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Orthodontics

Can a Misaligned Bite Cause Headaches?

By Orthodontics

Have you been dealing with increasing headaches? The usual culprits might come to mind — stress, lack of sleep, maybe too much (or too little!) coffee. But what if we told you that a misaligned bite might be the cause? Yes, a misaligned bite, a type of malocclusion, can actually cause headaches.

If this sounds like you, read on as Dr. Anand Patel and The Brace Place team talk about this common problem.

The Connection Between a Bad Bite and Headaches

Misaligned teeth or dental arches can lead to all sorts of issues — and headaches are right up there on the list. Malocclusions such as underbites, cross bites, open bites, and overbites can cause jaw pain, muscle tension and head pain. But how exactly can misalignment cause headaches?

When your teeth don’t fit together well, your jaw can’t relax when your mouth is closed. In other words, with malocclusion, your jaw muscles are under constant stress. This strain on your jaw can lead to tension headaches, jaw pain, excessive or uneven wear on tooth enamel, or fractured teeth.

Your jaw and head are connected by a network of muscles, nerves, and joints. When you have a misaligned bite, your muscles must work overtime when bringing your teeth together, chewing, or even keeping your mouth closed. This extra strain can lead to muscle tension and headaches.

Here’s a list of the different types of malocclusion that can potentially cause headaches:

Overbite: You’re likely most familiar with this type of misalignment — an overbite is when your upper teeth overlap your lower teeth. Now, keep in mind that it’s normal to have a small overbite, but an excessive overbite can be problematic, causing extra wear on the front teeth, jaw pain, headache, and facial tension. A severe overbite is called a deep bite.

Underbite: Think of an underbite as the visual opposite of an overbite. It’s when the lower front teeth are on the outside of the upper front teeth when your mouth is closed. This orthodontic problem can cause jaw pain, TMJ dysfunction, difficulties with chewing, and even contribute to sleep apnea.

Overjet: This can be tricky for patients to recognize in the mirror and can be confused with an overbite. An overjet is only the upper front teeth sticking out in front of the lower front teeth. It’s sometimes called “buck teeth” or protruding teeth. This kind of malocclusion increases the risk of injury to the top front teeth and can cause pain in your jaw joints.

Crossbite: A crossbite is when the upper teeth sit on the inside of the lower teeth. You can have a front crossbite or back crossbite, depending on where it occurs in your mouth. In kids, this kind of bad bite can cause the jaws to develop asymmetrically; for both kids and adults, a crossbite can lead to jaw pain, TMJ dysfunction, and make chewing difficult.

Teeth Grinding and TMJ Headaches

Any of the above bad bites can also cause teeth grinding, which in turn can cause headaches. Also called bruxism, teeth grinding happens to both kids and adults, more commonly when you’re asleep. When you have a misaligned bite, sometimes grinding your teeth is a subconscious attempt at aligning your bite. Teeth grinding puts a lot of pressure and force on the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) that connect your lower jaw to your head, leading to issues like TMJ dysfunction and headaches, jaw pain, and muscle tension in your neck, shoulders, or ears.

If you experience a teeth-grinding headache quite regularly, it’s a definite sign that you should contact us at The Brace Place for a free initial consultation.

Fixing Malocclusion and Saying Goodbye to Headaches

As your Tulsa and Claremore, OK orthodontist, Dr. Patel is an expert at assessing smiles, diagnosing patients’ orthodontic issues, and providing individualized braces or Invisalign® treatment. The goal? To help our patients achieve healthy, stunning, and pain-free smiles.

How does this smile transformation begin? At your first visit, Dr. Patel will examine your teeth, chat with you about your jaw pain or headache symptoms, and our team will take quick and comfortable X-rays if needed.

Dr. Patel will look for and ask about:

  • Misalignment of your jaws and teeth
  • Uneven wear on your teeth
  • Jaw pain or clicking
  • Difficulty chewing or biting

If we find that you have malocclusion like an overbite, for example, and have been suffering constant headaches, orthodontic treatment can go a long way in finally relieving your pain. Braces and clear aligners aren’t just tools for a beautiful smile — they’re your ticket to aligning teeth or a bad bite and leaving related headaches behind.

No More Malocclusion Headaches With Your Tulsa Orthodontist

If you think malocclusion is causing your headaches, The Brace Place team is here to help. Dr. Patel offers over 25 years of orthodontic expertise, paired with modern technology and personalized treatment.

