All Posts By

The Brace Place

dr-patel-orthodontist

What’s the Difference Between a Dentist and an Orthodontist?

By | Orthodontics | No Comments

In the modern world of technology and social media, you can have anything you could possibly need delivered directly to your door. From mattresses to prescription eyeglasses to clothing and shoes, there are direct-to-consumer brands of all kinds popping up online. It was only a matter of time before someone brought this concept to orthodontics.

Yep, you can now order orthodontic treatments like braces or Invisalign-like aligners online. Sounds too good to be true, right? That’s because it is. The companies that offer these “fast braces” or “six month smiles” make unrealistic promises. They aren’t backed by specialized orthodontists and they could be dangerous.

At The Brace Place, we’re passionate about safe, healthy and customized orthodontic treatment. We provide only the very best care to our Claremore and Tulsa orthodontic patients because we know that not all orthodontic treatments are created equally. Here’s the difference between a dentist and orthodontist, the dangers of DIY treatments, and why a highly trained orthodontic specialist is always the right choice when it comes to straightening your teeth.

Dentist vs. Orthodontist: Who Should I See?

Dentist and orthodontists do a lot of the same things: they take care of people’s teeth and they’re committed to helping patients achieve healthy smiles. But there’s an important distinction to make between dentists and orthodontists: all orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists. This means that all dentists and orthodontists go through dentistry school — but then an orthodontist continues on to specialize in orthodontics. As an orthodontist, Dr. Patel has both his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree and a master’s degree in orthodontics.

Think of it this way: a dentist is a generalist whereas an orthodontist is a specialist. While a dentist has the ability to treat your teeth, gums, jaw and general oral health, a trained orthodontic specialist has the knowledge and expertise to prevent, diagnose and treat dental and facial irregularities.

Just like you see your general practitioner for minor health concerns, you see your dentist for regular check-ups, routine cleanings, dental exams and non-urgent procedures like fillings, crowns or teeth whitening treatments. For bigger concerns that require corrective intervention — like size, positioning or spacing of the teeth and jaw — your dentist will refer you to an orthodontist. As a specialist, an orthodontist focuses solely on orthodontics. They’ll diagnose your issue and create a customized treatment plan to improve your smile, usually involving braces or Invisalign.

The Dangers of Direct-to Consumer and DIY Orthodontics

So you’ve been thinking about improving your smile for a while, but have been hesitant about starting treatment because it might take longer than you’d like. We hear this all the time from our Tulsa and Claremore orthodontic patients. People want their new smile — fast — and they think braces or Invisalign will feel like a lifetime.

Direct-to-consumer orthodontic companies play into this need for instant gratification. Their ads pop up all over Instagram and Facebook, promising to straighten people’s teeth in six months or less. We understand the allure of a quick, easy way to get the smile of your dreams but here’s the truth: there’s no “quick fix” when it comes to orthodontics.

These brands are basically offering DIY orthodontics — no orthodontist, no regulation and no guarantees for results. They don’t involve professional dental x-rays, instead relying on at-home impressions that cannot give an accurate picture of your orthodontic needs. DIY systems also focus solely on straightening your front teeth and fail to address overall bite concerns. At best, these types of treatment will lead to results that don’t last. At worst, they can cause damage to your teeth, jaw, gums and bite, meaning you’ll need more extensive orthodontic treatment in the long run.

What Kind of Orthodontic Treatment is Right for Me?

Unfortunately, many dentists endorse these mail-order orthodontic systems. Not at The Brace Place. Our orthodontic specialists only provide scientifically backed and clinically proven orthodontic treatments like braces and Invisalign. This is part of our commitment to take care of our patients in the safest, most effective way possible.

The type of orthodontic treatment you need depends on a number of factors. Just like there’s no quick fix, there’s also no one-size-fits-all treatment. The kind of treatment you choose will depend on:

  • The severity of your case: No two mouths are the same and some people need more intervention than others to achieve their dream smile. For significant bite issues, braces will be your best bet. For minimal crowding in only the front teeth, mail-order orthodontic treatments could work — but you should always speak to an orthodontist before starting any treatment.
  • The health of your teeth and gums: Undergoing any orthodontic treatment puts a lot of strain on your gums and teeth. In order to shift your teeth effectively, your mouth needs to be healthy first. You can do this safely under the supervision and guidance of a trained orthodontic specialist. If you insist on using an at-home system, make sure to get a clean bill of health from a dentist or orthodontist first. Otherwise, you risk damaging your teeth and gums.
  • Your lifestyle: Some people don’t mind having fixed hardware in their mouths for the duration of treatment. Others would prefer a device they can remove while eating or playing sports. The treatment you choose will depend on your personal preferences and lifestyle choices. Talk to your orthodontist and they’ll be able to put you on the right path to your dream smile.

