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Anand Patel

what is diastema

What is Diastema and How Can it Be Treated?

By Orthodontics No Comments

Our smile says a lot about us. It’s one of the first things people notice about us and a feature that people tend to remember long after you’ve met them. And if there’s something particularly unique or special about a person’s smile — like diastema between their two front teeth — we tend to remember it as a defining feature, also named as Diastema.

So What is Diastema?

It might not be obvious from just looking at the word itself, but diastema is typically easy to recognize once you see it. Simply put, diastema is a gap or space between your teeth, the most noticeable kind is often the gap between the two front teeth. Maybe a few celebrities come to mind who have a signature gap in their smile. That’s diastema, and it can show up in anyone — from children to adults. It refers to gaps in either the upper or lower jaws and is a fairly common orthodontic issue that affects around 25% of people. Diastema is a type of malocclusion or misalignment of teeth. Other types of malocclusion include crowding, overbites, underbites, and crossbites. 

 

We should mention that when kids have gaps in their baby teeth, this is not considered diastema and shouldn’t cause parents to worry. Gaps between teeth at this stage are a good sign! Big gaps between baby teeth indicate that there should be room for the larger adult teeth when they come in. However, there are cases when gaps between teeth remain, even after all adult teeth have come in. This would be considered diastema.

 

Now that we’ve answered, “What is diastema?” you might be wondering whether or not having a gap in your teeth is an oral health concern. Yes and no. Diastema can indicate that you have an oral health issue like gum disease, but, no, just having diastema itself doesn’t automatically mean you have an oral health issue. In other words, the gaps in your teeth might just be aesthetic unless your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontist, Dr. Anand Patel, or your dentist finds otherwise.

 

Case in point, when patients come to The Brace Place with concerns about their diastema, it’s more often for aesthetic reasons. Some patients feel they would smile more confidently without a gap. Or sometimes spaced-out teeth can cause speech issues like lisping, especially if the gap is between the front teeth. In this latter case, orthodontic treatment paired with speech therapy can help eliminate speech difficulties.

What Causes a Gap Between Teeth?

Gaps between teeth happen for a variety of reasons. In his 20 years of experience, Dr. Patel has seen every cause for gaps in teeth and is highly experienced in treating them. Here, we’ll talk about the most common causes for gaps in teeth: 

Genetics

Have you noticed that your siblings, parents, or grandparents have gaps between their teeth? Or maybe they used to but had their gaps fixed. Diastema is sometimes hereditary, passed down from parent to child. Your genes can contribute to orthodontic issues like:

The size and shape of your jaw

If your jaw is too large for your adult teeth, then there might be gaps between your teeth. On the other hand, the opposite orthodontic issue of diastema is crowding, where teeth are too tight together because the jaw is too narrow and shallow.

The size and shape of your teeth 

Think back to when you were a kid. As we mentioned earlier, big gaps between baby teeth is a sign that there will be room for the larger adult teeth once they come in. But if the adult teeth that erupted are still quite small, this can result in diastema.

The proportions of your maxillary labial frenum

Feel your gums above your upper front teeth. There’s a connective tissue there called the maxillary labial frenum that joins the upper lip to your upper gums. If this tissue attachment is too wide or shallow, you might have frenulum tissue attachment which can create a tension that pulls the teeth away from each other, causing gaps between your front teeth.

Adult Teeth that Didn’t Erupt

It’s possible that once a baby tooth has fallen out, its adult replacement just doesn’t come in and there’s a gap in your smile. Sometimes this is hereditary and sometimes not. Research shows that about 20% of people are born with at least one adult tooth missing. In other cases, an adult tooth that fails to erupt might be because of external factors during development.

Prolonged Baby Habits

Another cause for diastema is infant habits like thumbsucking or tongue thrust that continued too far into early childhood. It goes without saying that these habits are a normal part of infancy: thumbsucking is a natural part of a baby’s self-soothing reflex, while tongue thrust shows that a baby knows how to prevent choking, pushing pureed foods away from the throat when it’s not wanted. 

However, when these habits continue on into the toddler or early-elementary school years, they can affect a child’s orthodontic health, including creating a gap between the front teeth. So how does this happen?

Thumbsucking 

This habit typically starts to lessen between ages 2-4, but if a child continues sucking their thumb into elementary school, the constant pressure against their front teeth and upper jaw can cause teeth to move outward and away from each other.

Tongue Thrust 

Tongue thrust in older kids or adults can look like:

  • the tip of the tongue sticking out between the teeth when you’re resting, sleeping, or swallowing.
  • mouth breathing, even when you’re not congested
  • you can’t completely close your lips
  • slow, fast or messy eating
  • lisping the “s” and “z” sounds when talking

 

Poor Oral Health

Another cause for gaps in teeth is poor oral health. Near the top of this article, we mentioned that diastema isn’t automatically a health concern. But it can be a sign of poor oral health. You see, gaps between teeth can create spaces for food debris to hide, resulting in inflamed or sore gums. If not addressed, this can lead to gum disease that loosens teeth, causing them to drift apart, flare, or even fall out, resulting in gaps.

 

Teeth Grinding or Jaw Clenching

Also known as bruxism, persistent teeth grinding and jaw clenching can cause diastema. Bruxism puts undue pressure on the upper teeth and makes them flare out, leaving a gap between them.

 

Complications from Diastema

Earlier on in this post, we talked about poor oral health as a possible cause of diastema. It’s also possible that diastema — combined with poor dental hygiene habits or other misalignment issues — can result in oral health issues like tooth decay and gum disease. It can be a bit of a vicious cycle: gaps in teeth can cause extra spaces for food debris to hide and gum disease to happen; gum disease can cause loose teeth that move apart and cause more space!

 

Another outcome of diastema is that the gaps between your teeth can result in bite issues. For example, if there’s a big gap in between your front teeth, this might not leave enough room for the teeth on either side. So those teeth end up crowding or becoming crooked.  

