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what is diastema

What is Diastema and How Can it Be Treated?

By Orthodontics No Comments

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

So What is Diastema?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

What Causes a Gap Between Teeth?

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

Genetics

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

The size and shape of your jaw

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

The size and shape of your teeth 

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

The proportions of your maxillary labial frenum

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

Adult Teeth that Didn’t Erupt

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

Prolonged Baby Habits

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

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

Thumbsucking 

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

Tongue Thrust 

Tongue thrust in older kids or adults can look like:

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

 

Poor Oral Health

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

 

Teeth Grinding or Jaw Clenching

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

 

Complications from Diastema

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

 

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

 

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

 

How to Treat Diastema: Braces and Invisalign

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Braces for Fixing Gaps in Teeth

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Invisalign Clear Aligners for Diastema Closure

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Start Fixing Gaps in Your Teeth Today

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

 

how to get your braces off faster

How to Get Your Braces Off Faster

By Uncategorized, Orthodontics No Comments

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

So how long do braces last?

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

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

Follow Food Guidelines

Diet Do’s and Don’ts With Braces

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

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

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

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

Food Preparation With Braces

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

oral hygiene for braces

Keep your mouth healthy

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

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

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

Wear your elastics

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

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

Go to all your appointments!

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

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

Be gentle on your teeth

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

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

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

happy young woman smiling with not braces stains

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

By Orthodontics No Comments

How Do Braces Stains Happen?

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

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

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

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

Constant Eating or Drinking

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

Sugary Foods and Drinks

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

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

Acidic Foods and Drinks

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

Sticky Foods

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

Colorful Foods That Can Leave Stains

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

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

Teeth-Whitening Products

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

Tobacco Products

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

coffee in a red mug

What Do Teeth Stains from Braces Look Like?

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

How to Avoid Braces Stains

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

Brush Thoroughly and With Care

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

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

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

Floss At Least Once A Day

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

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

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

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

Do I Brush or Floss First?   

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

Choose Foods and Drinks That Won’t Stain Your Teeth

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

Foods That Can Help Prevent Stains

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

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

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

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

  • bifidobacterium
  • reuteri
  • rhamnosus
  • salivarius

Visit Your Dentist and Orthodontist

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

A Word About How Genetics Affects Your Tolerance Against Stains

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

Treating Stained Teeth After Braces

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

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

Let’s Keep Those Braces Stains At Bay Together

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

woman-smiling-holding-Invisalign-retainer

How Does Invisalign Work?

By Orthodontics No Comments

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

What are Invisalign and Invisalign Teen Clear Aligners?

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

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

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

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

How Does Invisalign Work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Many Benefits of Invisalign:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Take Care of Clear Aligners:

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

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

A Word About Invisalign vs. Clear Aligners Online

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

How Much Does Invisalign Cost? 

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

Custom Financing Options

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

Take The Next Step Towards A Confident Smile

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

floss or brush first

Should You Floss or Brush First?

By Orthodontics No Comments

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

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

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

Why Flossing and Brushing Matters

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

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

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

Should You Floss or Brush First?

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

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

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

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

Tips for Flossing and Brushing with Braces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

girl-avoids-invisalign-dry-mouth

Avoid Invisalign Dry Mouth and Bad Breath

By Orthodontics No Comments

As orthodontists in Tulsa and Claremore, we know everything there is to know about Invisalign, from the amazing benefits to the not-so-pretty parts of treatment. One of the main complaints patients have? dry mouth and bad breath from unclean aligners. While these are unfortunate side effects of Invisalign that some people may experience, there are ways to avoid dry mouth and bad breath with Invisalign. It starts, as all things oral health do, with good hygiene.

Suffering from Invisalign dry mouth or bad breath? The doctors at The Brace Place are here to help. Here, you’ll learn:

  • What causes bad breath and dry mouth with Invisalign
  • How to eliminate these issues
  • How to properly care for your Invisalign aligners

What Causes Invisalign Dry Mouth?

When you started treatment with Invisalign, you probably expected all the amazing things the system has to offer: high-tech treatment, a discreet appliance and incredible results. You probably weren’t expecting to have negative symptoms like dry mouth from Invisalign. But as unpleasant as it may be, it’s a common side effect that many people experience.

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, occurs when you do not produce enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. Many things can cause dry mouth — from stress and medications to certain foods and sleeping with your mouth open — and orthodontic appliances like Invisalign trays are just another contributing factor. Persistent dry mouth can cause difficulty with chewing, swallowing and speaking, and can even put you at higher risk for tooth decay or infection.

So why do Invisalign trays cause dry mouth? Basically your mouth is treating your aligners like a foreign object, which in turn causes swelling of the gums and irritation. Your body responds by producing less saliva, causing your mouth to feel dry.

Why Does Invisalign Cause Bad Breath?

Bad breath is another unwanted side effect that can sometimes come up during Invisalign treatment. Some people think bad breath from Invisalign is caused by the plastic aligners themselves or because you have to wear them for at least 20 hours a day, but those are just orthodontic myths.