We understand that our patients want to see their new smiles as quickly as possible. But we urge you not to choose a mail-order orthodontic system over professional treatment with a highly trained orthodontic specialist. It’s not worth it. If you’re still having doubts about the safety or concerns with at-home treatments, call The Brace Place to talk to an expert today.

dental-xrays

Everything You Want to Know About Dental X-Rays

By | Orthodontics | No Comments

Every orthodontist’s goal is to provide the highest level of care to his or her patients, from routine check-ups to diagnosing issues to providing education for lifelong oral health. A critical part of any orthodontic program is the use of dental x-rays, which allows dentists to diagnose, prevent and treat oral health concerns. But even though x-rays have been used in dentistry and medicine for over 150 years, many people still worry about the long-term effects x-rays can have on our overall health.

One of the biggest concerns our Tulsa and Claremore orthodontic patients have is that the risk of radiation from x-rays outweighs the benefits. While dental x-rays do give off minor amounts of radiation, the long-term impact is minimal. In fact, dental x-rays give off so little radiation that they’re considered safe for children and adults.

At The Brace Place, we always have our patients’ best interests at heart. We would never put you through anything that would cause you undue harm. X-rays are an important part of our Claremore and Tulsa orthodontic practice because they give us a total picture of your oral health, which in turn gives us the information we need to treat you as best we can. Still not sure whether dental x-rays are safe for you and your family? Here’s everything you need to know so you can feel comfortable making decisions for your dental health.

What are X-Rays Anyway?

An x-ray (or radiograph) is an imaging tool that gives medical and dental professionals an inside look at what’s happening inside your body. During the x-ray process, electromagnetic radiation passes through you and creates an image of your bones and other structures. These images are what are commonly known as “x-rays,” but the term actually refers to the type of radiation used to create them.

In dentistry, x-rays show a high level of detail of your teeth, bone and supporting structures of your mouth. They can help orthodontists and dentists find cavities, diagnose bite issues or periodontal disease, and so much more. While we can see many things through a visual dental examination, certain issues simply aren’t visible to the naked eye. X-rays give us a deeper, more accurate look at what’s going on in your mouth, helping us create a better informed treatment plan.

Why We Use X-Rays in Orthodontics

As we’ve mentioned, the benefits of dental x-rays are vast. Not only do they give dentists and orthodontists the information they need to accurately diagnose and treat dental problems — x-rays are a tool to help prevent problems from starting in the first place. X-rays can be used during routine orthodontic visits to check for cavities, rule out disease and ensure proper tooth development, or as part of a holistic treatment plan to diagnose and treat specific orthodontic issues.

At The Brace Place, we believe that x-rays are a necessary step in the journey to your perfect smile. We also believe in making sure that your orthodontic treatment is as safe as possible. That’s why Dr. Patel uses modern, low-dose, digital x-rays that follow the ALARA principle. Coined by the International Commission on Radiologic Protection, the ALARA principle stands for “As Low as Reasonably Achievable” and ensures that:

  • all x-ray exposures are justified in relation to their health benefits
  • all x-ray exposures are kept as low as possible
  • total x-ray doses received by a patient or personnel stay below the allowable limit

The ALARA principle also reduces the time of exposure, increases the distance between your body and the radiation source, and guarantees the use of shielding, such as leaded aprons. By following these standards, we are able to provide safe, effective and reliable dental x-rays to our patients.

What are the Risks of Dental X-Rays?

At The Brace Place, our patients are our number one priority. We want you to feel comfortable, safe and informed about your dental treatment. Before undergoing any sort of test, it’s important to understand both the risks and rewards. Fortunately, the benefits of dental x-rays are far greater than any downside.

When it comes to the risks of x-rays, radiation and its effects are the most common concerns. But the public perception of radiation from dental x-rays is inaccurate. In a single day, we’re exposed to more natural radiation than during a dental x-ray. In fact, dental x-rays have one of the lowest doses of radiation out there, equivalent to about an hour-long airplane flight. For comparison, a CT scan can expose you to almost double the radiation you’d encounter in a full year from natural sources.

