontics can minimize the risk of trauma as well as help guide the lower jaw forward to improve the bite relationship of the front teeth.

There are many reasons for orthodontic treatment; these are just a few examples of why your orthodontist is recommending treatment. There are many different ways to treat the same diagnosis, sometimes with removable appliances or fixed braces. It is important to feel confident in your orthodontist and that your child’s orthodontic needs are being met.

Also something to keep in mind, although early orthodontics has been recommended, in most cases your child will still require further orthodontics once all the permanent teeth have erupted. The goal behind early orthodontics is to correct a problem that will have immediate consequences, or to guide your child’s growth into a more favourable position. If you have concerns with your child’s teeth, please talk to your dentist or orthodontist to see if early orthodontic treatment will benefit your child.


About Us
Signature Orthodontics is a specialty orthodontic practice in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Dr. Ian McKee, Dr. Shawn Russett, and Dr. Dolly Bharwani have a vision to create a warm and welcoming professional environment, and to build a strong team of dedicated people committed to patient care. Over the past 11 years, Signature Orthodontics has continued to grow, and today we are a team of over 30 dental professionals devoted to providing the very best in orthodontic treatment for our patients.

Signature Orthodontics, Your Smile ~ Our Passion ~ Your Life.




Trampolines seem like a great way to get children to go outside and play—but they aren’t safe. Playing on trampolines increases your child’s risk of getting seriously injured. Alberta Health Services recommends that trampolines not be used for play or physical activity at home by children of any age.

Injuries from trampolines include sprains, cuts and bruises, broken bones, head injuries (like concussions), as well as back and neck injuries. Injuries can occur when:

  •  more than one child jumps on the trampoline at a time
  •  children do flips and somersaults
  •  children land the wrong way
  •  children fall off the trampoline while jumping

Unfortunately, supervising your child or taking safety measures like using padding and safety nets won’t prevent these injuries, because most injuries happen on the trampoline itself. Less than 30 percent of trampoline injuries are caused by children falling off the trampoline.

The number of injuries from trampolines increased for all age groups between 2011 and 2015, and in Alberta in 2015:

  •    Emergency Departments treated more than 1,900 children under 14 years of age for trampoline-related injuries and
  •  105 children under 18 years of age were admitted to the hospital for trampoline-related injuries.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) recently released a Position Statement on Backyard Trampoline Safety to highlight the risks of using backyard trampolines and to help prevent trampoline-related injuries. AHS recommends that:

  • Trampolines not be used for recreational purposes at home (including cottages and temporary summer homes) by children of any age.
  • Trampoline enclosures and supervision do not guarantee against injury.
  • Trampolines not be seen as play equipment and should not be part of backyard play areas.

There are lots of ways that your children to be active outdoors! Encourage your children to play and have fun outside. They can be active in many ways, making up their own games, running, jumping, kicking or throwing balls, riding bikes or going to the playground.

Where to go for more information about Trampolines and Children & Youth:

The above information contains information from Alberta Health Services’ Position Statement - Backyard Trampoline Safety, 2016. For more information on topics related to pregnancy and being a parent and for information on where you can pick up free print copies of the Healthy Parents, Healthy Children resources, go to

The Healthy Parents, Healthy Children team is a part of the larger Healthy Children and Families’ team at Alberta Health Services. Find us on Facebook at Healthy Parents, Healthy Children or follow us on Twitter @AHS_HPHC. For questions or comments, please contact




Brief pauses in breathing while sleeping are normal but when breathing stops often or for longer periods, it is called sleep apnea. When someone has sleep apnea, oxygen levels in the body may fall and sleep can be disrupted. Most people think that only older people have sleep apnea but children and teens can develop it as well.

When we sleep, our muscles relax. This includes the muscles in the back of the throat that help to keep our airway open. In obstructive sleep apnea, these muscles can relax too much and collapse the airway, making it hard to breathe. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids are the most common cause of obstructive sleep apnea in children.

Mouth-breathing in children will allow the child to get the air he or she needs, it alters “proper oral posture” and causes changes in the child’s growth pattern where changes result in a downward and forward growth direction. Downward and backward growth results in a long lower face and recessive chin.

Children rarely complain of mouth breathing because they quickly accept it as their “normal”. Dental and facial deformities/irregularities can be prevented or minimized by appropriate treatment.

