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Orthodontic Emergencies

Orthodontic Emergencies: The Top 7 Things to Do Right Away

By Blog, Orthodontics

While modern orthodontic appliances are comfortable and durable, they’re not immune to the occasional mishap. Whether you have a poking wire or sustain a dental injury while playing sports with braces, you might be wondering what the protocol is. The team at The Brace Place has you covered. Here are the top 7 things to do right away if you find yourself in the midst of a braces emergency:

1. Stay Calm

Take a deep breath. The truth is, true orthodontic emergencies are extremely rare. The majority of issues can actually be handled at home until you’re able to get to our Tulsa or Claremore orthodontic office

2. Assess the Situation

Is it a loose or broken braces bracket? Is a wire irritating your cheek? Are you experiencing discomfort because you have a piece of food stuck in your appliance? Figuring out exactly what the problem is will allow you to take the right course of action. 

Keep in mind, you should never feel severe braces pain or have any bleeding. If you do, it’s likely the result of a bigger issue like an injury or a dental infection, which brings us to our next step. 

3. Go to the ER for a True Emergency

If you’re having uncontrollable bleeding from your mouth or you suspect a concussion or fractured jaw after a blow to the face, go to the emergency room immediately. 

For signs of an oral infection (i.e., pain, fever, a pimple on the gums, a bad taste in the mouth, facial swelling, etc.) or a knocked out, displaced or fractured tooth, head to your general dentist as soon as possible. 

Oral infections can spread to the jaw and even other areas of the body, so getting treatment is key. As for a damaged tooth, the sooner you get emergency dental care, the more likely it is that the tooth can be saved. 

Once you’ve dealt with the more urgent concerns, call our office. We can repair your braces if needed to keep your treatment on track. 

4. Break Out Your Braces Wax

A loose or broken bracket on your braces can sometimes rub against the inside of your mouth. It can also leave you with excess wire. In this situation, having your braces kit on hand with some orthodontic relief wax will be super helpful. 

The wax acts as a buffer between your appliance and the soft tissues of your mouth. Plus, it’s great for holding a broken bracket in place and preventing it from spinning around on the wire. 

Before covering a loose bracket with wax, slide it back into its proper position. For a poking braces wire, it can be helpful to carefully push the wire out of the way and against the nearest tooth with the eraser end of a new pencil or a cotton swab first. 

Here’s how to use wax for braces:

  • Pull off a small piece of wax.
  • Roll it in between your fingers to warm it up. 
  • Flatten the wax against the part of your braces that’s bothering you.

Pro tip: For extra staying power, use a clean tissue or piece of gauze to dry the section of braces off prior to placing the wax. 

5. Try a Temporary Fix

Putting wax on your braces is often enough to keep you comfortable until you get to the orthodontist. However, if a poking braces wire is particularly bothersome and wax doesn’t help, you can clip it on your own. Using a pair of sterilized nail clippers, gently cut the wire close to the nearest tooth and then cover it with braces wax. 

6. Swish With Saltwater

Warm saltwater soothes irritation and reduces inflammation and bacteria. Mix ½ teaspoon of salt into eight ounces of warm water. Swish the saltwater around in your mouth for a few seconds and then spit it out. Continue until you finish the glass. You can repeat this as often as necessary. 

7. Call Your Orthodontist

After you have the immediate discomfort under control, contact our office. A friendly team member will let you know if you should come in for a repair appointment or if it’s something that can wait until your regularly scheduled visit. If you need guidance on using your braces wax or clipping a wire, call us first and we’ll walk you through it! 

Looking for an emergency orthodontist in Tulsa or Claremore?

Whether you’re a patient or you’re traveling in the area, reach out if you’re dealing with a braces emergency. Our orthodontist Dr. Anand Patel is always happy to help. Or, if you haven’t started treatment yet, book a complimentary consultation at The Brace Place today! 