 

Of course, we can’t forget to mention that diastema can also affect a person’s confidence. Some people feel embarrassed about their diastema and it prevents them from fully smiling. It’s safe to say that many of our patients who have gaps in their teeth come to us with concerns about how their teeth look and how that affects their self-confidence. 

 

How to Treat Diastema: Braces and Invisalign

 

Now that we’ve covered what there is to know about diastema, you’re likely wondering how it’s treated. Can braces close gaps in teeth? How about Invisalign for gaps?

 

The answer to both is, yes! Both braces and Invisalign are effective for diastema closure. At The Brace Place, Dr. Patel and his team are experts in fixing gaps with braces and Invisalign. The one you end up using for your diastema will depend on your specific case. Considerations include- the severity of your gaps, whether you’re leaning towards braces or Invisalign, your budget, and lifestyle. 

 

When you come to our Tulsa or Claremore office for your free initial consultation, a friendly team member will take complimentary x-rays and Dr. Patel will do a thorough exam to assess your diastema and overall orthodontic issues. We’ll then walk you through your diagnosis and suggested treatment.

 

If your diastema is because of a frenulum tissue attachment, you might need a frenectomy before starting braces or Invisalign treatment. For this simple and quick surgical procedure, a small portion of the maxillary labial frenum is removed so it stops pulling your teeth apart. It takes a few days for the frenulum to heal and then you’ll be ready for your braces or Invisalign.

 

Braces for Fixing Gaps in Teeth

 

Braces are typically the first recommended option for closing gaps between teeth and we’re experts with them. After all, we’re called The Brace Place! 

 

We offer modern metal braces and ceramic braces that are discreet and streamlined. Trust us, these aren’t the bulky braces of generations past! These braces have smaller brackets and thinner wires that fix gaps between teeth discreetly, comfortably, and efficiently. Braces are a popular choice with our teen patients and those who like to express themselves with their choice of colorful elastics.

 

Traditional metal braces are still the most widely used for fixing gaps in teeth and other malocclusion issues. Another braces option is ceramic braces — also called clear braces. Ceramic braces have brackets made from a composite material that blends almost invisibly with your smile for a very discreet look. We offer our patients 3M Clarity™ ADVANCED ceramic brackets which withstand staining well, are durable, and low profile for comfort. 

 

Treatment time with braces depends on the severity of your gaps. Some of our patients have had their gaps fixed with braces in as little as six months. But no matter how long it takes for braces to fix the gaps in your teeth, you’ll be happy to know that your braces “before-and-after” will be like night and day! 

 

Invisalign Clear Aligners for Diastema Closure

 

At first, Invisalign was recommended by orthodontists only for milder malocclusion. But today, Invisalign, in the hands of an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Patel, can fix a wide variety of orthodontic concerns, including diastema.

 

Many of our adult patients in Tulsa and Claremore are interested in Invisalign for gaps in their teeth — they’re a great option for busy, on-the-go lifestyles. Invisalign is comfortable, easy, and you can barely see them. You wear your Invisalign clear aligners for at least 22 hours a day and you can eat and drink whatever you want. Take them out when eating, drinking anything other than water, and when brushing and flossing your teeth. Then simply pop them back in! 

 

How long does it take for Invisalign to close a gap in teeth? Since every Invisalign treatment plan is customized to a patient’s orthodontic needs and smile goals, timing is different from person to person. A patient using Invisalign treatment for diastema can expect 18-30 sets of aligners that are switched out every 1-2 weeks.

 

Start Fixing Gaps in Your Teeth Today

We hope this post has helped you answer the questions, “What is diastema?” and “How do you treat it?” If you have more questions or are ready to start your journey towards a gap-free smile, please contact us for a free, in-person consultation at our Tulsa or Claremore, OK, office or book a virtual appointment today.

 

how to get your braces off faster

How to Get Your Braces Off Faster

By Uncategorized, Orthodontics No Comments

The payoff for wearing braces is a beautiful straight smile for the rest of your life. But we at the Brace Place understand that sometimes the waiting can feel like ages and wonder how to get your braces off faster. Some of our patients to know how to get their braces off faster so they are ready for high school graduation — prom, photos, cap, and gown… all those moments would be that much more perfect with a new smile. Other patients just feel impatient with the process and want fast braces while still achieving the straight teeth they’ve always wanted.

So how long do braces last?

In any case, what is life with braces like? One of the first things many of our Tulsa and Claremore patients ask us is, “How long do braces take?”

For braces to work properly and shift teeth gradually (and comfortably) into alignment, they typically take about 18 months. So whether it’s a milestone event you’re aiming for or you just want to be braces-free as soon as possible, here are some tips from Dr. Anand Patel for how to get braces off sooner than later.

Follow Food Guidelines

Diet Do’s and Don’ts With Braces

It goes without saying that wearing braces requires a slight change in what you can and can’t eat. Regardless of whether you have modern metal braces or clear ceramic braces, you want to avoid foods that can damage or even break your braces. Braces that are less than 100% functional can delay your treatment. During the time your braces are out of commission, the pause in treatment might set back your teeth movements and extend your treatment time. 

For these reasons, braces-wearers who want to expedite their treatment and have faster braces should stay away from hard, sticky, crunchy, or chewy foods that can damage braces such as:

  • Bagels and pizza crust
  • Chips
  • Hard taco shells
  • Nuts
  • Chewing gum
  • Licorice
  • Jerky
  • Hard candies
  • Popcorn
  • Caramel
  • Anything you have to bite into, like apples, carrots, or corn on the cob

This might seem like a long list, but there’s plenty of foods considered safe for braces, and sticking with braces-friendly foods will ensure you’re taking good care of your oral health and your braces at the same time. You can eat soft foods like yogurt, pasta and rice, eggs, tofu, soup, and soft fruits to name a few.

