Wednesday, October 18, 2017

7 common fears about wearing braces

A smile is more than just a smile! It brings out confidence and a first great impression.  If two persons who have similar skills and experience show up to a job interview, the one who smiles beautiful and confidently has a good shot at landing the job than the one who carries a stern face.  So why aren’t more people wearing braces to achieve that nice smile?  Costs can be a major factor.  Time, not wanting to spend 1-2 years in treatment, is another one.  Beyond, there are other factors that prevent people from seeking orthodontic treatment.  Here are seven common fears that our patients express when thinking about braces:
1)      Fear that braces will hurt.
              Fear of pain is normal to most people.  The truth is that braces does not hurt that much.  Many research and studies conducted on people with braces, patient ranked the pain level is average 3/10.  Most of the time, it is a light dull aching pain for 2-3 days then disappear. There is also over the counter pain medication such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen to help with discomfort. Other aids such as wax and silicone protectors can minimize any discomfort.
2)      Fear that metal mouth that will look bad.
              Kids and teens may fear that braces “look funny” and other kids may make fun of them.  The truth is that nowadays braces are so popular that braces are seen as a fashion trends. Most teens like to customize their braces with specific color ties to match their fashion sense and outfits. For adults or teenagers who cannot have braces, Invisalign or lingual braces are alternative options.
3)      Fear that food will get caught in between their teeth.
              Having braces required more hardware in the mouth.  There is a higher tendency for more food to get caught in between the teeth and will require a little more time for cleaning.  Most people spend an extra 10 minutes at night to clean in between their braces before bedtime.  They also spend a few more minutes during the day to brush or swish out the mouth with water in between meals.
4)      Fear that they will get bad breath.
              Bad breath caused by a heavier load of oral bacteria that release sulfur gas.   There are individual variations when someone is more prone to harbor these type of bacteria than others.  In general, if you brush your teeth thoroughly, brush your tongue daily, and go to your general dentist 2-4 times per year during orthodontic treatment, you can prevent bad breath.  In case that you do, discuss with your general dentist as there are ways to treat bad breath.
5)      Fear that treatment will take too long.
              For some teenagers, the thought of having braces each year seem like an eternity.  If treatment may last two years, it sounds like forever.  However, given two years of braces to achieve a lifetime of having a beautiful, straight smile is something not to regret.  That confident boosting smile is worth a lifetime of happiness.
6)      Fear that braces cost too much.
              In the 70s, the cost of braces is close to purchasing a new car and only those people who are wealthy can afford treatment. Nowadays, braces are so much cheaper and many offices offer monthly interest-free payment plans to make braces more affordable.  By eating in and not going to a fancy restaurant once a week, four times a month, you can save enough money to pay toward braces.
7)      Fear to make a change.
              When there are fears, some people may not act. It seems more comfortable to stay on status quo and not doing anything about it. After all, you have this crooked smile for many years and you are identified to it.  The thing is it takes courage to make a change. If you want a beautiful smile, you need to make sacrifices.  You need to take the first step to set up an orthodontic consultation and begin.  There is a Chinese proverb that said “Success begins with taking the first step.”

If you are thinking about getting braces, the best recommendation is to schedule a face-to-face orthodontic consultation so our orthodontist, Dr. Nancy Phan, can answer your specific questions.  

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Invisalign system and cost?

The Invisalign system
Invisalign is an innovated system that started in the heart of Silicon Valley by Align Technology, found in Santa Clara. In 1998 they got FDA approval for fabrication of the product and began sales in 1999.  Since then roughly 5 million people has used the product, treated by over 80,000 dentists all over the world.  This system involves using Align Technology’s proprietary software to convert your 3-D images of your teeth into a virtual 3-D model, then got set up such that your orthodontist can pick  apart individual teeth, move, and set up your teeth into perfect alignment and occlusion.  
Through Align Technology’s proprietary software, your orthodontist create a virtual correction set-up for your teeth first, then the prescribed treatment plan was sent to a distance location so robots by Aligner Technology can fabricate, trim, cut, and package aligners  into neatly stacked package and send them to your orthodontic office for dispensary.  Due to use of their proprietary software, Aligner Technology charged a high lab fee for their aligner product. 

The cost
Full Invisalign treatment may involve 25 trays or more and may take anywhere from 15 months or longer. The costs range from $5000-$9000 depend on the geographic areas and offices.  In the bay area, the cost averages around $7000.  At Care Orthodontics, our fee is significant lower.  We extend more affordable fee to make treatment accessible to more patients.  Fee varies depends on the complexity of treatment and the individual’s occlusion.

Invisalign system can be used to treat children, teenagers, adults ranging from age 7 to 97.   A decade ago, Invisalign was recommended mostly for patients age 14 or older but in recent years, with advanced technology, Invisalign treatment, used in combination with braces, can be applied to treat children at younger age. 