Contact your Tulsa and Claremore, OK, orthodontist to start your journey toward a well-aligned, pain-free smile with modern braces or Invisalign clear aligners.

Orthodontics for Teens: 5 Things Parents Should Know

By Orthodontics

So, your teen could benefit from orthodontics. If it’s your first time navigating the world of orthodontic treatment, this news can feel a little overwhelming. That’s why Dr. Anand Patel and The Brace Place team want to help make the journey of teen orthodontics easy for you and your teen: let’s cover five things you need to know, from the best age to get braces to your appliance options.

1. See An Orthodontist Early

Let’s talk about timing. One of the first things you might wonder is when to see an orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists suggests that kids come in for a first orthodontic evaluation around age seven. Sound a bit early for when to see an orthodontist? Actually, it’s the perfect time for a first visit: at this age, kids have a mix of adult and baby teeth, so an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Patel can spot potential issues.

Now, an early visit doesn’t mean your child will walk out with braces. Most of the time, an early examination just kickstarts regular check-ins as your child grows. Dr. Patel will let you know when your child arrives at the best age to get braces or Invisalign for their unique case.

2. Early Orthodontics Can Make Teen Orthodontics Easier

But what if early intervention is suggested at your initial visit? Phase 1 orthodontics, or early interceptive treatment, may include an expander, space maintainer, or limited braces. Early treatment starts between ages 6-10 and helps guide jaw growth, correct bite problems, or ensure space for adult teeth to grow correctly. Benefits? Phase 1 orthodontics can:

  • Prevent more severe problems later on
  • Reduce the need for tooth extractions or surgery
  • Shorten treatment time in the teen years
  • Even eliminate the need for teen orthodontics!
  • Make braces or Invisalign Teen® easier and more affordable

3. Today’s Orthodontic Treatments for Teens are Discreet and Effective

Gone are the days when chunky metal braces were the only option for teen orthodontics. At The Brace Place, we offer two types of braces: sleek, modern metal braces with smaller brackets and thinner wires and clear ceramic braces that use nearly-invisible, tooth-colored brackets.

Teens can also choose the clear aligner system Invisalign Teen® at The Brace Place. A discreet alternative to braces, removable clear aligners are custom-made for your teen’s teeth. How is Invisalign Teen different from regular Invisalign®? Invisalign Teen includes special eruption tabs to accommodate erupting molars. Plus, your kid gets extra sets of aligners, just in case they lose a few in their shuffle between school, activities, home, and leisure time.

Our patients who have chosen Invisalign appreciate their near-invisibility, and, unlike braces, you don’t have to change how you eat (keep the popcorn coming!) because you take them out for eating, drinking anything other than water and cleaning your teeth.

4. Oral Hygiene is Super Important

Keeping teeth clean during orthodontic treatment is crucial whether you have Invisalign Teen, clear braces, or metal braces. Orthodontic work can trap food and plaque, so it’s essential for your teen to level up their oral hygiene, brushing and flossing even more diligently (and frequently!) than before.

Consider investing in an electric toothbrush or water flosser and adding mouthwash. And remember, with Invisalign, your teen has the added step of cleaning their clear aligner trays before putting them back in. A weekly deep clean is also not to be missed.

Good oral hygiene will keep your teen’s smile healthy throughout their treatment and prevent delays from addressing cavities or gum disease. As a bonus, A+ oral hygiene also means your teen will reveal a sparkling smile when the orthodontics come off!

5. It’s Not Just About Looks

Without a doubt, straight teeth are nice to look at and can boost self-confidence, but teen orthodontics is more than just cosmetic. A well-aligned bite has overall health benefits, making chewing and speaking efficient and even alleviating breathing issues. It can also prevent jaw problems and uneven wear on teeth. And properly aligned teeth are easier to clean, reducing the likelihood of cavities and gum disease. Simply put, orthodontic treatment for teens is a long-term investment in their oral health, not just a short-term aesthetic fix.

Teen Orthodontics With Your Expert Tulsa and Claremore, OK Orthodontist

Now that you’re up-to-speed on the top things you should know about teen orthodontics, what’s the next step? Make your first appointment at our Tulsa or Claremore office with Dr. Patel and our expert, friendly team at The Brace Place.

Whether your child needs Phase 1 orthodontics or it’s time for teen orthodontics with Invisalign Teen, clear braces, or traditional metal braces, our personalized, high-tech approach and wealth of experience means your teen will be flashing a healthy, confident smile that will last a lifetime.

