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How Does a Smile Change with Age?

San Francisco, CA – Our bodies shift and change as we age. Think of all the wear and tear you place on your body each day. Your mouth is no different – as we age our smiles shift and change as well. Below are the most common ways our smile changes over time, what causes these changes, and how Cucalon Orthodontics can bring back your best smile!

  1. Crowding of bottom teeth. As we age, our jawbones begin to lose density, which can cause shrinking, and ultimately mean less room in the mouth leading to crowding of the bottom teeth. This can also be caused by bite changes, adjustments, crowns, and any dental work, as well as overall changes within the mouth.  This can be corrected, and not only improve your smile, but prevent any possible pain in the future.
  2. Front teeth gap, or a diastema. This can be caused by several different reasons – the pressure of swallowing pushes your tongue against your front teeth, which can lead to a gap over time. This can also occur because of bone or gum recession, enamel wear and tear, as well as grinding. Additionally, as we age, we are more likely to develop some form of gum disease, which can lead to bone loss that can also cause teeth to shift.
  3. Shifting of teeth due to orthodontia work as a teenager. If you received orthodontic treatment as a teen or young adult, and didn’t wear your retainer as required, you may notice your smile shifts as you get older. The purpose of the retainer is to ensure your teeth remain in their new locations. As we age, it is helpful to wear a retainer to ensure your teeth don’t begin to shift into unwanted positions.
  4. Headaches, popping, clicking, and other jaw issues. If you’ve had an improper bite your entire life, you may notice more issues popping up as you age which can also damage your smile.  Think about the pressure you exert every time you bite down – compound that over the course of your lifetime, especially if you already had a misaligned bite to begin with, and chances are you’ve got additional issues that have arisen over time.

The good news is, there is no time like the present to correct any issues that may have popped up as you’ve gotten older. Today, more adults than ever are turning to orthodontic treatment to correct their smiles. Nearly one in four orthodontic patients today are adults!

Whether you are 7 or 67, the biological process to move the teeth to a more ideal location is the same. While adults may have some extra things to consider when seeking treatment, age should never hold you back from achieving the smile of your dreams. There are more treatment options available for adults than ever before, and many more discrete options to allow you to perfect your smile. From Invisalign to braces and everything in between, Cucalon Orthodontics is here to help.

Begin your orthodontic journey by calling Cucalon Orthodontics today. After a complimentary consultation, Dr. Cucalon can diagnose your issue and create a custom treatment plan to help you get the smile you’ve always wanted. Call us at 415-563-2348 to start your smile journey.

COVID-19 In-Office Appointment Updates and Protocol

Dear Patient,
We hope this letter finds you and your family in good health. Our community has been through a lot, and all of us are looking forward to resuming our normal routines. While many things have changed, one thing has remained the same: Cucalon Orthodontics’ commitment to your health and safety.

To ensure the safety of our patients and staff, our office will follow recommendations made by the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We follow the activities of these agencies so that we are up to date on any new rulings or guidance that may be issued. We do this to make sure our infection control procedures are current, and adhere to each agency’s recommendations.

When we re-open, the following changes have been made to protect you, your family, and our staff:

  • Our office will communicate with you before your appointment to ask screening questions. (You will be asked those same questions again when you arrive at the office.)
  • Each person’s temperature will be taken upon arrival.
  • We ask that you use our hand sanitizer when you enter the office.
  • To ensure your safety, we will no longer offer magazines, video games and beverages in the waiting room.
  • Restroom service will be unavailable.
  • We will no longer have a brushing station. Please make sure to brush and floss before your appointment.
  • We will offer fewer appointments throughout the day in order to allow greater time between patients, and to reduce the number of patients in the reception area.
  • Only patients will be allowed in the office at this time to facilitate social distancing.

We look forward to seeing you again, and are happy to answer any questions about the steps we are taking to keep you, and every patient, safe in our practice. Feel free to email us at info@cucalonortho.com.  For further updates visit our website www.cucalonorthodontics.com, and follow us on Facebook at Cucalon Orthodontics and Instagram @cucalonorthodonitcs. We thank you in advance for your patience and look forward to welcoming you back into our offices.

Sincerely,

Dr. Cucalon and Team

The Cost of Getting Invisalign Braces in San Francisco

San Francisco, CA – Invisalign treatment has taken the orthodontic world by storm since it was first introduced. Orthodontic patients love it because the aligners are clear, comfortable and removable. But how does the cost of Invisalign compare to other treatments in San Francisco?

“Many people mistakenly assume that Invisalign is costly and therefore likely out of their budgets,” says San Francisco orthodontist Dr. Tony Cucalon. “The truth is, the cost of Invisalign treatment is very similar to that of traditional metal braces. That means for roughly the same price, you can have orthodontic treatment that won’t attract more attention than necessary.”

