Beginning an orthodontic treatment plan can feel so daunting! We know that it can feel like you are being told that you will have to wear your braces, like, literally, for EVER. It can be a difficult journey to start. But there are MAJOR benefits to seeing it through! And there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to celebrate your progress during your journey.
We have compiled a list of ways that you and your family may be able to mark the passing of this time, so you—and the people in your life—can appreciate just how far you’ve come!
1. Mark it off your calendar!
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ones. Hang a wall calendar (remember those?? They’re made of paper. You’ll have to tack it to your wall. No, it’s not on your phone), and mark a big, happy X through each day as it passes. Take joy in those X’s—you’ve worked hard to get through each braces-filled day. Revel in it! One more day done, baby!
2. Create a crafty countdown calendar!
If you search Pinterest for “Advent calendars,” you’ll find pages and pages of crafty, fun ways to countdown the days until Christmas. Apply this same idea to your braces! Instead of one number, or clothespin, or paper bag, or toilet paper roll, representing a single day in the countdown, consider making each number represent a week in your journey. Inside each number can be a braces-friendly treat, or a “great job making it this far!” sticker, or some other small way to reward yourself for making it as far as you have.
3. Document your progress with a selfie!
We know this wouldn’t be your first experience with a selfie. If we had to bet, we’d say you’re likely a selfie pro! Apply those highly sharpened selfie skills to your braces journey! Some mothers-to-be document their pregnancies week by week with a side profile pic. You can document your braces progress with a weekly selfie! Feel free to keep these photos for your personal reference, to remind yourself of how far you’ve come, or (with a parent’s permission) post them to social media to show your friends what great progress you’ve made since Day 1!
Remember, you’ll never be as far away from your goal of straighter teeth than you are the day before your orthodontist puts your braces on. Each day that passes is another day closer to your goal of straighter teeth, and getting those braces removed! YOU CAN DO IT!
It’s here! We can’t believe it’s finally here! We can struggle so much with letting go of summer. Goodbye, sunny days by the pool! So long, watermelon seed spitting contests! Farewell, family trips to Zoombezi Bay! Fall is officially here, folks, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
BUT! For so many of us, the sting of saying goodbye to summer is softened by the beginning of our OTHER favorite season: pumpkin spice season!
We understand that, for those of you with braces, it’s not as easy as collecting and gobbling up all the pumpkin spice goodness you can find. You need to make sure you’re making smart choices for your teeth.
We are here to help! We have scoured the internet, and we’ve found this fantastic, cinnamony, nutmegy, gingery (yes, these are now words. Feel free to use them liberally.), bronze orange pumpkin cream cheese muffins that will make you forget all about your post-summer misery.
This recipe is GREAT because it’s so versatile! You can make muffins (or mini muffins! just bake them for a little less timed) for yourself, and a loaf for everyone else! That’s right—we allotted 12 muffins for you, and one loaf for the rest of your crew. Hey, you’re baking them. You can eat as many of them as you want!
Check out the recipe below!
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread and Muffins
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1/2 C. vegetable oil
1/2 C. applesauce
2/3 C. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 C. sugar
3 1/2 C. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 1/2 C. mini chocolate chips.
Cream Cheese Filling:
16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 C. sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 Tbsp. milk
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease loaf pans, muffins pans or come of each (I made 1 large loaf and 12 muffins!)
2. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, vegetable oil, applesauce, milk, vanilla extract and sugar.
3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger together.
4. Combine the 1st and 2nd bowl and stir only until combined.
5. Stir in chocolate chips.
6. Filling: Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and milk together until smooth.
7. For Loaf Pans: Pour a little bit of batter into the loaf pan, spread to cover the bottom and then spoon cream cheese filling and spread it on top. Continue to alternate until your pan is 3/4 full and then bake for 60-80 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
8. For muffins: Fill each muffin tin 1/3 full, then spoon your filling in the pan, then top with another spoonful of pumpkin batter. Bake for 14-18 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
NOTE: I sprinkled extra chocolate chips on top of my bread before baking to make it look extra pretty
Find the original recipe at:
And happy baking!
Did you know that there are apps designed specifically for people who wear braces?? It’s true! We have combed the internet and have brought you a list of apps for all of our fabulous braces-wearers!