Whether you are the parents of the teen or the adult who considers the Invisalign system, every individual has different needs and requirements.   For specific recommendations, you need to schedule a consultation with our orthodontist, Dr. Nancy Phan, to do a thorough clinical examinations, review the teeth and see what best fitted for your needs.  The specific time, costs, and requirements will be discussed at the consultation appointment.

Dr. Nancy Phan is a Board-certified orthodontist and dedicated many years to bring out the true beauty of your smile and strong bites.   Visit our website at or call Care Orthodontic today at 408-971-2885 to schedule an appointment.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Does my child need a palatal expander?

If your child has a very small mouth, a high palatal roof top, and back teeth crossed over in a scissor bite, then the answer is: Yes.   A palatal expander will correct this skeletal deformity of the jaw. 

What is an expander? 
It is a custom-fitted dental device that is made by two metal halves joined together by a small screw.  When turned, the screw opens slowly to widen the width of the upper jaw.

What are benefits of an expander?
A palatal expander can make space to allow more spaces for crowding issues and prevent impaction of permanent teeth, such as impacted canines.

A palatal expander can help to create a broad arch and a more wider and beautiful smile. 

Crooked teeth prevent proper brushing and flossing.  Crooked teeth collect more stain on teeth.  Food, plaque and bacteria that are not properly removed from the mouth brushing and flossing get pushed down into gum pocket to cause gingivitis, which can lead to gum infection, gum recession, and periodontal disease.  Correction of crooked teeth is a path to better oral health care as straight teeth allow easier brushing and daily oral hygiene. An expander allows spaces for the orthodontist to correct dental crowding and eliminate dental cross bites.

Does my child need it?

Depended on the size, shape and relationship of both jaws, you child may or may not need a palatal expander.  In some cases, simple orthodontic brackets and wires can accomplish dental expansion and do not require an expander.  In other cases, a palatal expander is contra-indicated if the lower jaw cannot be expanded or occlusion does not allow it.  Furthermore, having an expander can be somewhat uncomfortable and may need time for a child to adjust to eat, speech and tolerance.  Consult with our orthodontist, Dr. Nancy Phan, for further advices.  For more information, visit our office on the web at

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Pros and Cons of Invisalign system

Many adults and teens who consider orthodontic treatments are interested in Invisalign system. They like to get their teeth straight and beautiful without wearing braces and come to Care Orthodontics to ask Dr. Phan about Invisalign.  Here are the break downs of Invisalign pros and cons that may help you as you make an informed decision whether this appliance is right for you.

The pros of Invisalign - there are many:
1)      The aligners are invisible.  With the transparent plastic materials, most people will not notice that you are wearing them so you can very much being discreet as going through orthodontic treatment.
2)      The aligners are removable. You can remove them if you feel too much pressure and want to take a break from treatment.  You can be remove them for important social events such as date nights, board meetings, wedding, photo shots, speaking engagement, etc.
3)      The aligners are easier to brush and floss. Without the added apparatus in the mouth such as brackets and wires, there are less food traps. Flossing with Invisalign is an ease, the same as you do without any treatment.  In comparison, flossing with braces required using special flossing devices such as floss threader, water flosser or Waterpik.  Whichever system that your wear, whether braces or Invisalign, your orthodontist will recommend you to brush and floss daily to prevent cavities and gum diseases.
4)      There are less orthodontics emergency visits. Without many braces and tubes glued to the teeth, there are less chance that they will come off and thus less emergency visits.
5)      There are no diet restrictions compared to braces.  With braces, you need to stay away from eating hard and crunchy food.  Hard food break glue around brackets and cause them to detach.  With Invisalign, you have no diet restriction.   You can eat everything including hard, crunchy and sticky foods such as apples, carrots, ices, nuts, hard chips, caramelized candies, chewing gums, etc.

The cons of Invisalign:
The cons have to do with your compliance to treatment.  You must wear Invisalign aligners almost full time to get enough stimulation and tooth movement.  If you leave the aligners out of the mouth long enough, your teeth will stop moving or not moving enough.  For treatment success, you must wear the Invisalign aligners for your teeth to move. 
  1.  You must wear the aligners 20-22 hours a day, leave out 2 hours to eat, brush, and floss.  If you tend to forget to put aligners back on after eating, snacking or brushing, your teeth may not experience enough force to move. Less time wear will lead to inadequate fitting or non-fitting aligners.
  2. You need to remove aligners to eat.   Most people complain that they don’t get to snack enough during the day as it is a hassle to remove the aligners to snack.  The truth is that you can eat, you just need to remove the aligners, snack, brush your teeth and put the aligners back.  It takes a little bit of time, but possible to indulge in food.  You should brush after each meal; however, if you are in a crunch and  don’t have time to brush, at least swish water in your mouth for a minute to wash away most food before putting the aligners back.   This will cut down on the amount of sugar and plaque to minimize cavities.  
Just like anything in life, you must work and follow through to succeed.  Once you wear Invisalign, you will figure out a way to make the appliances fit with your lifestyle and routines.  If you have further questions, schedule for a consultation appointment with Dr. Nancy Phan.