Food Preparation With Braces

You can also cut up your food into smaller pieces if you’re really missing those raw vegetables and fruits, those hearty, crusty bread, or chewy meat dishes. Try softening vegetables by steaming or roasting them or blending fruit into sippable smoothies.

oral hygiene for braces

Keep your mouth healthy

Good oral hygiene is your best bet against tooth decay and gum disease. A healthy mouth can help keep your orthodontic treatment on track, or in some cases, result in faster braces. Clean, healthy gums are more likely to allow teeth to move faster. Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day — in the morning and before bed — and after every meal. Don’t forget to floss first before brushing!

Now, we should mention that proper brushing and flossing with braces does take a bit longer, but you’ll most likely agree that a few extra minutes in diligent oral care every day is worth the extra time and effort. When your braces come off, you won’t just have a straight smile but a fresh and healthy one, too!

When you can’t brush your teeth after a meal, say, if you’re eating out and don’t have your toothbrush handy, we suggest at least a few thorough swishes of water to help remove food debris and sugar. Rinsing your mouth with water will also help your mouth go back to a pH level that’s less hospitable to the bad bacteria that can turn into plaque.

Wear your elastics

The elastics that Dr. Patel will give you are a must to get braces off faster. Be sure to follow the instructions you’re given for wearing them — these elastics play a big role in aligning your teeth. Only take them out when eating and make it a habit to check you’ve got them in before you turn in for the night. 

So elastics are in… but what’s out? If you’re prone to chewing on the end of pens or pencils, or you’re a nailbiter, now would be the time to quit. Chewing on these could damage your braces. As we mentioned earlier, that’s not something you want when your goal is to get braces off faster.

Go to all your appointments!

Now, you might think your braces treatment is coming along nicely and you can skip a check-up or two to the Brace Place. However, only an orthodontist can properly assess your progress. If Dr. Patel hasn’t seen your teeth at the prescribed times, this might extend your orthodontic treatment. You could be wearing those metal braces or clear braces for a little while longer instead of the faster braces you were hoping for.

We can’t forget to mention that seeing your dentist twice a year is also important. As mentioned previously, your oral health does affect your braces treatment, and who doesn’t want both a healthy and beautiful smile?

Be gentle on your teeth

Your teeth and gums are working really hard during the straightening process. In essence, your braces are stretching ligaments on one side of the teeth roots which results in compressed ligaments on the other side. This stretched ligaments/compressed ligaments scenario signals osteoblasts to create bone tissue in the space created on the stretched side, while osteoclasts go about breaking down tissue on the compressed side. So it’s recommended you take it easy on your mouth and teeth. 

Try to break any habits that put extra stress or pressure on your teeth like teeth grinding or clenching your jaw. Use over-the-counter pain relief if you’re feeling discomfort — especially after an adjustment. And if you play sports, be sure to wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and braces from accidents that could prevent you from your goal to get braces off faster.

It’s safe to say that there’s no shortcut with braces. But following these tips for how to get braces off faster can help towards revealing your brand new smile quicker. If you have more questions about getting braces off faster or are still asking yourself, “How long do braces last?” Dr. Patel and the team at The Brace Place are happy to help. Contact us at our Tulsa or Claremore offices, or book a virtual appointment.

happy young woman smiling with not braces stains

Worried About Braces Stains? Here’s How to Avoid Them

By Orthodontics No Comments

How Do Braces Stains Happen?

As an orthodontist with 20 years experience, we’ve helped thousands of adults and children in Tulsa and Claremore get their dream smile with braces. While we can all agree that excellent oral hygiene is a must while wearing braces, in reality, sometimes we fall off the bandwagon with our diligent oral care routines. So whether you’re new to wearing braces or further along in your treatment, teeth stains from braces might be something you’re worried about.

Here, we’ll talk about topics of braces stains:

When you have braces, the brackets and wires create more nooks and crannies for plaque buildup and tooth decay. Plaque can build up around your braces brackets and in the gumline. Since brackets are bonded to your teeth with an air-tight seal, you don’t typically find teeth stains under the bracket, or they’re not as developed.

Admittedly, you have to be more diligent with brushing and flossing to keep your teeth cleaner around the brackets and between each tooth. But it’s not always just about oral hygiene. Here are the other most common causes for teeth stains from wearing braces, apart from lackluster oral care:

Constant Eating or Drinking

It’s fair to say that having a more scheduled eating and drinking routine is easier on the health of your teeth than if you’re constantly snacking. When you take in foods or drinks, the pH level (acidity level) in your mouth can drop below 5.5 from the act of eating. Any pH level below 7 is considered acidic. Cavities are more likely to develop in an acidic environment because acidity weakens teeth. If your mouth is constantly at a pH level of 5.5 because you eat frequently, your teeth can begin to demineralize, meaning minerals like calcium and phosphate that make up your protective enamel layer begin to erode. This can make your teeth more susceptible to tooth decay around your braces. Having breaks between meals and drinks (excluding water) gives your mouth a chance to return to a neutral pH of 7 or to a more alkaline level. These are safer for your tooth enamel.

Sugary Foods and Drinks

Another food-related cause of braces stains is the type of foods and drinks you consume — sugar is a main culprit. We all know that for both our oral and overall health we should moderate our sugar intake. But according to one study, it’s about the frequency of your sugar intake, not the amount when it comes to teeth. The teeth-damaging effects of sugar are more serious when you consume sugary foods on a regular basis versus the quantity of sugar you eat. In other words, exposing your teeth to sugary foods frequently is more likely to contribute to braces stains than eating a lot of sugar only once in a while. 

Keep in mind that what’s considered “sugary foods” isn’t just the obvious: desserts, candy, soda and fruit juice. Starchy foods like potatoes, rice, breads and pasta contain a form of sugar, making your mouth both more acidic and leaves sugar on your teeth. And the milk that many of us grow up drinking to make us healthy and strong? Though it does have health benefits, milk contains lactose, another form of sugar. Again, sugary foods don’t contribute to teeth stains in and of themselves — it’s how often we eat them, and, as we’ll cover later, if we clean our teeth in between times.