Mouth breathers have different problems so you may need to see more than one doctor. Orthodontists, ENT’S, and allergists all work together to diagnose and correct these problems.

Some signs and symptoms of mouth breathing may include:

  •    Snoring
  •    Narrow palate, crowded teeth
  •    Dark circles under the eyes
  •    Open mouth posture, especially when sleeping
  •    Dry lips
  •    Bad breath
  •    Child requires more than the usual sleep and frequently feels poorly rested
  •    Trouble concentrating at school
  •    Higher than usual infections of the sinus, ear, colds, etc

Strategies for Parents

  •    Make sure your child can easily breathe through his/her nose
  •    Ensure your child(ren) see a dentist by age 1-2 and an orthodontist by age 7.
  •    Check with your physician for possible allergies your child may have, as allergies can force a child to mouth-breathe.
  •    Ensure that your child’s diet and environment don’t contribute to allergies.


While the Canadian and American association of orthodontists recommend an initial orthodontic assessment by age 7 this is especially important for a mouth breathing child. This is because early diagnosis can lead to early intervention and treatment in children to help direct growth to a more favorable pattern and direction. This can involve appliances to widen the dental arches, reduce habits, and advance the lower jaw. It can also allow earlier referrals to other health care providers such as allergists, ENT’s and myofunctional therapists. By the time the patient is in their teen years the bone is mature enough that the expansion phase of orthodontics can become less effective.

For teens and adults, it can be too late for simple orthodontic treatment as facial deformities generally increase with growth. A combination of surgery and orthodontics may be required to shorten the length of the face or widen the dental arches.

Signature Orthodontics is a specialty orthodontic practice located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Dr. Ian McKee and Dr. Shawn Russett had a vision to create a warm and welcoming professional environment, and to build a strong team of dedicated people committed to providing the highest quality of patient care. Over the past 10 years, Signature Orthodontics has continued to grow, and today our team is over thirty plus strong, with each member devoted to providing the very best in orthodontic treatment for our patients. We look forward to welcoming you to our Signature family!




Your teenage daughter calls you to pick her up from school one day, telling you “my head is pounding so bad I think I’m going to throw up”.  You head over to school to bring her home, and may be thinking – “what’s going on?  Should I be worried?”   You pick her up and she looks pale.  She tells you to turn off the radio, and she puts on her sunglasses.  You take her home, she climbs into bed with the door and curtains shut.  She comes out a few hours later, telling you she slept and now feels a bit better.  

Almost 1 in 10 teens experience migraine headaches so it is quite common.  And twice as many girls have migraines than boys during puberty.  The classic symptoms of a migraine headache in teens include throbbing, or pulsing feelings, especially at the temples or the front of the head.   They may be nauseated, sensitive to noise and lights, or have ringing in the ears.  Sometimes they may throw up.  Migraines may last for an hour, or may last up to three days.  There is usually no headache between migraine episodes although a small number of teens may have migraines progress to having a more constant headache.  

The latest research tells us that migraine headaches are likely caused by changes in the nerves in the brain – the trigeminal nerve seems to become more sensitive to changes than in people who don’t get migraines.  This may be due to genetics – migraines often occur in families.  

If your child experiences more than one migraine headache please see your Doctor or Nurse Practitioner to discuss possible medications which may be of help.  Research shows that treating migraines earlier, rather than waiting until your child has had many migraine headaches may be more successful.   There are medications which may be prescribed to take at the beginning of the migraine, or if your child has frequent migraines, medications to prevent them from happening as often.

There are lifestyle changes that may help decrease how often your teen gets a migraine headache.  These include:

  •    Making sure they drink enough water
  •    Making sure they get a good night’s sleep.  Poor sleep is very common in teens with migraines
  •      Look for possible triggers, such as certain foods, scents, caffeine
  •   Help your teen develop coping strategies* for stressful situations, as stress is a common trigger
  •    Have your teen be physically active
  •   Monitor how often they take medications such as ibuprofen, and acetaminophen as this may cause overuse headaches

These medications should not be taken more than three times a week.

*Coping strategies include relaxation exercises, guided imagery, and self-hypnosis.  

You may also find it helpful for your teen to keep a headache diary, or use a tracker app to figure out possible triggers.  

*This column is intended as information and education only.  Always see your healthcare provider with any questions regarding your child’s medical conditions.