While certain x-rays can pose serious health risks, dental and orthodontic x-rays are a safe and necessary tool for overall health. We only use digital x-rays, which have even lower radiation levels than traditional film x-rays, and we always cover you with leaded aprons to reduce your exposure as much as possible. If you still have concerns about the safety of dental x-rays, give The Brace Place a call to talk with an expert. We’re always here to help.

braces-food-boy

School Lunch Ideas for Kids and Teens in Braces

By | Orthodontics | No Comments

We can’t believe that summer is over and school is back in session. For our Claremore and Tulsa orthodontic patients, that means it’s time to get back into a regular routine of early wake-ups, homework sessions and of course, healthy school lunches. At The Brace Place, we know how hectic school day mornings can be: you have to get your kids ready, pack lunches and get them to school before the bell rings. And if your child or teen got braces over the summer, packing braces-friendly lunches takes even more thought and preparation.

Preparing back-to-school lunches for kids with braces doesn’t have to be complicated. Once you know exactly what your child can (and cannot) eat, it’ll be easier than ever to create nutritious meals and snacks your kids will love. To help you start the school year off right, here are our favorite braces-friendly lunch ideas for kids and teens.

Foods to Avoid with Braces

Before we get to fun and healthy lunch ideas for braces, it’s important to be clear on what your child should avoid eating during treatment. Your child is already getting used to so many changes right now — from the smile they see in the mirror to new oral hygiene routines. It’s a parent’s job to ease the transition to life with braces as much as possible, starting with braces-friendly foods.

While your child or teen can still enjoy most of their favorite foods with braces, there are a few things they’ll have to avoid until treatment ends. This includes sticky, crunchy, hard and chewy foods, and anything you have to bite into (like whole apples and corn on the cob). These foods can get caught in braces, making it harder to clean teeth effectively, or could even damage the brackets, meaning your child will need more appointments than necessary to keep treatment on track. To avoid treatment delays, avoid these foods when preparing your braces-clad child’s school lunches:

  • Bagels
  • Nuts
  • Chewing gum (unless it’s sugar free!)
  • Licorice
  • Hard candies
  • Popcorn
  • Caramel
  • Chips
  • Foods you have to bite into (such as apples, carrots or corn on the cob)

Easy, Braces-Friendly School Lunches

Sandwiches: While you’ll want to avoid chewy breads like bagels during your child’s treatment, soft bread, like sandwich bread, is totally safe. Sandwiches are the perfect braces-friendly meal because they’re so versatile. Peanut butter and jelly, turkey and cheese, tuna salad — no matter what your kids’ preferences, there’s an easy-to-eat sandwich they’re sure to love.

Fresh Fruit: As we said, whole apples are a no-go with braces because biting into a whole fruit can cause damage. But there are tons of fresh fruits that are easy to eat with braces. Try bite-sized fruits like berries, soft fruits like bananas, or cut-up fruits like mangoes and pineapples. Even apples can be on the menu, as long as they’re cut into small chunks or slices.

Pasta: For a super easy lunch that’s safe for braces (and a total crowd pleaser), whip up a simple pasta dish or even pasta salad. The best part is you can prep pasta ahead of time and have it ready to go, so you can spend less time worrying about school lunches for your teen or child with braces. Check out one of these braces-friendly recipes. After all, everyone loves pasta, right?

Steamed Veggies: To give your kids’ lunches a healthy boost, pack steamed veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Eating these veggies raw could cause damage to your child’s hardware, but steaming them makes them soft enough to eat without risk.

Soup: The best foods for kids with braces require minimal chewing, so soup fits the bill perfectly. Store-bought soups can be healthy — just watch out for added sugars and ingredients you can’t pronounce. Or try one of these delicious, healthy, homemade soup recipes! To make sure the soup is still warm when lunchtime comes, use one of these awesome thermoses.

Yogurt: Yogurt is one the best snacks for kids and teens with braces because it’s not only soft and easy to digest, but it’s cold, too. Your child’s teeth will likely be sensitive as the braces work their magic. Cold foods can be soothing and can help to alleviate discomfort. Just like with store-bought soups, check labels for added sugars and any harmful additives. Better yet, get plain yogurt and add your own healthy, fresh fruit!

