Minnesotaorthodontist's Blog


Smiles by Twin Cities Orthodontist

More happy Zapfel Orthodontics fans!


For More Information

Please call (763) 784-0420 or visit www.ZapfelOrthodontics.com for more information or to schedule a complimentary initial examination and x-ray. Zapfel Orthodontics is located at 1130 NE County Road 10 in Spring Lake Park, MN 55432 and serves the Minneapolis/St. Paul Twin Cities including Coon Rapids, Blaine, Fridley, Roseville, Anoka, Brooklyn Park, Columbia Heights, and Mounds View, Minnesota.



Twin Cities Orthodontist Discusses Tongue Thrust

Tongue Thrust Habit Explained

“Tongue thrust” is the habit of resting the tongue against or between the teeth. It can be caused or affected by a number of different things, including thumb or finger sucking habits, structural or developmental problems, or mouth breathing. This habit can sometimes cause the teeth to move into an unfavorable position, which makes it difficult for the orthodontist to correct a bad bite, or to keep a bad bite corrected.

Treatment for tongue thrust can range from increasing the patient’s awareness of tongue posture to undergoing myofunctional therapy to tone the muscles and establish a new habit with the correct tongue posture. Generally speaking, it is best to treat the habit at a young age to prevent more serious side effects, and also to allow for the best long-term stability. Changing a habit takes time and effort! We here at Zapfel Orthodontics are here to support you along the way, and to ensure that you achieve your best bite.

For More Information

Please call (763) 784-0420 or visit www.ZapfelOrthodontics.com for more information or to schedule a complimentary initial examination and x-ray. Zapfel Orthodontics is located at 1130 NE County Road 10 in Spring Lake Park, MN 55432 and serves the Minneapolis/St. Paul Twin Cities including Coon Rapids, Blaine, Fridley, Roseville, Anoka, Brooklyn Park, Columbia Heights, and Mounds View, Minnesota.



Twin Cities Orthodontist Discusses Brushing and Flossing

The Importance of Good Oral Hygiene

“Only floss the teeth you want to keep!” Have you ever heard that quote before? Brushing and flossing is not only important for oral health, it is important for overall general health, too. We need our teeth to eat a well balanced diet. Teeth are also important for other functions such as speaking, and of course nice teeth are esthetically pleasing.

While wearing braces, it is much easier for food to get stuck around teeth. It is also more difficult to keep the teeth clean, but it is very important in order to not develop white scarring or even cavities around the braces. If plaque is left on the teeth, the enamel can become scarred and the gum tissue can become unhealthy.

At Zapfel Orthodontics, every patient who has braces gets a specially made oral hygiene kit, including floss, threaders, toothbrush, timer, interproximal brushes, and more. While wearing braces, it is important to brush at least 3 times per day (especially after eating), and floss at least once per day. If you have any questions about how you use something in your kit, just ask at your next appointment or give us a call!

For More Information

Please call (763) 784-0420 or visit www.ZapfelOrthodontics.com for more information or to schedule a complimentary initial examination and x-ray. Zapfel Orthodontics is located at 1130 NE County Road 10 in Spring Lake Park, MN 55432 and serves the Minneapolis/St. Paul Twin Cities including Coon Rapids, Blaine, Fridley, Roseville, Anoka, Brooklyn Park, Columbia Heights, and Mounds View, Minnesota.



The Importance of Orthodontic Timing

Twin Cities Orthodontist on Treatment Timing

For many people, timing of orthodontic treatment is very important. Often, there is an underlying problem in the size of one or both jaws that is causing the teeth to not line up properly. In these instances, early treatment (also known as “Phase I”) may be indicated. If this opportunity for jaw growth guidance is missed, some patients may require jaw surgery for a complete bite correction. In other cases, waiting too long to have orthodontic treatment can allow teeth in poor positions to wear in an unhealthy or excessive pattern, which can require expensive restorative dental work in conjunction with orthodontic treatment.

We at Zapfel Orthodontics always strive to do what is best for each patient. However, we understand that orthodontic treatment requires an investment of time and money. For these reasons, we try our best to accommodate each individual and be as flexible with financing as possible. Our financing is done here at the office, always with zero interest. We feel that every patient deserves to have the best chance at achieving a high-quality result, and we never want finances to be the reason why a great result is not achieved.

For More Information

Please call (763) 784-0420 or visit www.ZapfelOrthodontics.com for more information or to schedule a complimentary initial examination and x-ray. Zapfel Orthodontics is located at 1130 NE County Road 10 in Spring Lake Park, MN 55432 and serves the Minneapolis/St. Paul Twin Cities including Coon Rapids, Blaine, Fridley, Roseville, Anoka, Brooklyn Park, Columbia Heights, and Mounds View, Minnesota.