Kathy Reid is a Nurse Practitioner at Stollery Children’s Hospital.




It’s that time of year again - time to get active and get moving!  As the weather improves we find ourselves feeling more motivated to go out and get fit. Many talk about getting our bodies bikini ready but the benefits to getting active go far beyond how we look in a bathing suit.  Parents who eat healthily and exercise with their children on a regular basis are teaching them many valuable lessons. By setting the basic foundations of life, parents are the number one source affecting the way children feel about living a healthy lifestyle.  

Dr. Sylvia Rimm author of Rescuing the Emotional Lives of Overweight Children discusses how exercise not only improves physical health, but increases self-confidence and reduces anxiety in children.  She states that exercise is extremely important from a social and emotional perspective and there is nothing better for dissipating anxiety than exercise.  She advocates for exercise over meditation as one of the best forms of relaxation for both children and parents suffering with anxiety.  

Dr. Ron Eaker, author of the book Healthy Habits for a Fit Family, said he began emphasizing family exercise to his patients after reading research about the influence mothers have on their family's habits.  Chantel Sampson and Jenna Brenan, co-owners of J’Adore Dance couldn’t agree more. They see many active families come through the studio doors each week and they try to be leaders not only at the studio for other families but promote an active and healthy lifestyle for their own families.  They believe that parents who exercise with their children not only get healthier, but strengthen the family's bond.  Want to get active? There is no better way to do it then together as a family!  

Both Chantel and Jenna love finding ways to get active with their families.  Chantel, mother of 3 (now 11, 11 and 13), has always been actively involved in not only dance but various other year round sports.  She and her husband played on a co-ed soccer team for almost 10 years.  Most of the team was made up of couples giving it a family atmosphere and their kids playing along the sidelines. Chantel’s children now play club soccer and have developed a real passion for the sport.  The same can be said for their family hiking adventures, watersports and downhill skiing.  “We included our children in everything we did right from the start.  They grew up not only watching us be active but participating along the way.”  Jenna, mother of 2 boys 4 and 6, is an avid runner in addition to teaching dance and fitness at the studio.  This past summer she ran a half marathon with her husband and boys cheering her on.  As a family, Jenna loves hiking, skating, swimming and boating at the lake. This winter she and her husband got to share their love of snowboarding and skiing with their boys for the first time. Both Jenna and Chantel feel strongly that parents who exercise with their children are not only teaching them how to live a healthy lifestyle, they are also reinforcing the family bonds and creating wonderful family traditions. It’s fantastic for super-busy parents who wouldn’t get as much exercise as they need without incorporating their kids in the process.

Both ladies love having a place where families can get active.  At J’Adore Dance there is something for everyone. FamilyFit Warriors is a new program they are offering this spring.  Need some ideas on how to get started working out as a family while having fun? This is the perfect program.  Parents and their kids move through fitness routines, obstacle courses and partner toning sections while listening to fun, motivating and family friendly music.  For moms and babies there are dance fitness baby wearing classes, such as Pump and Groove Mama, Ballet Barre Mama, and Salsa Mama. Looking to move, dance and sing with your kids? J’Adore is proud to offer award winning Intellidance® classes ranging from Babies (3-12 months), Tykes (13-23 Months), Tots (2-4 years) and Family (multi-age).  

Chantel and Jenna also recognize the importance of taking time for themselves.  J’Adore offers a variety of adult fitness classes such as DanceFit, Dancer Body Bootcamp, PiYo, Garuda Conditioning and Pump and Groove.  Both ladies and their staff continue to work on staying educated in the latest techniques and certifications so they can make sure they are bringing J’Adore families the very best programing possible.  

By keeping J’Adore a family focused studio, Chantel and Jenna have watched friendships develop throughout many of the classes. It is a great place to meet new people and develop a social network.   Dr. Vonda Wright, MD speaks about the importance of exercising in groups of friends or family.  In her online blog she states, “Exercising in groups of friends or with family is actually better for your brain.  Your neurons really get fired up when you add social contact to exercise.  The social support of a group you are comfortable in seems to minimize the stress and maximize the benefit of exercise on your brain.”  Chantel and her husband met on the dance floor and to this day love dancing together.  This fall, Ms. Heather and her husband Michael tried one of J’Adore’s new program, Garuda Conditioning, together. This weekly “date” has become a special part of their week.  “What I like about taking a class with my husband,” Heather explains,

“Is that we get a chance to reconnect outside of the house. It's a positive environment in which to celebrate our successes, work towards goals, and commiserate over sore muscles! While giving us an opportunity to bond in a different way than going on a traditional date would.”