This fun app puts braces on a picture of your smiling face. You may want to know how you would look in braces before take the plunge at the orthodontist’s office. Or, maybe you already have braces, and your brother or sister (or friends, or parents!) want to know how they would look in braces like yours.
This helpful app provides critical orthodontic information for people who wear braces. Menu options include Elastics, Brush Timer, Color Braces, My Doctor, Home Care, Food Center, Emergency, and more. From answering your basic questions about braces care to helping you pick the color of your braces and helping you remember what to do when a problem with your braces arises, this certainly seems to be a handy app to keep on your device!
This app isn’t necessarily specifically for people with braces, but it is a fun way to help everyone take the time they really need to brush their teeth. The app plays songs from your library or from a streaming service, and sets a timer for two minutes, so you can have fun while you brush for exactly as long as you need to. The app also allows you to set reminders for when it’s time to exchange your old toothbrush for a new one, or when it’s time to brush or floss, and even when you need to make your next dental appointment.
Speaking of setting alarms, this helpful app reminds you to wear your rubber bands. Wearing your rubber bands when you’re supposed to decreases the amount of time you’ll need to wear braces. In addition to giving you reminders, the app can “challenge” you, by asking you throughout the day if you’re currently wearing your rubber bands. Based on your (honest!) answers, the app will grade you on your progress that you can proudly show your parents and orthodontist. The app also has a fun “braces-off-O-meter” that rangers from “You’ll never get them off” to “You are going as fast as possible.” This app certainly seems like a fun and helpful way to encourage braces-wearers to stay on track!
My Day: Countdown Timer
This app can be used for any number of special days, but we know if you have braces, the day your braces come off can feel like the most important day of your life! This app is easy to use and has beautiful graphics for whatever occasion you are counting down to (get the app for your braces, keep it for other important dates in your life!). Not only can you count DOWN to the day your braces come off; you can also count UP to appreciate the number of days you have powered through so far.
We all love to smile. Smiling lifts our spirits, brightens our days. Smiling at other people can cheer them up, too.
Let’s Talk About Endorphins
Science shows us that when we smile (or laugh!), our body releases endorphins. Endorphins are a hormone that our central nervous system and pituitary gland produce. Not only do these hormones inhibit the transmission of pain signals; they also produce in us a euphoric feeling.
In short, they help us feel great!
Do we smile because we’re happy, or does smiling make us happy?
We smile when we are happy, but we also become happier when we smile. Charles Darwin first suggested this theory, which is known as “facial feedback hypothesis,” or “feedback loop.” When we smile, our brain decides we must be happy!
A Natural Stress Reliever
Smiling is also known to relieve stress. When we become stressed, we can calm ourselves down by breathing deeply and smiling, to try to change our mood. In fact, a scientific study was conducted that revealed this very fact! The abstract of the study (whose link you can find below) states that the findings of the study show “that there are both physiological and psychological benefits of maintaining positive facial expressions during stress.” We don’t always feel like smiling when we are stressed, but let’s trust science and give it a try!
Watch out, it’s contagious!
Smiles are contagious! Actually, science shows this statement to be true, too! (Follow the link below to read more about the study.) When someone sees another person smile, they are likely to smile, as well. And, because smiling can decrease stress and release endorphins in our brains, our smiles spread calm, positive euphoria to everyone around us!
People can trust a smile!
Another scientific study showed that people who are viewed as being more attractive—including people who smile—are also perceived as being more trustworthy. (Again: the link to the study is below!) We know smiling doesn’t actually make you more trustworthy. We’ll leave it to you to back up your newfound perceived trustworthiness with actual substance!
Let us help your smile!
So now that we know that smiling has SO MANY benefits to us physiologically, psychologically, socially, and communally, we’d love to help you attain a smile that you are truly proud of! If you are self-conscious about your smile, or hide your teeth when you smile, give your orthodontist a call. Truly, it’s for the betterment of society as a whole that everyone has a smile they are excited to show off!