Phase I or Early Treatment

Twin Cities Orthodontist Discusses Phase I Treatment

For many people, there is a specific “window of opportunity” for correcting a bite problem. If this window of opportunity is not taken advantage of, the bite problem can worsen and become more complex. This sometimes results in the need to remove permanent teeth, or in severe cases, do jaw surgery.

At Zapfel Orthodontics, we believe that there are certain types of bites that benefit from early treatment, or Phase I. Early bite correction generally addresses and/or prevents jaw growth problems. Later on, usually once all the baby teeth are gone and the permanent teeth have erupted, the child undergoes Phase II, or “regular” braces. Most patients, even those who have had Phase I, benefit from the bite detailing included in Phase II.

So how do you know if your child can benefit from an early phase of orthodontic treatment? The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that every child be seen for an initial evaluation by an orthodontist by the age of 7. This allows the orthodontist to evaluate the growth pattern and tooth eruption sequence of young patients, while at the same time keeping the “window of opportunity” open in case the child needs pre-braces growth guidance.

For More Information

Please call (763) 784-0420 or visit www.ZapfelOrthodontics.com for more information or to schedule a complimentary initial examination and x-ray. Zapfel Orthodontics is located at 1130 NE County Road 10 in Spring Lake Park, MN 55432 and serves the Minneapolis/St. Paul Twin Cities including Coon Rapids, Blaine, Fridley, Roseville, Anoka, Brooklyn Park, Columbia Heights, and Mounds View, Minnesota.



Minnesota Orthodontist Discusses Braces Emergencies

How To Handle Braces Emergencies

The holiday season is upon us, which means that many dental offices are closed a few extra days during the month. Jenny, one of our talented and friendly dental assistants at Zapfel Orthodontics, would like to offer some tips on how to handle orthodontic emergencies!

Wire Poke: One of the most common types of orthodontic emergencies is a wire poke. This more frequently occurs in the beginning months of orthodontic treatment when the wires are more flexible and can shift to the left or right. If you have a poking wire, first try to slide the wire back toward the center, or use wax or wet cotton to cover the area. If this doesn’t work, you may try to clip the wire with a nail clipper, or try bending the wire over with a pencil eraser. If the wire is out of the tube on a molar, you may try to place the wire end back through the tube with a tweezers.

Loose Brace: If you notice a loose brace, just call during open business hours. We can help you schedule a time to come in to have the brace repaired. If the brace is still attached to the wire but is irritating your lips or cheeks, place wax over the brace to relieve the discomfort.

Loose Band: If you notice a loose band (the metal rings around the molars), please call during business hours. We can schedule a time for you to come in to have the band re-cemented. If the band is attached to another wire, or if it is irritating your lips or cheeks, try to place wax over the band or else you may try to clip the wire and remove the band until you can get in. Please bring the band in with you to your next visit. If you were wearing elastics to the loose band, stop elastic wear for the time being.

Soft Tissue Irritation: Use wax to cover any areas of the braces that are irritating your lips or cheeks. Soft tissue irritation is very common in the first days or week of orthodontic treatment, or anytime you have something new placed in your mouth. If necessary, you may take the pain reliever you would normally take for a headache or similar discomfort.

Trauma: If you experience trauma to your mouth while wearing braces, first make sure that you are okay. Seek medical attention if necessary. Often, your lips or cheeks can be cut by the braces if you get bumped in the mouth. If this happens, keep the area clean by using warm saltwater rinses a few times a day. You can also place wax over any brace that is irritating the area. If you have significant trauma to the teeth, please call your dentist to have a thorough evaluation in order to make sure that there are no serious injuries.

Tooth Pain: When the braces or separators are first placed, and occasionally after regular adjustments, you may experience some tenderness or discomfort from your tooth or teeth. If necessary, you may take the pain reliever you would normally take for a headache or similar discomfort. If you develop severe pain that keeps you awake or is sensitive to hot or cold, it is possible that you have a dental infection. In this case, please see your dentist for a complete evaluation.

Bite Changes: As your teeth move, the feeling of your bite will also change. This is to be expected, even toward the end of treatment. If your mouth gets locked shut or open due to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues, please call your dentist or orthodontist.

If none of these tips alleviates your discomfort, please call your orthodontist for an appointment. We here at Zapfel Orthodontics always have someone available to answer our patients’ questions regarding emergency orthodontic care. Please have a safe and enjoyable holiday season!

