Meet a Mom: “Grinning” from Tooth to Tooth with Risa and Suzy! | Chicago North Shore Moms

Hello friendly faces! It’s that time of the week! We’re back with a new Chicago North Shore Moms spotlight brought to you in part by Mary Gifford of Gifford Law. This week, we’ve got a twofer for you as we introduce the two lovely moms behind Grins Pediatric Dentistry in Highland Park, Risa Hurwich and Suzy Pope! You may already be familiar with Grins on Green Bay in Kenilworth; In November of 2023 they opened their second location in Highland Park!

At Chicago North Shore Moms, we love a good mom partnership story, and we chatted with Risa and Suzy about how this partnership came to be. Suffice it say they were introduced by a mutual friend who had the inkling that they’d make good business partners! Which is a great reminder that you just never know what future business partnerships are out there! Risa and Suzy tell us why they went into the field of pediatric dentistry, their mission and vision for Grins and where you can expect to see them around town supporting community events like farmers markets and festivals. Plus, read on for easy-to-follow dental advice, favorite local restaurants for kids and sans kids, and, of course, personal fun facts. Get to know the kind and bright moms behind Grins! Welcome, Risa and Suzy!


Pictured above, Risa on the left and Suzy on the right.


Hello Risa and Suzy! Please introduce yourselves. Where are you from originally, what city do you live in now and what brought you here?

Risa: My name is Risa Hurwich:) I lived my entire childhood in Munster, IN, which is a family-friendly town 45-minutes south of Chicago. I currently live in Lincoln Park with my own little family, and we absolutely love it. We take long walks in our stroller, eat at great restaurants and spend a lot of time in the parks around the city. I had dreamed of opening a pediatric dental office in Highland Park because my extended family has always lived on the North Shore. It feels like home to me, and my family and I will eventually make our way to the suburbs.

Suzy: I’m Suzy Pope, I’m the founder and co-owner of Grins Pediatric Dentistry. I grew up in Massachusetts but Wilmette has been home for the past 8 years.  My husband grew up on the North Shore and we decided together that it was the perfect place to raise our three children. We love the proximity to the beach as well as the city, and you can’t beat the community here!


You’re both moms. Tell us about your children and feel free to brag away! Congratulations, Risa, on the recent birth of your second child!

Risa: I have two amazing children – Benjamin is a wild two-year old and Simon is a sweet and sleepy seven-week old.



Suzy: I have three children, Elisabeth 8, Johnny 7, and Matthew 4.  They all love to brush their teeth!



What are one or two fun or interesting facts to know about you both?

Risa: My husband, Mike, and I met on the dating app – “Coffee Meets Bagel.” He was my first date from the app in August of 2016; the rest is history! My second fun fact is that I love to cook and experiment with new ingredients. Trips to the grocery store and farmers’ markets inspire me to try new recipes. My time in the kitchen has dwindled with two young children, but I still enjoy dabbling with mealtimes and jump at any opportunity to feed my family and friends.



Suzy: My first job was working at my parents’ small restaurant. I am first generation Greek American and (shocking) my parents owned a restaurant.  I can make a delicious pizza!  Working alongside my parents taught me a lot about work ethic, running a small business and the importance of relationships with your clients.


Your mantra?

Risa: My mantra is “If not now, when?”

Suzy: Squeeze the lemon (Make the most of each day!)


What are your favorite North Shore places, spaces and eats to frequent?

Risa: My family and I love to eat at Mizrahi Grill, Once Upon A Bagel and Michael’s Grill & Salad Bar when in the suburbs. I enjoy Tocco, Guildhall, Napolita and Pomeroy with friends or on date nights! Foodstuffs and Hometown Coffee and Juice are my go-to restaurants for quick eats during the week! Feel free to reach out to me for restaurant recommendations in the city – we love to try new restaurants and eat good food!

Suzy: Some of my favorites for date night are Tocco, Sophia Steak and Deer Path Inn.  For lunch or quick bites with the kids we love Hometown Coffee and Juice!


What gets you through a tough day, week, month…?

Risa: I look forward to a glass of wine, phone calls with friends and walks with my family after a long day or an even longer week!

Suzy: I depend on my morning workout to get me through the day! I like to do a combo of strength and pilates.  It really helps me set the tone for the day as well as help me to focus.


You’re both a DDS. Why did you choose dentistry?

Risa: Yes, Suzy and I are both pediatric dentists! My title is DDS, MPH. DDS stands for “Doctor of Dental Surgery” and MPH is a “Master of Public Health.” I became a dentist because I wanted to be involved in the architecture of a smile. I am a pediatric dentist because I am focused on the importance of prevention and good oral health from a young age and among the entire family. I also feel that early positive dental experiences create the opportunity for lifelong oral health and balance.

I received my MPH while training to become a pediatric dentist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The MPH is not a degree I use daily, but it helps me to better understand health and family circumstances from a birds-eye view.