In most cases, bad breath from Invisalign comes down to taking adequate care of your Invisalign aligners. If you’re Invisalign aligners smell bad, you probably need to step up your oral hygiene habits. When cared for properly, your Invisalign aligners should always be fresh and clean, keeping your teeth healthy and your breath fresh.

How to Avoid Invisalign Dry Mouth and Bad Breath

Now that you know what might be causing your bad breath or dry mouth with Invisalign, let’s look at how to prevent it. It all comes down to taking good care of your teeth, aligners and overall health.

1. Drink Plenty of Water

The best way to treat Invisalign dry mouth is water, water, water. Staying hydrated helps to maintain a steady saliva flow, so keep a bottle of water on hand at all times throughout treatment. Not only will drinking water help reduce dry mouth, but you’ll also be guaranteed to get your recommended 11-15 cups of water a day!

2. Keep Your Aligners Clean

If bad breath is your issue, the best advice we can give you is to keep your aligners clean. Never eat or drink anything but water when you have aligners in, and wash your aligners thoroughly after every meal with toothpaste and a toothbrush. Be sure to use lukewarm water since hot water can warp the plastic.

3. Floss and Brush Your Teeth (and Tongue!) After Every Meal

Food particles love to hide in the many little crevices in your mouth. If you pop your aligners back in without brushing and flossing first, you’re creating prime breeding grounds for plaque and bacteria. After every snack, meal or beverage that isn’t water, brush and floss your teeth. Don’t forget to brush your tongue too, because that’s where bacteria especially like to multiply.

4. Avoid Tobacco and Caffeine

If Invisalign is causing dry mouth or bad breath, you’ll want to consider eliminating caffeine and tobacco. Tobacco, among many other negative effects, is also known to dry out your mouth. This goes for all forms of tobacco, including cigarettes, hookah, chewing tobacco and so on. Not a smoker? Caffeine could be contributing to your dry mouth or bad breath from Invisalign. Fortunately, decaffeinated coffee and tea doesn’t pose the same problem, or try energy-boosting foods like whole grains, nuts and bananas.

5. Use Mouthwash to Stay Extra Fresh

If you’re brushing and flossing after every meal, washing your aligners consistently and still suffering from bad breath with Invisalign, try using mouthwash to give your mouth an extra minty-fresh boost. There are even mouthwashes that are specifically formulated for dry mouth, so this could be a solution to all your Invisalign-related woes.If you’re following all of these tips and still experiencing Invisalign dry mouth or bad breath, there may be an underlying reason for your symptoms. When in doubt, contact your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontist. We’re always here to help.

orthodontic-tips-for-them

Back-to-School Tips and Tricks for Parents With Kids in Orthodontic Treatment

By Orthodontics No Comments

It’s hard to believe that school is officially back in session. This year, things are looking different than ever before. Claremore schools are offering in-class, at-home and hybrid learning options, while the Tulsa school year will be strictly virtual for at least the first nine weeks. Back-to-school is a tricky process for parents and kids to navigate this year, but The Brace Place wants to help you ease into the 2020 school year as smoothly as possible by giving you a headstart with some orthodontic tips as well as general ones.

As orthodontists in Claremore and Tulsa, we treat smiles of all ages and we know that back-to-school season can be tough on families — especially if your child is starting orthodontic treatment. Your kids are already going through so many changes this year, so we’re here to help make their lives (and yours!) a little easier. Whether your kids are heading back to the classroom or are learning from home this school year, here are our top back-to-school tips for kids with braces or Invisalign.

1. Encourage your Kids to Continue Social Distancing

For kiddos going back to school in person this year, social distancing is more important than ever. It will understandably be tempting for kids to want to hug their friends or play with classmates on the playground, but they need to maintain a safe distance wherever possible. You’ve likely spent these last few months teaching your kids all about healthy practices during COVID-19. Before sending them back to the classroom, be sure to review physical distancing protocols to make sure they understand how it helps keep everyone safe. Of course, your child’s teachers will be maintaining these measures in person, but education always starts at home.

2. Create an At-Home School Schedule

For children sticking to online learning, setting a concrete school schedule will help them stay on track. Just like you may have struggled to adjust to working from home, your child may have challenges with adjusting to virtual school. There are so many different distractions at home, not to mention that their teacher can’t keep as close an eye on them to make sure they’re paying attention! This year, the onus falls on parents to keep their kids focused.

Your child’s school will already have a set schedule and curriculum for them to follow. But scheduling breaks into your child’s day can keep them motivated and engaged. For kids with braces or Invisalign, make sure to include time for brushing and flossing after snack or lunch breaks. After all, your child’s oral health is just as important as their education!

3. Make a Homework (or Home Schooling) Station

Whether your child is exclusively attending school remotely or simply has homework, creating a designated workspace can do wonders for their learning. Not only is a homework station amazing for staying organized — it also helps to guarantee your child is actually focusing on school. Choose a quiet area of the house (such as a corner of the living room or in your child’s bedroom) and set up a comfortable desk space that’s used only for school or homework. Then stock the space with everything your child needs for a successful school year: pencils, paper, calculator, laptop or computer if necessary, and so on. Having a special place to sit down and get to work will set your child up for success.