The Dos and Don'ts of Cleaning Your Retainer

The Dos and Don’ts of Cleaning Your Retainer

By Orthodontics

You deserve a straight and healthy smile! So how does cleaning your retainer affect your oral health? Well, a retainer sits on your teeth for a long time — in fact, 8-10 hours when you’re sleeping!

So it’s not surprising that food debris, bacteria, and plaque can accumulate on your retainer. If your retainer plastic looks like it has a milky film, that’s plaque. What’s on your retainer can transfer onto your teeth and lead to tartar — the hardened form of plaque — as well as tooth decay and cavities.

The first step to a clean retainer? Learning how to clean a retainer properly to keep it free of sticky plaque and minimize your replacement time.

How to Clean Retainers

Check out these dos and don’ts for how to clean the Invisalign retainers and Essix retainers we offer at The Brace Place:

Do’s for Cleaning your Retainer

Clean retainers with a soft-bristled toothbrush at least once a day. For extra cleaning power, you can use mild, unscented, liquid dish soap too. Brush your retainer gently to remove plaque, bacteria and food bits and then rinse it off in lukewarm water. We recommend having a separate toothbrush that you use just for retainer cleaning. 

Do use cool or lukewarm water to rinse your retainer. You might think that hot water will get rid of bacteria better. However, really hot water can warp your retainer, causing it to lose its custom shape. And if your retainer doesn’t retain its fit, your teeth may not be getting the retention they need.

Do try a paste of water and baking soda. A paste of water and baking soda is a gentle yet effective everyday retainer cleaner. It kills odors, bacteria build-up, and plaque on your retainer without using chemicals. Make a mix of 50/50 water to baking soda — the mixture should be thick enough to stick to your retainer. Brush the paste inside and outside your retainer, then rinse off with cool or warm water. 

Make a fresh batch of baking soda/water paste every time you clean your retainer. That way, you minimize bacteria in the paste from the last time you dipped your toothbrush into it. 

Do soak your retainer in a solution of water and hydrogen peroxide. Make a 50/50 solution of warm water and 3% hydrogen peroxide. This solution helps take away yellowness in your retainer and kills bacteria, but it doesn’t remove plaque build-up. Ensure the plaque is gone by first brushing your retainer with the baking soda paste above. Soak your retainer in this solution for 30 minutes and rinse well with warm water before putting the retainer into your mouth. 

Or soak with water and vinegar. If you don’t have hydrogen peroxide at home, you can use vinegar instead. Make a solution of 50% warm water and 50% white vinegar. Soak your retainer for 20 minutes and rinse well so you don’t taste the vinegar! 

Do use a premade retainer cleaner. Yes, you can find many ready-made retainer cleaners at the drugstore if you prefer not to make your own. We at The Brace Place understand that some patients like the convenience of a commercial product and feel more comfortable with it. 

So how do you clean retainers with a store-bought cleaner? Most, like Brite retainer cleaner, come in tablets; you simply drop one of these retainer cleaner tablets into water to activate its cleaning power. Submerge your retainer for the amount of time instructed. Retainer cleaner tablets result in clean-looking retainers, minimal to no odor, and no more bacteria. 

Not sure which one to use? Dr. Patel and the team at The Brace Place are happy to suggest which retainer cleaner tablets will work best for you.

Do drink lots of water. Water helps wash away food debris and sugars from your teeth and retainer. Food debris and sugars cause bacteria to increase and acids to weaken your tooth enamel. Weakened tooth enamel makes your teeth more susceptible to tooth decay and cavities. So long story short, water keeps oral bacteria at bay. Water also helps prevent dry mouth, which is linked to tooth decay.  And a dried-out retainer is more prone to damage and hardened plaque.

Do keep your retainer case clean. Bacteria can thrive in your retainer case just as much as on your retainer. Clean your case with mild dish soap once or twice a week, then wipe with a clean paper towel or cloth. You can also put your retainer case in the top rack of your dishwasher once a week (empty, not with your retainer in it).

Don’ts for Cleaning your Retainer

Don’t clean your retainer with disinfectant wipes. You know, like the kind you’d use to wipe counters and other surfaces. These wipes say they kill most bacteria, but it’s not the same kind as the bacteria on your retainer. Plus, the chemicals in these wipes will harm your teeth and leave an unpleasant taste on your retainer.

