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Dr. Tabakman

The Benefits of a Digital Consultation at Houston Orthodontic Specialists

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Dr. Tabakman, Dr. Muller, Dr. Bloome and Dr. Wadler are always on the cutting edge of technology to provide you with the best and most convenient treatment. They are also here to keep our patients, team members and community safe. As you may know, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the doctors have had to temporarily close the Houston Orthodontic Specialists’ offices. However, we’re still here virtually!

If you’re an existing patient and you have questions or concerns, text our office at (713) 667-6000 or email us at [email protected]. We’re also creating an option, which you can access via our homepage, for a virtual check-in. This way, you can check in with us so we can monitor your progress or help you if you’re having a problem with your braces or Invisalign.

Now, what about new patients who have been thinking about perfecting their smiles? We’ve got you covered too with digital consultations. So, if visiting a Bellaire or Houston orthodontist for Invisalign or braces has been on your to-do list, now is the time to cross it off. Here are the benefits of having a digital consultation with Houston Orthodontic Specialists:

  1. Helps With Social Distancing – There’s nothing we love more than interacting with our patients but for the time being, social distancing is essential for helping to flatten the curve. With a digital consultation, there’s no physical contact and you don’t have to leave your house. You can even stay in your pajamas if you want! We’ll be able to complete a number of steps in the orthodontic process from afar. Then, when things stabilize and our offices reopen, we’ll schedule you for an in-person appointment.
  2. Very Convenient – Completing the process from your couch, kitchen table or wherever you are is about as convenient as it gets. You don’t need to get dressed or get the kids ready and take a trip to our office.
  3. Super Easy – We designed our virtual consultation to be extremely user-friendly and streamlined. It only takes a few minutes. You’ll simply enter some information about yourself and snap a few pics of your smile before hitting “send.” One of our Houston or Bellaire orthodontists will review your information and then we’ll get back to you.
  4. You’ll Receive Important Details – After going over your form and your pictures, our orthodontic specialist will customize the best treatment plan for you or your child. Our treatment coordinator will contact you to talk about our treatment recommendations, how long your treatment will likely last, the cost of braces or Invisalign for your case and our affordable payment options. You’ll feel informed and confident about taking the next steps with us.
  5. Kicks Off Your Smile Journey – Every new patient starts their smile journey with a consultation. By doing it virtually, we can check off several tasks before you come in to have your braces bonded or your Invisalign aligners designed. This will save you time. If you have insurance, you can give us your information and we’ll estimate your coverage and start the paperwork on your behalf.
  6. It’s Complimentary and No Referral is Necessary – While we always appreciate and welcome referrals from dentists, you don’t need one to have a virtual consultation. We can determine if orthodontic treatment is necessary for you or your child and, if it is, what the best treatment option will be. It’s free and there is no obligation. If you do decide you want to move forward with us, we’ll schedule you for an appointment as soon as our offices open again.

We hope you’re hanging in there, staying positive and finding things to smile about! If you’re ready to learn more about braces or Invisalign in Houston or Bellaire, book a digital consultation at Houston Orthodontic Specialists today! In fact, from now until April 3, we’re offering $1,500 of full orthodontic treatment with Invisalign and braces. 

Temporary closure due to COVID-19

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March 24th – 

Dear Patients,

The Governor of Texas put out a statewide mandate on Sunday, March 22, 2020, that all medical and dental providers are to remain closed until April 21, 2020, at midnight for any non-essential procedures. Additionally, as of midnight March 24, 2020, a “Stay Home, Work Safe” order has been issued in Harris County which will stay in effect until at least April 3, 2020.

This means that we will have to temporarily suspend curbside Invisalign aligner pickup until further notice. Dr. Tabakman will continue to see patients for emergencies only. We have set up a convenient online portal for any special-cares where one of our highly trained clinical assistants will be able to assist you to make you comfortable and help you in the convenience of your home. Find out more here.

We are currently planning on resuming normal business activity on April 22, 2020, as currently allowed by the law, however, should this change, we will keep you posted.

Should you have any further questions, please feel free to email us at [email protected]

We can’t wait to see all your smiling faces back at our practice!

Thank you,

Dr. Vladimir Tabakman, Dr. Melissa Bloome, Dr. Monica Muller and Dr. David Wadler

 

March 18th – 

Dear patients and families of Houston Orthodontic Specialists,

Based on recent information that is ever-changing and evolving regarding COVID-19, and based on recommendations from the CDC, American Dental Association and Texas Dental Association, Dr. Muller, Dr. Bloome, Dr. Wadler and I have decided that our practice will be closed starting on March 18, 2020, and will reopen on March 30, 2020. I will be available for special-care appointments at our Bellaire location. We believe it is in the best interest of the community to do our part in helping to keep people safe and healthy and to help “flatten the curve.”

One of our core values at Houston Orthodontic Specialists is excellence: we pride ourselves in excellence regardless of what we do, big or small. Our mission is to deliver the best possible orthodontic care in a state of the art environment. This is not an easy decision as we have struggled with what is the right decision at this time for our employees, patients, doctors, and community. We realize the impact it will have on everyone. Now is the time to truly care for our communities and humanity. I personally am going to use this as an opportunity to show my children the power of resilience, strength, leadership, positive energy, and goodwill toward each other. The coming days will be challenging and different, but that is ok. Together as a supportive community, we will get through this as we have done in other times.

I will continue to stay positive, smile daily and help others when I am able to. More details will come and we will be reaching out to those of you scheduled in the coming weeks. If you need us we are here for you. You can text our office number (713) 667-6000 or use our chat feature on our website to contact us, we will be monitoring that and responding as needed. We will also be working diligently to ensure we are prepared to resume business as usual when the time comes.

