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According to a Statista survey, the most common New Year’s resolutions for 2023 are:

  1. To exercise more
  2. To eat healthier
  3. To lose weight

Year after year these three resolutions top the list in America. Overeating and under exercising during the holidays no doubt puts physical health and appearance at top of mind for many people. Then we fall right back into bad habit sin the new year. Why is it so hard to keep these resolutions? Why do so many of us repeat the same mistakes and end making the same resolutions year after year?

Delayed consequences can be a major stumbling block for health-related goals. Most people will notice the benefits of eating better and exercising within a couple of weeks. But the negative impact of not doing those things can take much longer to register. Those consequences accumulate over years and even decades. If you eat a whole tub of ice cream or the entire bag of chips, chances are it will have no immediate impact on your body weight, cholesterol, or heart health (though it may make you feel a little sluggish). The disincentive is too far off in future to be useful in the moment. It’s the same with exercise. If you miss a workout there is no immediate change to your physical appearance or physical abilities. So skipping that workout becomes all to easy.

Aligners: The Secret Weapon

What if there was a disincentive that helped us in the moment to resist picking up that bag of chips, eating that cookie, or skipping that workout? For many people, clear aligners provide the perfect disincentive. Like steroids for your self-control, clear aligners can make snacking simply not worth the effort.

During clear aligner treatment the aligner trays are typically worn around-the-clock but must be removed to eat, smoke, and drink anything other than water. You’ll want to clean your teeth after eating to ensure no food particles get stuck and cause irritation. This routine isn’t a big deal if you’re only doing it at mealtimes, but it may provide just the right amount of disincentive to avoid snacking throughout the day. If you’re a heavy soda or coffee drinker or smoker, aligners will help reduce your consumption of those too.

Strayt clear aligner treatment typically takes around 6 months which is the perfect amount of time to get out of the snacking habit. Those improved eating habits will endure long after you’ve stopped your aligner therapy treatment. So if you want to give your health-related resolutions a better chance of succeeding this year, consider bundling them with a resolution to level up your smile game with clear aligner treatment.

Is there ever a situation in which straighter teeth are not preferable? Yes. This article explores what you need to know when it comes to orthodontic treatment and gingival embrasures (AKA “black triangles”).

The most common compliant we treat is crowding of the lower front teeth. Resolving this crowding involves an outward expansion to create enough space for all of the teeth to fit into the archform. The animated GIF below represents four lower front teeth that are being expanded in this way to resolve crowding:

As the teeth become less crowded, the triangular spaces between the teeth appear larger. The clinical term for these black triangular spaces is gingival embrasures. There are three primary contributing factors that will make gingival embrasures larger and more noticeable:

  1. The shape of the teeth. Teeth that are more triangular will be narrower at the gumline than at the crown of the tooth. This creates more space between the teeth at the gumline.
  2. The amount of overlap/crowding present before the orthodontic treatment.
  3. The presence of gum recession. As gums recede, more of the narrower part of the tooth is exposed. This will exaggerate the appearance of black triangles. To demonstrate this principle, the GIF below represents the exact same teeth and movements as in the GIF above, but with the gumline moved a slightly lower. Note that the black triangles appear larger:

For the majority of patients – even those with lower teeth crowding – gingival embrasures are not an issue. However, some patients are a “perfect storm” of 2 or 3 of the factors listed above. If our doctors anticipate that black triangles may become conspicuous, we’ll let you know and discuss options with you to mitigate the appearance of black triangles. These options may include one or more of the following:

  • A treatment plan that does not fully resolve tooth crowding so as to avoid excessively large gingival embrasures
  • A treatment plan that includes to IPR (shaping of the teeth) to make them more rectangular and less triangular
  • Cosmetic dental and periodontal solutions

As with any medical or dental procedure, knowledge is power. It is important to know what questions to ask and what things to look for. When evaluating an orthodontic treatment plan, be sure to look at how tooth movements might affect the appearance of gingival embrasures.

Living a happy and fulfilling life sometimes means building self-confidence. To take charge of your future and chase your ambitions, you need to take the necessary steps to grow confidence. There are many ways to develop self-confidence, and this article can help you find the way that’s right for you.