Stress relief study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23012270
Smiles are contagious study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12738341
Smiling and trustworthiness study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22913033
It’s that time of year! The summer is winding down and school is starting! Packing lunch for school days can be tricky when you’re keeping in mind the care of your braces. You can’t just pack an apple with your sandwich and call it a day anymore. We’ve found some really fantastic ideas for portable, bite-size food that you can take with you wherever you go—and they’re not just smoothies in a thermos!
Check out this recipe below for Mac and Cheese Muffins! They’re portable, soft, bite-size, and healthy! Click this link for the original recipe:
For more creative bite-size recipes using your mini muffin tins, check out this link:
Happy baking, and happy back-to-school!
Mac & Cheese Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins
4 cups cooked whole wheat or high fiber macaroni
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup skim milk
1 garlic clove, minced
3 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 egg white
1 (10 oz) package of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, drained and patted dry (or you could use 1 cup cooked fresh spinach)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 Pre-heat the oven to 400. Lightly mist a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
2 In a small sauce pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour, mixing it into the butter until thick. Stir in the milk and garlic and raise the temp to bring the mixture to just under a boil. Add the cheese and whisk mixture together until thoroughly combined into a cheese sauce.
3 Remove the cheese sauce from heat and then mix in the egg and egg white (binding agents) until combined.
4 In a large bowl, combine the pasta, spinach, cheese sauce, salt and pepper and mix together. Spoon the mixture evenly into the cups of your prepared muffin tin.
5 Bake for 10-15 minutes until the tops slightly brown. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from muffin tin.
WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS PLUS:
4 per muffins (P+ calculated using the recipe builder on weightwatchers.com)
149 calories, 15 g carbs, 1 g sugars, 6 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 9 g protein, 2 g fiber (from myfitnesspal.com)
We all know how important it is to keep our mouths clean, and that brushing with a toothbrush alone, while very important to maintain a clean mouth, is not by far the only necessary step. We know that bacteria, food particles, and plaque can settle between teeth and in places that a toothbrush alone can’t reach.
How many more hiding places for bacteria and food particles do braces offer?
Cleaning your teeth and braces regularly will pay off in the end, when your braces finally (finally!) come off and you see the stains on your teeth that show where your braces were and where your braces weren’t. OR, when you can’t really tell that much of a difference, because you diligently cleaned your braces frequently and with great care.
Food particles can attach themselves to your braces every time you eat, so it is important that you brush your teeth after you eat, every single time. We know you don’t always eat at home, but fear not! You can tuck away a travel toothbrush in your purse or bag, so you are always prepared when you need a quick brush-up.
How many times have we heard that we need to floss our teeth? Millions, maybe even zillions of times! Flossing with braces is SO important, since braces allow food to get stuck in so many new and exciting ways that plain old unbraced teeth just don’t. With the help of a floss threader, or other tools, you can clean every nook and cranny. No pesky food particle is safe from a careful braces wearer!
Brushing your teeth when you wear braces looks pretty much the same as brushing your teeth before you had braces. Take your time and brush every surface of your teeth, gums, and tongue thoroughly. Make sure to rinse with water or a mouthwash.
Poor dental hygiene is a potential issue for anyone who doesn’t take the time and effort to clean their teeth on a regular basis. This concern heightens even more for someone who is wearing braces. You increase your risk for issues like gingivitis and periodontitis if you don’t take very seriously the care and cleaning of your teeth and braces.
Your orthodontist is working hard to help you achieve a straight, healthy smile. But the responsibility is shared by you, the patient, since you’re the one who brushes your teeth when you’re home. (Can you picture your orthodontist brushing and flossing your teeth for you every day?? Neither can we!) You, together with your orthodontist, orthodontic office staff, and your home support (parents, spouses, enthusiastic pet dog), are a team, working together to achieve your perfect smile. Don’t let your team down! Keep those teeth clean every day—several times a day—so when you finally get those braces removed, you will have a smile that shows you all your hard work was worth it!
Congratulations! Your orthodontist has finally, at long last, removed your braces! Your teeth are straight, and clean, and gorgeous! You are ready to skip out of the orthodontist’s office and never look back.