For More Information

Please call (763) 784-0420 or visit www.ZapfelOrthodontics.com for more information or to schedule a complimentary initial examination and x-ray. Zapfel Orthodontics is located at 1130 NE County Road 10 in Spring Lake Park, MN 55432 and serves the Minneapolis/St. Paul Twin Cities including Coon Rapids, Blaine, Fridley, Roseville, Anoka, Brooklyn Park, Columbia Heights, and Mounds View, Minnesota.



Minnesota Orthodontist Discusses Thumbsucking

Minnesota Orthodontist Discusses Thumb Sucking

Are you concerned about your child’s thumb or finger sucking habit? Many children like to comfort themselves by sucking on fingers, thumbs, or pacifiers. Generally, this habit should stop by the age of 2-4 years, or before the adult teeth begin to come in. Sucking habits can cause the teeth to move into unfavorable positions. In some cases, especially in children who have a vigorous sucking habit, even the baby teeth can be affected.

If your child’s sucking habit persists beyond age 4, or if you notice that your child’s teeth are shifting, please bring your child in for an evaluation. Your dentist and/or orthodontist can discuss options for eliminating a sucking habit. Some tips for stopping a sucking habit can include:

1. Praise children for not sucking, instead of scolding them when they are. Help the child realize that not sucking is more rewarding.
2. Work on stopping the sucking habit during the day first, then work on stopping it at night
3. Aim to relieve anxiety that may be contributing to the child’s sucking habit. Replace the sucking habit with another comfort (ie: more physical contact, aroma therapy, etc.)
4. If the child is old enough, have him/her help decide on a plan to stop the sucking habit. The dentist or orthodontist can explain the negative effects that might occur if the habit is not stopped
5. Have the child set his/her own plan and goals for stopping the habit
6. Put a band-aid over the thumb, or a sock over the hand at night to help remind the child to stop sucking
7. If none of the above tips work, the dentist or orthodontist can prescribe a bitter coating for the thumb, or even an appliance to use in order to stop the habit

For a complimentary evaluation or for additional information, please call Zapfel Orthodontics or visit the American Dental Association website.

Thank you to Jennifer Connelly, MS-CCC-SLP for her help with this blog.

For More Information

Please call (763) 784-0420 or visit www.ZapfelOrthodontics.com for more information or to schedule a complimentary initial examination and x-ray. Zapfel Orthodontics is located at 1130 NE County Road 10 in Spring Lake Park, MN 55432 and serves the Minneapolis/St. Paul Twin Cities including Coon Rapids, Blaine, Fridley, Roseville, Anoka, Brooklyn Park, Columbia Heights, and Mounds View, Minnesota.



Twin Cities Orthodontist Discusses Tips on Dealing with Jaw Pain

Coon Rapids Orthodontist Discusses TMJ Pain and Dysfunction

Many people, either with or without braces, may experience some degree of pain or clicking in their temporomandibular joints (also known as jaw joints, or TMJs).  Often, painful symptoms can be exacerbated by clenching or grinding, or overuse of the jaw joints (such as excessive gum chewing), or by traumatic injury.

Many mild cases of tempormandibular dysfunction (TMD) can be helped with home care instructions.  Below is a list of things a person could do that may relieve jaw pain.  Please note, this information is not a substitute for a comprehensive exam or treatment by a healthcare professional:

  1. Stay on a pain-free diet.  This means that you may eat whatever you normally would eat, but stay away from foods that cause jaw pain.
  2. Take Ibuprofen if needed to relieve pain and inflammation.  You may take a normal headache dose, or up to 600mg (3 tablets) every six hours if needed.
  3. Apply a moist heat or cold compress to the painful areas of your jaw, whichever feels better.
  4. Limit painful movement (ie: yawning with a wide open mouth).
  5. Avoid gum and caffeine.
  6. Avoid nail biting, chewing on pens, or any other activity that causes unnecessary jaw movements.
  7. Avoid resting your chin in your hands or sleeping on your stomach, or any other activity that causes unnecessary strain on your jaw.
  8. Practice the “Tongue up, teeth apart” rest position (similar to saying the letter “N”).
  9. Monitor symptoms for improvement or worsening.

If symptoms persist or worsen, please contact your orthodontist or another dental professional.  In acute or chronic cases of TMD, a referral to a TMJ specialist may be indicated.  In the event of traumatic injury to the jaw, contact a medical professional to be certain that more serious injuries are not present.

Thank you to Dr. Patricia Fernandes for her help with this blog.

