Minneapolis, St. Paul Orthodontics Blog

How To Make Braces Fun For Your Kids

August 14, 2014 Uncategorized Comments Off

Some of the biggest concerns for children about to get braces are getting made fun of or that the braces might hurt.  These anxieties can make the whole orthodontic process difficult for children and parents alike.  By making the process more fun, you can inspire your kids to be excited about your recent investment and make this chapter of their lives enjoyable instead of stressful.

  • Create a scrapbook so your child can see their progress over time.  Start with a “before” picture and take pictures after each orthodontist visit after so you can actually show them how the braces are working.  Encourage your child to write mini-journals or draw pictures to go along with each visit to describe how they are feeling and what they did to take care of their teeth.
  • If your child gets metal braces, remind them that they can pick fun colors for the rubber bands that go on their braces – they could get school colors, festive holiday colors, the list goes on.  Getting to choose new colors for your braces should be a highlight of each visit.
  • Read with your child or let your child read the book Smile by Raina Telgemeier.  The story is actually a graphic novel depicting the epic, orthodontic journey of Raina.  This award-winning book is fun and answers a lot of questions your child might have about their braces.
  • Make a special recipe book full of foods that are great to eat when your child’s mouth is sore from the braces or are recommended for people with braces.  You could have smoothies, pudding, soups, pasta, or ice cream recipes.  Get creative with it!

Maintaining good dental hygiene is critical to keeping your new smile in beautiful condition.  However, sometimes it is difficult to keep your orthodontics as pristine as your teeth and mouth.  Retainers are especially tricky to keep clean.  Being taken in and out of your mouth multiple times a day increases the chance of being exposed to bacteria, as does the unfortunate incident of retainers ending up in the garbage, on the floor, or somewhere unexpected.

Here are a few easy ways to clean and sanitize your retainer, so you can keep your mouth happy and healthy:

White vinegar and a toothbrush do wonders for crusty retainers.  Let your retainer sit in a solution of vinegar and warm water for about five minutes.  After it has soaked, use a toothbrush to scrub out the grooves and rinse.

Another way to clean your retainer is with denture cleaner and toothpaste.  In a small bowl, create the denture cleaner solution and let your retainer sit in it for about 15 minutes, or as long as directed on the box.  Rinse your retainer off and brush it with toothpaste.  Then, soak your retainer in non-alcoholic mouthwash for about 30 minutes and rinse again.  While effective, it is best to not use this method as a regular regimen because the denture cleaner will degrade the plastic of your retainer.

Baking soda also shows its awesome powers when you use it to clean your retainer.  Combine baking soda with distilled water to create a light paste, use a toothbrush to scrub your retainer with the paste, and rinse thoroughly.

Sanitizing your retainer takes a little more time, but is especially important if you found your retainer in an undesirable place.  Mix warm water and a small amount of anti-bacterial detergent in a bowl to make a disinfectant solution. Brush your retainer with the solution and move your retainer to a bowl filled with isopropyl alcohol or a mouthwash with alcohol in it.  At most, let it soak for about 20 minutes, rinse, and then transfer your retainer to a bowl of distilled water where it will soak for 10 minutes.  This will ensure you get all the alcohol off the retainer.

Unlocking the Space In Your Mouth

July 15, 2014 Uncategorized Comments Off

Palatal expanders – also called rapid palatal expanders, rapid maxillary expansion appliances, or Hyraxes – are used to widen your upper jaw to fit better with your lower jaw.  Most often used for severe cross bites, expanders usually precede braces to create space for the teeth to move and help initial straightening.  Because expanders are used to create horizontal space, it is often recommended as an earlier treatment earlier in life.  While adults can and do use expanders, adolescents truly benefit from expanders because the growth plate in their top jaw is still growing.

Expanders are usually fixed in your mouth permanently for at least a few months.  Removable expanders exist, but tend to be less effective because of how often they need to be taken out.  While they can look a little intimidating, expanders are positioned in the roof of your mouth and, with the turn of a key, apply outward pressure on the left and right hemispheres of your upper jaw.  This outward pressure actually causes more bone to grow between the two hemispheres and to make your upper jaw larger.  Sometimes this growth can cause a slight separation between your two front teeth, but there is not need to panic.  The gap can be planned for and worked with.  After your upper jaw creates the space it needs, your teeth with shift and the gaps typically go away.

At first, your palatal expander may cause headaches and soreness in your mouth.  You may notice a small lisp in your speech or an excess of saliva production as your tongue adjusts to the new space forming in your jaw.  After your expander is removed, your mouth will embrace the new space; your teeth and jaw should be better aligned and biting down will be more comfortable.

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.