Online Clear Aligners vs. Invisalign

Straightening Your Teeth With Online Clear Aligners vs. Invisalign

By Blog

At first glance, online clear aligners look like they offer many benefits over clear aligner treatment with an orthodontist. But did you know that the risks and limitations of online clear aligners outweigh any perks?

Clear aligners vs Invisalign

You’ll find many differences between online clear aligners vs Invisalign with an orthodontist. Not to mention a few details that could make you think twice about whether online teeth straightening will effectively fix your orthodontic issues and fulfill your smile goals.

Dr. Patel and the team at The Brace Place want to lay out some food for thought so you can make the best choice for your teeth. In this post, we’ll talk about:

  • Overall costs and value
  • The diagnostics you get/don’t get
  • Insurance coverage
  • Treatment limitations
  • Length of treatment
  • Technology and materials used
  • Professional oversight or lack thereof

Overall costs and value

As mentioned earlier, one of the draws of online teeth straightening is the initial sticker price. Many direct-to-consumer packages have a lower up-front price than treatment from an orthodontist. But comparing online clear aligners vs Invisalign solely on pricing is like comparing apples to oranges. 

You see, the sticker price of at-home aligners doesn’t always include the price of things like:

  • X-rays
  • Diagnostic records
  • Extra impression kits
  • Extra aligners for refinements during treatment
  • Attachments or accessories
  • A retainer

With online clear aligners, you run the risk of surprise costs, with a total bill that ends up the same or more as treatment with an orthodontist. However, Invisalign with an orthodontist like Dr. Patel includes the cost of diagnostics, extra aligners for fine-tuning treatment, accessories, and the first set of retainers. You also get the invaluable professional oversight of an orthodontic specialist from beginning to end. At The Brace Place, you benefit from Dr. Patel’s 20+ years of orthodontic experience treating thousands of Invisalign and braces patients.

The diagnostics you get/don’t get

The first steps in getting online clear aligners are in your hands. What does this mean? Essentially, you’re in charge of your diagnostics — a critical step in ensuring your clear aligner treatment is accurate. 

Most DIY brands ask you to fill out a questionnaire or take your own teeth impressions. This is meant to take the place of a one-on-one chat with an orthodontist and professionally-conducted diagnostics. 

At The Brace Place, we use high-tech digital diagnostic equipment like the iTero scanner, which results in a more precise picture of your teeth than goopy impression molds you’d do at home. We also take digital x-rays to ensure we know the state of your teeth inside and out. X-rays are super important at the start of teeth straightening treatment for several reasons. Moving teeth involves shifting teeth within the jawbone, so it’s important to see teeth root and see how teeth currently sit below the gumline. X-rays also allow you and the orthodontist insight into any underlying oral health issues (cavities, gum disease) that could impede teeth straightening treatment.

Insurance coverage

It’s true that many insurance packages cover orthodontics, so your out-of-pocket costs are lower. But keep in mind that some insurance companies offer less coverage for treatment that an orthodontist or dentist doesn’t directly supervise. While some mail-order clear aligner treatments now include some virtual dentist oversight, your insurance provider might decline coverage or grant only a small portion due to online treatment’s history of customer complaints. 

If your insurance does happen to cover your online clear aligners, consider the added inconvenience of making the claim yourself — and sometimes only after paying for your entire treatment. The great thing about Invisalign with an orthodontist is that they handle your claims for you, directly billing your insurance provider so you don’t have to do any paperwork.

Also, keep in mind that when an online brand says they offer professional oversight, the supervision of a “dental expert” might not be the same as oversight from a credentialed dentist or orthodontist. Invisalign with Dr. Patel ensures certified professional oversight that qualifies when it comes to your insurance.

Treatment limitations with online clear aligners vs Invisalign

First, we should mention that the gold standard of clear aligners — Invisalign — isn’t available as a DIY treatment, only with a dentist or orthodontist. So if you want the most proven clear aligner treatment on the market for peace of mind, you won’t find that in a mail-order system.