Preparing braces-friendly lunches might take a little extra forethought, but with a little creativity and planning, it’ll be easy as pie. Do yourself the favor of planning meals ahead of time by creating a lunch schedule for each day of the week. If you have time on Sundays, you can even meal prep for the week ahead to save time on school day mornings. And if you ever have questions about what your child can eat with braces, give The Brace Place a call. We’re always here to help.

invisalign-patient

Factors that Affect Orthodontic Treatment Time

By | Orthodontics | No Comments

Did you or your child just get braces or Invisalign? If you’re like the rest of the patients at our Tulsa and Claremore orthodontist office, the first thing you’re probably wondering is how long your treatment will take. While there’s no simple, one-size-fits-all answer, there are a number of things that can affect the length of your orthodontic treatment.

At The Brace Place, we know adjusting to life with braces can take time — but don’t wish it away. Instead, look at your treatment time as a journey towards the smile of your dreams. That said, there are certain things you can do to keep your orthodontic treatment on track. While it won’t necessarily mean you’ll get your braces off faster, it will at least minimize delays.

The length of your orthodontic treatment comes down to a few factors. Some depend on you — like how well you care for your teeth and whether you listen to your doctor’s advice or not. Others, like how complicated your case is, are out of your control. To get a better idea of how long your braces or Invisalign treatment will take, here’s a list of common factors that contribute to treatment time.

1. Your Oral Hygiene Practices

As you already know, the health of your teeth depends on how well you take care of them. Same goes for braces or Invisalign. The more diligent you are about brushing and flossing, the fewer delays you’ll have throughout your orthodontic treatment. So in many ways, practicing good oral hygiene will actually help you get your braces off faster!

If you have braces, you should brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day, but ideally after every meal so you don’t have pesky food particles hiding behind your brackets and wires all day. The same rules apply if you have Invisalign. Brushing your teeth after you eat will help keep your aligners (and teeth!) stain-free.

2. How Well You Adhere to Your Doctor’s Instructions

Believe it or not, there’s a method to your orthodontist’s madness. When Dr. Patel tells you not to eat crunchy foods or play sports without a mouthguard, it’s not because he doesn’t want you to have any fun — it’s because he wants your braces treatment to go as smoothly as possible. Listening to your doctor and following his or her instructions will mean less time in the orthodontist chair and more time enjoying your life. So do what your orthodontist says and your treatment will be over before you know it.

3. Avoiding Damage to Your Braces

Speaking of crunchy foods and mouthguards, any damage to your braces can cause setbacks in your orthodontic treatment. For people with braces, that means avoiding crunchy, sticky or chewy foods, and any foods you have to bite into (like apples or raw carrots), and wearing a mouthguard for any contact sports. For those with Invisalign, this means taking care of your aligners and only washing them in lukewarm water, since hot water can warp the plastic.

4. Losing Your Invisalign Aligners

Invisalign wearers, this one’s for you. We get it: things happen and at some point during your Invisalign treatment, you might end up misplacing your aligners. Our first word of advice is not to panic. Just call your orthodontist and he’ll be able to suggest the best course of action. This may mean going back to your previous set of aligners or skipping ahead to your next set, depending on your unique situation. Disrupting your Invisalign plan can definitely slow down your progress, though, so be careful and always put your aligners safely in their case when you’re not wearing them!

5. Your Current Smile

This is easily the biggest contributing factor to how long your braces or Invisalign treatment will take. Your treatment plan is based on your original smile and is 100% tailored to your specific needs. Some people are working to correct an over- or underbite, while others are treating issues like crooked or crowded teeth. Determining the length of your treatment comes down to how far your teeth need to move to reach their optimal position. Severely misaligned bites typically take longer to correct than minor issues, like a few crooked teeth. It all depends on your current smile — basically, the less complicated your condition, the shorter your treatment will be.

We know you’re excited to see your new smile without your braces or Invisalign in the way. To keep your treatment moving forward without delay, make sure to practice proper oral hygiene, listen to your orthodontist’s instructions and, most importantly, be patient. That way, when the day comes to remove your braces or put away your aligners for good, you’ll be able to think back on your treatment experience with a smile.

summer-kids-pool

The Best Affordable & Free Summer Activities for Kids in Tulsa & Claremore, OK

By | Community | No Comments

Can you believe we made it through another school year? We don’t know about you, but at our orthodontic practice in Tulsa and Claremore, time is flying by. Before you know it, your kids will be headed off to university!

