Category

Orthodontics

Considering At-Home Aligners? Here’s What You Should Know

By | Orthodontics | No Comments

You’ve been wanting to straighten your teeth for a while but, for one reason or another, you haven’t started treatment. Maybe braces, Invisalign or 3M Clarity aligners are out of your budget, or maybe you don’t want to wait a year or more for your brand new smile. These obstacles may have you considering an at-home teeth straightening solution, such as a mail-order aligner system.

These systems promise fast results, they’re cheaper than traditional treatment methods and they’ll even be delivered directly to your door. Sounds too good to be true, right? That’s because it is. At best, mail-order orthodontic systems can be ineffective. At worst, they can cause significant damage to your teeth. At The Brace Place, we believe everyone should have access to orthodontic care — but unless you see a professional, you’re not getting the treatment you deserve.

Before you start DIY orthodontic treatment, we encourage you to read this post. Here’s the truth about mail-order aligners and why professional treatment from Tulsa’s highly trained orthodontic specialist is always the best decision.

What are DIY and At-Home Orthodontics?

These days, you can order pretty much anything online. It was only a matter of time before orthodontics was the latest industry to join the on-demand movement. You’ve probably seen the ads popping up on Facebook and Instagram, promising straighter teeth in six months (or less), all from the comfort of your own home. It’s a quick (and cheaper) answer to a problem you’ve been wanting to solve for years, so it makes complete sense that you’d be tempted to try it out.

These direct-to-consumer orthodontic systems claim to function in the same way as professional orthodontic treatments like Invisalign. And here’s the bonus: the clear, plastic aligners will guide your teeth into the ideal position in a fraction of the time. The reality, though, is that there’s no “quick fix” when it comes to orthodontics. It requires expert knowledge and care from a trained professional.

Do-it-yourself aligners are billed as the latest and greatest solution for getting straighter teeth. But it’s one thing to build your own coffee table — it’s quite another to straighten your own teeth. Not only is this irresponsible, it can be downright dangerous. By taking your orthodontic treatment into your own hands, you could be doing more harm than good.

The Dangers of At-Home Orthodontic Systems

Before we dive into the cons of at-home orthodontics, we need to acknowledge that there are some positives of mail-order clear aligners. It’s true that these systems can be effective for simple cases, and they are a cheaper alternative to Invisalign. But these few benefits are flimsy and don’t compare to the potential dangers they may cause. Here are some of the downsides of DIY orthodontic treatments and why Dr. Patel cautions against them:

  • They’re not backed by science. Mail-order and high-speed orthodontic systems make unrealistic, unproven promises. The length of your orthodontic treatment is based on your unique situation and cannot be rushed.
  • You don’t get the expertise of a professional orthodontist. With DIY systems, there’s no orthodontist involved, no regulations and no guarantees for results. In fact, a dentist only has to take a weekend course to offer these systems, whereas an orthodontist has years of speciality training to provide professional orthodontic care.
  • Inaccurate treatment leads to inaccurate results. Professional orthodontic treatments use dental x-rays and digital scans to get the most precise picture of what’s going on inside your mouth. DIY treatments rely on at-home impressions that cannot provide the data required to appropriately diagnose and treat your orthodontic concerns.
  • At-home systems don’t look at the total picture. DIY and certain accelerated orthodontic systems focus solely on straightening your front teeth and fail to address overall bite concerns. An orthodontist, on the other hand, considers the whole mouth — teeth, gums, jaw and surrounding facial structures — to help create the ideal smile for your face.
  • They may cause lasting damage. Mail-order orthodontic treatments likely will not produce the results you expect or the results won’t last. More importantly, they can cause serious damage to your teeth, jaw, gums and bite. This means you may need more extensive orthodontic treatment in the long run, so you’re better off doing it right the first time.

We understand the temptation to go for an at-home, high-speed orthodontic system instead of signing up for lengthy treatment with an orthodontist. But we can’t stress this enough: there’s an immeasurable difference between professional orthodontic treatment and what you can get at home. As Tulsa and Claremore’s orthodontist, Dr. Patel has the training, knowledge and expertise to provide the highest quality of care and help you get the smile you’ve always wanted.

