Minneapolis, St. Paul Orthodontics Blog

Making Your First Visit to the Orthodontist

June 30, 2014 Uncategorized Comments Off

Your first consultation with the orthodontist is probably one of the most important appointments you’ll have. Simply said, it prepares you for the road ahead. But all too often, whether it’s the parent of the patient or the actual patient, people don’t always know what’s in store during their first consultation. By having some general information, you can rest assured that your first visit goes as well as possible.

If you’re like a lot other patients, you probably found your orthodontist either through a referral from your dentist, or perhaps even thanks to an endorsement by a friend/family member. Whatever the case, your orthodontist will want to get to know your medical and dental history as soon as possible. By studying documents forwarded to them from your dental office, in addition to talking with you, they’ll be able to get a general sense of your dental background, in turn, helping them better prepare for the future of your teeth.

After thoroughly reviewing your dental history, your orthodontist will want to look at your pearly whites. They’ll inspect your teeth for issues like overbites/underbites and overcrowding to gain some idea on how they may proceed with treatment should they determine that braces are right for you. Once they’re done, they’ll likely take pictures of your teeth from a variety of angles.

During some consultations, an orthodontist may proceed to take x-rays or make molds. Or instead, choose to do this during your next visit. Once they’ve evaluated your teeth, they’ll provide you with their general course of strategy for helping you achieve straight teeth. You’ll likely receive some general care tips, in addition to getting a tentative timeframe for receiving future treatment.

The next and last part is the least fun – but critical, nonetheless. It’s probably one of the most common thoughts to cross peoples’ minds during the first phase of treatment – “Exactly how am I going to pay for braces?” Each orthodontist office is different, but thankfully most providers will allow you to make some form of initial payment then cover the remaining costs through a plan that extends over the course of the treatment (For more ideas on how to pay for treatment, view our blog post Braces on a Budget – Financial Planning).

After the visit is over, you can give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve just made your first step towards achieving a new and beautiful smile.

Your first visit to the orthodontist is the start of what’s an extended road to getting straight teeth. And yes, it’s well worth it. But while it may be ideal to receive care from the same orthodontist during the course of your entire treatment, sometimes life can throw curve balls. In some cases, patients may need to relocate while they’re wearing braces, whether it’s a family member transferring or moving for a new job, or you name it. Whatever the case, in such instances, you’ll need to seek a new orthodontist immediately. But exactly how do you go about it? Consider the following advice:

Start Searching Before You Move – If you’re moving to an entirely different state, you’ll want to begin your search for your new orthodontist ASAP. This is where recommendations can come in handy. Perhaps your current orthodontist has connections to the area you’re moving to and knows of an orthodontist there. If that doesn’t work, the Internet is your resource guide. Don’t be afraid to look up reviews, contact and even interview potential new orthodontist offices over the phone. Leave no question unanswered, whether it has to do with billing or the treatment itself.

Get Communication Going – Before you move, you’ll want to initiate a flow of communication between your current orthodontist and your soon-to-be one. In most cases, your current orthodontist will be more than happy to send your info and x-rays to your new provider. It’s important that your new provider understands what’s been done to your teeth already and exactly what stage of the treatment you’re at – allowing them to seamlessly treat your teeth without interruption.

Consider the Costs – It’s important that you make sure you’re financially covered when transferring to a new provider. This can be the trickiest part of the move. In most cases, patients place a down payment on care then pay monthly over an extended period of time – something that will make transferring to a new provider easier. On the other hand, if you’ve already paid for your entire treatment upfront – this could make things a little more complicated. Whatever the case, there’s usually a way to make things work, even though it may cost you some extra money.

Don’t Forget About a Dentist – Finding an orthodontist isn’t the only task you have when you’re about to move. You’ll also need to find a new dentist. And while it may be easier than finding a new orthodontist mid-treatment, it’s just as important. Ask for recommendations and do some research. With the right knowledge, it is possible to seamlessly transition to a new care provider when moving.

The process of having braces doesn’t simply end when you get them removed. While it definitely gets easier, you’ll still need to make sure that you keep your teeth straight with extended retainer use. But exactly why are retainers so important and exactly how do they work? Below we highlight some important things to know about retainers:

Why are they important?