For now, though, let’s enjoy as much time with our little ones as possible. Spending quality time with your family is what summer break is all about, after all. But with so many fun things to do with kids in Tulsa and Claremore, it can get to be a little hard on the wallet. To make your life easier, The Brace Place has rounded up all the best, free family activities in town so you can spend less time planning (and spending), and more time playing and exploring with your kids.

From parks and playgrounds to museums and more, here’s our ultimate list of free (or cheap) things to do with kids this summer.

Read More

invisalign-patient

Answers to the Questions We Hear Most Often from Our Claremore & Tulsa Invisalign Patients

By | Orthodontics | No Comments

The decision to get braces isn’t always easy. Even though braces are incredibly common, they can still make wearers feel self-conscious about their appearance and interrupt their lives. It’s important to us at The Brace Place to provide our patients with options so they can make the best decision for their teeth and lifestyle. Fortunately, there’s an effective alternative to traditional braces, free from uncomfortable metal and wires.

Invisalign is an orthodontic treatment used to achieve the same results as braces — but instead of using fixed brackets and elastics, Invisalign uses removable plastic aligners to gradually straighten your teeth. As a provider of affordable braces in Tulsa and Claremore, Dr. Anand Patel at The Brace Place is also an expert in Invisalign. Curious if Invisalign is right for you? Here’s everything you need to know to make the choice between braces and Invisalign. Read More

straight-teeth-smile

Why Having Straight Teeth Matters

By | Orthodontics | No Comments

When someone flashes you a dazzling, straight smile, it’s hard not to appreciate it. After all, we’re a pretty smile-obsessed culture. A person with a nice set of pearly whites just seems healthier, happier and more vibrant. While most of us probably wouldn’t mind giving that impression to others, beyond looking fantastic, does having straight teeth matter? The answer is, yes. In fact, there are proven social, emotional and health benefits of straight teeth. As a Claremore and Tulsa orthodontist, I strive to create results that are equally as functional as they are beautiful so that you look and feel your absolute best when you finish treatment. Here are a few of the important positive effects of braces and Invisalign: Read More

choosing-an-orthodontist

Choosing the Right Orthodontist: Questions to Ask at Your Consultation

By | Orthodontics | No Comments

Once you decide you’re ready to straighten your teeth and get a smile you love, your next step is choosing an orthodontist. While braces or Invisalign are both amazing tools, they require a lot of behind-the-scenes planning and know-how from a certified specialist in orthodontics to give you the amazing results you’re looking for. In addition to wanting to have the best possible outcome, it’s also important that the treatments offered work for your lifestyle and needs. That’s why you’ll want to ensure the orthodontist you choose is a great fit for you. The best way to determine that is to ask questions. Any orthodontist will be more than happy to answer them. If you’re unsure of where to start and asking yourself, “What should I ask my orthodontist?,” we’ve got you covered. The following questions are a great starting point when choosing an orthodontic practice: Read More

invisalign-teen

What are the Benefits of Invisalign® Teen?

By | Orthodontics | No Comments

The New York Times recently reported about a huge uptick in younger patients being treated with clear aligners instead of braces. In fact, the makers of Invisalign Teen said sales of the treatment went from 100,000 to 235,000 from 2013 to 2017. It’s something we’ve seen firsthand at The Brace Place too. More of our patients are opting for Invisalign Teen and traditional metal braces are no longer an automatic middle school or high school rite of passage. Though today’s braces are more streamlined and attractive and are still an amazing option, there is a lot to be said for clear aligner treatment. Here are some of the benefits that our Claremore and Tulsa Invisalign Teen patients love: Read More

do-braces-hurt

Do Braces Hurt?

By | Orthodontics | No Comments
Patients often ask do braces hurt? Or, does Invisalign hurt? The good news is, once you get acclimated to your appliance, you won’t experience any Invisalign or braces pain. In fact, you’ll probably forget you’re even in the midst of orthodontic treatment. However, you will have some discomfort when you first get your braces put on or start wearing your aligners, as well as after adjustments or switching to a new Invisalign tray. Thankfully, sensitivity is mild and easily managed. Here is what you need to know about the temporary discomfort, as well as the tips we give our Tulsa and Claremore braces and Invisalign patients to alleviate it. Read More