I am wishing our community and HOS family health, safety and strength in the days ahead. Stay healthy and practice good judgement. Don’t be fearful, things will be ok.

With love and care,

Dr. Vladimir Tabakman

Everything You Need to Know About Retainers

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When you finish your braces or Invisalign, there’s still one more step in your orthodontic treatment: wearing a retainer. It’s the only way to maintain your results for life. We promise when you see how fantastic your new smile looks, it won’t seem like a big deal at all. Today, we’ll be covering why you need a retainer after braces or Invisalign, what the different types of retainers are and how to care for them.

Why Do I Need to Wear a Retainer After Braces or Invisalign?

When you’re actually wearing braces or Invisalign and your teeth are shifting into place, this is what’s known as the active phase of your orthodontic treatment. When it’s complete, you enter the retention phase, which is when you wear a retainer. During the active phase, your braces or aligners exert steady, gentle pressure to move your teeth, which stimulates the process of bone remodeling. During bone remodeling, the bone and tissue that support the teeth break down, allowing the teeth to move in the direction we want. When you remove the pressure (i.e., have your braces taken off or stop wearing your aligners), the teeth have a natural tendency to shift back to where they were.

A retainer prevents the teeth from moving by holding them in their new positions until the bone and tissue tighten back up and lock your new smile into place. Additionally, the teeth drift as part of the natural ageing process and a retainer can minimize this shifting. Not wearing a retainer after braces or Invisalign will eventually result in a relapse. So, how long do you have to wear a retainer? Typically you’ll only wear it full-time for a short period before transitioning to just wearing it at night. Eventually, you’ll only have to use it a few nights a week.

The Types of Retainers After Braces or Invisalign

There are two main types of retainers after braces or Invisalign: fixed and removable retainers. Here are the basics of each kind

  • Fixed Retainer – A fixed retainer consists of a thin metal wire that’s bonded to the back of the teeth on the tongue side. It can’t be seen when you smile and it can stay in place for years, or even decades, if properly cared for. Your orthodontist will be able to determine if a fixed retainer, often called a permanent retainer, will be the best choice for your smile needs. Sometimes, we’ll use a fixed retainer on one arch and a removable retainer on the other arch.
  • Removable Retainer – There are two types of removable retainers:

 o Hawley Retainer – A Hawley retainer is probably what comes to mind when you hear the word “retainer.” It has a piece of acrylic that rests against the roof or bottom of your mouth, depending on which arch it’s used on, and an attached wire that goes around your teeth. While it is visible, it’s less noticeable than metal braces. A Hawley retainer can be adjusted if we need to make minor corrections. However, an increasing number of patients are opting for clear retainers instead so we don’t use Hawley retainer as much as we used to.

o Essix Retainer, Also Known as a Clear Retainer– An Essix retainer is a clear retainer made from smooth, BPA-free plastic. It’s very similar to an Invisalign aligner. In fact, the company that makes Invisalign also makes Vivera clear retainers, a brand of Essix retainer. Clear retainers, or Essix retainers, slip over the teeth, are comfortable and are nearly invisible. They’re the most popular option with our Bellaire and Houston orthodontics patients.

How to Care for Your Orthodontic Retainer

Here are some tips for caring for your retainer after braces or Invisalign:

  • Brush and floss around your fixed retainer. The wire can accumulate food and plaque just like braces can, so oral hygiene is important. You’ll also want to keep up with your regular dental appointments so your dentist can ensure the area is clean and cavity-free.
  • Always keep your removable retainer in its retainer case when you’re not wearing it. Never place it on a napkin or in a tissue because it can get thrown away. You’ll even want to store it in its retainer case when you take it out to brush and floss because pets love retainers. The last thing you want is your dog damaging it.
  • Remove your retainer before eating and drinking anything aside from plain water. If you have an Essix retainer, like a Vivera clear retainer, it’s especially important to take it out even if you’re just taking a sip of a drink. The liquid and sugars can get stuck between your teeth and your retainer, which will increase your risk of tooth decay.
  • As for how to clean your retainer, gently brush it with a soft-bristled toothbrush and some non-abrasive toothpaste whenever you brush your teeth. This will get rid of plaque and any food debris. For a deeper clean, you can also occasionally use a retainer cleaner and let it soak. This will prevent it from smelling and will get rid of any build up.
  • Don’t store clear retainers in hot vehicles or drink hot drinks with them in your mouth. The heat can warp the retainer, which will affect the fit and could potentially result in your teeth shifting.
  • If you lose a retainer, call our office right away to have it replaced. Not wearing your retainer after braces or Invisalign, even for a few nights, will result in your teeth shifting. It’s important to get a new one so we can maintain your smile.
  • Bring your retainer with you to appointments so we can make sure it’s still in good shape and it fits correctly.

Now that you know all of the details about wearing a retainer after braces or Invisalign, we hope you’ll take excellent care of your appliance to keep your smile in tip-top shape. At our practice, we have a Retainer Club Membership program to ensure you always have a retainer and can keep your new smile looking its best. Call our office for more details!

If you haven’t had orthodontic treatment yet and you’d like to meet with a Bellaire or Houston orthodontist, schedule a free consultation at Houston Orthodontic Specialists today!

Which Orthodontic Issues Can Invisalign Fix?

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Invisalign® is an outstanding tool for helping patients achieve beautiful, healthy smiles. The system of clear, removable, BPA-free plastic aligners offers patients a comfortable, convenient and virtually invisible way to straighten their teeth. Yet, the treatment is only as effective as the orthodontist planning it since the aligners are designed by the doctor and then printed based on their specifications.