Not so fast! Your teeth are straight and beautiful, but they’re not interested in staying that way forever—not without the help of a retainer! Your orthodontist will make a retainer specifically to fit your new, flashy smile. Wearing your retainer is important—no, more serious than that—it’s crucial to ensuring the longevity of your straight and impressive teeth. If you neglect to wear your retainer exactly to the directions of your orthodontist, you will not retain (see what we did there?) the benefits that you worked so hard and so long to achieve while you were wearing your braces. You may not be overwhelmingly enthusiastic about wearing your retainer day-and-night for 6 months, or every night thereafter, but when you look into the mirror and see that big, beautiful smile, and you remember how far you've come from the day of your first orthodontic appointment, isn’t it worth it to pop that retainer in?
Just like your braces required a little extra TLC, so does your retainer.
You will need to remove your retainer when you eat. Your wallet (or your parents’ wallet!) will thank you to please store your retainer in its case when it is not in your mouth. Many a school custodian has dug through the cafeteria trash looking for accidentally discarded retainers! Yuck! And replacing retainers can be very costly. So keep your retainer close and keep it safe!
Your retainer gathers the same bacteria and plaque that your mouth does during the day. So, when you clean your teeth, clean your retainer! Your retainer is made of acrylic, and toothpaste can scratch or dull the surface, providing tiny divots for bacteria to grow. The best way to clean your retainer is NOT to brush it with a toothbrush and toothpaste, but rather to soak it in cleaning solution, such as denture cleaning tablets. You can also use common household items like vinegar and water to clean your retainer and kill the bacteria.
We know that your have SO many things to remember when you are getting ready for your day: brush your teeth, eat breakfast, get dressed, tie your shoes, grab your backpack (or purse, or briefcase), and don’t be late! How on earth will you remember to grab your retainer, too? You can experiment with several different reminder methods, depending on what works best for you and your morning routine. We suggest trying some of the following:
Wearing your retainer exactly the way your orthodontist has instructed is crucial to a successful and lasting outcome to your orthodontic care, so do whatever you need to do to ensure that you remember to grab that retainer everyday!
Although orthodontia is a viable solution to teeth problems at any age, the facts remain that the clear majority of orthodontia patients are teenagers. Due to their quick rate of growth and high capacity for healing, the teenage years are a great time to take care of teeth issues that can plague you throughout your life if you do not take action. However, everyone knows that the teenage years can also be trying and feel overwhelming to many young adults. Adding the burden of orthodontia can often seem like just one more thing to worry about.
Luckily, there are several basic and easy to remember steps that can help teenagers make the entire dental and orthodontia experience go more smoothly. Top among these is proper dental hygiene. The very nature of braces means that your teeth are harder to access and the hardware involved in braces can often mean that food will cling to the surfaces on or near your teeth. If left too long, this can lead to acid build up and decay. By brushing and flossing regularly and carefully, teenagers can lessen their risk of long term dental problems. It is best to brush after every meal, no matter how inconvenient it might be. A thorough flossing should be attempted at least twice a day. By taking the time to cleanse your teeth properly of food debris, teenagers are not only safeguarding their current mouth health, but learning and maintaining good dental practices that will serve them well in life.
A wisely chosen diet is another great way that teenagers can contribute to the overall success of their orthodontia treatment. While some foods, such as soda or candy, should be a given because of their sugar content and overall contribution to a poor diet, few people realize that sticky and crunchy foods can also lead to problems with your braces. Sticky foods obviously stick to the wires and brackets of your braces, while crunchy foods like nuts, popcorn, or apples can bend or break wires and cause cutting or tearing of the flesh inside your mouth. Avoiding these foods will help to protect both your teenager’s mouth and the investment you have made in your orthodontia plan.
Of course, there are some issues that can’t be avoided. Naturally, with braces can often come some pain or discomfort. Remember after an adjustment that your child’s mouth, jaw, and even head are likely to be sore. Treat them to soft, easy to swallow foods and make sure they get a regular dose of pain killer for a day or two and the discomfort is likely to go away. If a part of their braces is causing sores due to rubbing, there is easily available wax that can help lessen the pain.
We understand that dealing with orthodontics can easily feel a little overwhelming for teenagers who are often already pressed to their limit. However, by following these basic guidelines, teens can make sure to maximize the potential of their dental care and make sure that all the hassle pays off.