 

BEGIN WITH SMALL CHANGES

You do not have to overwhelm yourself with significant life changes right away. You can rebuild your confidence at a steady pace. Some minor changes you can make include:

  • Starting a workout routine
  • Eating healthily
  • Staying away from negativity

Spend time talking to new people. Consider breaking out of your typical social group to meet others and discover new things. Going out for meals is a common way to develop friendships, but be aware of what you eat. When it comes to changing your eating habits, experts claim you do not need to diet to eat healthily. A healthy diet includes whole grains, vegetables and fruits, fish, poultry, nuts and seeds, and plant-based proteins. Consuming antioxidants can make you feel better about yourself and increase your health. Minor changes may include cutting down the number of sugary drinks or fatty foods you eat throughout your week.

If you want to feel good about yourself, you can start an exercise program. It doesn’t have to be a major life change, although it might lead to one. Start with a walk in the morning, or an at home yoga routine in the evening to destress. You might even want to join a gym where you can work with a personal trainer or wellness coach to start where you are and make a few goals.

 

TAKE STEPS TO IMPROVE YOUR SMILE

A smile is one of the first things people notice about you, and having straight teeth can go a long way in making a good impression. In fact, research has shown that having straight teeth can improve your self-confidence and make you seem more successful and likable to others. Not to mention, it can also make you feel better about yourself.

If you’re looking to straighten your teeth but don’t want to deal with metal braces, at-home teeth aligners from Strayt are a great option. These clear aligners are virtually invisible, so no one will even know you’re wearing them. And best of all, they can be used in the comfort of your own home. So if you’re looking to boost your confidence and put your best foot forward, straightening your teeth is a great place to start. And with at-home teeth aligners from Strayt, it’s easier than ever to achieve that perfect smile.

 

REMEMBER TO DESTRESS

Chronic stress can cause your mental health to deteriorate. Your body cannot live in a constant state of stress. There is a correlation between stress, anxiety, and depression. Depression and anxiety can tear up your self-worth and confidence. You may struggle to enter the world again because you feel down on yourself.

If you find it difficult to relax, try to schedule time for you to rest. Even if you can only afford a few minutes at a time, you should have time dedicated to relaxation every day. Some days, you may need to allow yourself to cuddle up on the couch and binge-watch your favorite show or read a good book. Give yourself opportunities to relax intentionally.

If money is keeping you from making good choices, or if you feel bogged down by debt, look into refinancing your home. If you have lived in your house for a while, you may have equity stored up that you can use to reduce debt (and therefore stress) or even invest in something new that would bring you joy.

 

ANALYZE YOUR PRESENT AND FUTURE

Ask yourself if you feel happy with your life right now. When you feel happy and comfortable in your life, other people's opinions cannot hurt you. You may understand what you need the most and how to practice self-care. Real happiness may involve chasing the dreams and passions you have. If you do not feel you have reached that goal yet in your life, learning to boost your confidence can help you seize your dreams.

If you do not feel satisfied with your current work environment, you may want to consider other opportunities. People may experience dissatisfaction because of high-stress levels, no passion for the job, or interests in other areas.

For some people, starting their own business can help them achieve their dreams. Before you convince yourself that now is not the time nor place, stop! Really consider what it would look like to start a new company, as well as all of the steps and processes involved. Don’t just dismiss your idea. If you decide to start a business, make sure you have a business plan. Your business plan needs to detail your services, describe your company mission, and explain the structure. Additionally, include your funding plans and any financial projections.

All people deserve to live their best life and achieve their goals. To rebuild and start fresh, you need to learn to care for yourself and chase down the dreams that matter to you rather than what matters to other people.

People choose to get clear aligner therapy because they want straighter, whiter teeth and a more confident smile. Many patients are pleasantly surprised by some other benefits that they weren’t expecting when they began the treatment process. These unexpected benefits include:

  • Improved oral health
  • Instant esthetic improvement from wearing the aligners
  • Healthy weight loss from improved eating habits

Improved Oral Health

Clear aligner treatment can result in improved oral health for a few reasons:

  • Patients develop more consistent brushing habits while in treatment
  • It is harder to clean teeth well when they are misaligned. As teeth become aligned better, it becomes easier to clean the teeth
  • When teeth are misaligned, it can result in chipping and premature wear on the teeth. Effective orthodontic treatment will prevent this type of tooth damage

Instant esthetic improvement from wearing the aligners

Many patients are pleasantly surprised by how much better their smile looks immediately when they first put their aligners in. Aligners work on teeth in a similar way to how makeup works on skin; covering up the blemishes. The picture below shows a patient with and without the aligners. Both pictures were taken on the same day…

Comparison of teeth with and without aligners

Healthy weight loss

Snacking. Drinking soda. Many of us do it more frequently than we should, and our waistlines pay the price. Grabbing that salty or sweet snack is just too easy!