Next, most online clear aligners only treat mild to moderate teeth alignment issues that don’t require complex tooth movements. You won’t qualify for online kits if you have larger gaps, severely misaligned crowding or twisting, buck teeth, or a severe overbite, underbite, or crossbite. These types of tooth and jaw movements need direct diagnosis, treatment planning, and supervision by an orthodontist for a successful outcome. Mail-order aligners also don’t offer treatment with attachments — accessories needed for jaw alignment and more complex tooth movements. 

One of the best benefits of Invisalign? In the hands of an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Patel, complex cases can result in amazing outcomes. Even serious issues that were only treatable with braces in years past. The cherry on top? Dr. Patel is a Gold+ Invisalign Provider, meaning he has extensive experience successfully treating patients with Invisalign.

Length of treatment

We understand that most people would prefer as short a treatment time as possible — who doesn’t want a stunning smile asap? Many online kits lean on this, advertising quicker treatment times than orthodontist-led treatment. Some online systems even say results in as little as 4-6 months. 

While this is enticing, remember that these online systems only treat mild to moderate issues which contributes to a shorter treatment time anyway. Top of mind when it comes to the length of your treatment? Everyone’s teeth are different. From their orthodontic issues to the health and strength of their teeth, no two sets of teeth are the same. Treatment time largely depends on individual oral factors that are best assessed and planned for by orthodontic consultation and oversight. 

Another caution against overly quick treatment times? The science of orthodontic treatment needs time for the breakdown and rebuilding of cells as teeth shift and secure into their new positions. Overly quick treatment time can force aggressive tooth movements that don’t allow your body to build and heal or lead to tooth and oral structure damage. Sometimes this damage needs repair or surgery by a professional. 

So when weighing online clear aligners vs Invisalign treatment times, we suggest prioritizing custom, longer treatment with a professional over fast results for the overall health of your teeth.

Technology and materials used

Mail order aligner systems might seem like the most innovative option because they’ve gained popularity in just the past few years. But when it comes to materials, most use generic plastic, not purpose-designed for straightening teeth. One of the biggest benefits of Invisalign is their patented SmartTrack™ material — specially designed for orthodontic aligners.

Many online clear aligners also rely on physical molds to get your teeth impressions. This method, especially in the hands of a non-dental professional, can be difficult to get right, requiring multiple tries and still produce aligner trays that don’t fit.

Modern dental and orthodontic offices like The Brace Place instead use digital impression tools and software for more accurate imaging and treatment planning. Your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontist uses the latest proven, high-tech tools and techniques to ensure the most advanced treatment for our patients. For Invisalign, we use the iTero® digital scanner to get an accurate 3D picture of your teeth and help plan treatment that’s a perfect fit.

Experienced, Professional oversight — or lack thereof

Earlier, we mentioned that there might be a difference between “dental expert” oversight and certified orthodontist/dentist supervision in the eyes of your insurance provider. The same goes for your actual treatment and progress. With at-home treatment, the bulk of it is up to you, with some help from a dental expert, sometimes of unknown expertise. 

Treatment under a certified specialist in orthodontics is backed by professional knowledge of dental anatomy and years of experience in orthodontic procedures. What type of training does an orthodontist have? A certified orthodontic specialist like Dr. Patel has gone through undergraduate school, then dental school, then finally schooling to specialize in orthodontics. 

He is also board certified, which means he has successfully passed rigorous exams by the American Board of Orthodontists (ABO). To maintain his board certified status, Dr. Patel must also take a recertification exam every 10 years. The process to become board certified by the ABO takes 5-10 years and Dr. Patel is in an elite group of orthodontists — only 1 in 3 orthodontists is board certified.

Dr. Patel keeps his professional skills and knowledge up-to-date with his dedication to continuing studies. He is also a member of professional organizations, including the American Association of Orthodontists, American Dental Association, Oklahoma Dental Association, Tulsa County Dental Society and Rogers County Dental Society. 