When you think of a typical orthodontia patient, you probably imagine a young teen, still growing into their features and likely a bit awkward as they progress through puberty into adulthood. However, while it is true that many teenagers are the patients of orthodontists, there is no one best time to get evaluated and treated for your orthodontia concerns. Orthodontists can be consulted at any age in order to fix serious dental concerns and improve the overall quality of life of their patients.
Many people don’t realize that getting a jump on your child’s orthodontist needs can be a great way to stay on top of any major issues that develop as your child grows. Here at James Karpac Orthodontics, we recommend that you come in for a complimentary consultation when your child is as young as 7 years old. By tracking the progression of your child’s growth and development from an early age, we can help to treat problems as they arise and hopefully lessen the overall amount of work that may be needed over time. If you want to avoid more costly and time consuming problems later, then early intervention and action is key in orthodontia.
Of course, the teen years are also a great time for major orthodontic work to be done. Teenagers are already growing and changing at extremely high rates, so their bodies are a bit easier to manipulate as needed. Most of your child’s adult teeth should be in by their teenage years, meaning that any major problems they are going to have in their teeth placement should be apparent by the time you come in for consultation and treatment. By treating these problems in their teenage years, you can head off years of pain and frustration as your child moves forward in life.
However, if orthodontic treatment was simply not an option for you or your loved ones when growing up, the good news is that it is never too late. Many of our treatments are still available for adults and address a host of issues like chronic headaches, teeth grinding, and even sleep apnea. The rise in more subtle options like ceramic braces or Invisaline products means that it is easier than ever to get your teeth in line without having everyone distracted by your dental work. Every year, more and more adults choose to utilize our services in order to fix major problems with their teeth. After all, everyone knows that in adulthood, first impressions are incredibly important in the job market as well as the dating world. We believe that nothing helps a first impression be favorable more than a strong, confident smile.
So don’t waste your time worrying about whether you or your loved one is the right age to bring to us here at James Karpac Orthodontics. The simple fact is that almost any age is a good age to seek treatment for the orthodontic problems that are plaguing you. Call today to schedule a consultation!
The most traditional form of braces is composed of a metal bracket bonded to the teeth with a special chemical agent. The brackets are then fastened to wires which extend across the teeth. A plastic ligature wrapped around the front of the bracket keeps the wire in place. The ligatures are changed about once a month and patients can choose from many different colors. School colors or holiday hues are popular choices for teenagers who have these types of braces. Some people find slight disadvantages with traditional braces as they can be uncomfortable, difficult to clean and hard to eat certain foods with.
Patients who want braces that are not as noticeable can often opt for ceramic brackets rather than metal. These are white in color and blend in with the tooth better. These are usually paired with white or clear ligatures for braces that are as unobtrusive as possible in the overall appearance of the smile. Ceramic braces whilst more appealing to some can be more brittle than other options and are susceptible to damage. Active individuals who play sports may need to use a sturdier choice for their braces as it’s always best to avoid needing replacements. Ceramic braces can also be more dangerous on the bottom where the teeth experience more force from each bite. Depending on you or your child’s regular activities you can discuss all your options with your orthodontist.
Some people know they need braces, and may even want them, but they truly have an issue with the aesthetics. For these people there is an option, and it is called lingual braces. These braces are affixed to the inside of the teeth rather than the front. They work in the same manner as traditional braces; the only real difference is the placement. Though they are not as visible, braces placed on the inside of the teeth may cause speech problems more often than traditional braces. They may also be more irritating to the individual as they occupy the same area as the tongue. You will want to consider the pros and cons if you are looking at these as an option. Lingual braces such as those provided by Incognito Orthodontic Braces or iBraces are more common among adults than adolescents.
An orthodontic alternative to braces that works very differently but is also a common option is known as aligners. The most common type of aligners is the well-known Invisalign brand. Invisalign uses plastic trays rather than wires and brackets to move the teeth. Patients wear each set of plastic trays for about two weeks. At that time, the trays are replaced with a different set which help the teeth to move gradually into place. The benefits of Invisalign include the ability to eat any kind of food and the ability to easily brush and floss by simply removing the tray. Invisalign cannot be used with more advanced orthodontic problems, so it’s best to consult with a professional to find out whether this is an option for you.