Clear aligners need to be removed when eating and drinking (other than water). Teeth then need to be cleaned before the aligners go back on to ensure food particles don’t get stuck in there and cause irritation. The aligner routine isn’t difficult, but it can provide a powerful disincentive to snacking. That bag of chips or that cookie all-of-a-sudden become not worth the trouble. For this reason, many patients LOVE wearing aligners because it makes it easier to be more disciplined with what you consume throughout the day. Often that results in some of those unwanted pounds being shed during the treatment process.

Our teeth move throughout our lifetime. When teeth shift after orthodontic treatment it is called orthodontic relapse. It is normal and expected that teeth will shift after orthodontic treatment if retention is not used. Unfortunately, many people learn the “retention lesson” the hard way. Once you’ve experienced orthodontic relapse at least once, it tends to make you more motivated to use retainers.

If you’ve recently completed clear aligner therapy but gotten off track with your retainers, it may be tempting to re-use your old aligners. Should you?

During treatment, we instruct patients to keep their last set of aligners when they move on to a new set. The only time you should re-use an old aligner is if you lose or break your current set. Going back to the previous set will as least ensure you do not lose the progress you have made while replacement trays are being fabricated.

Clear aligners are precision medical devices. Each aligner tray moves the teeth between 0.1mm and 0.25mm. Anything more aggressive than has the potential to damage the tooth by applying too much force too quicky. Pressures are applied very specifically to accomplish certain movements, including:

• Tipping
• Torquing
• Translating
• Rotating
• Intruding
• Extruding
• Distalization

With movements this precise, the aligner must fit the tooth perfectly to accomplish the desired movement. The problem with re-using old aligners trays is that we have no way to know:
• Which teeth have moved
• How have they moved
• How far have they moved

The only way to know with certainty is to take a new model of the teeth and essentially start the treatment process over.

There are two main dangers associated with re-using old trays:
1. They may apply too much force to a tooth, causing damage
2. They likely won’t fit properly which could cause teeth to move in unexpected – and unwanted – ways.

Your best option to avoid shifting teeth is to get in the habit of wearing retainers. If your teeth do shift, clear aligners are a great way to get that smile back where you’d like. But re-using old aligners is never a good idea. The sooner you address it, the easier and quicker your treatment is likely to be.

Do you ever catch yourself covering your teeth when you smile or laugh? You’re not alone. Almost everyone has something that they are a little insecure about – body hair, weight, skin blemishes, big ears, etc. Everyone deserves to have the confidence that comes from feeling good about their appearance. And that doesn’t mean trying to achieve some unrealistic, air-brushed, standard. It’s just about feeling comfortable in your own skin. Here are the top 5 reasons why people choose to straighten their teeth, in no particular order:

 

  1. Oral Health

Did you know that misaligned teeth are harder to keep clean and therefore more likely to develop cavities and gingivitis? In severe cases, misaligned teeth do not contact the opposing teeth evenly which can result in the premature wear of the teeth.

 

  1. A Big Event

A wedding. A college graduation. A high school reunion. A big overseas vacation. There are certain events in our lives that we will remember forever – if for no other reason than that we typically take a lot of photos during these events. It’s only natural to want to be at your best for a big life event like this. Your smile is the first thing people are going to notice in those photos.

 

  1. Career

You may be totally comfortable with your appearance. But what if your professional opportunities are limited because of the way others perceive you based on your appearance? Do clients perceive you to be less trustworthy because you have a few crooked teeth? Does your boss perceive you to be a little less intelligent?  Does that investor that you’re pitching your idea to just not look at you as being very successful? Like it or not, your teeth and smile can have an impact on all of these things (see #5: Perceptions).

 

  1. Social Life

We all know the power of a first impression. In a world with dating apps like Tinder, first impressions have never been more important. It’s possible that crooked teeth could be making it harder to meet that special someone. In addition to the superficial aspect, people are also attracted to confidence. If you’re a little insecure about your smile, that can project low self-confidence and make you less attractive when meeting new people.

 

  1. Perceptions

We all have subconscious biases through which we view other people. Here are some eye-opening numbers from a recent study about how people are perceived based purely on their teeth and smile:

  • 73% of Americans would be more likely to trust someone with a nice smile than someone with a good job, outfit, or car.
  • People with straight teeth are seen as 58% more likely to be successful or wealthy.
  • People with straight teeth are 38% more likely to be perceived as intelligent.