Are online clear aligners safe?

The American Association of Orthodontists warns consumers against using online clear aligners because of the potential damage to teeth and gums. Without direct supervision by an orthodontics specialist, it may take a long time for a customer to realize their aligners aren’t working or fitting correctly. And by then, serious or long-term damage to the teeth and gums might have started. 

Conversely, Invisalign treatment with an orthodontist comes with the safety of professional experience you can count on: from expertly diagnosing your orthodontic issues to creating a personalized treatment plan to checking in on your progress and fine tuning along the way. Online clear aligners don’t come with the same level of accountability toward your oral safety as treatment with an orthodontist.

Orthodontists straighten teeth safely, with results that fulfill a patient’s unique aesthetic and functional goals.

Getting Beautiful, Straight Teeth with Confidence in Tulsa and Claremore, OK

More informed about the differences between online clear aligners vs Invisalign? The award-winning Brace Place team is happy to answer any outstanding questions you may have at a free initial consultation.

Contact us to visit our Tulsa or Claremore office and get started on a smile transformation knowing you’ll get amazing results! 

Man smiling in nature

Why Choosing Clear Aligner Treatment With Orthodontist Oversight Is Better than DIY Teeth Straightening

By Blog, Orthodontics

It’s safe to say that teeth straightening should be facilitated by an orthodontist. After all, a certified specialist in orthodontics has professional knowledge of dental anatomy and years of experience in orthodontic procedures. Orthodontists straighten teeth safely, with results that fulfill a patient’s unique aesthetic and functional goals.

Unfortunately, recent years have seen an uptick in DIY clear aligner treatment: people trying to straighten their smile with online services and products. These offer minimal to no supervision by an orthodontic or dental professional and Dr. Anand Patel and The Brace Place team caution against going it alone.

At face value, DIY clear aligners seem like a win-win for convenience and price, but the trade-off is risky. At-home clear aligners put all or most of the orthodontic decision-making on the patient: diagnosing their own case, taking their own impressions, and supervising their own progress. This can lead to permanent damage to teeth or issues that need extractions or surgery to correct. 

DIY teeth straightening also poses potential problems such as inaccurate impressions, trays that don’t fit, and root resorption from teeth moved too aggressively. The latter results in shorter tooth roots and less secure teeth.

Peace-of-Mind with Orthodontist Oversight

In contrast, oversight from a specialist in orthodontics ensures everything is precise, safe, and goes right every step of the way. At The Brace Place, Invisalign® treatment starts with high-tech digital teeth scans with an iTero® scanner — no goopy impression molds to mess up. And patients receive custom treatment planning that addresses both the look and function of their teeth. During treatment, oversight by an orthodontic specialist also allows for treatment adjustments in response to how teeth are moving in real time. The result? The best outcomes possible.

Confidence also comes from an orthodontist’s credentials. Tulsa and Claremore orthodontist, Dr. Patel, brings the following to every clear aligner case:

  • 25 years of orthodontic experience
  • status as an Invisalign Gold Provider Plus
  • American board certified designation
  • personalized service and custom treatment planning.

As for convenience? Clear aligner treatment with an orthodontist is easy with minimal interruption to daily life — only a few check-ins to ensure teeth are on-track. Time well spent for the assurance that teeth are responding well to clear aligner treatment.

About The Brace Place

The team at The Brace Place believes everyone deserves a stunning smile. For more than two decades, Dr. Anand Patel has transformed smiles from crooked to confident. As a Tulsa and Claremore, OK, orthodontic specialist, he pairs the latest orthodontic technology and treatments with fun, friendly service. Patients enjoy a safe, precise orthodontic experience with braces or Invisalign® — with flexible payment plans, transparent communication, and excellent results.

To get started with clear aligners at your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontist, book a first appointment today.