Suzy: My pediatric dentist was a huge role model and inspiration for me.  I wanted to work in health care with children, and have the opportunity to own my own business. Pediatric dentistry is a career that provides the perfect trifecta! I love seeing our patients daily, inside and out of the office in the community.


Please tell us about your practice, Grins Pediatric Dentistry and your most recent location in Highland Park.

Suzy: Our office was created with children and families in mind, from the layout to the decor to the toys and tvs in the rooms.  We opened Grins Highland Park in November 2023.  We are thrilled to be a part of the Highland Park community!

Risa: Dr. Suzy and I proudly provide quality care in all aspects of dentistry for children from infants into young adulthood, including preventative and restorative care, as well as laser frenectomy treatments.



Why did you decide to go into dentistry together?

Risa: Suzy and I have been working together at Grins on Green Bay for over three years and decided to open Grins Highland Park as a team. We share a common mindset on non-invasive dental treatment modalities and are focused on preventative health and oral care for children. Our approach to care considers the entire patient and is based on a trusting relationship with children and their families. Suzy and I were friends and colleagues prior to the opening of Grins Highland Park, and we have always shared a mutual respect for one another. We are both devoted moms, who want to help take care of our community.

Suzy: Risa and I were introduced by a mutual friend who thought we would work well together, and they were right!  Risa and I share similar philosophies on children’s oral health as well as a passion for learning.  Since we are so compatible we decided it would be the natural next step to partner in business.



When should parents begin taking children to the dentist?

The Grins team cares for patients from infancy through the college years. We treat tethered oral tissues, frequently referred to as frenectomy treatments, in newborn babies, who are yet to develop teeth. However, along with the AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) we recommend children see a pediatric dentist shortly after their first birthdays. This visit is very educational for the parent so we can set the child up for success. It also establishes a dental home for the unlikely need for a dental emergency.


Advice needed! Realistically, what are a few foods parents should avoid giving children?

Risa: Gummy vitamins and candies, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers) and sticky bars and carbohydrates, such as Goldfish crackers, are the biggest culprits for cavities, and should be eaten only seldomly 🙂 Melty treats, including chocolate, popsicles and ice cream, are much more dental friendly!

Suzy: You’ll always hear me say “Be picky with sticky!”  Try to avoid sticky, chewy foods such as dried foods, fruit snacks and sticky sweets.


And tips on getting our kids to floss?

We love to hear that our patients have good flossing routines at home! Children, especially those under eight-years-old, should be engaged in a team-approach to flossing before toothbrushing at nighttime. Come pick-up a toothbrushing and flossing calendar at Grins and return it for a gift card at the end of each month! Colorful and fun floss sticks or flavored floss, such as CocoFloss, are other great ways to help excite children about flossing and keeping teeth clean.


It’s so nice to know about and support a female dentist. Do you see this field growing with women?

Risa: Dentistry is a great field for women, and the amount of women in it is steadily growing. My dental school class at Indiana University School of Dentistry was the school’s first ever class to have the same number of women as it did men. My pediatric dental residency program at the University of Illinois at Chicago was comprised of ten women and two men!

Suzy: Absolutely! More and more women are pursuing dentistry, especially pediatric dentistry.   Dentistry is a wonderful career choice for women.  If there are college aged women considering it, we offer a paid summer internship to help expose them to the dental field.


Are you involved in the community?

Community events are our favorite! The Grins team is really looking forward to becoming more involved in the Highland Park community and getting to know all of the wonderful families in the area. We have visited local libraries and daycares and attended events, including the Ravinia Farmers’ Market. We plan to visit the Ravinia Farmers’ Market again in July and the Northbrook Farmers’ Market in September. Please come say “Hi” to our team at the Sidewalk Sale in Highland Park happening on July 26th and 27th as well as some events in the fall at The Lot!



What’s on the horizon for you both personally and professionally?

Risa: I just had my second baby and am trying to navigate life as a mom of two [plus a sweet Goldendoodle – Magglio]. Other personal goals include moving north prior to my son attending kindergarten and continuing to maintain my relationship with myself, my husband and friends, old and new, in this busy phase of life. Suzy and I would both like to see Grins Highland Park grow with incredible families for whom we can care and develop relationships. We are also looking forward to attending many continuing education courses over the next year, as we are always looking to learn and grow our skillset to best help our patient population.



What are your contact details including the practice address, website and social media?

Grins Highland Park is located at 322 Skokie Valley Rd., STE 222. We are currently open for patient care on Mondays, Thursdays and select Fridays. Our website is:, and our Instagram handle is @grinspediatricdentistry.

About our Meet of Mom Sponsor

A very heartfelt thank you to CNSM Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Firm (wills and trusts). Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities! Learn more about Mary by visiting her Meet a Mom spotlight here! Contact Mary directly here: [email protected].


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