Still have questions about why professional orthodontic systems are better than at-home clear aligners? Want to learn more about which treatment options are right for you? Book a consultation (in-person or virtual!) with The Brace Place today.

What You Can and Cannot Eat With Braces & Invisalign

By | Orthodontics | No Comments

Starting treatment with braces or Invisalign can bring up a lot of different emotions for the patients at The Brace Place. While they’re mostly excited to see their brand new smile take shape, it can also take time to adjust to life with braces or Invisalign. One of the most important changes? Memorizing the list of foods you can’t eat with braces or Invisalign.

If you’re new to Invisalign or braces, this might sound familiar. Your Claremore or Tulsa orthodontist probably even gave you a handy print-out to help you remember exactly what foods to avoid with braces or Invisalign. But don’t worry: with a little patience and extra care, you’ll be a pro at eating safely for your new hardware. And if you ever need a quick crash course in what to eat with braces, we’ve got your back. Read on for the ultimate list of foods to eat with orthodontic treatment.

Foods to Avoid with Braces or Invisalign

Let’s get the not-so-fun part out of the way, shall we? As you already know, there are certain foods you have to avoid with braces. It’s not because we want you to be miserable during treatment — it’s because we want you to get the most from your treatment so you can enjoy your new smile as soon as possible. Unfortunately, though, some types of foods (like hard candies or crunchy popcorn) have the potential to break your brackets and wires. That means more visits to your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontist and delays in your treatment time. Nobody wants that!

Now, when it comes to eating with braces, there are a few hard-and-fast rules to keep in mind: no hard, crunchy, sticky or chewy foods, or foods you have to bite into. You should also avoid sugary foods and drinks because it’s trickier to brush and floss the bad stuff away when you have braces. As long as you stay away from those items, pretty much everything else is fair game. To help you stay on track, here’s a list of common foods to avoid with braces:

  • Bagels
  • 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

Invisalign wearers, we haven’t forgotten about you. And you’re in luck! Since your aligners are removable, you can eat all of your usual favorites just like you did before you started treatment. Just be sure to brush and floss your teeth before you pop you aligners back in.

What to Eat with Braces or Invisalign

We know it seems like there are a lot of foods to avoid with braces. But the good news is that there’s so much more you can still enjoy! That said, your teeth will likely be a little extra sensitive when you first start treatment (and each time you get your brackets tightened), so soft, cold foods will be more manageable than anything dense or hot. At least, until the sensitivity dies down in a few days and you’re back to your regular self.

In the early stages of braces, or after you get your braces tightened, we recommend foods like smoothies, yogurt, applesauce, oatmeal, soups, scrambled eggs and, yep, ice cream and milkshakes. Once you feel ready to eat more solid foods, try rice, steamed veggies, tofu, fish, avocados, or soft breads like pancakes or waffles. The list of foods you can eat with braces is endless! Just be smart, eat small bites, and remember to avoid anything that’s hard, crunchy, sticky or chewy.

Here’s a full rundown of foods that are safe for braces:

  • Yogurt
  • Pudding
  • Soft cheeses
  • Milkshakes
  • Smoothies
  • Ice cream and ice cream bars (as long as they don’t contain nuts, caramel or any other hard, crunchy, sticky or chewy ingredients)
  • Gelato and sorbet
  • Pasta and noodles
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Polenta
  • Couscous
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Beans
  • Soups and stews
  • Oatmeal
  • Pancakes
  • Hummus
  • Steamed, cooked or roasted veggies
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soft fruits, like bananas or cantaloupe
  • Applesauce
  • Jell-O

Does that make you feel better about what you can eat during treatment? We hope so! As for our Invisalign patients, you can enjoy all of the above as well. Just take your aligners out and store them in their special case while you eat, and put them back in right after you’ve brushed and flossed.