Acidic Foods and Drinks

Apart from sugary foods and drinks, acidic foods like citrus fruits and drinks, vinegar, sports drinks, the carbonation in sodas and anything sour can erode our tooth enamel. These acidic foods and drinks can create a mouth environment more susceptible to braces stains if we consume them on a regular basis.

Sticky Foods

Sticky foods often fall into the sugary category we mentioned above. Foods like caramel candies and chocolate can contribute to braces stains down the road because they coat your teeth easily.

Colorful Foods That Can Leave Stains

Depending on which ones, colorful foods might or might not contribute to a more acidic environment in your mouth, to plaque build up or tooth decay. But they can stain teeth and braces brackets if consumed frequently — red and yellow-colored foods are more likely to stain ceramic braces than metal braces. Overall, bright or deeply-hued foods to consume less frequently are:

  • Beets
  • Berries like cherries, blackberries, blueberries
  • Currants
  • Curries
  • Grape juice, pomegranate juice
  • Red wine
  • Tomatoes
  • Mustard
  • Coffee

Teeth-Whitening Products

Moving on from foods and drinks, you might be surprised to know that using teeth-whitening products when you’re wearing braces can hinder a beautiful white smile. Because braces brackets adhere to your teeth with an air-tight seal and adhesive, your teeth underneath the brackets aren’t affected by whitening products. We at The Brace Place suggest waiting on teeth-whitening treatment until your braces are off. We’re happy to suggest the best methods for taking this next step toward a brighter, confident smile!

Tobacco Products

Smoking cigarettes stains teeth a telltale yellow, so it’s not the best habit to have with braces. Smoking can also make your teeth more prone to plaque and weaken or cause damage to your gums and the bones in your mouth. Unhealthy gums, bone or teeth can also affect or delay the results of orthodontic treatment. And the smoke itself? Smoke can penetrate through the adhesive that holds your braces brackets to your teeth, staining the tooth surfaces underneath. 

coffee in a red mug

What Do Teeth Stains from Braces Look Like?

Now that we’ve covered what can cause braces stains, let’s talk about what these stains look like. Your first thought might be that braces stains are just yellow or gray. And you’re right! Plaque build up does yellow your teeth. But stained teeth after braces come off can also look like white spots on teeth. If you see these dull white spots after braces, they are typically the result of tooth decay that happened around your brackets. 

How to Avoid Braces Stains

Our team at The Brace Place spends a lot of time educating our patients about the best techniques for brushing and flossing with braces. Hands down, a thorough and careful oral hygiene routine is your best defence against braces stains.

Brush Thoroughly and With Care

When you didn’t have braces, the rule of thumb to brush twice a day worked great. But with braces, brushing after every meal is preferable. You want to get rid of any food debris that’s stuck in your brackets and wires or sweep away any sugar that’s stuck to your teeth with a good, 2-3 minute brushing. Position your soft-bristled toothbrush — manual or electric — at a 45 degree angle and brush away from the gumline with a fluoride toothpaste. (But not the whitening kind!) Brush at the gumline in small circles. Make sure you give yourself 10-15 minutes for your entire oral hygiene routine to make sure you clean well and help avoid stained teeth after braces. 

You’ll be pleased to know that you don’t always have to brush right away after a meal. Waiting half an hour after eating can allow your saliva to wash away acids from your food, give your mouth a chance to increase its pH balance and give your enamel a chance to settle. 

On the off-chance that you’re not at home or don’t have a toothbrush with you, swishing water around your mouth after a meal or drinks can help clean your teeth and braces. Let’s just say it’s better than nothing and can tide you over until you can brush later!

Floss At Least Once A Day

Flossing once a day is the recommendation of most dentists and orthodontists. However, you might find yourself flossing more often when you wear braces because bits of food can get stuck in them. Flossing helps remove food debris and the plaque build-up around your braces brackets that can lead to braces stains. Traditional, waxed floss will do the job, but if you’re having a tricky time threading the floss around your braces, we suggest trying floss products especially for braces wearers:

Floss Threaders – These are small, plastic, inexpensive tools that help you maneuver your dental floss around your braces wire.

Waterpik –  A device about the size and shape of a toothbrush, Waterpiks spray a stream of water between teeth and at the gumline. Look for a Waterpik that has a tapered end made especially for orthodontic care which cleans more easily around brackets and wires.

Dental Tape – If you’re not used to flossing every day, your gums might be sensitive to traditional dental floss; they might feel a bit sore or bleed. Dental tape is a gentle way of getting your teeth and gums used to flossing yet is still effective. Dental tape is spongy, wider and flat like a ribbon. It can be tricky to use at first, but you get used to it quickly. Then once your teeth get used to flossing, you can switch to traditional dental floss.

Do I Brush or Floss First?   

We can’t talk about brushing and flossing without answering the age-old question, “Do I brush or floss first?” A recent study found that flossing before you brush your teeth is more effective. 

Choose Foods and Drinks That Won’t Stain Your Teeth

As you’ve already gathered, there are foods you can and cannot eat with braces. Many of these suggestions help with lessening plaque build up and stains. Remember to follow up a meal or drinks with good oral hygiene! 

Foods That Can Help Prevent Stains

Earlier on, we mentioned that plaque and tooth decay are more likely to happen in an acidic oral environment. You’ll be glad to know that some foods can actually bring your mouth’s pH to a more neutral or alkaline state, creating an environment helpful for remineralizing your teeth against further staining. How to slowly get rid of braces stains? Whether during or after braces treatment, include the following all-star foods daily:

Cheese – Yes, it’s dairy. But unlike milk, cheese has minimal amounts of lactose sugar. Cheese gets its stain-fighting power from calcium, which, according to a 2003 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, counteracts the effects of eating sugar. If you don’t like cheese, try other calcium-rich foods like dark, leafy greens, beans and legumes, or edamame and tofu.

Water – Seems pretty basic, right? And easy to do. Swishing with water helps take away some of the stubborn sugar and food debris after a meal or drink. It’s also the most recommended form of hydration by health professionals and your go-to replacement for sugary sodas, sports drinks and fruit juices.