 One of the unique things about our Bellaire and Houston orthodontics practice is that everyone is a candidate for Invisalign treatment. You may have heard that Invisalign can’t fix every orthodontic issue and more complex cases require braces instead. That’s not true! Any problem that can be fixed with braces can also be fixed with Invisalign. It boils down to the provider.

We’re one of the few Diamond Invisalign Providers in the Houston area and we can address multi-disciplinary and complex cases with the treatment because of our extensive product knowledge, proficiency and the expertise of our doctors. In fact, Dr. Tabakman has been recognized for his breakthrough orthodontic treatments with Invisalign. With that in mind, we’re covering the orthodontic issues we can fix with Invisalign at Houston Orthodontic Specialists.

Invisalign for Crowded Teeth

Crowding is when you don’t have enough space in the jaw to accommodate all of the teeth. The teeth tend to overlap, bunch up or shift out of place in an effort to squeeze in. Crowded teeth are harder to keep clean, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Does Invisalign work for crowded teeth? Yes! If you have crowded teeth Invisalign is an excellent option for creating space and moving the teeth into their ideal places. In cases where we need to facilitate more complex movements, we can use tooth-colored Invisalign attachments to help us shift teeth in the direction of our choosing. We have an Invisalign before and after photo in our Smile Gallery of an adult patient we treated with Invisalign for crowded teeth that illustrates how effective it can be.

How long does Invisalign take for crowded teeth? It will depend on a number of factors including the severity of your case and how well you follow the instructions for wearing your aligners. At your consultation, one of our Houston or Bellaire orthodontists will be able to give you an accurate number.

Invisalign for Spacing

Spacing is when you have gaps between two or more teeth. It may be the result of missing teeth, teeth that are too narrow for the jaw or habits like prolonged thumb sucking. If gap teeth aren’t fixed, it can have a negative impact on the health of your gums and can also lead to the deterioration of the jawbone.

Can Invisalign fix gaps? If you have gap teeth Invisalign is a great solution! Invisalign can close the gaps and align the teeth to give you a fantastic smile. Just as with any orthodontic issue, how long Invisalign takes to fix gap teeth will depend on the complexity of your case and wearing your aligners according to your treatment plan.

Invisalign for Overbite

An overbite, sometimes called overjet, is when the top teeth stick out too far in front of the bottom teeth. While almost everyone has at least some degree of an overbite, when the space between the upper and lower teeth is too large, orthodontic treatment is recommended. If not treated, an overbite can cause excessive wear of the teeth, jaw pain and make the top front teeth more susceptible to injury.

Can Invisalign fix an overbite? Yes, Invisalign can fix an overbite. Depending on the degree of overbite, we may also use Invisalign attachments and rubber bands to shift the teeth and jaw into their proper positions to create a healthy, stable bite.

Invisalign for Underbite

An underbite is when the lower teeth sit in front of the upper teeth when your mouth is closed. It can happen when the lower jaw grows at a faster rate than the upper jaw. An underbite can make it hard to speak clearly or chew properly and often results in uneven wear of the teeth.

If braces can correct your underbite than Invisalign can as well. Since an underbite is a skeletal issue, it’s something that responds best to early treatment. In severe cases, correcting an underbite may require surgical orthodontics, which is when we combine jaw surgery with orthodontic treatment. However, thanks to innovations in techniques and treatments, in many more cases than ever before, we can avoid surgery and correct the problem with Invisalign alone.

Invisalign for Open Bite

If the top and bottom teeth don’t touch when the mouth is closed, you’re said to have an open bite. An open bite can make it hard to bite and chew. The problem can be due to a skeletal issue or it can occur due to oral habits like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting or prolonged pacifier use.

The good news is, if you have an open bite Invisalign can fix it. The aligners can shift the top and bottom teeth into place so that they come together correctly, improving the appearance and function of your smile.

Invisalign for Crossbite

A crossbite is characterized by some of the top teeth sitting inside of some of the bottom teeth when you close your mouth. Depending on which teeth are affected, you can have a back crossbite or a front crossbite. Crossbites can be the result of the early loss of baby teeth, trauma, genetics or poor oral habits. Treating a crossbite is important because people often compensate by moving the jaw to one side, which can lead to permanent changes in facial structure and impact jaw growth.

Invisalign can fix a crossbite in many cases. Again, if it’s an issue that can be corrected with braces, it will also respond well to clear aligners. As with other problems, if the issue is more complex, we may also use Invisalign attachments to facilitate certain tooth movements and get the best results possible.

To learn more about the orthodontic issues Invisalign can fix and see how we can perfect your smile with clear aligners, schedule a free consultation at Houston Orthodontic Specialists today. Call us at (281) 752-4222 (West Houston) or (713) 667-6000 (Bellaire) to book your visit.

The Ins and Outs of Brushing and Flossing With Braces

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Oral hygiene is an important aspect of your braces treatment. After all, you’ll want your new smile to be as healthy as it is beautiful. At first, brushing and flossing with braces can seem daunting but once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature. To help, the team here at Houston Orthodontics Specialists is sharing our guide to oral hygiene and braces.

The Importance of Oral Hygiene for Braces Wearers

Before we get into exactly how to brush and floss with braces, let’s talk about why it’s so important. Well, we all have bacteria in our mouth no matter how awesome we are at brushing our teeth. The bacteria feed on the sugars and starches we eat and release acids. The acids, saliva, food and bacteria then band together to form plaque, which is the sticky substance that builds up on teeth. The plaque acids eat away at the tooth enamel, which is how cavities form. It’s essential to brush and floss away plaque and food debris to prevent decay from occurring.

The brackets and wires from braces tend to trap food and plaque, so cleaning around them is essential. Getting cavities or experiencing other oral health challenges while you’re wearing braces can set your treatment back. Additionally, teeth move most effectively in a healthy oral environment.