Now that you’re well-versed in foods that are safe for braces (and foods that aren’t), we hope you’re feeling confident about taking care of your hardware. Any time you feel tempted to eat those crunchy pretzels or chewy candies, remember this: the better you are at following the “rules” for orthodontic treatment, the sooner you’ll be braces- or Invisalign-free. So follow your orthodontist’s recommendations, avoid the foods that could damage your braces, and brush and floss carefully after every meal. And if you ever have questions, give The Brace Place a call. We’re here to help you enjoy your treatment to the fullest.

What are the Different Types of Retainers?

By | Orthodontics | No Comments

Getting close to the end of orthodontic treatment? Congratulations! You’re just about ready to meet the new you. After months or years of adapting to your hardware, you deserve to show off that beautiful smile. However, just because you’re officially finished with braces or clear aligners doesn’t mean you’re done with treatment altogether. To make sure your teeth stay where we want them, you need to continue to wear an orthodontic retainer.

Orthodontic retainers help to maintain your teeth’s new position so your smile stays as straight as possible for many years to come. There are many different types of retainers to choose from, each with their own pros and cons. To take the guesswork out of choosing an orthodontic retainer, The Brace Place created this guide. Here’s everything you need to know about retainers and how to pick the best one for you.

Why Do I Need a Retainer After Braces of Invisalign?

First things first, you might be wondering why you need to wear a retainer after orthodontic treatment in the first place. What’s the worst that can happen if you decide not to use one, right? Well, your teeth have worked really hard over the course of your treatment to shift into the perfect position. Now that you’re not wearing your braces or clear aligners anymore, they need a little extra support to remember where they’re supposed to be.

Think of your time with braces or aligners as the “treatment” phase. Now, you’ve entered the “maintenance” phase. A retainer keeps your teeth in place, maintaining your beautiful new smile and protecting your investment. We know it can be tempting to avoid it, but wearing a retainer is the best way to prevent your teeth from relapsing, which happens when they move back to their original place.

So how long do you need to wear a retainer? The rumors are true: you will have to wear it forever if you want to keep your smile as straight as possible. For the first few months, you’ll need to keep it in full time. Then, once your teeth have had some time to get used to their new position, you can slowly shift to only wearing it at night. Trust us: it’s worth it. You waited a long time for your new smile, so it’s important to take the right steps to keep it this way.

Types of Retainers

Retainers come in all shapes, sizes and colors. The type of retainer you choose depends on your personal preferences and orthodontic needs. Some retainers are fixed, some are removable, some are made from plastic and others are made from metal. Here, we’ll break down the main two types of orthodontic retainers we offer at The Brace Place to help you make the best decision for your post-braces care.

Essix Retainers

 If you want a retainer that’s virtually invisible but can still be removed, a plastic retainer, such as an Essix retainer, is the perfect choice. Essix retainers are made from a thin, clear plastic that’s nearly impossible to see, so you can wear your retainer while still enjoying your new smile.

Essix retainers function in a similar way as clear plastic aligners to keep your teeth in place. However, the plastic is slightly thinner than aligners so they may not be as durable if you don’t take care of them properly. Unfortunately, since clear retainers can’t be adjusted, they cannot be fixed if broken. So if you’re opting for a plastic retainer over a metal one, make sure to take extra care with your device. An added bonus with Essix retainers is that they’re removable, so you can easily eat, brush and floss as usual.

Permanent Retainers

Removable retainers are a fantastic option for those who want to be able to brush and floss their teeth without disruption. That said, it’s easy to forget to wear a removable retainer or to wear it less than you’re supposed to. A permanent retainer eliminates that problem because it’s fixed in place — in other words, you have no choice but to wear it all the time! A simple wire is bonded to the back of your teeth (typically just the lower teeth) to keep them in their new position. While it may be a little trickier to brush and floss correctly, a permanent retainer is the simplest, most indetectable option for orthodontic retainers.

