Regular Dental Visits

Why Your Child Should Get A Braces Consultation

Summer is a time for playing outside, but because school is out, it’s also a time for scheduling doctor and dentist appointments. Regular appointments are a must for growing children in order to ensure their adult teeth are developing correctly. So while we’re happy to look at your child’s teeth and give them a thorough cleaning, if you have an elementary school-aged kid, you may also want to schedule them for an orthodontic consultation this summer as well!

You may think that braces are for teens, but that’s not entirely true. Even if your child won’t need braces until later in life, it’s a good idea to have their first orthodontic consultation by the age of eight. Below, we explain why your child would benefit from one of these check ups at an early age.

First Orthodontic Consultation

Getting an orthodontic consultation at an early age for your child is beneficial for a number of reasons. Even before all their adult teeth have come in, an orthodontist can examine their mouth and their teeth structure and determine how their mouth is developing. They aren’t just looking to see if your child’s teeth are straight, they will also be looking for things like:

  • Overbites/Underbites
  • Gaps in teeth
  • Teeth crowding
  • Jaw misalignments
  • Bite problems

An orthodontist wants to ensure that you have a healthy smile, but they also want to make sure that you have a healthy mouth for years to come. By checking for the above issues they can determine if any problems are likely in the future.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Why don’t I just have them evaluated if my dentist says they should get checked, or once their adult teeth come in?” Like most dental and medical issues, it’s about early intervention. The earlier a problem is detected and treated, the better the chance that it will respond to treatment.

For example, if it looks like your child is going to need braces, the orthodontist and dentist can ensure that they are fitted for braces as soon as it’s deemed necessary. Instead of needing braces for two years once they’ve reached high school, your child may only need braces for a year in middle or elementary school to correct a minor crowding situation. Left untreated, it may take more time for the braces to shift the teeth back to their correct locations, and this untreated crowding can also lead to cavities or tooth decay.

So if your child hasn’t had their first orthodontic appointment, consider scheduling one this summer. They’ll check for all the above issues, and then take a couple quick x-rays to see how all the adult teeth are forming. After the appointment, they’ll talk with you about any potential issues and provide a plan for going forward. For many patients, they just recommend that the child keep up the good oral hygiene and to call with any concerns. For others, they may ask you to monitor a specific tooth or walk you through the corrective options. Together, a dentist, an orthodontist and a good oral health plan can ensure your child has healthy teeth for years to come. Contact us today with any questions or orthodontist recommendations.

teeth with braces

Braces & Their Medical Benefits

Braces help to give teens and adults a smile that they can be proud of, but there’s a lot more to braces than a confidence boost. Braces also have a number of medical and health benefits. Below, we explore some of the medical benefits of braces to help shine a light on everything they can do for your health.

Little Known Benefits of Braces

Here’s a look at some of the lesser known benefits of braces, and why they are important for your health:

  • Bite Improvement – Braces help to shift our teeth into their proper location, but this process also helps to improve our bite. If you have gaps in your teeth, it can inhibit your ability to properly break down food. More importantly, a misaligned bite pattern can actually become painful because your jaw has to work harder to chew, and this can lead to lockjaw, TMJ disorder or other stress-related jaw pain. Improving your bite is just one medical benefit associated with braces.
  • Tooth Spacing – Tooth spacing has a cosmetic benefit, but it also has dental benefits. If your teeth are crowding in some spots, it can be difficult to get tooth bristles or floss between your teeth to remove plaque and tartar. When braces help to correct your tooth spacing, dental hygiene becomes easier, which reduces your risk of cavities and gum disease.
  • Jaw Alignment – Braces can also help to adjust your jaw and palate alignment. This can help with issues like speech impediments and jaw pain.
  • Sleep Quality – By shifting your teeth and realigning your jaw, braces can actually improve your sleep quality.  They can help to improve your breathing and in turn reduce your snoring habits, helping you get more uninterrupted sleep. This realignment can also improve our sinuses, which can help prevent both sinus and ear infections.

So while braces can help to give you a confident and beautiful smile, they bring a number of other health benefits to the table. If you still have concerns or have questions about which type of braces may be best for your situation, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ clinic today. We can help design and insert your braces to give you the smile you deserve. To learn more about our techniques and your options, give us a call today.