So do you have to see your regular dentist during orthodontic treatment? Yup! It’s actually more important than ever. Continue to visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings at least twice a year, or as often as they recommend. A professional cleaning can remove hardened plaque that you can’t get rid of with a regular toothbrush. A dental exam can also detect issues while they’re still easy to treat, helping to keep your smile progress on track. 

How to Brush Your Teeth With Braces

You will want to brush with braces in the morning, after meals and snacks, and before bed. As for how to brush teeth with braces, use a non-whitening, fluoride toothpaste along with a soft-bristled toothbrush, which we find gives you more control than an electric toothbrush. Say you’re starting with your bottom teeth, hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle at the gum line pointing toward the tooth and, using moderate pressure, make sure to get under the bottom of the brackets and along the gums. Then brush straight on, cleaning the bracket. Finally, brush at a 45-degree angle pointing towards the gums so you’re getting the top of the bracket. You’ll also want to brush the chewing surfaces and back of the teeth. Repeat this on your top teeth. Give each individual tooth attention and be sure to brush around the back molars as well. Brush for at least two minutes each session.

How to Floss Teeth With Braces

Flossing with braces does bring new challenges because you have hardware in the way. We recommend opting for special floss for braces like an orthodontic flosser or floss threader to make your life easier. Be sure to floss once a day, preferably at night, in order to get rid of any plaque that has accumulated during the day. While the exact method for how to floss teeth with braces will vary depending on the tool you choose, it all starts by getting underneath your wires and in between any two set of teeth. Floss up and down the side of one tooth, going all the way to the gum line, and then up and down the side of the other. Move on to the next set of teeth until you’ve addressed every tooth. Floss around your molars too. 

Oral Hygiene Extras

Beyond a toothbrush and floss for braces, there are some extras that you can use to really get your smile sparkling clean. An interproximal brush or proxy brush is a great add-on and something we recommend to our Houston braces patients. You can use this tiny brush in addition to your regular toothbrush to dislodge food and get into tight spaces around your brackets. These are great tools to bring with you on the go because they’re small, portable and perfect in a pinch if you get food trapped in your braces. If you’re at risk for tooth decay, we may also recommend including a fluoride mouthwash into your oral hygiene mix to strengthen your enamel and decrease your risk of cavities.

Our patients often ask us if they can use a Waterpik for braces. The answer is, absolutely. A Waterpik, which is a brand name of water flosser, is excellent for getting your teeth squeaky clean when you have braces. Just be sure to note that a Waterpik for braces doesn’t replace flossing. It’s something you’ll want to use in addition to your regular dental floss. The tool can help improve gum health and get rid of food and plaque.

Now that you know all about caring for your appliance, if you’re interested in Houston, TX braces or Invisalign, schedule a complimentary consultation at Houston Orthodontic Specialists today! Book your visit online or by giving us a call at (281) 752-4222 (West Houston) or (713) 667-6000 (Bellaire). 

Dr. Bloome, Dr. Tabakman, Dr. Muller

Your Invisalign Survival Guide

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Dr. Bloome, Dr. Tabakman, Dr. Muller

Invisalign treatment is convenient, comfortable and virtually invisible. In fact, one of the biggest benefits of clear aligners is they have minimal impact on your day-to-day life. However, there are still steps you’ll have to take to ensure you make the most of your treatment and keep your smile healthy throughout. The team here at Houston Orthodontic Specialists is covering what you need to know in order to breeze through your smile journey in our Invisalign survival guide.

What is Invisalign and How Does it Work?

Invisalign involves a series of clear, BPA-free, plastic aligners that are custom designed to fit snugly over your teeth. The aligners are comfortable and removable, which makes them extremely convenient. We kick off the process by taking digital impressions with our iTero scanner. A computerized 3D model of your mouth is created and one of our Bellaire or Houston Invisalign providers plans out your treatment directly on the model. The aligners are crafted based on the doctor’s prescription. Each set of aligners is programmed to achieve certain tooth movements. As you make your way through the series, your new smile takes shape little by little.

Wearing Your Invisalign

Invisalign can only do its job if you wear the aligners as prescribed. We recommend wearing Invisalign aligners for about 22 hours per day for the best results. You can download the My Invisalign app from Align Technology to keep track of how many hours per day you’ve worn your aligners and get alerts when it’s time to change to a new set. Invisalign Teen has blue compliance indicators that will let you know if your teenager has been wearing their aligners for the ideal amount of time.

Keeping Your Invisalign Safe

One of the best Invisalign tips and tricks is to use your Invisalign case. Whenever you’re not wearing your aligners, make sure to store them in their case. Placing them in a napkin while you’re eating or leaving them in your dog’s path while you brush your teeth are surefire ways for them to be misplaced or damaged. If you lose your aligners, you may have to have a duplicate set created for you.

If you’re not good with keeping tabs on things, create a routine. Try brushing and eating around the same time each day and using your Invisalign case when you do so that it becomes a habit. If you have trouble remembering where you put the case or you leave it places like school or work, you can also try storing the case in something larger like a toiletry or cosmetics bag so that it’s even harder to lose.

Aside from not losing your aligners and keeping them away from pets, you’ll also want to avoid exposing them to extreme heat. If you leave your aligners in your car on a hot day or rinse them in really hot water, they can warp, which will affect the fit.

Getting the Perfect Fit

It’s important to do your daily chewing exercises to get the aligners to slip over your teeth and attachments and fit like a glove. The better they fit against your teeth, which we refer to as aligner seating, the better the results will be. At Houston Orthodontic Specialists, we do offer PROPEL® VPro5™, which further helps with aligner seating. The small, hands-free, take-home device features a mouthpiece that you bite down on. It generates gentle vibrations that improve how well your aligners fit when used for just five minutes per day.