With so many different kinds of orthodontic retainers on the market, we know it can be difficult to decide which option is best. Your choice comes down to how visible (or invisible) and durable you want your retainer to be. If you’re still unsure, The Brace Place is here to answer any of your questions about retainers. Call us today book a virtual consultation.

dr-patel-virtual-consultation

The Perks of a Virtual Consultation at The Brace Place

By | Orthodontics | No Comments

As you probably already know, a few weeks ago, we made the difficult decision to close our practice during the COVID-19 crisis. We’re doing our part to protect our patients and staff, and to help #flattenthecurve. But while our doors may be closed, our team is still here to serve our Claremore and Tulsa orthodontic patients. We miss seeing your smiling faces at The Brace Place, so we’ve found a way to connect with you online.

Introducing virtual appointments: a safe, socially distant way to learn more about orthodontic treatment, meet our team and discuss your treatment options. Self-isolation doesn’t have to stand in the way of getting the smile of your dreams. Virtual appointments are a quick and simple first step in the orthodontic process. Ready to find out more? Here are the benefits of a virtual consultation with The Brace Place.

1. Allows You to Practice Social Distancing

Social distancing is the one thing that each of us can do to bring us closer to ending this pandemic. Now is not the time for social gatherings, group events or physical contact. It’s also not the time for unnecessary visits outside your home, and that includes orthodontic appointments. That’s not to say orthodontic appointments are unnecessary, though — far from it! They’re crucial to helping you achieve your best smile and oral health. But scheduling virtual appointments is the best way to ensure you get the care and answers you need, all while keeping everyone safe and healthy.

2. Super Convenient, At-Home Guidance

All of our lives are turned upside down right now. Maybe you’re adjusting to working from home for the first time or you’ve got kids to entertain all day. Between all of the new changes every day, it would be tough to carve out the time to get into our office. Fortunately, now you don’t have to worry about it. With a virtual appointment, simply fill out the form on our website from wherever you’re weathering the storm and book a time that works for you. Visiting your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontist has never been more convenient.

3. Getting Started is Easy as 1,2,3

Not super computer savvy? Never had a virtual appointment before? Don’t worry! We’ve made the entire process as simple as possible so you can get the most out of your virtual experience with Dr. Patel. All you have to do is fill out the form with a few details about yourself, tell us about your concerns and goals, and one of our team members will reach out via phone or email. So it doesn’t matter if it’s your first online appointment or your hundredth. We’re here to help you every step of the way.

4. Get Answers in Real Time

Once we have your information, it’s time for the magic to happen. Dr. Patel can begin to develop a treatment plan based on your unique situation and desired results. During your virtual appointment, you’ll have the opportunity to ask any and all questions you have about orthodontic treatment, how the process works and how long it will take. The best part? You’ll get answers immediately so we can get a head start on your treatment plan. Our goal is to give you the most thorough understanding of your options so you can make an informed decision for your oral health.

5. It’s Totally Free

Virtual consultations at The Brace Place are for everyone, no referrals or commitment required. If, after talking to Dr. Patel, you decide not to move forward with treatment, that’s totally up to you. But if you’re ready to take the next step towards your perfect smile, we’ll make sure to get you in as soon as we open our doors.

At The Brace Place, we believe everyone deserves to put their best smile forward. We want to thank you all for your patience and understanding during these challenging times as we do our best to keep you all safe. Until we can see you in person, virtual consultations will give you the answers you need to prepare for treatment. When life returns to normal, we’ll be here to welcome you with open arms.

Our Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

By | Community, Orthodontics | No Comments

OUR OFFICES ARE RE-OPENING THIS FRI, MAY 1ST! – COVID-19 UPDATE FOR APRIL 29, 2020

 

Dear Patients and Parents,

We are excited to announce that our Tulsa and Claremore offices will be open to patients again this Friday, May 1st!

We want to thank all of our patients for their continued support and patience through all of this.

As we prepare to transition back, we will be making a few changes to our office protocols to ensure the safety and well-being of our patients, staff and community, as well as to prevent the spread of covid-19. Your safety and well-being are always our utmost top priority!