4. Meal Prep Braces-Friendly Foods

Meal-prepping isn’t for everyone, but it’s one of our favorite back-to-school hacks for busy parents. Once you get into the rhythm, it can be a huge time-saver and guarantees your child always has a braces-friendly meal on hand. This goes for kids who are learning from home or in the classroom.

For kids with braces, you’ll want to make sure to avoid any crunchy, chewy or sticky foods, as well as anything your child would have to bite into (such as whole apples or carrots). Easy-to-eat sandwiches (like peanut butter and jelly, turkey and cheese, or tuna salad) are fantastic braces-friendly lunch ideas. Add in fresh, bite-sized fruits like berries or apple slices and you have a healthy, well-balanced meal. For extra busy parents, we recommend making a lunch schedule for each day of the week. For example, sandwiches on Monday, pasta salad on Tuesdays, and so on. With an easy-to-follow meal plan, you’ll never again have to worry about what to pack your child with braces for lunch.

5. Schedule Orthodontic Appointments in Advance

Once you’re fully immersed into the back-to-school hustle, schedules can get out of hand before you know it. Even though many extracurricular activities are off the table this year, your family’s calendar is probably already filling up and it can be easy to forget about certain appointments, like orthodontist visits. We always recommend pre-booking your child’s appointments — especially visits that fall during the school year — to make sure their treatment stays on track. We get busy at this time of year, too!

Need to get your child’s next few orthodontic visits on the books? Contact The Brace Place now to schedule them in!

kid-approves-braces-friendly-recipes

Braces-Friendly Recipes to Try in the Summer

By Orthodontics No Comments

Summer is one of the best times to get braces, especially this year: you’re off school or work, or you’re working from home, so you have time to adjust to your new hardware before heading back into the real world. One of the other perks of getting braces this summer? All the delicious summer foods you can eat with braces! Sure, there are a few foods to avoid with braces too, but there are plenty of tasty eats you’ll be able to enjoy all summer long.

The Brace Place team wants you to enjoy your time with braces to the fullest. As your Tulsa and Claremore orthodontists, we’re here to give you the information you need to make the best decisions throughout your treatment. In this post, you’ll learn:

  • Which foods to avoid with braces
  • What summer foods to eat with braces
  • The best summer recipes for braces

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Summer Foods to Avoid with Braces

It’s always best to save the good news for last, right? So let’s start by talking about the foods you’ll need to skip until your braces come off. Certain foods pose a risk to your hardware and could cause damage to or get stuck behind your braces. This means your treatment may take longer than you’d hoped and you’ll need to visit your Claremore or Tulsa orthodontist more often than you would otherwise.

We love to see our patients’ smiling faces, but during orthodontic treatment, the less we see you, the better. So when we tell you to avoid certain foods with braces, it’s best to listen to our advice. We really do have your best interests at heart.

So which foods should you avoid during braces treatment? Anything hard, crunchy, sticky, chewy, or anything you have to bite into. These foods can all be risky for braces. When it comes to summer foods specifically, you’ll want to skip hard or crunchy snacks like popcorn, raw veggies, nuts or chips, chewy candies or marshmallows (yep, even in s’mores!), and corn on the cob or whole apples. But don’t worry — there are still lots of foods for you to chow down on this summer!

Braces-Friendly Summer Foods

Now that you’re an expert on what not to eat with braces, you’re probably wondering what you can eat after getting braces this summer. Fortunately, you are free to enjoy many summer favorites — from fresh fruit and ice cream to potatoes and barbecued chicken and so much more.

In your first few days with braces, though, your teeth might be a little sensitive as they adjust to the brackets and wires. Cold, soft foods will be your best friend in the beginning because they’re soothing and easy to eat. Things like yogurt, frozen yogurt, pudding, watermelon and smoothies are all great options, as are steamed veggies, potato wedges and baked beans once your teeth can tolerate warmer foods.

Grilled meats are also on the table if you have braces, as long as you stick to tender or fall-off-the-bone style meats like pulled pork, boneless chicken breasts or fish. Hamburgers or veggie burgers are in the clear, too, just be sure to cut them into bite-sized pieces before eating. Avoid tougher meats like steak or beef jerky, as these tend to be too tough for sensitive teeth.

Summer Recipes for Braces

You’ve got all the info you need to make smart eating decisions during braces treatment! But it can still be difficult in the beginning to know where to start. That’s why the doctors at The Brace Place have put together a menu of braces-friendly recipes for you to enjoy this summer.

Mains:

Salads:

Sides:

There’s a lot to get used to when you first get braces, but choosing what to eat doesn’t have to be complicated. Just stick to the simple rules of thumb — no crunchy, hard, sticky or chewy foods, and no foods you have to bite into — and you’ll be good to go. After all, summer is one of the best seasons for delicious foods. You shouldn’t have to miss out on all your favorites just because you’re straightening your smile.

Still have questions about what to eat with braces this summer? Ready to start your own smile journey? Contact The Brace Place today to book a free virtual or in-person consultation.

at home aligners in a case

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.