Smiling Woman With Beautiful Smile Using Invisible Teeth Trainer

A Primer on Invisalign Braces

When it comes to straightening your teeth with braces – you have a few options to choose from. You can go with traditional metal braces, or invisible braces (such as those offered by Invisalign). Learn how Invisalign braces work and why they are often a preferred alternative to traditional.

How Invisalign Works

Instead of having a bunch of metal put into your mouth that needs to get tightened over the course of several years, invisible braces consist of a series of plastic aligners that gradually realign your teeth over time.

How Invisalign works:

Benefits of Invisalign

There are many reasons to choose Invisalign over traditional metal braces.

Benefits of Invisalign:

  • More comfortable than metal braces
  • Less unsightly than metal braces
  • Just as effective as metal braces

An explanation of the benefits of Invisalign:

If you’re thinking about braces, we recommend speaking with a dental professional. We can walk you through the Invisalign process and get you started. For more information, contact Smiles for Life Dental today to set up an appointment with Dr. Brooks.

When to Get Braces

Are Braces Worth The Cost?

Nobody wants to overpay for something, especially if it’s something they aren’t going to use or are unsure if they even need. If you’ve been told that your child needs braces (or you need braces yourself), you’re probably wondering if they are fine without the mouth gear and how much braces cost in the first place. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the price of braces, what they do, and whether or not they are worth the investment for your child’s teeth.

What Do Braces Do?

If you’re like most people, you probably assume that braces only work to shift your teeth back into a correct position to give your child a more regular smile. While braces do work to help improve the cosmetic appearance of your smile, they do much more than that. Braces help to fix our teeth alignment, which can help with:

  • Trouble chewing, that can affect nutrition and eating habits.
  • Difficulty speaking.
  • Teeth spacing, helping to prevent against tooth decay and cavity formation.
  • Bite problems.
  • Confidence issues tied to tooth alignment.

As you can see, braces can have a significant impact on your mouth health and your confidence, which make them worth every penny for you and your child. But that leads right into our next question, which is how much do braces cost?

The Cost of Braces

For starters, there’s no standard price for braces, and the price will vary based on a number of different factors. For example, the type of braces you choose will affect the cost of your braces. In most cases, standard metal braces are the least expensive, and prices go up if you opt for clear braces or removable Invisalign options.

Price is also impacted by how long the dental professional believes your child will need to wear braces in order to achieve the desired results. Some patients will need them for only a few months, while other children will have braces for more than a year, and the maintenance that goes into caring for the braces will impact the total cost.

Another factor to consider is the severity of your alignment. If you need significant alignment work, some bracing options may not be available. Others will minor alignment problems may be able to transition to a retainer sooner, which again can help to limit the costs.

As you can see, the cost of braces will vary from patient to patient, but at Smiles For Life Dental in Bloomington, we do everything in our power to keep costs down and work with your insurance to help them cover their portion of the bill. Braces can cost a couple thousand dollars, but view them as an investment in you or your child’s oral and overall health. To learn more about anything related to braces, be it the cost for your individual case, your bracing options or payment plans, be sure to reach out to our clinic and we can provide you with more information. Contact Dr. Brooks’ clinic today at (952) 888-3200.

Metal Braces

The Difference Between Metal Braces, Invisible Aligners & DIY Aligners

Braces are still a common alignment option for teens and adults who want to have a straighter smile, but advancements in technology mean that you have more options at your fingertips when choosing an alignment product. There are standard metal braces, clear aligners called Invisalign and even DIY aligners that can help give you the perfect smile you’ve always dreamed of. But how do these products compare to one another, and which one is right for you? We take a closer look at the three options below.

Different Types of Braces

Here’s a look at the three types of aligners we mentioned above, why they may be preferred, and what drawbacks they might have.

Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces used to be the standard, and they involve cementing brackets to your teeth. Wire is then connected to the brackets to encourage tooth movement in certain directions. Ceramic brackets can also be used to make the aligner a little less noticeable. Both ceramic and metal bracket bracing are durable, strong and effective at guiding teeth to a desired location. They are the most visually noticeable of the three options, but they can be used on more mouths than invisalign options.