Here’s what’s changing:

Following strict CDC and ADA guidelines on infection control and sterilization techniques and equipment, we will be:

✅ Rescheduling patients who had appointments with us in the last 6-7 weeks. The Brace Place staff will be calling patients to confirm new appointment dates and times.

✅ The number of patients and patient family members in the offices will be limited. For a teen or adult patient, we prefer no other family present, if possible. For children, only 1 family member may be present with the patient. Please wear a mask upon entering the office.

✅ We will be limiting the number of patients we see per hour to enhance social distancing. To help accommodate everyone’s appointments, we will be opening extra operating days in the coming months.

✅ Our staff will be undergoing daily temperature checks using a no-contact thermometer. Temperature checks can be requested if you are uncertain if your child has a fever.

✅ Office amenities such as coffee and water stations will be temporarily closed due to sanitation purposes.

✅ If you are a patient who has experienced or currently has a fever, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat, traveled to a hot spot, or has been outside the US, please call us to reschedule your appointment to when you’re healthy.

If you have any questions or concerns at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

We look forward to seeing you all soon!

Dr. Patel and The Brace Place Team

____________________________

 

COVID-19 UPDATE FOR APRIL 2, 2020

 

Dear Patients and Parents,

We want to personally reach out to you and provide an update on the actions that The Brace Place is taking to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and to support the health and well-being of our patients and team. Following recommendations from the Oklahoma Dental Association, ADA and CDC, we are temporarily closing the office until April 30th.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate through this time together and we will continue to provide you with the latest information via email, text message, and social media. Phones will still be answered, and messages checked routinely.

We will be contacting every patient who is on the schedule from now until then and will reappoint you once we have more information in the next few weeks.

For your convenience, in the event of a dental emergency or if you have any questions about your orthodontic treatment and would like to send us pictures to have Dr. Patel review your progress, please complete a virtual check-in with us here. Dr. Patel will be able to provide feedback which will allow for your treatment to progress and your treatment to stay on track.

Our admin support and emergency care will be available from Monday to Thursday 8am – 12pm and 1pm – 5pm at both our Tulsa and Claremore offices.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via phone or email.

  • Phone: (918) 749-8817 (Tulsa Office)
  • Phone: (918) 342-1240 (Claremore Office)
  • Email: [email protected]

We are privileged to serve you and the community and look forward to seeing your smiles again soon!

Thank you and be well,

Dr. Patel and The Brace Place Team

____________________________

 

COVID-19 UPDATE FOR MARCH 18, 2020

 

Dear Patients and Parents,

In light of the current COVID-19 crisis and in the interest of protecting our patients and orthodontic team, we are following the recommendation of the American Dental Association (ADA) to not do any elective dental procedure which includes orthodontics, and have made the hard decision to close our office (EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY) and cancel all appointments until April 3rd.

We will be contacting every patient who is on the schedule from now until then and will reappoint you once we have more information in the next three weeks.

We will remain available for emergencies and to answer any questions via phone or email.
Phone: (918) 749-8817 (Tulsa Office)
Phone: (918) 342-1240 (Claremore Office)
Email: [email protected]

Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for timely updates.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheBracePlaceTulsa
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thebraceplacetulsa

As small business owners, healthcare providers, parents and community members we feel the need to do our part to #flattenthecurve. The health of our patients and staff is our top priority!

Thank you so much for your support and understanding during this difficult time. We feel blessed to be part of such an amazing community. We take comfort knowing we will get through this together. We will continue to update you as new information becomes available.

Invisalign Patients:
Continue wearing your aligners as instructed. If you are on your last aligner and have an appointment in this three-week time frame, continue wearing the last aligner until you are seen again. Any questions or concerns, please contact us.

Braces Patients:
Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene! Brush, floss, repeat. Continue with your treatment as directed until you are seen again.

Expander and Elastics Patients:
Continue with your treatment as directed. If your appointment falls in this next three-weeks, please call us before continuing further.