Invisalign Comfort Care

Does Invisalign hurt? No, it does not. In fact, since there aren’t any brackets and wires, it’s very comfortable. However, when you first start treatment or sometimes when you put in a new set of aligners, your teeth can be a little sensitive. If that’s the case, sticking with soft foods and cold drinks until the tenderness subsides (similar to how you would with braces) is another of our favorite Invisalign tips and tricks. Things like smoothies, ice water, milkshakes, mashed potatoes and soup are easy on sensitive teeth. You can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever like Tylenol if necessary, though most patients don’t need to. Discomfort will go away in a day or two and it really just means your Invisalign is working.

Drinking and Eating With Invisalign

If you’re wondering what foods to eat with Invisalign, we’re happy to report, you can eat whatever you’d like during your treatment. You’ll take your aligners out to eat and drink anything aside from plain water, so there are no food restrictions. Since you need to wear your aligners for about 22 hours per day and, as we’ll get to shortly, you’ll have to brush your teeth after eating, you may find you snack a lot less. If you know you’re dining out at night or have plans for a long, leisurely dinner, keep the recommended wear time in mind and adjust your other meals accordingly.

Invisalign and Speech

Some of our Bellaire and Houston Invisalign patients have no issues with their speech when wearing Invisalign. Others do notice a slight lisp when they first start treatment. If that’s the case, the lisp will go away and your speech will return to normal once you get used to wearing your aligners. The best thing you can do to speed up the process is keep talking. Read aloud to yourself, talk on the phone with friends and sing along to your favorite songs in your car. This will help you get acclimated to wearing Invisalign more quickly.

How to Clean Invisalign Trays

We’re often asked how to clean Invisalign. Well, you can purchase the Invisalign cleaning crystals. However, the best Invisalign cleaner is simply water and your toothbrush! After taking your aligners out, brush them gently with your toothbrush and rinse them with lukewarm water (never hot as it can damage your aligners) before popping them back in. This should get rid of any plaque and buildup to keep them nice and clear. We don’t recommend using toothpaste since some types are abrasive, which can scratch and dull the surface of the aligners. If, for some reason, your aligners need a deeper clean, you can occasionally clean them with a mild, clear dish soap and lukewarm water.

Invisalign and Oral Hygiene

Even more important than how to clean Invisalign trays is how to keep your teeth clean when you’re wearing Invisalign. Even though Invisalign doesn’t involve brackets and wires, you will have to step up your oral hygiene routine. If you have sugar or starches on your teeth and then you put in your aligners, you’re trapping the food debris against your teeth, which can increase your risk of cavities. Additionally, when your aligners are in, since they’re tight against your pearly whites, your saliva isn’t able to rinse away plaque and food like it typically can. So, whenever you eat or drink anything, be sure to brush your teeth afterwards. Packing a travel toothbrush when you’re at school or at work is a great idea. If you forget it, at the very least, rinse your mouth out really well before putting your aligners back in.

Now that you have plenty of Invisalign tips and tricks from our Invisalign survival guide, if you’re ready to start treatment, book a complimentary consultation with a Houston or Bellaire orthodontist today! Schedule your visit at Houston Orthodontic Specialists by giving us a call at (281) 752-4222 (West Houston) or (713) 667-6000 (Bellaire) or book an online consultation.

Am I Too Old for Braces or Invisalign? Your Adult Orthodontics Questions Answered

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You can get a healthy, beautiful smile at any age. About half of our Bellaire and Houston braces and Invisalign patients are adults. In fact, we’ve had patients up to 80 years old! So, if you’re wondering, am I too old for braces or Invisalign? The answer is, absolutely not. Our experienced Bellaire and Houston orthodontists are able to achieve excellent results in adult patients. To help give you a better idea of the ins and outs of treatment for grown-ups, we’re answering some of the questions we hear most often about adult orthodontics.

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friends drinking at a table

What You Should Know About Drinking with Invisalign or Braces

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friends drinking at a table

Patients at Houston Orthodontic Specialists sometimes ask things like can I drink alcohol with braces or can you drink with Invisalign? The answer varies depending on whether you have traditional braces or clear aligners. With traditional braces, they’re bonded to your teeth and they’re typically made of stainless steel or a ceramic material that resists staining, so you can drink whatever you’d like to a certain extent. With Invisalign, you’ll have to remove your aligners (we’ll get to why shortly) before you drink anything aside from cool or room temperature water.

Drinking and Teeth: The Basics

We all have bacteria in our mouth, some of which is good and some harmful. The harmful bacteria feed off the sugar and starches you eat and drink. When they do this, they release acids that eat away at your tooth enamel and form a sticky substance called plaque. Eventually, this can lead to cavities. This is why it’s best to have drinks like soda, sweetened iced tea, certain cocktails, juice and sports drinks in moderation, whether you’re in orthodontic treatment or not. 

Other drinks, such as coffee, tea and red wine, may not have as much sugar as say, soda, but they can stain the teeth. Again, in order to keep your smile looking bright and fresh, you’ll also want to enjoy these in moderation. Some of the worst drinks for your teeth are actually acidic beverages. The acid in drinks, including orange juice, lemonade and white wine, can weaken the tooth enamel, making you more prone to cavities and staining. Adult beverages like mixed drinks with alcohol and fruit juice have the one-two punch of acidity and sugar. While the occasional alcoholic drink is fine, drinking them regularly, particularly if you’re not keeping up with your oral hygiene routine, can have a negative impact on your smile.

What Should I Consider When Drinking With Braces?