Once your braces come off, your teeth are still vulnerable to movement. Remember, they’ve just undergone a dramatic shift from how they previously were. In other words, they still need to get used to their new spots in your mouth. Without something holding them in check (like a retainer), they’ll want to move back to their previously crooked positions – making it very important to wear your retainer on a consistent basis.

How long should you wear them?

How long a person wears a retainer really just depends. In this case, it’s important to note that everyone’s different. Your orthodontist will be able to provide you with a thorough assessment and a timetable – something that could change as you arrive for follow-up appointments. In most cases, retainer use is highly recommended while you sleep.

Will you ever require a new retainer?

If you’re having any discomfort, your retainer might need adjusting. Don’t do this yourself. Instead, let your orthodontist do it. They’ll be able to quickly make the adjustment using a special tool – something that will lead to more comfort for your mouth.

Cleaning Your Retainer

Just like you clean your teeth, it’s also important to make sure your retainer remains clean, freeing it from any germs or bacteria, especially if you manage to drop it on the ground. You can soak your retainer in either denture cleaner or a vinegar solution. As always, however, consult your orthodontist to find out their recommendations for cleaning.

Keeping tabs on your retainer

Lost retainers always put patients in icky predicaments. Not only do they cause patients to lose valuable time wearing their retainers, they may also require an extra expense for replacement. To keep tabs on your retainer, place it in its case while not using it and keep the case in a spot that you’ll remember.

New features have arrived for the tooth straightening technology known as Invisalign, the product’s manufacturer recently revealed. Known as Invisalign G5, the new release delivers enhanced benefits for both teenage and adult patients.

G5 features SmartForce attachments, pressure areas and precision aligner bite ramps, Align Technology noted when initially detailing release plans late last year.

Most prominently addressed is deep bite, a condition where a person’s upper teeth extend over the lower. Through an Align Technology press release published by PRNewswire, Dr. Sam Daher of Orthostyle, a Vancouver-based office, called deep bite “one of the most common and more challenging types of orthodontic problems we see.”

“With Invisalign G5, I can now use Invisalign to treat a wide range of mild to complex teeth straightening issues, and I see Invisalign with the same advantage as metal braces. Invisalign is comparable in terms of results, treatment speed and efficiency to fixed braces. In the last decade this technology has taken us in a direction that very few of us could’ve predicted,” Daher stressed.

Deep bite conditions are estimated to affect 45% of both teenagers and adults, an Align Technology survey indicated in 2013. Meanwhile, it was also emphasized that the update would deliver Invisalign technology to a broader group of patients.

Used to correct conditions such as tooth misalignment, underbites, overbites and crossbites, Invisalign relies on removable aligner trays. Patients wear them for two-week periods before moving on to new aligners that match the shapes of their teeth. The treatment has been adopted by an increasing number of orthodontists since its initial debut in the late 1990s.

Long offered an alternative to traditional braces, Invisalign includes advantages such as transparency and allowing patients to remove aligners while eating. It’s estimated that the technology has been used to treat more than 2.5 million patients worldwide.

Children and teenagers more typically wear braces compared to adults. However, in today’s age, more and more people are finding themselves getting braces at older ages, whether they be well into their 20’s or even 30’s. No matter what period in a person’s life, braces can be an effective means to correct malocclusions.

You’ve probably heard it before: It’s best to address crooked teeth early in life. And while this is certainly a fact, thinking that you’re too old for braces isn’t necessarily true. Perhaps you weren’t able to get braces when you were younger because your parents couldn’t afford it. Or perhaps your teeth were just not as crooked as a child compared to how they are now. Whatever the case, there are some key things to take into consideration before you decide to get braces as an adult:

Consult Your Dentist

A consultation with your dentist will help you get a better idea as to whether or not braces are a good idea. As it’s been noted before, everyone is different. Tooth growth can vary from individual to individual. Your dentist will be able to provide you with an expert opinion and refer you to an orthodontist.

Expect a Longer Process

When you’re younger, teeth are easier to manipulate and put into place because your bones are still growing. As an adult, they’ve reached full size and will move very little over the rest of your life. As an adult with braces, you may need to anticipate a longer process to fix your teeth – something that also requires retainer use.