Invisible Aligners

Invisalign involves the use of clear, removable aligners to help straighten teeth. They are much less noticeable than metal braces, but oftentimes they are a little more expensive, but that depends on some different factors. You can also continue to enjoy some foods that you may not be able to if you had traditional braces, since you can remove them while eating.

Before we dive into DIY options, we want to compare these two options a little more. Since metal braces are worn 24/7, they often need to be worn for less time than invisible aligners in order to achieve the desired result, which is about two years on average. That said, since invisible aligners can’t effectively fix some more larger alignment issues, they are usually only needed for 18-36 months in order to be effective since they are usually correcting more minor or mild alignment issues.

Since metal braces can help to correct larger issues, they may be your only option. Your dentist will take a look at a number of factors, including your jaw formation, if teeth are missing or need to be removed, bite misalignment, tooth crowding and a number of other issues to determine whether invisible aligners would be an option or if traditional metal braces are best for your mouth.

DIY Aligners

Finally, let’s take a look at Do It Yourself aligners. These are similar in some ways to invisible aligners in that you submit a mold of your mouth to the company and they send you back custom fit aligners to reshape your teeth. These are often marketed as a cheaper option to both traditional braces and invisalign. The problem with these DIY products is that the mouth evaluation that is performed by a dentist to determine if metal braces are your best option or if custom clear aligners would even work for you does not take place. This means you may be purchasing an ineffective option, because the company cannot possibly get a good understanding of your mouth by just looking at imprints on a mouthguard. In fact, without dental supervision, these products can actually make your misalignment worse. We don’t recommend the cheaper DIY options for correcting alignment issues.

If you’re concerned about alignment issues, reach out to the experienced dental team at Smiles For Life Dental. We can take a look and provide you with a set of options that’s individualized to your mouth. For more information, or to set up a visit, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Before Getting Braces

What Should I Know Before Getting Braces?

Being told that you or your child need braces can leave you with a number of questions, but we’re here to provide you with some answers. Below, we take a closer look at what you can expect before and after you get braces!

For starters, bracing technology has come a long way in the past few decades. No longer are kids left with uncomfortable and highly visible metal in their mouth. While children can still choose colored options if they want, newer braces are often smaller and less noticeable than in years past, and we even have newer invisible models. These clear aligners help to adjust your teeth without making it as obvious that you have braces. They are often a little bit more expensive than standard braces, but they are becoming more popular, so talk with your kids about all their options if they aren’t all that receptive to getting corrective braces.

Braces Basics

Contrary to common belief, braces aren’t just used to correct the spacing in your teeth and smile. Braces also serve to fix bite issues, jaw alignment and improve your overall oral health. Before your braces are installed, your dentist will determine exactly how they’ll want to shape your teeth so your teeth are as healthy as possible by the time your braces are ready to be removed.

There’s also the possibility that you’ll need to have your wisdom teeth removed. Their development once your braces have been installed could complicate or compromise the function of the braces, so your wisdom teeth may need to be taken out prior to having braces administered.

After Braces

Braces may take a little while to get used to, but once the sensation becomes normal, you’ll realize that you only need to make a couple lifestyle adjustments to account for their presence. For starters, you’ll need to keep an eye on what types of food you eat. For example, gummy, sticky foods and candies are best avoided, as are foods like taffy or jerky. You may also want to avoid foods that you have to bite into, like an apple or corn on the cob. That’s not to say that you can’t have an apple or corn, but you’ll want to cut up the apple or remove the kernels from the cob to avoid causing problems for your braces.

Another change you’ll want to make is to become even more committed to a strong dental care routine. Make sure you are brushing your teeth at least twice a day, and regularly check your braces for any food particles that may have gotten stuck in your teeth. Left in place, these food particles can cause bacteria growth and teeth degeneration.

Finally, if you’re an athlete, you’ll want to invest in a mouthguard. As we talked about in this blog post, there are a number of different mouthguards that can help to protect your teeth and braces. Find one that best suits your situation to help protect both your teeth and your braces.

You may not love the prospect of getting braces, especially if you need them during middle or high school, but oftentimes they can correct spacing or jaw issues well before you walk across that stage at graduation, which is a time where you’re definitely going to want that perfect smile. For more information about braces, or to talk to a dentist about your teeth, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Dental Issues Eating Tips

Eating Tips When you Have Dental Issues

What you eat has a direct impact on your health. But the reverse is often true as well if you’re dealing with a dental issue. In other words, your dental health can have a direct impact on what you eat and how you eat it. In this article, we’re going to discuss what to eat and how to eat when you’re experiencing a dental issue.