Don’t rinse or soak with hot water. As we mentioned earlier, hot or boiling water can warp your retainer. A retainer that has lost its original shape can change the positioning of your teeth, moving them into new misalignment or allowing your teeth to shift back towards their old spots. 

Don’t use mouthwash as a retainer cleaner. You might have noticed that the wall of mouthwashes at your local drugstore is quite colorful. As nice as it is to look at, the color in your favorite mouthwash can stain your retainer’s plastic, so don’t soak your retainer with mouthwash.

Don’t brush your retainer with toothpaste. Is this a surprising no-no for how to clean retainers? Perhaps, but we don’t suggest using toothpaste to refresh your retainer because toothpaste can be too abrasive on your retainer, scratching or dulling the plastic.

Don’t store it without a case. It’s worth the extra few seconds to place your retainer in its case. Leaving your retainer out on its own or even wrapped in a tissue or napkin can dry it out, and as we mentioned previously, a dry retainer is more prone to breakage and plaque.

Cleaning Permanent Retainers

At The Brace Place, we not only offer Essix and Invisalign removable retainers but permanent retainers, too. A permanent retainer doesn’t have the same cleaning do’s and don’ts as a removable one since it’s made of a thin wire bonded to the backs of your teeth. To ensure permanent retainers stay clear of plaque and food debris, pay extra special attention to brushing and flossing the backs of your teeth, similar to your diligence with braces

Caring for your Retainers with The Brace Place

If you have any questions about how to clean retainers or care for your teeth after braces or Invisalign, Dr. Patel and The Brace Place team are happy to help. We can find the right retainer for you and provide retainer cleaning instructions that suit your lifestyle. 

Contact us at our Tulsa, or Claremore OK office today! 

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! 

Playing Sports With Braces or Invisalign

Playing Sports With Braces or Invisalign

By Orthodontics

Does your child play sports? If so, you might be wondering, “Can you play sports with braces or Invisalign?”  The team at The Brace Place is here to assure you that, yes, sports and orthodontics can go hand-in-hand. Here, your Tulsa and Claremore, OK, specialist in orthodontics, Dr. Patel, covers a few considerations for participating in sports while you have braces or Invisalign®.

Priority #1 – Protecting Your Mouth When Playing Sports with Braces

The American Association of Orthodontics conducted an independent survey about mouthguards and youth sports. While 99% of parents felt kids should wear a mouthguard when playing sports, 37% of respondents said their kids don’t ever wear one to protect their smiles. 

With sports and braces, your first concern is for the safety of the mouth. Oral trauma while playing sports like a ball to the face or collision with another player, can damage braces as well as teeth. The metal parts of braces can get pushed against the inside of your lips or other areas of your mouth and cause cuts and pain.

A braces mouthguard goes a long way in protecting teeth and your appliance. But if you do sustain a mouth injury — even with a mouthguard — see us right away so Dr. Patel can assess the damage to your teeth and orthodontics.

Damage to Braces or Injury to Teeth Can Affect Orthodontic Progress

Damaged or broken braces, or injured teeth can delay your teeth straightening. How? Damaged braces need time for repair or replacement, while injured teeth need fixing and healing before resuming your orthodontics treatment. These delays can change the progress your teeth have made toward your final smile; your orthodontist might need to adjust your treatment plan so your teeth can get back on track. Damaged braces or injured teeth also require extra costs you might not have expected.

Orthodontic Mouthguards and Traditional Mouthguards are Different

Before your child had braces, did you use a typical sports mouthguard? If so, you’ll want to know that a standard sports mouthguard and an orthodontic mouthguard are different. A non-orthodontic mouthguard typically doesn’t have the extra room needed to cover braces comfortably.

In contrast, an orthodontic mouthguard made especially for braces-wearers has the extra clearance needed to fit over brackets and wires. Plus, orthodontic mouthguards are made of softer material like silicon instead of hard plastic. This more flexible material both absorbs impact better and protects braces. Since braces treatment is unique from person to person, Dr. Patel suggests a custom braces mouthguard that fits your teeth and your teeth only. According to the American Dental Association (ADA) you can lower your risk of oral injury by almost twofold if you wear the right mouthguard.