Most dental insurance policies also cover the cost of Invisalign treatment. If your policy covers orthodontic care, chances are very good that Invisalign will be one of the covered treatments. At Cucalon Orthodontics, our financial coordinators will work with you to ensure we have all your necessary insurance information in order to help you understand the extent of your coverage.

If you have a Flexible Spending Account, you can also use those funds toward the cost of treatment. This allows you to use pre-tax dollars on your treatment expenses.

We never want our patients to worry that the cost of orthodontic treatment is out of reach. We work hard to offer excellent treatment at prices that can comfortably fit into any budget. We also offer several ways to pay for your Invisalign treatment at our San Francisco office. That includes:

  • Interest free monthly payments
  • Credit card payments and auto-pay
  • Payment in full upfront
  • FSA plans

“Invisalign treatment is a wonderful treatment option for many patients, especially teens and adults who don’t want to draw more attention to themselves while in treatment,” says Dr. Cucalon. “The aligners are so clear they are practically invisible in your mouth, and they are removable, which means you don’t need to worry about forgoing your favorite foods during treatment. With Invisalign, you experience a comfortable, effective, and cosmetically pleasing treatment that is also affordable.”

To learn more about the cost of Invisalign in San Francisco, or to see if you may be an ideal candidate for the treatment, call Cucalon Orthodontics today at (415) 563-2348.

What Do Office Closures Mean for My Treatment Plan?

San Francisco, CA – COVID-19, the highly contagious virus that has spread into a global pandemic, has forced businesses across the country to close. Anything deemed non-essential has been shut down in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. While the decision to close practices was not made lightly, it is crucial to ensure we’re doing our part to flatten the curve and stop the spread of the virus. But, how will this impact your orthodontic treatment?

The first question you may be asking yourself is, “will this delay my treatment time?” The unfortunate answer to this question is inevitably yes, these closures will cause some delay in treatment time. However, there are some things you can do from home to ensure your treatment stays on track.

The most important way to ensure your treatment stays on track is by following all care guidelines given to you by your orthodontist, brushing and flossing properly and frequently. Keeping your mouth healthy is the first step in ensuring your treatment does not derail. Next, be sure you adhere to the diet laid out for you. If you wear traditional braces with brackets and wires, avoiding certain foods is required. Eating anything too hard, sticky, chewy or crunchy can damage your braces, which could potentially extend your treatment plan.

If you wear Invisalign, stick to your schedule for aligner wear, unless you have been otherwise directed by your orthodontist.  Remember to wear your aligners at least 20 hours a day – they can only do the job of moving your teeth when they are in your mouth. If you are at the end of your aligners, wear your current aligner until we can get you a new set.  If you need a new replacement, please contact our office and we will order one.

Even when we do all the steps to ensure we are following proper orthodontic care, it is inevitable that something may come loose or break. If you experience an issue with your braces or appliance, here are some tips to help you at home:

    • Loose or broken brackets: If a bracket becomes loose take some orthodontic wax and place the bracket back in place using the wax. If a bracket falls off completely, save it and we will put it back in place as soon as possible.
    • Poking wire: You may experience your wire extending out over the last brackets in your mouth. If this happens, the poking wire may become annoying and irritate the inside of your mouth. In this case, use orthodontic wax over the poking wire to prevent irritation. You can also clip the wire behind the bracket using the emergency wire cutter given to you at the initial bracket placement. If you do not have an emergency wire cutter, you may use a CLEAN pair of nail clippers as a replacement.
    • Loose wire: If you experience a loose wire or if your wire comes out of a bracket, you can use the eraser end of a pencil to gently push the wire back into the bracket. If you cannot get the wire back in place and orthodontic wax doesn’t provide relief, you can use your emergency cutter or a clean pair of nail clippers to clip the wire behind the last bracket it is attached to.
    • Discomfort or soreness: No orthodontic treatment is without a bit of discomfort. However, there should be no severe pain associated with your treatment. If you experience tenderness or discomfort, you can take an over-the-counter pain medication to relieve any soreness. Rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater can provide relief as well.

If you experience a true emergency, such as severe pain or injury, please call our office at 415-563-2348 or email info@cucalonortho.com.

While we are unsure when offices will reopen, we anticipate and hope re-opening our offices in early June. In the meantime, we are available to address any concerns or issues that may arise and will do our best to communicate any information about office re-openings. If you would like to talk to Dr. Cucalon or staff in person, we are now offering virtual appointments. To schedule visit our website cucalonorthodontics.com. We look forward to seeing all of your smiling faces again in the meantime stay safe and healthy.

Can Adults Get Orthodontic Treatment?

San Francisco, CA – Have you ever looked in the mirror and wished there was something you could do about your crooked or misaligned smile but worried you were past the age for braces? We have good news for you. You are never too old to get a straighter, properly functioning smile.