Probiotics – Probiotics help if they are the same kind as what’s naturally in your mouth. And take them everyday for the best outcomes! Look for probiotic supplements or yogurt that has the following types:

  • bifidobacterium
  • reuteri
  • rhamnosus
  • salivarius

Visit Your Dentist and Orthodontist

Keep up with your twice yearly check ups with the dentist and your scheduled orthodontic visits with us at The Brace Place. Professional cleaning and assessments of your oral health will reveal any staining or tooth decay and you can get them addressed.

A Word About How Genetics Affects Your Tolerance Against Stains

We should mention that just like eye color or the shape of your earlobes, genetics plays a part in how your teeth respond to stain-causing foods or habits. If you’re someone who doesn’t get many cavities regardless of how well you brush and floss, we congratulate you! (And maybe envy you a little bit.) Dr. Anand Patel and The Brace Place team still recommend you follow our suggestions about how to avoid stains on your teeth with braces. It can only do you good!

Treating Stained Teeth After Braces

So your braces are off, congratulations! That first look at your new smile is an exciting moment. But if your teeth could use a little whitening, how do you get rid of braces stains? If you see that your teeth are whiter where your braces were, don’t fret, the unevenness will lessen over time with your saliva. But if you’re itching to get your straight smile even more dazzling, you can brighten your grin post-braces with:

  • Drugstore whitening products like whitening strips, toothpastes and pens
  • At-home bleaching trays: we highly recommend getting the trays and gel from your dentist or orthodontist for  safer, quicker results. Drugstore whitening gels take longer.
  • Professional services at the dentist or orthodontist office. We at The Brace Place don’t offer whitening but can refer you to trusted colleagues who do.

Let’s Keep Those Braces Stains At Bay Together

Your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontist is your ally against stains on your teeth. Just like you, we want your smile after braces to be healthy and confident! Contact us if you want to know more about keeping your teeth stain- and cavity-free during your braces treatment. We offer in-office and virtual appointments — choose whichever works best for you! 

What-is-an-orthodontic-expander

What is an Orthodontic Expander & When is it Necessary?

By Uncategorized No Comments

When your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontist recommends an orthodontic expander for your elementary school-aged child, you might have a few questions before moving forward with it. “What exactly is an orthodontic expander?” You might ask. “What does it do?” and “When do they need it?”

Before we get into the answers, let’s take a step back. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) suggests seven years-old is a great time to take your child for an initial orthodontic visit. By age seven, children typically have some of their adult teeth and their bite is beginning to take shape. At this point, a certified orthodontist like Dr. Patel can see any potential orthodontic issues and assess if your child will benefit from early orthodontic treatment like an expander.

So What is an Orthodontic Expander?

An orthodontic expander is an appliance that gradually widens your child’s jaw and palate, allowing room for their adult teeth to grow in normally or to correct jaw misalignment. Every orthodontic expander is custom-made to fit a child’s natural palate. 

At The Brace Place, we typically suggest a palatal expander in early orthodontic treatment when your child’s upper jaw needs widening. Depending on your child’s orthodontic issues, your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontist, Dr. Patel, will suggest either a removable or fixed expander that is made up of two halves connected by a tiny screw in the middle.

How Does a Palatal Expander Work?

A palatal expander applies gradual pressure to widen the space in your child’s mouth over a 3-12 month period. It’s attached to the upper jaw against the palate and held in place with wires around the molars. Here, we’ll explain how it works:

Orthodontic Palatal Expander

Often, parents’ first question is how to tighten an expander. You simply use a special key to turn the small screw in the center of the palatal expander every day. Activating the screw pushes the palatal expander outward incrementally, less than one millimeter a day. Did you know that the right and left sides of a child’s upper jaw develop as two halves? These two bones — called maxillary bones — don’t fuse together until around or after puberty. So a palatal expander is essentially widening the two sides independently.

Once your orthodontist sees that your child’s jaw has widened the correct amount, the ortho expander will stay in for a few months more so that new bone can develop in the gap and stabilize the expansion.

When Is An Orthodontic Expander Needed?

Dr. Patel might suggest a palatal expander if your child has severe crowding, a crossbite or impacted teeth that look as if they’ll worsen as your child develops.

Crowding: If your child’s teeth are crowding even before all their adult teeth have erupted, widening their jaw with an expander might lessen the need for tooth extractions or braces later on. Crowding also affects how well your child can brush and floss their teeth.

Crossbite: A crossbite is when upper teeth misalign, sitting inside lower teeth because the upper jaw is too narrow. A palatal expander widens your child’s jaw, stacking the top and bottom teeth correctly.

Impacted Teeth: Sometimes an adult tooth hasn’t come in yet because its spot is blocked by other teeth. Widening the upper jaw can open up space for the impacted tooth to erupt on its own into its designated spot. 

Orthodontic Expander Pros and Cons:

We know that early orthodontic treatment like an ortho expander can be a big decision. We can also agree that we’re more used to seeing teens going through orthodontic care than younger children. But rest assured, at The Brace Place we follow the AAO’s suggestion of delaying treatment when issues are mild and only suggest early orthodontic treatment when absolutely necessary. Here are some pros and cons of orthodontic expander treatment to think about:

Pros:

  • Shortens the time your child will need braces later on
  • Lessens the need for tooth removals
  • Creates room for emerging adult teeth
  • Straighter teeth and aligned jaws means more effective brushing and flossing
  • A more aesthetically pleasing smile and improves confidence
  • Improves your child’s breathing
  • Improves chewing and eating

Cons:

  • It takes some time for your child to get used to eating with the expander
  • It can initially affect how your child speaks 
  • Children aren’t always keen on the extra cleaning needed for their expander
  • An expander can cause some tenderness when adjusted, though this goes away quickly

Ways You Can Help Your Child Get Used To Their Expander

Understandably, an orthodontic expander can feel like an overwhelming experience for a child. We at The Brace Place want to share a few suggestions for how you can make the transition more comfortable:

Offer some expander-friendly foods: Make the first few days of expander-wearing more fun and easy when it comes to foods. Soft foods like yogurt, smoothies, soup, or mashed potatoes will help, versus foods that need a lot of chewing.