Playing Sports with Invisalign Might Affect Your Wearing Time

So we’ve talked about braces and wearing a sports mouthguard, but what if you or your child is using Invisalign? Do you still wear a sports mouthguard with Invisalign? Simply put, no. Both Invisalign trays and a sports mouthguard fit tight to teeth, so you can’t wear them at the same time. If you’re transforming your smile with Invisalign clear aligners, you’ll have to take them out during sports and wear a regular mouthguard.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that you need to wear your Invisalign clear aligners for 22 hours a day to stay on track with your treatment plan. If you add up the hours your Invisalign is out for eating, cleaning your teeth, and sports, it could total more than a couple of hours a day. If so, braces might be a better option.

You Might Need to Change Your Custom Braces Mouthguard Several Times as Your Teeth Shift

Dr. Patel and The Brace Place team are here to help you get the smile you’ve always wanted efficiently and as comfortably as possible. So as your teeth shift positions towards your final smile, you might need to get a new custom mouthguard every few months to fit the new positions of your teeth as they change.

At The Brace Place, we offer custom mouthguards to take you through your orthodontics journey while playing sports. Whether you’re straightening teeth with braces or Invisalign, a custom orthodontic mouthguard includes Dr. Patel taking an impression of your teeth with our painless and quick iTero® digital scanner, then designing a mouthguard to fit precisely. 

Get Your Braces Mouthguard With Your Tulsa, OK Orthodontist

If you’ve got braces or Invisalign and a sports season is coming up, ensure you’re ready to protect that smile! Contact us for an appointment at our Tulsa or Claremore office about getting a custom-fit sports mouthguard.

Braces Kit

12 Supplies to Keep in Your Braces Kit

By Orthodontics

So you’ve recently started wearing braces or Invisalign and want to be on top of all things orthodontics wherever you go. The Brace Place team suggests packing a handy braces or Invisalign supplies kit with these 12 orthodontic supplies so you’re always prepared, whether you’re at school, work, or traveling.

  1. Dental Floss

First, a pro tip: floss first, then brush; it’s more effective than the other way around. Second, many patients at The Brace Place ask us what kind of floss they should use for braces. Dr. Patel suggests going with what’s most comfortable: traditional waxed floss, ribbon floss, Superfloss, or orthodontic flossers are all great in a to-go orthodontics supplies kit. 

  1. Floss Threader

New braces-wearers sometimes find flossing around braces with traditional or ribbon floss a little challenging at first; a floss threader can help: it’s a small tool with a large loop on one end and a tail that helps guide your floss through.

  1. Interdental Pick/Brush

The tiniest little toothbrush you’ve ever seen, an interdental brush looks like a toothpick with tiny bristles at one end. Use it to dislodge food stuck in your braces or for flossing between teeth.

  1. Travel Sized Toothbrush for Braces

By now, you’re likely well versed in the rule of brushing twice daily for two minutes every time. But with braces, you might find you brush more often; Dr. Anand Patel suggests you also brush after every meal and snack, whether you’re at home or away. So include a soft-bristled, travel-sized toothbrush in your to-go kit for keeping teeth and braces clean all day. Not sure of the best method for brushing with braces? Your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontic team is happy to show you best practices for brushing your teeth with your new braces. 

  1. Toothpaste for Braces

It’s common sense that toothpaste is necessary for maintaining clean, healthy teeth. But which toothpaste should you choose for brushing with braces when you’re on the go? Find a travel-sized fluoride toothpaste to pop into your orthodontic supplies kit, but be sure to skip any whitening ones, or you might end up with unevenly white teeth after your braces come off. 

Want to save space in your braces kit? Consider a pre-pasted, single-use toothbrush like these Wisps by Colgate. 

  1. Mini Mouthwash For Extra Bacteria Fighting Power

Braces or not, we all want to have fresh breath. Mouthwash offers an extra boost in getting rid of oral bacteria and bad breath. A swish of nearly any drugstore-brand mouthwash can help kill any lingering bad bacteria. The best mouthwashes for braces contain ingredients that aim to soothe sore gum tissue, reduce white spots, and contain fluoride.

  1. Wax for Braces Discomfort and Emergencies

Some patients new to braces experience oral discomfort from wires pressing against their tongue, the inside of their lips, or their cheeks. To help alleviate this pain and give your soft oral tissues a chance to recover, include wax for braces in your orthodontic supplies kit.

Pinch off a pea-sized amount and roll it into a slightly flattened ball. Press the wax onto the problem area and use your tongue to move it into place. To remove the wax, use the dental floss or interdental pick you’ve also packed in your orthodontic travel kit.

Wax for braces is also handy for braces emergencies — like if you have a broken bracket in your braces. You can use the wax to anchor the bracket until you can come in to see Dr. Patel.  