As parents, our children are watching our every move, mirroring our every action; if as a parent we are sedentary, there is a good chance our children will be too. So let’s make the decision to get active together as a family.

For more information about J’Adore Dance, visit

The Innocent Murmur

November 1st, 20161 Comment

By Chentel Cunningham and Leane Meakins

The word heart murmur can sound terrifying to any parent who encounters a murmur during a routine medical checkup for their child. The word brings about parental fear and anxiety as these murmurs can trigger thoughts of their child having a serious medical condition. The word murmur means turbulent or swirling blood within a child’s heart, which produces a sound that can be heard with a stethoscope. A way of understanding a heart murmur is relating the idea to the flow of a river. For instance, a river without rocks or sharp bends will flow smoothly and more quietly than a river that has many rocks or sharp turns. These obstacles will create more rapid swishing and swirling of the water, known as turbulence. When blood flows within the heart, it moves through the valves and chambers, being more turbulent at times causing a murmur. Certain medical situations, like fever or low iron, can create these sounds and are referred to as an innocent murmur amongst medical professionals.

As the name innocent describes, these murmurs are harmless and non-life threatening. Innocent murmurs are not a disease and have different qualities that separate them from serious or “pathologic” murmurs. Innocent murmurs are quite common as most children will develop one at some stage in their growth and development. They are frequent during the ages of one to three years and can also commonly disappear and reappear. Other names for innocent murmurs are “functional, benign or physiologic”, in which all have the same meaning.

Even though the name highlights that these murmurs are harmless, they still tend to cause high amounts of parental anxiety and worry. Many parents commonly associate heart murmurs as structural defects that require surgery, medication or activity restriction. In actual fact, serious heart conditions are only present in less than 1 per cent of murmurs heard, highlighting that a only very small portion of murmurs are actually serious. In addition, pathologic murmurs also typically involve other associated symptoms which give clues that the murmur is harmful to the child’s health, such as poor feeding and growth, decreased exercise tolerance, and fast breathing patterns.

When general medical practitioners have difficulties identifying whether a heart murmur is serious, they can always ask for the help of a pediatric cardiologist. Heart murmurs in children are one of the most frequent causes of referral by pediatrician or general practitioner to a pediatric cardiologist. At the Stollery Children’s Hospital, there is a special clinic within cardiology that can identify whether or not a heart murmur is a serious medical condition. Each year, over 500 children with murmurs are assessed in this special clinic (Stollery Statistics, 2016). A pediatric cardiologist can decide whether the child will need further testing, like a heart ultrasound, to rule the possibility of heart conditions that require further cardiology care.

Names of Common Innocent Murmurs

  1. Stills Murmur:

Stills murmur is the most common innocent murmur. This murmur is typically heard from ages three to 10 years and will frequently resolve by adolescence. When heard, it is a humming or musical sound. Stills murmur has no associated symptoms and is heard on the left side of the breast bone on the chest.

  1. Venous Hum

The flow of blood can cause the walls of the veins to vibrate causing a humming noise that is typically heard in the upper chest. Again, this murmur has no associated medical symptoms and disappears without any treatment.

Innocent murmurs in children are not a worrisome medical finding that are quite common in children and require no medical treatment. Proper parental education by the health care professional will help to minimize or abolish the parental anxiety or fear that arises when an innocent murmur is recognized. If needed, medical professionals can refer their child to a pediatric cardiologist for further assessment and advice. Despite the high need for this special clinic, most children will not need any further assessment by a pediatric cardiologist since most murmurs identified are most likely to be innocent, if there are no other symptoms present. Parents should be encouraged to ask questions and have proper education to help relieve fear and anxiety. There are reliable websites, such as American Heart Association, that provide parents with some additional information about innocent murmurs.

Chentel Cunningham and Leanne Meakins are both pediatric Nurse Practitioners at the Stollery Children’s Hospital who specialize in children’s cardiology.

Reader Comments (1)

Joanne Gordash. said on November 2, 2016

Nicely explained!

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