Be ready to soothe discomfort: Because they’re not used to their expander, your child might feel pressure or discomfort on their teeth or palate at the beginning. Sometimes children also feel pressure in their nose or mouth when the orthodontic expander is placed or activated. Over-the-counter pain relief helps. Cold treats can make your child feel more comfortable and lift their mood.

Help your child with their oral hygiene: Has your child been brushing and flossing on their own these past few years? Now is a good time to get involved again. Show your child how to clean their teeth and expander and help them get used to the extra care and time it takes.

Keep us in-the-loop: Though problems with orthodontic expanders are rare, please contact us at our Tulsa or Claremore office if you have any concerns or questions about your child’s expander. If you see a gap growing in your child’s top front teeth, don’t be alarmed, this is normal and is a sign that your child’s palate is expanding. This can then be corrected with braces in the teen years.

Your Child’s Smile is Our Priority

At The Brace Place, we believe every child deserves a chance at a healthy, confident smile. If an orthodontic expander is recommended for your child, Dr. Patel has 20 years of orthodontic experience helping children successfully navigate early orthodontic treatment. Contact us today to book your free, initial early orthodontic consultation at our Tulsa or Claremore offices.

woman-smiling-holding-Invisalign-retainer

How Does Invisalign Work?

By Orthodontics No Comments

So you’ve had your free consultation with Dr. Patel at either our Claremore or Tulsa office and you’re ready to start the process of getting your dream smile. You’ve determined that a clear aligner system is the best choice for your teeth, lifestyle, and budget. The Brace Place offers Invisalign® and Invisalign Teen® as our preferred clear aligner option.

What are Invisalign and Invisalign Teen Clear Aligners?

We, at The Brace Place, are your go-to Claremore and Tulsa, OK orthodontist for Invisalign and Invisalign Teen. Using Invisalign is a precise, no-fuss process that helps you get the smile you always wanted. The aligners are made of clear, easy to clean, BPA-free plastic that is comfortable to wear. If you were wondering, Invisalign and Invisalign Teen have slight differences, which address the needs and habits of teen Invisalign wearers:

Compliance Indicators – Small blue dots are printed on Invisalign Teen aligners. These dots fade after 2 weeks of wear to help indicate how long you’ve worn your clear aligners and when it’s time to move on to your next set.

Eruption Tabs – Teen mouths aren’t always fully developed when it’s time for orthodontic care. Invisalign Teen has special ‘eruption tabs’ at the back to accommodate growing molars.

More Replacement Aligners – Who doesn’t lose or misplace things once in a while? Invisalign Teen comes with 6 sets of extra aligners in case you lose or break your original ones.

How Does Invisalign Work?

The treatment process with Invisalign aligners is simple and easy. At this point, those familiar with orthodontic options may be asking, “How does Invisalign work vs. braces?” The Invisalign procedure involves gently straightening your teeth using a series of 18-30 sets of clear, mouthguard-style appliances you take out at home and change every 1-2 weeks. On the flip side, braces use brackets affixed to your teeth and metal wires that are not removable. Braces are adjusted throughout your treatment by Dr. Patel.

Need more info about Invisalign vs. braces? Find more answers to “How does Invisalign work?” here, and more about braces here.

A 3D Scan of Your Mouth – As your Tulsa, OK orthodontist, Dr. Patel begins your treatment with Invisalign using our iTero® digital scanner to take quick, comfortable digital scans of your teeth. The scans are sent to our computer and a 3D model of your mouth is created. Then, Dr. Patel plans out your treatment directly on this model to ensure that your clear aligners are custom fit to your teeth alone. He sends the specifications to Invisalign and a series of Invisalign clear aligners are printed for you based on his specifications.

Wearing the Aligners Every Day – Next, you’ll wear each set of custom Invisalign aligners throughout your treatment for at least 22 hours a day. You’ll change your aligners every 1-2 weeks. The aligners apply gentle pressure to gradually straighten your teeth as you make your way through the series. Most patients will receive about 18-30 sets over the entire treatment. Dr. Patel will guide you through with expert, personalized treatment until you reach your best smile!

Follow Up Visits – You’ll come into The Brace Place every 6-8 weeks for progress checks. Dr. Patel will review your progress and provide advice or changes to your wearing schedule if needed. With Invisalign aligners, follow up appointments are short and painless.

Dentist Appointments – Don’t forget to schedule dentist appointments every 6 months while you’re wearing your Invisalign aligners to keep tabs on your general oral health.

After You’re Done With Your Clear Aligners: When your aligner treatment plan is done, Dr. Patel will prescribe an Invisalign retainer to wear at night and an after-care plan to maintain your smile. 

The Many Benefits of Invisalign:

As a clear aligner option, Invisalign are a trusted and proven alternative to traditional braces because it offers many benefits:

  1. Custom fit
  2. More comfortable treatment
  3. Freedom to eat and drink what you want
  4. Continuation of your usual oral care routine
  5. More discreet wear
  6. Quick and painless follow-up visits

Benefit #1: A Custom Fit, A Custom Smile – Dr. Patel uses the state-of-the art iTero® digital intraoral 3D scanner at The Brace Place. A 3D scan is taken of your mouth and Dr. Patel maps out the Invisalign procedure specific to your mouth only. Your custom set of aligners are used to achieve amazing results unique to you. Your final smile will still look like you but better!

Benefit #2: Comfortable To Wear – Clear aligners are generally comfortable. This is because they straighten your teeth gradually and the initial adjustment to wearing them is pretty minimal. During the Invisalign process, most wearers swap out their aligners every 1-2 weeks for a slightly different shape, the last being the ones closest to your final smile. 

Benefit #3: Eat Whatever You Want – If you have friends who used traditional braces to straighten their teeth, you know that you can’t eat whatever you want with braces — hard or crunchy foods and sticky or chewy foods can damage or even break braces. 