Stay safe and keep smiling!

Dr. Patel and The Brace Place Team

ortho-patient

Invisalign & Braces Hacks to Make Your Orthodontic Treatment Easier

By | Orthodontics | No Comments

New to braces or Invisalign, or about to start orthodontic treatment? We’re excited you’ve decided to make this investment in your future smile! As you begin to adjust to your new hardware, you probably have a ton of questions about how to make your orthodontic treatment easier. As your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontists, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know.

At The Brace Place, we’re committed to helping our patients achieve the smile of their dreams — as easily and comfortably as possible. If you’re new to braces or Invisalign, here are our top tips and tricks for making your orthodontic treatment as easy as saying “cheese!”

1. Stock the Fridge with Braces-Friendly Foods

One of the best ways to prepare for Invisalign or braces is to get your home ready before you even start treatment. That way, you won’t have a thing to worry about when you get home from your appointment. Whether you’re about to start orthodontic treatment yourself or you’re preparing to support your child through the process, we recommend stocking your fridge with yummy, healthy foods that are safe for braces and Invisalign to take the guesswork out of mealtimes.

For braces, this means nothing hard, crunchy, sticky, chewy, or anything you have to bite into (like whole apples or corn on the cob). For Invisalign, you can pretty much eat as you normally would, since you can simply remove your aligners during meals. You’ll also want to be careful with foods and drinks that could stain your aligners (like beets, coffee or red wine), and always make sure to brush and floss before putting them back in!

2. Brush and Floss with Extra Care

It can take a little time to get used to living with Invisalign or braces. There’s a lot to learn and many new routines you’ll need to develop. The most important thing you can do to set yourself up for success with braces or Invisalign is to take extra care when brushing or flossing. While you probably already brush your teeth twice a day, you’ll need to brush after every meal with braces and Invisalign — no exceptions! That’s because food can get caught in your teeth or behind your braces. If you don’t brush or floss it away, it could cause harmful build-up or cavities. The sooner you get super diligent about your oral hygiene, the easier your orthodontic treatment will be.

3. Build a Braces or Invisalign To-Go Kit

All it takes to have a smooth and simple experience with braces or Invisalign is a little preparation. We know it can seem like a lot of change at first, but if you plan ahead, treatment will feel like a breeze. As you already know, you need to brush and floss extra carefully when you have braces or Invisalign, which can be easier said than done when you’re on the go. That’s why we suggest our Claremore and Tulsa orthodontic patients create a travel kit for Invisalign or braces, stocked with everything they need to take care of their hardware no matter where they are. Put a travel toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, a small mirror and orthodontic wax into a toiletry bag that you can carry with you anywhere. You’ll never have to worry about getting caught with food in your teeth again (and your teeth will thank you!).

4. Ease Discomfort with Simple, At-Home Solutions

Most patients will experience the most discomfort during their first week with braces or Invisalign. That’s because your hardware is working hard to guide your teeth into the ideal position and create your perfect smile. For the most part, this discomfort will subside over time, but as you progress through treatment, certain times may be more uncomfortable than others. Fortunately, there are some simple at-home hacks for braces pain.

If you have braces, your teeth might be a little extra tender after you get your brackets tightened. For Invisalign wearers, each time you switch to a new set of aligners, you could experience increased sensitivity. To reduce discomfort from Invisalign or braces, try rinsing your mouth with a saltwater solution (2 tablespoons per cup of warm water) or take a mild painkiller like Tylenol before your tightening appointments. If your brackets are irritating the inside of your lips, orthodontic wax will be your new best friend. Simply place a ball of wax over the poking part of your braces and we’re confident you’ll be feeling good as new in no time.