  1. Braces Mouthguard

Wearing a mouthguard that protects your braces and teeth when you’re playing sports is a must. The Brace Places offers custom sports mouthguards which ensure an exact and protective fit over your braces. You might need to get a few different mouthguards as your braces treatment progresses and your teeth shift positions.

  1. Compact Mirror

A small mirror is handy for seeing if you have any food debris caught in your braces and checking to see if your teeth are squeaky clean after you’ve cleaned them.

  1. Pain Reliever

Over-the-counter pain relief can help alleviate discomfort from new braces or after an adjustment. Make sure you have approval from your doctor. If you’re prepping a braces kit for your child or teen, ensure that you have the thumbs up from their school to include this medication in their belongings. 

  1. Tissue

From wiping wet fingers after applying wax for painful braces to cleaning up a bit of drool, toothpaste, or water after cleaning your teeth, travel pack tissue is an indispensable part of your travel orthodontic supplies.

  1. Invisalign Storage Case 

If you’re using Invisalign to straighten your smile instead of braces, add an Invisalign storage case to your orthodontic supplies kit. Always store your clear aligners in their case when you take them out to keep them clean, prevent damage, and keep you from misplacing them when you’re out and about.

Get More Tips for On-the-Go Braces Supplies

Have more questions about what to pack into a travel orthodontic supplies kit? Give us a shout or make an appointment to visit our Tulsa or Claremore office. Dr. Patel and The Brace Place team have the experience and knowledge to help you enjoy your orthodontic experience from start to finish and wherever you are.

Orthodontic Treatment

5 Reasons to Start Treatment at The Brace Place This Summer

By Orthodontics

When is the best time to start orthodontic treatment? Summer is often an ideal time to start braces or Invisalign, especially for kids. Why? Here, 5 reasons from The Brace Place team to consider:

1. You’ll be a pro by the time school starts again


Let’s be honest, getting braces or Invisalign® is an adjustment at first. Whether you’re thinking about teeth straightening for you or your child, it’s a fact that orthodontic treatment does change your daily life a little. Summer’s looser schedule gives you time to focus on building great new habits with your orthodontics without the pressure of other time commitments. Come fall, wearing braces or Invisalign will feel natural.

With braces, some foods — especially hard, crunchy, or gummy foods — can damage braces and it can take some trial and error to figure out your favorite braces-friendly foods. Plus, brushing with braces takes more diligence; you’ll need to level up your daily brushing and flossing to make sure plaque and food debris don’t stick to your braces and contribute to tooth decay.

And if you’re thinking about getting Invisalign? Unlike braces, you can continue your usual eating habits — since you take clear aligners out when you eat or drink anything other than water. But you do have to take extra time to clean your Invisalign trays every day and deep clean them twice a week, too.

2. You can take advantage of summertime cold treats to soothe discomfort

When you have braces or Invisalign, your teeth, gums, and jaw work hard to shift into their ideal positions. So it makes sense if you experience a little pain or discomfort at times. Cold treats like fresh fruit smoothies or ice cream go hand-in-hand with summer and are a great way to soothe oral discomfort from braces or Invisalign treatment.

3. Appointments won’t clash with your busy school year schedule

For busy families, scheduling during the school year is like fitting puzzle pieces together. Juggling after-school activities, work, and a myriad of health and well-being appointments can be a lot. That’s why starting braces or Invisalign in the more relaxed season of summer is a great idea — you can fit in your initial appointments without missing school, work, practices, or lessons.

4. Save with our limited-time offer: $500 off braces or Invisalign

Your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontist is making orthodontics even more affordable this summer with $500 off your braces or Invisalign. Save on your out-of-pocket braces or Invisalign cost, plus, make it even easier with our flexible payment options.

5. Get all the info you need about getting braces or Invisalign at our summer Patient Appreciation event

Want to know more about the Invisalign process or what getting braces treatment is like? Come by The Brace Place offices on Monday, June 19 and Tuesday, June 20th from 1:00-3:00 pm. We’re holding a Patient Appreciation Event at our Tulsa and Claremore offices with free shaved ice treats from the KONA truck.

Tulsa Office: June 19, 2023, 1:00-3:00pm
Claremore Office: June 20, 2023, 1:00-3:00pm

With 25 years of straightening teeth as an orthodontic specialist, Dr. Patel is a smile expert. He and The Brace Place Team will be on hand to answer all your questions about orthodontic treatment with modern metal and ceramic braces, as well as Invisalign clear aligners.