It’s true we typically think of adolescents when we think of braces, but today more adults than ever before are discovering the benefits of orthodontic treatment. Nearly one in four orthodontic patients today are adults. That’s because no matter your age, orthodontic treatment can always be beneficial. It is important to note that treatment as an adult may look slightly different than treatment for children and teens, however.

Here are some things to think about when it comes to orthodontic treatment as an adult:

  1. Adults have denser bone tissue. This can make treatment time slightly longer than it would for a younger patient as the teeth are guided through the bone to their new locations.
  2. Adults may have additional dental issues that can affect treatment. Your orthodontist can work around any issue, but it is important to know that if you have had any restorative work done previously, or if you have missing teeth or gum disease, your treatment plan will be a bit more involved than a younger patient with a completely healthy natural smile.
  3. Adults do not have the advantage of a jaw that is still growing. If your orthodontic issue is due to a discrepancy in jaw growth, your treatment may be more involved and could potentially include jaw surgery in order to create the most harmonious smile.

The good news is, in the hands of a skilled orthodontist, no curve ball will be too great to strike out orthodontic treatment. Your orthodontist will create a custom treatment plan that takes into account any underlying issues you may have, and if needed, he or she will work with other specialists to ensure your smile is as healthy as possible before, during and after treatment.

Most adults are pleased to know the variety of treatment options that are available today. If you don’t want to draw more attention to your smile with standard metal braces, clear aligners may be a good option. Clear aligners use a series of clear plastic aligners to gently guide your teeth to their ideal locations. Patients love it because the aligners are virtually invisible and removable, so they fit seamlessly into every lifestyle.

Not every treatment option that you have read or heard about may be ideal for your unique situation. Your orthodontist will determine which options may be right for your smile needs. Dr. Tony Cucalon of Cucalon Orthodontics is experienced in treating patients of all ages.

If you are tired of hiding your smile, call today (415-563-2368) to schedule your complimentary consultation or fill out our request a consultation form.

Avoid DIY Straightening Options

San Francisco, CA – When you have a question about something, chances are the first place you turn for an answer is Google.  With the internet almost always at our fingertips, we can find the answers to any questions. But how to perform our own orthodontic treatment shouldn’t be one of them.

Today, a quick search on YouTube will yield videos of users giving their quick fixes for getting a better smile. These videos are concerning to orthodontists. Our goal is to provide excellent care that will yield a healthy, stable smile that will last a lifetime. Taking advice from someone without true orthodontic experience can be dangerous.

YouTube

One trend that is popping up on YouTube tells viewers that gaps in teeth can be closed simply by using rubber bands wrapped around the teeth on either side of the gap. YouTubers claim they have successfully closed large gaps just by using these rubber bands. This is worrisome for several reasons because the rubber bands can shift, leading to a host of problems, such as gum disease and bone loss. You may also be creating an even more unstable bite than you had before.

The DIY orthodontic trend is so alarming the American Association of Orthodontists issued a consumer alert telling patients that the trend can leave them at “substantial risk for irreparable damage.”

But YouTube videos are far from the only thing that we are worried about. In fact, there is an even more alarming trend out there today. There are currently companies on the market that aim to take advantage of our busy lifestyles and desire to have everything delivered right to our fingertips. Companies deliver aligner kits right to your door, at a fraction of the cost of aligners like Invisalign.

Chances are good you’ve seen ads for a company like this – they’re on TV, social media, and even show up in a Google search for Invisalign. ​

While many orthodontic patients love the convenience clear aligner therapy offers, we do not recommend using direct to consumer companies for this. During this process, you never meet with an orthodontist. In fact, you provide your own impressions from which your aligner sets are made. There are never in-person follow-up appointments to ensure your treatment is progressing as it should.

That should be alarming to you. If you never meet with an actual orthodontist, how can you be sure the treatment you are paying for is actually even working? 

Direct-to-consumer companies have good intentions – providing patients with the tools they need to get the smiles they want in a seemingly convenient way. However, orthodontics should be left to the care of the professionals who have dedicated their lives to studying how teeth move and how to achieve ideal smiles for every patient. Without seeing an orthodontist in person, it is hard to know whether a patient’s smile is healthy enough to begin orthodontic treatment, if clear aligner therapy is the correct choice for their issue, or if there are other issues that may limit their results.

It would be wonderful if there were a quick fix for everything in life. Unfortunately, orthodontics is a process that involves time and requires the expertise of a trained orthodontist. Orthodontic treatment is about much more than just creating a pretty smile. It is also about creating a stable bite that will last a lifetime. Do-it-yourself options like direct to consumer aligner kits may seem like they can save you time and money, but if something goes wrong, you may just be creating an expensive and painful problem that is going to send you into the hands of an orthodontist anyway.

Trust your smile to a well-trained orthodontist, not an ad you saw on Instagram, and you’ll be much happier, and with a healthier smile, in the long run.