Can you drink coffee with braces? Can you drink soda with braces? What about alcohol? Like we mentioned, there are no restrictions when it comes to beverages when you have clear braces or metal braces. Drinking with braces won’t damage your bracket and wires. That being said, wearing braces does make you more susceptible to plaque build-up because there are extra nooks and crannies for plaque and bacteria to hide. This is why we usually recommend that our Houston braces patients limit their intake of sugary drinks and acidic beverages, including soda, mixed alcoholic beverages and sports drinks. Getting cavities at any point in your life is no fun, however, getting cavities while you’re in braces, could cause your treatment to go longer than it would have. Plus, teeth move most efficiently in a healthy oral environment.

Beyond sugary drinks, you’ll want to be careful when drinking coffee with braces (that goes for tea, red wine, cranberry juice or anything else dark colored too). These types of beverages can stain your teeth. Since you have brackets covering portions of your teeth, when your braces come off, you could have a two-toned smile depending on how frequently you’re drinking them.

What Can I Drink With Invisalign?

Just like with braces, you can drink whatever you want with Invisalign but only when you’re not wearing your aligners. It’s extremely important to take your aligners out to drink anything aside from plain water. Here’s why:

  • Invisalign aligners are crafted from clear plastic. Drinking coffee with Invisalign or any other hot beverages can cause the plastic to warp. The effectiveness of Invisalign depends on the fit. If the plastic warps and the fit is off, your teeth won’t get the necessary force to achieve the movements your orthodontist programmed into that set of aligners. This can compromise your results or mean you’ll have to wear that tray again.
  • Drinking something sugary or acidic with Invisalign aligners in your mouth or drinking and then immediately putting your aligners back in without rinsing your mouth out, can lead to cavities or erosion of your tooth enamel. The aligners fit snugly against the teeth and will trap the sugar or acid, holding it against your teeth for a longer period of time, potentially causing more damage. It won’t get washed away like it normally would by your saliva. Drinking alcohol with Invisalign or having the occasional glass of soda is fine but only if you’ve taken your aligners out and rinse your mouth out after.
  •  Drinking with Invisalign aligners in your mouth will cause the plastic to stain if you’re having things like coffee, red wine or tea. This kind of defeats the purpose of having virtually invisible treatment since your aligners will be noticeable.

How Can I Prevent Issues from Drinking with Invisalign or Braces?

  •  To keep cavities, staining and other issues at bay, when drinking with Invisalign or braces, follow these tips:
  • Take your Invisalign aligners out and put them in their case before having a drink.
  • Avoid the temptation to sip slowly or nurse a drink over the course of several hours. While, of course, you don’t want to drink too quickly when having an alcoholic beverage, at least when it comes to soda or sports drinks, drink it in one sitting. Otherwise, the remineralization process doesn’t get a chance to spring into action and the acids have more time to damage your teeth.
  • Drink lots of water. Drinking water will wash away some of the sugar, acid and plaque. It also stimulates saliva, which is important for neutralizing plaque acids and keeping teeth healthy.
  •  Before putting your aligners back in, if you can, swish some water around in your mouth and then spit it out after having a drink. If you’re out for a night on the town enjoying adult beverages, whether you have braces or Invisalign, occasionally rinsing your mouth out can’t hurt.
  • Don’t skimp on your oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth using a fluoride toothpaste in the morning, after meals and snacks, and before bed. Floss once a day as well.
  • Remember, everything in moderation. A glass of wine or coffee is perfectly fine but moderation is the key to a healthy smile.

Now that you’re a pro when it comes to beverages and your smile, if you’re interested in Invisalign or braces in Houston, schedule a complimentary consultation at Houston Orthodontic Specialists today!

houston orthodontic specialists doctor with patient wearing braces

8 Tips for Your First Week With Braces

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At Houston Orthodontic Specialists, we’re all about using the most up-to-date, high-tech treatment options to ensure your experience in braces or Invisalign® is as quick, effective and painless as possible. While we’ll help you breeze right through treatment and soon you’ll forget you’re even wearing braces, there is an adjustment period. As one of the leading providers of braces in Houston and Bellaire, we’ve got you covered with all of the details you need to know to get acclimated to your new hardware. Here are our tips for your first week with braces.

  1. Get a Head Start on First Day Braces Discomfort

Patients often ask, do braces hurt? The answer is, no, they do not. While you may experience some minor discomfort, you won’t feel any actual braces pain. The sensitivity is mild and goes away in a few days. You can get a jump on this by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever right before your bonding appointment or prior to adjustments. This way, it will kick in by the time any sensitivity begins.

  1.   Stock Up on Braces-Friendly Food and Drinks

We’ll fill you in on what to eat with braces the first week and beyond at your consultation. Your first day with braces or even your first several days, your teeth will be sensitive as we said, so sticking with soft foods and cold drinks is your best bet. Things like mashed potatoes, smoothies, applesauce, soup, pudding, yogurt, ice cream and ice water are great options. Cold beverages have the added bonus of numbing your mouth.

Once you are acclimated to your braces, you can go back to eating most of the foods you love. However, you will want to avoid really hard, sticky or chewy foods like caramel, toffee, popcorn, hard bagels, tough meats, nuts and pizza crust or anything that can damage your braces. You also shouldn’t bite or tear directly into foods like raw apples and carrots or corn on the cob. Instead, strip corn off the cob and cut foods into small, bite-sized pieces and chew with your back teeth. 