Start your smile transformation this summer with The Brace Place

Can’t make it to our Patient Appreciation event? Get your braces or Invisalign questions answered at a free initial consultation instead. Contact us to schedule your summer appointment at our Tulsa or Claremore, OK office.

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!

High angle shot of an adorable baby sucking their fingers while laying on a blanket.

Thumb Sucking, Pacifiers and Teeth: A Fact-Based Guide

By Orthodontics

As a parent, you receive a constant flood of information when it comes to raising kids. Everything from sleep to screen time, nutrition to emotional well-being, academics to activities — there’s a lot out there. Understandably, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction sometimes or decide what to do for your child and your family.

 

If you have babies or toddlers, one thing you might be wondering about is what to do about thumb sucking or pacifiers. You might’ve heard or read things like, “Thumb sucking is bad for teeth!” or “Pacifiers cause teeth damage!” Conversely, you might also have heard that thumb sucking and pacifier use is natural, and should be left to run their course. Which is right? And what should you do? 

 

Dr. Patel and the team at The Brace Place are here to ease the confusion. We’ve put together a fact-based guide to thumb sucking and pacifiers — from an orthodontist who’s treated thousands of kids. We’ll answer questions like “Are pacifiers bad for teeth?” and “What does thumb sucking do to teeth?” 

 

 

Thumb sucking and pacifiers for babies: it’s ok!

 

Let’s start with infancy and thumb sucking. Simply put, thumb sucking for babies is perfectly natural and a common part of the developmental process. In fact, a Johns Hopkins Medicine article says about 90% of newborns show some kind of hand sucking a mere two hours after birth. 

 

Sucking habits — hands, fingers, or thumbs — help babies self-soothe. And putting things in their mouths is a way babies learn about and experience the world around them. So you can breathe a sigh of relief if your baby sucks their thumb and there’s no need to discourage it during infancy.

 

And pacifiers? When it comes to pacifier use, one study by the American Academy of Family Physicians found that about 75-85% of babies in Western countries use a pacifier sometime during infancy. It can be an extension of their natural sucking reflex. And research has shown that pacifier use when a baby sleeps reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). So it’s ok to offer a pacifier if your baby accepts one.

 

 

Orthodontic pacifiers

 

Consider giving your baby an orthodontic pacifier during their early months instead of a traditional one. What’s the difference? An orthodontic pacifier’s nipple has a flat end, while a traditional pacifier has a rounded nipple. The flat shape is meant to mimic nursing and encourage a more natural tongue movement. A 2018 systematic review of studies found that orthodontic pacifiers reduced the risk of an open bite in comparison with rounded pacifiers (though the authors stated a more well-designed, randomized, and controlled trial was needed). 

 

 

At what age are pacifiers bad for teeth? And thumb sucking? 

 

Up until around age one, thumb sucking and pacifier use typically won’t have any negative effects on your baby’s tiny teeth or jaw. And since sucking is a natural and useful part of infancy, it’s ok to let your baby suck their thumb or pacifier in that early stage.

 

But when are pacifiers bad for teeth? And when should you discourage thumb sucking? Well, prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use is shown to increase the likelihood of affecting teeth and jaw growth if continued into later toddlerhood or elementary school. You might have to step in to help your child stop sucking their thumb at that point. Or decide how and when to take their pacifier away. 

 

Kids who still have a persistent habit of sucking their thumb or using their pacifier by kindergarten are more likely to develop orthodontic issues like crooked teeth or a bad bite. A meta-analysis in the International Journal of Orthodontics concluded that pacifier use after age three causes high incidences of an anterior open bite, posterior crossbite, a narrow upper arch, and a high, narrow palate. These issues become even more serious in kids who still use a pacifier after age five.

 

In addition, several studies — like the one published in the Journal of the American Dental Association — found that the most significant issues occurred in children who continued their thumb or pacifier sucking habit beyond age four. 

 

The good news? Most kids stop thumb sucking on their own between ages two and four. And the same thing goes for pacifiers — many grow out of it and chances are you won’t need to decide when to take their pacifier away. 

 

Now, we should mention that the occasional thumb sucking shouldn’t affect your little one’s teeth. Some toddlers still pop their thumb in their mouth without sucking in times of stress or to help soothe themselves as they doze off. This is called passive thumb sucking and is considered fairly normal. How can you tell what’s passive thumb sucking and what’s not?  Look for more aggressive jaw movements when their thumb is in their mouth or listen for popping noises when they take their thumb out. 