Clear aligners like Invisalign allow you to continue your usual eating routine and choices — you simply take out your aligners when you eat, then put them back in right after you’re done. Remember to keep on choosing nutritious foods for your general oral health. Foods higher in sugar contribute to bacteria and plaque build-up. Not only is the goal of clear aligners a smile you’re proud of but also one that’s healthy!

Benefit #4: Continuing Your Usual Oral Care Routine – With Invisalign, you can continue the same brushing and flossing routine you had before. Simply take out your clear aligners to brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste in the morning, after meals and snacks, and before bed. Remember to floss once a day. Continue your usual dentist check ups for assessment and cleaning.

Benefit #5: You Can Barely See Them – Clear aligners are just that — clear. Visually, you barely notice them when they’re in your mouth. If you’re feeling the slightest bit self-conscious about the process of straighter teeth, clear aligners alleviate that worry.

Benefit #6: Quick and Painless Follow-Up Visits – Unlike follow-up visits for traditional braces, follow-up appointments with clear aligners are easy. Your appointments every 6-8 weeks are painless and quick.

How To Take Care of Clear Aligners:

Your Tulsa, OK orthodontist and his team will guide you on how best to take care of your Invisalign aligners. But in short, there isn’t much to it! Here are some do’s and don’ts:

  • Clean your aligners with water and a soft toothbrush when you wake up and before you go to bed.
  • Take out your clear aligners when eating or drinking (plain water is ok).
  • Brush and floss your teeth after eating OR at least rinse your mouth well with water.
  • Rinse your clear aligners with water throughout the day to get rid of any food debris or bacteria.
  • Keep your aligners in their case when you’re not wearing them.
  • If your Invisalign aligners get damaged, take them to Dr. Patel for assessment.

A Word About Invisalign vs. Clear Aligners Online

It’s safe to say that clear aligners like Invisalign are a very convenient and proven choice for achieving your best smile. Lately, however, direct-to-consumer aligners have popped up, touted as cheaper and quicker than orthodontist-approved aligners. At The Brace Place, we strongly recommend you think twice about considering these at-home orthodontic systems. With the Invisalign process, you’re in Dr. Patel’s experienced hands every step of the way. With online clear aligners, you’re left to manage on your own, even taking crucial first steps at home without an orthodontist’s guidance. In the end, you might end up doing more harm than good. 

How Much Does Invisalign Cost? 

The Brace Place wants everyone to have a healthy, straight smile and we don’t think finances should prevent you from achieving that. The cost of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen are comparable to other orthodontist-approved clear aligners. Invisalign cost is based on the complexity of your treatment and the number of aligners you’ll need.

Custom Financing Options

After your free consultation, Dr. Patel will tell you what your options are and the cost. The good news is that our flexible payment options work for your budget, include affordable monthly payments, low down payments, and 0% interest. We also accept most insurance coverage and file your claims for you.

Take The Next Step Towards A Confident Smile

As your Tulsa, OK orthodontist, we provide personalized, state-of-the-art care so you can enjoy a lifetime of confidence in your smile and the best in oral health. Now that you’re well-informed about Invisalign, Invisalign Teen, and how Invisalign work, book your next in-house or virtual appointment with Dr. Patel at the most convenient location for you — our Claremore and Tulsa teams are ready to help you take the next step today!

floss or brush first

Should You Floss or Brush First?

By Orthodontics No Comments

At The Brace Place, we spend a lot of time educating our Tulsa and Claremore orthodontic patients on techniques for brushing and flossing with braces. Both brushing and flossing are crucial to lifelong oral health and it’s safe to say that everyone knows you should brush and floss your teeth every day, especially when undergoing orthodontic treatment.

But do you know whether you should brush or floss first? Turns out, this question has a lot of people stumped and we’re here to help you out. In this post, you’ll learn all about:

  • The importance of daily brushing and flossing
  • Whether you should floss or brush your teeth first
  • How to floss and brush effectively with braces

Why Flossing and Brushing Matters

Brushing your teeth has long been the standard practice for at-home oral hygiene. We’ve all agreed — dental professionals and the public alike — that we need to brush at least twice a day to uphold our oral health. But for some reason, flossing hasn’t reached the same widespread adoption. Hey, we get it: flossing may be a simple task, but it’s pretty inconvenient. On the other hand, so is tooth decay and gum disease.

Our mouths are full of diverse bacteria, which increase in the presence of food particles. When we eat or drink, food debris sits on our teeth and leads to build-up of plaque and bacteria. The bacteria then produces an acid that eats away at your tooth enamel, leading to cavities and gum disease. This is why brushing and flossing is so important: these little tasks clean your teeth and whisk away all that harmful gunk.

Most people are in the routine of brushing their teeth once in the morning and once before bed for two minutes at a time, as recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA). As for how often to floss your teeth, the ADA says we should all floss at least once a day because flossing gets into those little areas between your teeth that brushing alone can’t reach.

Should You Floss or Brush First?

Now to answer your burning question: should you brush or floss your teeth first? You might not think it matters, but it turns out that the order in which you care for your teeth can make a difference in your oral health. A recent study shows that it’s best to floss your teeth before brushing.

By having participants test out both sequences, the researchers proved that flossing before brushing allows for the most thorough removal of dental plaque.

That’s because flossing loosens food particles and plaque from between the teeth. Brushing afterwards and rinsing with water then further clears the debris from the mouth. If you brush before flossing, on the other hand, the plaque and bacteria continue to sit in the mouth and on the teeth, potentially leading to periodontal disease.

Of course, the most important thing is to brush and floss your teeth every day period. Whether you floss or brush first, you’re still making a necessary commitment to your overall health. But if you want to maximize your plaque-busting power, floss first and then brush to get the most out of your at-home oral health routine!