Once you’re back into the swing of eating your normal fare, here are some of the best foods we typically recommend to our Houston, TX braces patients: 

o   Soft breads such as sandwich breads, pancakes and tortillas

o   Soft cheese, yogurt, ice cream and other dairy

o   Pasta and grains, including quinoa, rice, couscous, barley and noodles

o   Steamed veggies

o   Fork-tender meats

o   Peanut butter

o   Stew and soup

o   Fruit cups

o   Applesauce

o   Ripe fruits

o   Fish sticks or soft-cooked fish

o   Hummus

o   Egg salad, tuna salad and chicken salad

o   Pudding

o   Tofu

o   Guacamole

o   Beans

o   Cold drinks such as smoothies, milkshakes and ice water

  1. Embrace Salt Water Rinses and Orthodontic Relief Wax

During your first week with braces, you may experience some irritation on the inside of your lips and cheeks. Your mouth will toughen up and after a while, your brackets and wires won’t bother you anymore. During the acclimation period, you can relieve the irritation with a salt water rinse. Add a teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water and swish it around in your mouth before spitting it out. You can repeat this several times during the day as needed. If that doesn’t help, you can also warm up a small piece of orthodontic wax between your fingers and place it on the areas of your braces that are bothering you.

  1.   Become a Pro at Brushing and Flossing with Braces

One of the things that will feel the strangest during your first week with braces is brushing and flossing around the brackets and wires. Just as with everything else, we promise you will quickly get used to it. We’ll show you how to brush and floss correctly but here are some basic tips for braces wearers:

 o   Brush your teeth in the morning, after meals and snacks and before bed for at least three minutes each session using a non-whitening, fluoride toothpaste. If you’re out and about and you forget to bring your toothbrush, simply rinse your mouth out well before eating and then brush as soon as you get home.

 

o   Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and moderate pressure, tilt the brush at a 45-degree angle and brush along the top and bottom of your brackets. Be sure to give your gum line plenty of attention too. Get all of the surfaces of each and every tooth and behind your molars.

 

o   Floss once daily. You may find an orthodontic flosser or a floss threader makes the process a whole lot easier, especially during those first days with braces. Get in between any set of teeth and floss up and down the side of each tooth all the way up to your gums before moving on to the next set of teeth.

 

o   Tools like interproximal brushes can be helpful for brushing around your brackets and under the wires and getting any hard-to-reach places. A waterpik can also be a great tool for reaching into the nooks and crannies and leaving your teeth feeling sparkling clean. You’ll still have to use regular floss along with the waterpik but some of our Houston, TX braces patients really love the tool.

  1.   Don’t Panic if Your Teeth Feel Loose

A little known fact about braces is that your teeth can feel loose during treatment. We know this can cause patients to panic! Don’t worry though; your teeth won’t fall out. It’s actually completely normal. The teeth have to loosen in order to move into their new positions. When your treatment is over, they’ll lock into place.

  1.   Learn How to Handle Braces Emergencies

First, we have to say, a true braces emergency is extremely rare. However there can be some minor discomforts and mishaps. Knowing how to handle them at home can help you feel more confident during those first days in braces and throughout your entire treatment. Here are a few common ones:

o   Soreness – As we mentioned earlier, your teeth can feel sore after you first get your braces on and following adjustments. Again, sticking with soft foods and cold drinks will work wonders. You can also use a saltwater rinse or an over-the-counter pain reliever if you’re still uncomfortable.

 

o   Broken or Loose Braces Bracket – If your braces bracket is still attached to the wire, don’t take it off. Gently push it back to its correct place and then cover it with a small piece of orthodontic wax. If the bracket breaks and comes off of your wire, wrap a piece of tissue around it and take it out of your mouth. Be sure to give our office a call so we can schedule you for an appointment to fix it.

 

o   Poking Wire – Before you leave your bonding appointment, we’ll make sure no wires are poking you. However, sometimes when a bracket is loose or breaks, you can be left with a long piece of wire that pokes into your cheek. If that’s the case, gently use the eraser end of a pencil or a clean cotton swab to push it out of the way and against the nearest tooth. Dry it off with some tissue and then cover it in orthodontic wax before giving us a call.

  1.   Don’t Forget Your Mouthguard

If you are an athlete, wearing a mouthguard is essential when you’re playing sports or doing any physical activity with a risk of injury to the face. It should be part of your routine all of the time but it’s especially important when you’re wearing braces. It will act as a barrier between your braces and the soft tissues of the mouth, preventing lacerations and irritation if you get hit in the face. It will also prevent damage to your braces and reduce the likelihood of losing or damaging your teeth, which can set your treatment back. A custom mouthguard will give you the best fit and superior protection and we can provide you with one at Houston Orthodontic Specialists.

  1. Focus on Those End Results!

On your first day with braces, your appliance will feel a little weird. After all, your tongue and lips aren’t used to sharing space with brackets and wires. You may also feel as if you look different or like your braces are sticking out. We promise, you’ll acclimate to your braces quickly and you’ll barely notice them after a while. If you feel discouraged, focus on the end result and think about how amazing your smile will look when you’re done.

Now that you know what to expect, if you’re interested in braces in Houston or Bellaire, book a consultation at Houston Orthodontic Specialists today! We offer a variety of braces options, including conventional metal and clear braces, self-ligating metal and clear braces and lingual braces. We’re also a Diamond Invisalign® and Invisalign Teen provider. We’ll help you decide on the best option for your needs so you can get a healthy, beautiful smile you love. 

 

image of table with food

Our Favorite Braces-Friendly Restaurants in Houston

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One of the first questions the patients at our orthodontist practice in Houston ask us is, “How will getting braces change my life?” For one, you get to look forward to a brand new smile that you’ll be excited to show off to all your friends. But before you get there, you will have to get used to a few changes first.

First of all, your teeth will look a little different with your fancy new hardware and you might experience some discomfort as your braces work their magic. You also need to pay more attention to what you eat. Certain foods — like crunchy, sticky or chewy foods — just don’t get along with braces. To make sure your new smile is progressing according to your doctor’s plan, it’s best to avoid these things until your treatment is complete.