An Alternative Approach

Instead of traditional braces, perhaps there’s an alternative that’s more suitable. Consider Invisalign. If you want to avoid the bracketed and wired look of braces, this product can give you a more natural look, all while straightening your teeth. Invisalign involves invisible aligners made of thermoplastic material. They’re custom-designed to fit your teeth and modifications will be made over the course of treatment by seeing an Invisalign-trained orthodontist.

Braces on a Budget – Financial Planning

April 25, 2014 Uncategorized Comments Off

A route to a perfect smile isn’t always the easiest. It takes time, devotion and yes, money. However, by taking several factors into account, you can ensure that you’re getting the best deal financially on you or your child’s pearly whites. Consider the following –


Don’t be afraid to shop around and consult with multiple orthodontists. After all, different offices offer different rates. Even your local dentist may be able to provide you with some sound advice on not only which orthodontist can give you or your child the best results, but also which orthodontist can give you the best rates.

Planning Ahead

Budgeting can help significantly with the cost of braces. If you have a financial advisor, a personal banker or simply trust yourself with budgeting issues, we’d recommend writing out a plan, something that estimates the cost of treatment. Also make sure that you put aside some money for unexpected costs that could arise during the course of treatment.

Payment Plan

In most cases, orthodontist offices are very understanding of the financial burden that braces can cause. During your first consultation with the orthodontist, make sure to ask about a payment plan that will allow you to pay month-to-month with little to no interest over an extended period of time.

Dental Insurance

On average, dental insurance plans typically cover about one quarter of orthodontist visits. If you currently don’t have dental insurance, we highly recommend doing some research into which plans provide the best rates. While insurance can be a small factor in reducing costs, it’s important to seek such support.


There are a number of groups that connect lower-income families with orthodontists willing to either donate or provide their services for lower costs. Your qualification will likely depend on your income. Simply do a Google search and you’ll be able to find multiple organizations.

Dental Schools

Using a dental school for treatment can sometimes be worth it. Often times, dentists in training to become orthodontists can provide reduced rates on services. They’re also supervised and work in close consultation with their instructors. Of course, you may have to meet certain criteria to qualify.

Foods To Avoid While Wearing Braces

March 31, 2014 Uncategorized Comments Off

You’re chewing on a delightful treat and you abruptly hear a slight popping noise come from your teeth. Suddenly, you know something on your braces is now out of place. Unfortunately, you’ve just broken a part of your braces and it’ll need to be fixed by your orthodontist on your next visit. Things like this can happen all the time but they’re also easily avoidable by simply knowing which food types to stay away from.

The rule of thumb is to usually avoid all things sticky and hard. Foods like these can knock the brackets and wires of the braces loose, something that could delay the progress you’re making with braces. So what foods should be avoided?

When you think of things sticky and hard, the first thing that may come to mind is candy. It’s something kids love to eat, the same age demographic that usually wears braces. If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re a parent whose kid is about to or just got braces. Yes, as you likely already know, getting your child to eat the right things can be tough enough, but with good command, you can help your child avoid problems.

Good examples of sticky and hard candy may include popular products such as hard candy like Jolly Ranchers or sticky candy like Airheads. Aside from candy, other foods that could be described by these adjectives include things like gum, nuts, popcorn and pretzels. Meanwhile, it’s also important to not let the fact that either you or your child is wearing braces hurt the amount of nutrition you or they receive. For example, take fruit. It’s something that should be an important part of anyone’s diet. But biting into harder fruits such as apples can cause problems for people wearing braces. To avoid issues, consider cutting the apple into smaller pieces before eating it.

So now that we’ve covered some of the foods that should be avoided while on braces, let’s take a quick look at some that are pretty safe to eat. These include softer foods like grapes, pasta, bananas, yogurt and plenty of others. As always, however, talk to your orthodontist should you have any further concerns over what’s considered alright.