Dr. Nancy Phan is a Board-certified orthodontist and dedicated many years to bring out the true beauty of your smile and strong bites.   Visit our website at or call Care Orthodontic today at 408-971-2885 to schedule an appointment.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

It takes a smile to start a smile!

When was the last time you smiled at stranger at a party then started to mingle and formed a new friendship?   How long has it been that a stranger at a supermarket smiled at you and started talking to you while waiting in line at the check-out stands?  Either way, it takes a friendly gesture such as a smile to warm up a person and open up a conversation.  There is a cliché that life is about gives and takes.  You have to give a smile to receive a smile!  A smile is a strong unspoken language to express happiness, human connection, friendship, and love.  

A smile gestures that you are happy and you are open to connect.  Why not smile more and bring more happiness to your life!
Asides from the psychology and spiritual connection of human bonding through smiling, there is also a physiological response occurred while you smile.   Your body releases a surplus of good chemicals to keep your mind positive, balance, and healthy while reduce amounts of stress hormones to prevent your body aging and fatigue.

What prevent you from smiling?
If you have crooked teeth and they prevent you from smiling, or if your buck teeth make you feel hyper self-conscious and shy away from camera, then you need a smile make-over and we can help.
It takes courage to take the first step toward seeking orthodontic treatment.  Most people are hold back to receiving orthodontic treatment either from the fear that braces hurt, the avoidance to appear with mouth full of metal, or the thought that foods stuck in between their braces. In that case, you may want to seek alternative treatment such as Invisalign.

When there is a will, there is a way.
Nowadays, with the added technologies such as thinner brackets, clearer ceramic brackets, and no metal and braces appliances such as the Invisalign system, or even the lingual braces, you have many options to choose from.  Just pick the one that best fits your lifestyle.  Also know that there are treatment options and financial options to make transformation available.

Your first step is an orthodontic consultation.
An orthodontist can transform your smile through braces, Invisalign and other tools.  At the consultation, your orthodontist can give you advices and plan your detailed treatment.

Dr. Nancy Phan is a Board-certified orthodontist and has been practicing at Care Orthodontics in San Jose CA for over 10 years.  Visit us at or call 408-971-2885 for more information.

Friday, May 5, 2017

7 best ways to reduce discomfort when wearing braces and Invisalign

Unless you are blessed with a perfect set of straight teeth, the only way to correct a crooked smile is through either wearing braces or Invisalign.  Either case, orthodontic treatments involve teeth movements and thus some discomfort for a few days after each adjustment visit.  
With Invisalign system, you are wearing removable plastic trays to move your teeth.  Although the trays are removable; you can experience pressure on your teeth during the first few days of wearing the new set.   You may remove trays to eat, brush, or when the teeth are too sore.  Most Invisalign wearing patients experience teeth soreness but overall you need to wear the trays for a period of 20-22 hours a day for effective teeth movement.
With braces, brackets are glued in your teeth so you cannot remove them as with Invisalign trays.   With braces, you may feel a slightly more tender sensation on your teeth during the first 3-5 days of getting braces place on.  During this time, your teeth experience orthodontic forces from the wires and brackets that move teeth. 
Following these 7 instructions and you can cut back more unpleasant discomfort from wearing braces and Invisalign: 
  1. Eat soft food
Soft food can reduce the aching pain on your teeth during the first three days of braces.  Some best soft food for braces are tomato or chicken soup, scramble eggs, spaghetti or  lasagna, mashed potatoes, well cooked beans or rice, fruit smoothies, ice cream, and frozen yogurt. Cold food has added benefits by dulling the tooth pain and numb to mouth to reduce the pain sensation. 
  1. Cut up food into smaller pieces 
The act of chewing and the fiction of teeth grinding to break down food intensify the aching discomfort.   By cutting the food into small pieces, you limit the pressures placed on teeth, reduce teeth grinding motion and reduce the discomfort.   
As a rule of thumb, you should eat soft food and cut up your food into small pieces during the entire course of braces treatment, not just during the first 3 days, to minimize bracket breakages.   
  1. Use a soft toothbrush
 A hard-bristle toothbrush and a high-powered electric toothbrush can extra vibration to your teeth to intensify discomfort.  By switching to a soft toothbrush or use the lowest power-level on your electric toothbrush to reduce the pain during the first few days.
  1. Avoid citric food
Citric food such as oranges, grapefruits or sour drink such as lemonade can sore your teeth and hurt them more.  By rinsing with warm water and salt, this solution will soothe the pain and prevent canker sores from getting ulcerated or infected.   Rinsing with hydrogen peroxide for one minute in the mouth will cut down the risk of infection. 
  1. Use desensitizing toothpaste
Over the counter toothpaste for sensitive teeth such as Sensodyne can cut down tooth sensitivity and teeth discomfort.  Ice pack to place outside the jaw or to hold an ice cube inside the mouth for a few minutes can numb the teeth and discomfort area to reduce soreness.
  1. Take over the counter pain medication
Pain medication such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen can be taken if your discomfort level keeps you from falling asleep.  However, for best velocity in tooth movement, Tylenol is better than Ibuprofen. 
  1. Use wax to alleviate irritated mouth
If some corners of the brackets scratch your gum or if you develop a few canker sore spots, roll wax into a ball to place over that corner of the bracket or opposite to the canker sore until your tissue get better.
If an arch wire shifts while you are eating and the wire end starts to poke your gum, use wax to place at the end of the sharp end and cal your orthodontist’s office to get the wire clipped.
Survive the first month and you will survive the remaining orthodontic journey.  Most discomforts are most intense during the first week and will taper off.  Just like wearing new shoes, it may take a few weeks to wear into your shoe as you adapt to the shoe and it conform to your feet, the same goes with braces and Invisalign.  By following these above remedies, you will get used to the braces in no time.  All that hard work will paid off over the course of your lifetime as you gain a dazzling smile and a confidence self!!!