Learning to live with braces or Invisalign can be quick and easy, as long as you’re armed with these simple hacks. Still have questions about how to prepare or adjust to your orthodontic treatment? Call The Brace Place today.

ortho-rubber-bands

Your Guide to Orthodontic Rubber Bands

By | Orthodontics | No Comments

Everyone knows that braces and Invisalign are proven ways to straighten your teeth. Through a combination of technologies, they work to gradually improve your smile and align your bite over time. But as effective as these orthodontic treatments are, they often need support from additional tools to help you achieve your desired results. One of the little helpers we use most often at The Brace Place is orthodontic rubber bands.

Rubber bands are a powerful add-on to your (or your child’s) orthodontic treatment. They work with both braces and Invisalign to guide your teeth into their final place. These rubber bands differ from the tiny elastics that hold the wire into the brackets. Instead, rubber bands give braces and aligners a little more leverage to perfect your bite.

Feeling a little confused? Don’t worry. Your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontists created this guide to rubber bands to help you get the most out of your treatment. Read on to learn everything you need to know about how rubber bands and braces work together.

What Are Orthodontic Rubber Bands?

As you probably already know, braces and Invisalign put pressure on your teeth and jaw to slowly move them into the desired position. However, these devices treat your top teeth and bottom teeth separately. This can become a problem when it comes to aligning your jaw. To achieve a perfect bite, we need to look at the mouth as a whole and treat the entire jaw together.

In order to align your jaw so your teeth fit together properly when you bite down, we need to create a connection between your upper and lower jaw. We also sometimes have to use extra force to bring your jaw into alignment. Rubber bands allow us to do both, helping to shorten your treatment time and give you your best smile.

Now that you know what braces rubber bands are for, it’s important to understand what they are not. They’re not the same thing as the regular rubber bands you find at home or at the office — in fact, using those types of elastics on your braces is extremely dangerous. Orthodontic rubber bands are made from a high-tech, medical grade latex that’s 100% safe to have in your mouth. (If you have a latex allergy, other options are available). So always be sure to use the braces rubber bands you get from your Claremore and Tulsa orthodontist.

How to Use Braces Rubber Bands

There are a lot of things to learn when you first get braces, so adding another appliance into the mix can feel a little overwhelming at first. Fortunately, rubber bands for braces are extremely easy to use. Actually, your braces are already designed for use with rubber bands, with little hooks to hold your elastics. They’re also used mostly during the bite-fixing part of your treatment, so by the time your orthodontist tells you to wear them, you’ll be an expert at having braces or Invisalign.

The positioning of your rubber bands will depend on the issue you’re trying to correct. For example, to fix an underbite, the rubber bands typically run from the lower front teeth to the back upper teeth. An overbite will have the opposite positioning. Your Tulsa orthodontist will give you detailed instructions for exactly how to wear your braces rubber bands, but here’s a basic guide for how to put rubber bands on your braces:

  • If you have braces, loop your rubber bands onto the little hooks on your braces to connect the upper jaw to the bottom. There may be hooks in different places so always follow your orthodontist’s instructions to make sure you’re affixing your elastics in the right place.
  • For Invisalign, there are two ways to use rubber bands. You will either loop your rubber bands around clear “buttons” that will be bonded directly to your teeth, or onto precision hooks that are cut into your plastic aligners.

Quick Tips for Braces Rubber Bands

Well, that was a lot of information on rubber bands! We know there’s a lot to take in when you’re new to braces. To make your braces or Invisalign treatment as simple as possible, here’s a list of dos and don’ts for how to wear and take care of your rubber bands for braces.

  • Wear your rubber bands for 24 hours a day. Only take them out to brush, floss and, if necessary, to eat.
  • Always follow your orthodontist’s instructions. Your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontist knows best and has designed your treatment plan to treat your specific needs.
  • Replace elastics regularly. Rubber bands for braces can get stretched out pretty quickly, so you may need to swap them out throughout the day. Just be sure to only use rubber bands provided by your orthodontist!
  • Don’t take them off if your teeth hurt. Every time you take your elastics off, it slows down your treatment time. We know it can be uncomfortable at first, but with regular use, your teeth will adjust.
  • Call The Brace Place if you have any questions, concerns or if you’re running low. Dr. Anand Patel is a highly trained orthodontic specialist. If you need more elastics, or if you have any questions about how to use your rubber bands, don’t hesitate to call us.