With metal braces, it’s best to avoid sticky foods and hard foods, including:

  • Caramel and other chewy candies
  • Hard Candy
  • Popcorn
  • Gum
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Ice

These foods can get stuck in the braces and cause issues. Instead, focus on softer foods like soup, smoothies, scrambled eggs, pasta, and the like. Invisible braces can help avoid many of these food issues so ask your dentist if those are a good option for you as well.

Oral Surgery

Directly after an oral surgery procedure like a dental implant, your dentist will give you some post-op instructions that include dietary restrictions. The specific instructions will depend on your situation and the procedure performed so stick to what your dentist tells you.

Tooth Pain / Sensitivity

Sensitive teeth are often triggered by foods and liquids that are hot or cold. Avoid these when possible. More importantly, make an appointment with your dentist to get to the bottom of the tooth pain or sensitivity.

Bloomington Dentist Office

Dr. Tim Brooks has years of experience as a family and cosmetic dentist. The highly-skilled team at Smiles for Life works with every patient from start to finish to provide unparalleled care. If you’re experiencing dental health issues, or you just need to set up an appointment for a regular cleaning, you’ve found the right place. Smiles for Life Dental Clinic is located in Bloomington, but we serve patients throughout the Twin Cities area. Contact us today to set up your appointment and keep that smile shining bright!

When to Get Braces

When to Get Braces

One of the most common questions that arises around the subject of braces is when to get them. In this article, we are going to talk about when you can and should get braces if you need them.

Braces for children

Age is an important consideration when it comes to children who need braces. The majority of jaw growth occurs between the ages of 7 and 18 years old. The philosophy on when to treat children has changed over the last 5 to 10 years. Early treatment of crowding and spacing issues is recommended. If issues are present at the age of  7 years old, we recommend treatment using appliances such as palatal expanders or early onset braces to take advantage of  the jaw growth that is occurring. Early treatment of orthodontic issues can often times minimize orthodontic treatment needed in the mid to late teens or eliminate it completely.

Braces for Adults

There are many indications for orthodontics in adult patients, and not all of them relate to cosmetics or making a smile look more appealing. Many adults have functional issues that indicate the need for orthodontic treatment. Malpositioned teeth can lead to fracturing of teeth. Also, if function is poor, chewing efficiency decreases and can lead to digestive problems and nutritional deficiencies. Some adults have had braces, stopped wearing retainers,  and had shifting of their teeth which has led to cosmetic or functional concerns. Orthodontic treatment can be done at any age in adults. One concern many adults have is that traditional metal braces aren’t aesthetically pleasing. Thankfully, there is an alternative option for patients who want to straighten their teeth without having a mouthful of metal for months or years – Invisalign or Invisible braces.

Contact a Twin Cities Dentist

Smiles for Life is a family and cosmetic dental clinic providing a range of services, from preventive dental care to invisible braces. Dr Tim Brooks has years of experience providing dental care to patients throughout the state of Minnesota. Contact a Twin Cities dentist at Smiles for Life today to set up your appointment. Our clinic is located in Bloomington, where we provide dental care throughout the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota.

Bright Smile

Invisalign Braces

Do you want Straight teeth without wearing traditional braces that include brackets and wires?

If so, Invisalign may be for  you!

Since invisalign came on the market in 1997 over two million people have taken advantage of this opportunity. Due to the nature of the invisalign aligners being clear and custom form fitting to the teeth, very few people will even notice that they are being worn.

The aligners can be removed to eat and for cleaning the teeth, but ideally should be worn for 20-22 hours a day.  Very little if any difference in speech is noted and if so only temporarily.

Typically invisalign is faster than traditional orthodontics and for many can take as little as 6 to 18 months depending on the amount of movement needed.  The difference is the treatment cycles.  Invisalign aligners are replaced with new ones every two weeks while traditional braces are adjusted every 4-6 weeks.

Invisalign is an option for many people, but not for severe cases of crowded teeth.  However, if you are interested in knowing your options, complimentary consultations are typically available.