8 Fun Facts About Smiling

8 Fun Facts About Smiling

By Blog, Orthodontics

A genuine smile is a universal sign of connection and goodwill. But did you know there’s more to smiling than just that? 

Since we’re all about smiles at The Brace Place, we want to share a few fun facts about this powerful expression. And maybe the next time you smile or someone smiles at you, one of these eight fun smile facts might pop into your head… and make you smile even bigger!


  1. A smile can boost your mood 

Does smiling make you happy? Simply put, yes. Even when you don’t feel like smiling, simulating a genuine smile can lift your mood. Several studies show that smiling kickstarts a chemical reaction in your brain, releasing feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin. These hormones help reduce depression and aggression. 


  1. Smiling can reduce stress 

We all experience stress at one time or another. But taking a moment to pause and smile can bring you some relief. Physical benefits of smiling — like lowering your heart rate and cortisol levels — can better your mood, improving your health and immune system.

In one study, participants were given stress-inducing activities while holding chopsticks in their mouths to maintain a neutral expression, a standard smile, or a Duchenne smile (a smile that extends to the muscles around your eyes). The outcome? The types of smiles didn’t matter too much but it’s clear that smiling wins: those who had smiling expressions had lower heart rates and recovered more quickly from their stress than those with neutral faces. 


  1. Smiling can contribute to a longer life

The importance of your smile is not only about brightening the moment but can have long-term effects, too. Another study on the benefits of smiling and types of smiles catalogued player smiles on MLB baseball cards from 1952 and compared how long they lived. From no smile to a partial smile to a Duchenne smile, the bigger the smile, the longer the life. On average, those who didn’t smile lived 72.9 years, those with a partial smile lived 75 years, and players with a Duchenne smile lived 79.9 years.


  1. A smile can make you seem more intelligent

Job interview or first date, the benefits of smiling are many — including giving off the impression you’re a smart cookie! Case in point: researchers showed participants pictures of faces, asking to rate them for intelligence. Smiling faces were ranked as having “high intelligence” more often than non-smiling faces. And what contributes to an attractive smile? Straight, healthy teeth — often achieved with braces or Invisalign.


  1. Smiling is contagious

Adding to our fun facts about smiling: that it’s contagious. When you smile at someone, their brain responds with “sensorimotor simulation,” fancy-speak for mimicking an expression involuntarily. In fact, a study from Sweden showed that subjects had difficulty frowning when looking at a smiling face, their facial muscles fighting an automatic smile response.

So why do our brains do that? Responding with a smile is our brain’s way of showing empathy. And since smiling has a positive effect (as we’ve mentioned in smile fun facts #1 and #2) there are really no downsides to responding to a smile with a smile. 

  1. Smiles come in 19 different types 

We smile for all sorts of reasons, with a variety of different smiles. A UC-San Francisco researcher identified 19 types of smiles, putting them into two categories: the polite smile which engages fewer facial muscles, and the sincere smile that uses more muscles. And psychologist, Paul Ekman, identified individual types of smiles, like the felt smile, fear smile, miserable smile, and flirtatious smile. 

  1. Smiling is a baby’s first facial expression

One of the cutest facts about smiling? We’re hardwired to smile, right from the womb. In fact, 4D scanning has shown that some babies actually smile in utero. Once they’re born, babies reflexively smile in their sleep, then start smiling in response to people around them between six to 12 weeks old. 

  1. A smile is the most recognizable facial expression 

People can recognize a smile from up to 300 feet away, making it the most easily recognizable facial expression. And since smiling is a universal sign of happiness, it’s an easy way to communicate across cultures — more than handshakes, hugs, or bows which can have different meanings for different traditions. 

Smile bigger with the Brace Place

Dr. Patel and The Brace Place team hope these fun facts about smiling have made you grin! And now that you know more about the importance of your smile, contact your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontist today for a free consultation to improve yours!