At Houston Orthodontic Specialists, we’re here to take the guesswork out of what you can and cannot eat with braces. Better yet, we’re giving you an awesome list of where to eat with braces in Houston. (Invisalign folks, you don’t need to worry so much about avoiding certain foods because your aligners are removable! Just take them out when you eat and be sure to brush your teeth before you put your aligners back in.)

 

What Can I Eat with Braces?

If you (or your kids) have ever tried to eat foods like bagels, apples or bubble gum with braces, you’ve probably already figured out that some foods simply aren’t compatible with brackets and wires. When you have braces, these types of foods can easily get caught in your teeth or even run the risk of damaging your braces. This means you’ll need to make an unexpected trip to your orthodontist to fix the problem. While we love to see your smiling face, it’s best to be smart about what you’re eating with braces and limit unnecessary delays in your treatment. Here’s a list of common foods to avoid when chowing down with braces.

  • Crunchy foods: Popcorn, ice, chips or hard candies could potentially break your brackets.picture of popcorn
  • Chewy foods: Dense breads, like bagels or pizza crust, can stick to your braces and be incredibly difficult to remove.
  • Sticky foods: Caramels, candy, bubble gum — all of these are a no-go when you have braces. In addition to getting stuck in your braces, these treats can also pull your brackets off (not to mention the sugar alone is bad for your teeth!).
  • Anything you bite into: Biting into things like apples, corn-on-the-cob or carrots are harmful to your hardware.

We get it: this sounds like a lot to remember and to avoid. But there are plenty of delicious foods you can still enjoy when you have braces. Early on in your treatment, your teeth will likely be quite sensitive so it’s best to stick to soft or cold foods that are gentle on your teeth. Things like yogurt and smoothies (and yes, sometimes ice cream) are totally safe, as well as soup, steamed vegetables and soft, cooked grains. A good trick is to cut your food into smaller, bite-sized pieces and if it hurts, don’t eat it

 

Where to Eat with Braces in Houston

Uptown Sushi – 1131-14 Uptown Park Blvd

It might come as a surprise but Japanese food is the perfect thing to eat for anyone with braces because it is soft and (nearly) bite-sized. Raw fish, cooked veggies and rice are all staples in Japanese cuisine — and all of these things are soft enough to keep your braces safe and in-tact. If your kids aren’t into raw fish, go for dishes like vegetable tempura or California rolls, which are guaranteed to be gentle on sensitive teeth. Uptown Sushi has plenty of creative special rolls too, if you’re feeling adventurous. The Lickety Split roll, with a variety of fresh seafood, sounds delicious (and is 100% safe for people with braces!).

 Doux Cafe – 865 Dairy Ashford Rd

Who said you could only eat crepes for breakfast? At Doux Cafe, you can enjoy Paris’ favorite street food at any time of day. Crepes are soft and easy to eat, so even those with the most sensitive teeth will be able to chow down on Doux Cafe’s delicious treats. Crepes not your style? Try one of their amazing waffles instead! 

Jinya Ramen Bar – 3201 Louisiana St

You might have to avoid a lot of different foods when you have braces, but at least you can still enjoy oodles of noodles! Jinya Ramen Bar serves up some of the best Asian-inspired dishes around. Soft, cooked grains, like noodles and rice, are totally safe for braces, so you’re free to enjoy ramen to your heart’s content.

The 401 – 6700 Ferris (Suite 150)

Eating out with braces doesn’t have to be hard, as long as you know where to look. The 401 cafe might seem like an unlikely place to find a braces-friendly, kid-friendly meal, but it’s one of the best places to eat with braces in Houston. Open for lunch and breakfast, The 401 has many options for those with braces. Choose one of The 401’s delicious salads or go for a power bowl. With one of these comforting options, you’ll never feel like you’re missing because of your braces.

Nekter Juice Bar – 6700 Ferris Street (Suite 120)

Before you just keep scrolling on, hear us out — Nekter Juice Bar isn’t just for hippies and yogis. This chain smoothie bar makes some of the tastiest juices and smoothies in town, all of which are the perfect thing to eat when you have braces. Soft, check. Cold, check. Healthy and delicious, double-check. For something a little heartier than a liquid meal, try a nutrient-packed smoothie bowl (just swap out granola for extra fruit to avoid eating anything too crunchy). Nekter has one location in Bellaire and two in Houston, so it’s always easy to get your smoothie fix.

Tarascos Ice Cream – 13932 Westheimer Rd

Well, we promised that you could eat ice cream with braces (at least, in moderation). When you’re craving something cold and sweet, head to Tarascos. A Houston favorite, Tarascos has a menu that’s sure to satisfy any ice cream craving. Tarascos is the go-to spot for a braces-friendly dessert — just make sure to avoid flavors with crunchy, chewy or sticky ingredients, and opt for a cup instead of a cone. And promise us you’ll brush your teeth after you’ve gobbled up a hand-crafted paleta.

Pecan Creek – 1510 Eldridge Pkwy (Suite 100)

For a braces-friendly meal the whole family will love, head over to Pecan Creek. This popular breakfast and lunch spot, next to our West Houston orthodontic office, is a favorite among locals, with staples like scrambled eggs, omelettes and tacos. You’re sure to find many things you can eat with braces.

Dolce Vita – 500 Westheimer Rd

Don’t worry — you don’t have to give up pizza just because you have braces. Dolce Vita has many options that people with braces can enjoy, from salads and roasted veggies to their amazing pasta and pizza pies. Don’t miss Dolce Vita’s housemade gelato. It’s the perfect dessert when you have braces!