Ready to find out how The Brace Place can give you the smile of your dreams? Call today to book a free consultation.

4 Tips for Your First Week in Braces

By | Orthodontics | No Comments

So you (or your child) is about to get braces. Congratulations — you’ve taken a huge first step towards a brand new smile! While it’s exciting to look ahead to the new you, the first week with braces doesn’t always feel like a cause for celebration. Adjusting to your new hardware can be a major lifestyle shift that takes time to navigate. There are new rules to follow, techniques to learn and changes you’ll need to make to your everyday routine. But it’s all part of the journey to achieving the smile of your dreams and we’re here to support you.

At The Brace Place, our patients are our number one priority. We want to make sure your orthodontic experience goes as smoothly as possible — from the day you decide to get braces to your lifelong oral health. If you (or your loved one) are about to get braces and you’re not sure what to expect or how to prepare, here’s our ultimate survival guide for your first week with braces.

1. Stock the Fridge with Braces-Friendly Foods

The best way to ensure a positive first week with braces is to plan ahead — and that starts with learning what you can and cannot eat with braces. It’s best to do some research ahead of time so you can go into your first week with braces prepared and armed with braces-friendly recipes you’ll actually enjoy.

During your first week with braces, your teeth will likely be more sensitive as they adjust to your new hardware. Some foods — like crunchy, hard or chewy foods, or anything you have to bite into — can cause further discomfort. Not only that: these foods can damage your braces, causing unnecessary delays to your treatment. And as much as we love to see our patients’ smiling faces, the less we see you during treatment means you’re on track.

We always recommend sticking to soft, easily digestible foods, not only during your first week with braces, but throughout your entire treatment. Foods like yogurt, bananas, bite-sized fruits, pasta, sandwiches, soups, steamed veggies, tofu and fish are all safe foods for braces. You could even meal prep for your first week so you’re guaranteed to have a fridge full of braces-friendly foods on hand.

2. Brush Up on Proper Brushing and Flossing Practices

If you’re like the majority of Americans, you probably brush your teeth twice a day: once in the morning and once before you go to bed. There’s nothing wrong with that when you don’t have braces — but as soon as you begin your orthodontic treatment, you’ll need to be more diligent about brushing and flossing.

With braces, it’s more difficult to brush away plaque and food particles from your teeth because the brackets and wires are in the way. Food can also easily get stuck on your braces, causing even more harmful build-up. That’s why it’s so important to brush carefully after every meal and floss at least once a day. Read up on braces hygiene practices ahead of time and then use your first week with braces to perfect your technique. We’re sure brushing and flossing with braces will become second nature in no time.

3. Plan Ahead for Braces Emergencies

With any big change or new experience, it’s totally natural to worry about what might go wrong. The good news is that braces emergencies are extremely rare and, when they do occur, they’re hardly ever serious. Most braces emergencies can also be handled at home without a visit to your orthodontist, as long as you prepare yourself ahead of time.

In your first week with braces, the most common issues you’ll experience are sensitive teeth, irritation to the gums and inside of your lips, and poking wires. While braces are designed to minimize discomfort, it can still take time for your mouth to adjust. If your brackets or wires are causing irritation, rinse with salt water to prevent infection and use orthodontic wax to create a protective barrier. As for any tooth sensitivity, a mild painkiller like Ibuprofen can help.

4. Stay Positive!

We know there’s a lot to get used to during your first week with braces. Between knowing what to eat, taking care of your new hardware and managing discomfort, it can be a little overwhelming at first. But once your teeth and mouth adjust, the discomfort will go away after a few days. And as soon you get into a routine, we know you’ll feel confident and prepared to handle every step of your braces journey.

If you’re feeling nervous or unsure about what to expect from braces treatment, call your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontist and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have. And remember, the best thing you can do is be positive, stick to a routine and stay focused on the end goal: your beautiful smile.

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.