Care Orthodontics is located in San Jose California and Dr. Nancy Phan offers complimentary orthodontic exam.  We offer:
  • Invisalign - clear removable aligners for adults and teenagers
  • Metal and ceramic braces – catering to your individual need
  • Headgear – to correct bad bite and different type of malocclusions
  • Retainers – to replace lost retainers or after orthodontic treatment 

Visit us at or call the office at 408-971-2885 to schedule an appointment.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

4 best ways to care for your teeth after finishing braces and Invisalign treatment

After enduring through at least 18 months of braces and Invisalign treatment, your braces finally come off.  You are now in charge of your life and your new smile,  You are thrilled with the results but then comes the next question: "What's to do next?"  Dr. Nancy Phan recommends you these 4 steps to retain your beautiful smile. 
      1)      Wear your retainers
You need to wear your retainers full time during the first year, as per recommendations by your orthodontist. By the 2nd year, you usually just need to wear retainers at bedtime. 
2)      Care for your retainers
You need to brush your retainers daily to prevent stain and tartar build-ups on your retainers.  Make sure you do not leave the retainer near the window facing hot sun light or near heated sources because the retainers can get distorted.  Retainers are made out of acrylic material, which is a high-pressed plastic material, thus in the presence of heat, they get distorted. When this happens, your retainers will not fit properly.  Avoid drinking hot coffee, tea or chocolate while wearing your retainers in your mouth.  If such event happened, you need to go back to your orthodontist right away to get them check out. You may need to order a replacement set of retainers.
3)      Care for your new teeth
Daily dental hygiene is very important to maintain your healthy mouth.  You need to brush and floss your teeth daily to keep them shine, white, and smelling fresh  Brushing and flossing also prevent cavity and gum disease.  Don’t forget to make an appointment with your general dentist to get a dental cleaning and a thorough cavity check after braces came off.  At that appointment, your general dentist can evaluate your wisdom teeth and give you recommendations on whether or not to remove your wisdom teeth. Your dentist would let you know if any restorative or cosmetic treatment such as dental whitening recommended.
4)      Avoid unhealthy habits
Avoid biting your pen, pencil or your finger nails.  Repetitive motions such as biting on pencil can wear down your enamel and place non-optimal force on your teeth to cause the teeth to shift.  Avoid smoking while you are wearing your retainers. The smoke can discolor your clear retainers and cause your wire (hawley) retainers to turn brown.  Avoid eating while you are wearing your retainers.  Chewing force may rock the retainers' wires and cause your teeth to shift.  Retainer arms can get bent and they change the fit in the mouth.  Eating with retainers in the mouth also shorten the shelf life of retainers. They will crack sooner.  

By following these tips, we hope you can best keep your fabulous smile for a life time. 
Care Orthodontics is located in San Jose California.  We offer:
Invisalign - clear removable aligners for adults and teenagers
Metal and ceramic braces – catering to your individual need
Headgear – to correct bad bite and different type of mal-occlusions
Retainers – to replace lost retainers or after orthodontic treatment 

Visit us at or call the office at 408-971-2885 for questions or to schedule an appointment.