 

 

What can you do to stop thumb sucking and pacifier use?

 

Is your child around two or three years old and still has a strong thumb sucking or pacifier habit? The American Academy of Pediatrics Dentistry says you should step in after age three. However, the American Dental Association recommends giving a bit more time and discouraging these habits if they continue past age four.

 

So based on the research, we suggest gently getting your little one to give up, or least decrease their thumb or pacifier sucking around age two or three to be safe. If you can’t get your child to stop thumb sucking or using their pacifier by age four, we recommend coming in to see your pediatric dentist or us at The Brace Place

 

Whether you decide on a “cold turkey” style or a more gradual approach, here are six quick tips for helping your child stop thumb sucking or using their pacifier:

 

1.Empower your child to start on their own. Talk to your child calmly and gently about their habit and why they need to start trying to stop. The name of the game is empowerment (not shame or criticism): let them know you can help when they’re ready. Sometimes even bringing it up is all you need to get the ball rolling.

 

2. Use positive reinforcement. Praise your child whenever you notice they haven’t sucked their thumb or pacifier when they normally would.

 

3. Reward them. Use a sticker chart, prizes, or other external motivations you know they respond to.

 

4. Allow them to talk about their feelings. As we mentioned earlier, stress or anxiety can cause a child to suck their thumb or use a pacifier. If you see this is the case, take time to find out what they’re feeling and decide on what to do instead. Maybe your child needs a cuddle, a walk or some fresh air, and a chance to talk about what’s bothering them.

 

5. Distract them or change their activity. Sometimes it’s simply that your little one is bored, fidgety, or just having a hard day and is cranky. Offer a new activity like coloring, a new game, puzzles, fidget toys, or playing outside for a change of scenery.

 

6. Put in a habit-breaking appliance. If your at-home efforts just aren’t working, you can come into The Brace Place and find out if a special appliance will work for your child. A habit-breaking appliance blocks your child’s thumb from coming in contact with the back of the upper teeth, helping stop thumb sucking by making it less enjoyable. Rest assured, it’s not painful and is effective when all else fails!

 

Remember that some techniques work for one child but not another. And it can change from one day to the next. Or hour by hour! Consider what works for you and your little one. In the end, what you can prevent at an early age will help determine your child’s need for braces or Invisalign later on.

 

 

What happens to teeth after prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use?

 

It’s no surprise that Dr. Patel has seen and treated many orthodontic issues from thumb sucking and pacifier habits that have gone on too long. After all, he’s been an orthodontist for more than 20 years! 

 

What are the most common orthodontic issues that happen to teeth from extended thumb sucking and pacifiers? Here we list the top three Dr. Patel has seen in his many years of orthodontic experience:

 

  • Protruding front teeth – Sucking on a thumb or pacifier puts pressure behind the front teeth, making them tilt or stick out. Also known as ‘’buck teeth,” these protruding front teeth are more susceptible to injury, can cause speech problems, or make it hard to close the lips or mouth comfortably.

 

  • Crossbite – A crossbite is when some of the top teeth sit inside of the bottom teeth when teeth are closed together. You can have an anterior cross bite (front teeth) or a posterior crossbite (back teeth). Typically, crossbite teeth from thumb sucking or a pacifier is a posterior crossbite: the sucking action causes a narrow upper arch (which Dr. Patel might suggest opening up later on with an orthodontic expander).

 

Crossbites can lead to jaw pain and uneven enamel wear because the teeth don’t stack together well. And sometimes a child with a crossbite tries to compensate by shifting the jaw to one side, further causing mismatched jaw growth.

 

  • Open bite – What is an open bite? Have your child close their teeth together, like when they say “cheeeese!” for a photo. If your child’s top teeth don’t overlap their bottom teeth (in an overbite or normal bite) or their lower and upper arches don’t touch at all, this is considered an open bite. An open bite can contribute to speech problems, or swallowing and chewing issues that make eating a difficult task.

 

Baby with a pacifier in their mouth and wearing a Santa hat on their head

 

Helping your child stop thumb sucking and pacifier use in Tulsa and Claremore, OK

 

Have questions about your child’s thumb sucking or pacifier use? Or concerned about the effects on their teeth? The team at The Brace Place is happy to help. 

Contact us to book a free initial consultation at our Tulsa or Claremore, OK office.

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