Whether it is how we perceive ourselves, or how others perceive us, our smile is one of the first things people notice about us. If something is off with your teeth and smile, it can affect your self-confidence and the way that other people view you.

You’re an adult. You have crooked teeth. And you’ve decided to finally do something about it. There are a variety of teeth straightening options available. Each has pros and cons. How do you determine which option is best for you? The complexity of your orthodontic needs is the first thing that should be taken into consideration when evaluating potential treatment modalities. Your doctor can help with that. From there, the option you choose will likely be determined by what you value the most in terms of:

  • Affordability
  • Quality of outcome
  • Convenience of the process
  • Discretion of the appliance
  • Degree of direct doctor oversight

Let’s take a look at the common orthodontic treatment modalities and some reasons why they may – or may not – be the right teeth straightening option for you.

Metal bracesMetal Braces

Comprised of metal brackets and wires, these are what most of us think of when we hear the word “braces.” We’re accustomed to seeing them on adolescents, but most adults aren’t super excited about that look.

Pros Cons
·       They’re effective! That’s why they’ve stuck around for so long

·       They allow for comprehensive orthodontic care to correct most orthodontic conditions including underbite and overbite

·       In-person doctor oversight

·       Require regular doctor visits

·       Are not discreet

·       Expensive (average around $5500)

·       Treatment durations can be 2+ years

·       Hard to clean

 

Ceramic braces (or “invisible” braces)Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces rely on brackets and wires like traditional metal braces, but the brackets are crafted using clear materials making them transparent and perfect for those who want a less noticeable look.

Pros Cons
·       They’re effective! That’s why they’ve stuck around for so long

·       They allow for comprehensive orthodontic care to correct most orthodontic conditions including underbite and overbite

·       More discreet than metal braces

·       In-person doctor oversight

·       Require regular doctor visits

·       Not as discreet as aligners

·       Cost – typically a little more expensive than metal braces

·       Treatment durations can be 2+ years

·       Hard to clean

 

Lingual BracesLingual Braces

Lingual braces have the same components as conventional braces, but they’re fixed to the back of your teeth, on the tongue — or lingual — side of the teeth. Because they’re behind your teeth, they’re nearly invisible.

Pros

Cons

·       Visually discreet

·       In-person doctor oversight

·       Can’t do everything that traditional braces can do

·       Typically causes a lisp

·       Often irritate the tongue

·       Require regular doctor visits

·       Not as discreet as aligners

·       Cost – typically the most expensive orthodontic option

·       Treatment duration can be even longer than traditional braces

·       Hard to clean

 

Clear Aligners (in office)Clear Aligners In Office

With advancements in technology, clear aligners have become the treatment option of choice for many patients and providers alike.

Pros Cons
·       They’re discreet

·       They’re removable and easy to keep clean

·       Can do more things than at-home aligners using     buttons/attachments and IRP

·       In-person doctor oversight

·       Requires office visits

·       The routine. You have to take them out to eat and drink

·       Can’t do all the things that traditional braces can do

·       Cost – usually 2-4x the cost of at-home aligners options

 

Clear Aligners (at home)Clear Aligners At Home

With advancements in technology, clear aligners have become the treatment option of choice for many patients and providers alike.

Pros Cons
·       Affordable (70% less than other options)

·       Discreet

·       Removeable and easy to keep clean

·       No office visits are required

·       Only suitable for mild to moderate cases

·       The routine. You have to take them out to eat and drink

·       No in-person doctor oversight

 

Doctors' office visits during the treatment process can be either a pro or a con depending on your perspective. Our lives are busier than they’ve ever been. Most people don’t have time for regular office visits, or the inclination to pay 2-3x's as much just to have a doctor checking in on their progress in person. However, some people like to have additional peace of mind and are willing to pay extra for it. For most people with mild to moderate alignment needs, at-home clear aligners are a clear winner.

Standards of care exist to protect patients and make doctors accountable. So higher standards of care can only be a good thing, right? The reality is more nuanced. Particularly when you factor in access and value (both real and perceived). (more…)

Most of us understand the importance of an attractive smile. But how well do we understand the importance of oral health in the context of overall health? (more…)

Anyone that has spent time researching the efficacy of clear aligners has probably come across the 1-star reviews and patient horror stories that are out there. A common theme in these horror stories is “they messed up my bite.”  These stories can really freak you out if you are considering home clear aligner therapy.  Should you be worried?

(more…)

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