For More Information

Please call (763) 784-0420 or visit www.ZapfelOrthodontics.com for more information or to schedule a complimentary initial examination and x-ray.  Zapfel Orthodontics is located at 1130 NE County Road 10 in Spring Lake Park, MN 55432 and serves the Minneapolis/St. Paul Twin Cities including Coon Rapids, Blaine, Fridley, Roseville, Anoka, Brooklyn Park, Columbia Heights, and Mounds View, Minnesota.



Minnesota Orthodontist on Braces and Sports

Braces and Sports

Many people in braces have active lifestyles.  We here at Zapfel Orthodontics would like to take this time to remind you how important it is to wear mouthguards while playing contact sports.  Wearing a mouthguard is recommended even for sports such as soccer and basketball.  Sports guards, or mouthguards, are very important in protecting your teeth, lips and cheeks, and even your brain (from concussion).  Even a minor bump to the lip can cause a cut in the lips or cheeks of a person wearing braces.

If you do happen to get bumped in the mouth while wearing braces, first make sure that you are okay.  If it is a severe injury, be sure you visit your doctor or go to the hospital for an evaluation.  For more minor injuries, you may use ice for any swelling if needed.  Keep any cuts in the mouth as clean as possible with warm saltwater rinses.  If a brace is loose, please call your orthodontist so they can advise you on what to do.  If a tooth is loose, please call your dentist or orthodontist.  Depending on the severity of the injury, your dentist or orthodontist may refer you to another specialist or a medical doctor.

After braces are removed, it is still important to continue to wear a mouthguard during contact sports.  Your orthodontist can fabricate a special custom-made mouthguard for you, or you may purchase a sports guard at a store.  After completing orthodontic treatment, it is important to protect your investment for a lifetime of beautiful smiles!

For More Information

Please call (763) 784-0420 or visit www.ZapfelOrthodontics.com for more information or to schedule a complimentary initial examination and x-ray.  Zapfel Orthodontics is located at 1130 NE County Road 10 in Spring Lake Park, MN 55432 and serves the Minneapolis/St. Paul Twin Cities including Coon Rapids, Blaine, Fridley, Roseville, Anoka, Brooklyn Park, Columbia Heights, and Mounds View, Minnesota.



Your Customized Orthodontic Plan


Twin Cities Orthodontists customize treatment for each patient

Zapfel Orthodontics is committed to providing excellent service and high quality orthodontic care.  Because no two patients are exactly alike, Twin Cities orthodontists Richard Zapfel and Alisa Madson work hard to customize treatment plans to fit the needs and desires of each individual patient.  Every patient who begins orthodontic treatment at Zapfel Orthodontics will have a comprehensive initial exam.  Before we place braces, we will also collect information at a “records” appointment.  During this appointment, we will take some photos and any indicated x-rays, as well as records of your teeth and how your bite fits together.  With all this information, Drs. Zapfel and Madson will discuss your case in order to present each patient with options and recommendations for his or her most ideal orthodontic treatment plan.

Of course, the main goal of orthodontic treatment is to achieve the best functional and esthetic result for each patient.  There are many types of malocclusions, or “bad bites.”  Treatment for correcting malocclusions may differ from patient to patient.  Some patients may benefit from just braces.  Many patients may need to wear elastics (rubber bands) or other appliances in order to achieve the most ideal correction.  Some patients may also benefit from the use of a “functional appliance,” which can be used to direct growth and development of the jaws toward a favorable direction.  After orthodontic correction is completed, each patient receives customized retainers to wear in order to maintain the beautiful result we’ve achieved together!

During treatment, the goals of each patient may also differ.  For example, some patients look forward to choosing colors to show off their braces.  Other patients may choose clear braces or Invisalign in order to minimize the appearance of their orthodontic appliances.  Whatever your desires are, we can discuss the most effective and efficient treatment that best fits your needs, desires, and lifestyle.

Regardless of the type of orthodontic treatment plan you choose, we strongly encourage each of our patients to continue to see their general dentist for regular exams and dental cleanings.  The best orthodontic results are achieved when the orthodontists, dentist, and patient all work together to successfully follow each patient’s individualized treatment plan.

For More Information

Please call (763) 784-0420 or visit www.ZapfelOrthodontics.com for more information or to schedule a complimentary initial examination and x-ray.  Zapfel Orthodontics is located at 1130 NE County Road 10 in Spring Lake Park, MN 55432 and serves the Minneapolis/St. Paul Twin Cities including Coon Rapids, Blaine, Fridley, Roseville, Anoka, Brooklyn Park, Columbia Heights, and Mounds View, Minnesota.