So your child just got braces. While you may feel relieved, this is just the first step in a complex and sometimes long process used to correct crooked teeth. And although your trusty orthodontist will provide the heavy lifting during visits to make sure everything’s going along alright, you and your child will also need to be responsible after you leave the office. Aside from avoiding foods that may cause the braces to break, it’s just as important to make sure that the teeth are being cleaned well – as cleaning the teeth may seem to be a bit trickier with braces. Below we highlights some tips -

1.) Brushing – While brushing with braces, the fight against plaque build-up may have just gotten a little tougher. No worries, we’re sure you’re up for the challenge and after all, it’s important to remember that the general rules of brushing still apply. However, to get around the wires that cover the teeth, there is something called a proxabrush toothbrush. What makes it different from your regular tooth brush is that the tip is a bit thinner, allowing the brush to go between the wires where the regular tooth brush won’t fit. This type of brush can really help fight against plaque.

2.) Rinsing – Rinsing is probably something people don’t do enough of. But in the case of braces, taking this simple and easy step can help get rid food particles that would otherwise cause plaque. In this area, talk to your orthodontist over what brand or type of mouth wash he or she may recommend.

3.) Flossing – Take a quick look at braces and think of flossing: At first sight, it may appear that braces wouldn’t allow for this important way to clean the teeth. However, it’s important that people wearing braces keep flossing. Food particles are more likely to get trapped in the braces and around the teeth themselves. To deal with this, consider using something called a floss threader. You can likely find this product at your local convenience store. And while it may now take a little longer to floss, this will definitely let you get the floss string to address those tricky spots.

4.) Visit Your Dentist Regularly – While your orthodontist is the go-to person for all-things braces, your dentist still plays an important role in tooth care. Regularly visiting your dentist is still a good idea during the time that you or your child has braces.

Malocclusions – The Crooked Teeth Dilemma

February 17, 2014 Article Comments Off

What constitutes a great smile in your mind? Perhaps when we think of the idea, we take into account physical features such as dimples, the way the lips arch up higher to the sides of one’s face or of course, a beautiful set of straight teeth. A smile is a show of expression, a sign to anyone in the immediate area that we’re at that one moment in time, expressing joy.  And while a straight set of teeth isn’t necessarily the essential piece to what makes a great smile, having them definitely doesn’t hurt.

So exactly what causes malocclusions and what fixes are available? While the issue of crooked teeth is often considered a hereditary one (teeth either have too much space or too little space in the jaw to develop correctly), it is known that some childhood practices that may seem as innocent such as prolonged use of a pacifier and bottle can be considered culprits as well. Crooked teeth are most commonly addressed with braces.

Is there an exact age when the treatment should begin? There’s no simple answer. As humans, in the same way that each of us looks different, we also develop very differently. The same factor holds true for teeth. However, it’s generally believed that the younger one consults with an orthodontist. This can be contributed to the simple fact that bone tends to be softer when we’re younger; therefore, it’s much easier to move them into the desired alignment.

While malocclusions can be a serious problem, a high number of cases aren’t so severe that they actually necessitate treatment. The best answer? Bring your child to a consultation by your orthodontist at least by the age of seven. As an expert, the orthodontist will be able to carefully examine the child’s teeth to determine exactly when treatment should start.

Benefits of Invisalign

February 6, 2014 Article Comments Off

Choosing to straighten your teeth is a decision that affects both your health and your appearance. Invisalign can help you achieve this goal without putting your life on hold. Gain confidence while you straighten!

Benefits of Invisalign for Adults

Because you can brush and floss normally while using Invisalign, the system has a positive affect on your overall oral health – both while you are straightening your teeth and after. And with the ability to remove the Invisalign appliance while straightening, there are no dietary challenges and fewer office visits.

Benefits of Invisalign for Teens

Braces can be an extra challenge for a teenager. The clear plastic alternative to braces, Invisalign is a straightening system that is virtually invisible. In addition to the other benefits of a removable teeth-straightening option, Invisalign will not affect your young athlete’s or musician’s life the way that standard metal braces would. Giving your teen the confidence of a lifetime of straight teeth without the drawbacks of standard metal braces will be a hit!

Dr. Trudy Bonvino specializes in providing Invisalign for both adults and teens. Set up an Invisalign consultation by contacting us at (952)236-4590. Is Invisalign the right option for your life? Find out at Cosmopolitan Orthodontics.