Tips for Flossing and Brushing with Braces

Whether you’re new to braces or are well into your treatment, it doesn’t take long to realize that brushing and flossing with braces is much trickier than without. The brackets and wires create more places for food and plaque to hide, so it’s more important than ever to pay extra attention to your oral hygiene.

By taking extra steps to keep your teeth and gums clean, you won’t just have a straight smile after treatment — you’ll have a healthy one too!

Here are some tips for how to floss and brush your teeth with braces:

Brush in the morning, before bed and after every meal for two minutes each session. If you’re out and about and have a snack but forget your toothbrush, rinse your mouth out really well with water and brush when you get home.

Brush all of the surfaces of your teeth in between your braces and behind your back molars thoroughly and use circular motions to brush along the gum line.

Use a non-whitening, fluoride toothpaste to strengthen your tooth enamel and prevent cavities.

Use a proxy brush if needed to get in between your braces.

Floss at least once a day, preferably before bed. Use an orthodontic flosser or regular dental floss with a floss threader. Work the floss under the wire and in between any two teeth. Floss up and down the side of one tooth and then up and down the side of the other before moving on to the next pair.

Ask your dentist if they’d recommend a fluoride rinse. This can be helpful for patients who are prone to cavities. You can also use an over-the-counter fluoride mouthwash to zap any lingering bacteria and keep your pearly whites strong.

Be gentle with your braces. While they’re durable, they can break if you don’t take care.

Visit your Dr. Patel or your regular dentist for checkups every six months or as often as recommended.

Have more questions about why you should floss before your brush? Need to book your next appointment with Dr. Patel? Contact The Brace Place today.

shop-local-in-tulsa

Shop Local For the Holidays in Tulsa and Claremore, OK

By Community No Comments

We don’t know about you, but for the team at The Brace Place, this has been one of the strangest years of our lives. It’s also been one of the most difficult years for many local businesses dealing with the aftermath of closures and the ongoing challenges of social distancing. We went through hard times too, forced to shut the doors to our Tulsa and Claremore orthodontic practice for six weeks. We’re still so grateful to be open again and for your ongoing support.

When times are tough, it’s more important than ever to come together, support local businesses and do what we can to help our communities bounce back. With the holidays fast approaching, we want to take this opportunity to highlight some of our favorite stores in the neighborhood. Whether you’re comfortable heading out to stores in person or you’re sticking to online shopping this year, here are the best places to shop in Tulsa and Claremore this holiday season.

1. The Boxyard Tulsa – 502 East 3rd Street, Tulsa, OK

The Boxyard isn’t your typical shopping center. Created in 2016, this unique shopping destination in Tulsa is made entirely from cargo containers and is home to 20 local retailers, restaurants and small businesses. Here you’ll find everything from Mexican food and ice cream to skateboard gear and customized bath products. We’re sure you’ll be able to find a special gift for everyone on your list at The Boxyard.

  1. The District on Main – 406 W. Will Rogers Blvd, Claremore, OK

If you’re looking for a premium gift for her, The District has you covered. This locally owned shop stocks high-end clothing, accessories, jewelry, body care and housewares, so there’s something for all the special women in your life. Shopping for him? The District also has a small selection of premium men’s products, including shaving cream, face wash, beard balm and cologne.

  1. Made – 219 E Archer St, Tulsa, OK

Made is the best shop in Tulsa for locally made artisan goods. Home to handmade items from over 150 creators, Made is proud to feature primarily Tulsa-made products. Find sweaters, candles, baby clothes, hair accessories, jewelry — everything you could possibly imagine. When you shop at Made, you’re getting a gift your loved one is sure to adore and supporting local artistry at the same time.

  1. The Haberdashery – 407 W. Will Rogers Blvd, Claremore, OK

For a wider selection of gifts for him in Claremore, head over to The Haberdashery on West Will Rogers Boulevard. This is your go-to place for all his favorite brands from Saxx to Patagonia. There’s even an in-store barber for beard trims and haircuts, making this a true clothing store for guys in Claremore.

  1. Stash Apparel & Gifts – 3734 S. Peoria Ave & 9918 S. Riverside Pkwy, Tulsa, OK

Stash is one of our favorite places to shop in Tulsa. With two convenient locations and contact-free pick-up options, there’s nothing to get in the way of your holiday shopping. Here you’ll find women’s and baby clothes, accessories and homewares, as well as customizable gifts of all kinds. Stash really is a one-stop shop for everyone you’re shopping for this holiday season.

  1. Rhapsody Boutique & Spa – 318 W Will Rogers Blvd, Claremore, OK

Give a unique gift this year and send your loved one to the spa. Located right in downtown Claremore, Rhapsody is a full service hair salon, spa and boutique, offering everything from haircuts and coloring to massages and mani-pedis. And in case a spa service isn’t enough, Rhapsody is a trendy clothing boutique too, so you’re sure to find the perfect gift. 

  1. Stella Rae’s – 13220 Pawnee Dr (Suite C), Oklahoma City, OK

This nationally recognized shop has its roots right here in Oklahoma, so you can get all your favorite brands and support local too. Sometimes it’s easiest (and safest) just to shop online and Stella Rae’s is the perfect place. Shopping for a bargain? Don’t miss “$20 Tuesday” when Stella Rae’s puts thousands of items on sale for just $20! Just load up your online shopping cart before midnight on Monday and watch the prices drop first thing on Tuesday. If you have a big holiday shopping list, you can’t go wrong with savings like this!

  1. LoliPop: A Sweet Boutique – 518 W. Will Rogers Blvd, Claremore, OK

Does someone on your Christmas list have a sweet tooth? LoliPop should be your first stop. Not only does this Claremore candy shop have delicious sweets and treats, it’s also a clothing and accessory store, so you’ll have no trouble finding exactly what you’re looking for. Need a little help picking out the perfect gift? LoliPop also has gift baskets. This really is the sweetest place to shop in Claremore.

Did we miss any of your favorites? What other local Tulsa and Claremore shops are you supporting right now? We’d love to hear all about your holiday plans the next time you come in to see us. Contact The Brace Place today to book an appointment.