Minnesotaorthodontist's Blog


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.



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.



Twin Cities Orthodontist and Office Fun!

You, Me, Braces and Wii!

Zapfel Orthodontics is committed to delivering the highest quality of care possible while also maintaining a high level of patient satisfaction. While we are all business when it comes to meeting the highest standard of outcomes, we DO like to have fun at the office!

Check out our Nintendo Wii console in the patient waiting area. Can you guess what Dr. Zapfel’s favorite game is? Also, stop by the check-in or check-out areas to see what new contests we have going on. There’s always something new and exciting at Zapfel Orthodontics!

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 Has a Green Thumb

A note from Dr. Zapfel, the “head gardener” at Zapfel Orthodontics:

“My tip for the day is: don’t rush the season. We often get extended cold spells into mid-May, and if you put out plants too early they typically don’t do well. Another tip is to search for some unique or interesting plants from some of the smaller local garden centers.”

Stop by this spring and summer to check out the beautiful garden behind the Zapfel Orthodontics office building. You’ll find a colorful array of flowers, and you might even find Dr. Zapfel out there tending to the plants and flowers!

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 Orthodontic Treatment

Minnesota Orthodontist Discusses Common Misconceptions About Orthodontic Treatment

An orthodontist is a person who specializes in the growth and development of the teeth and jaws. The field of orthodontics is an officially recognized specialty of the American Dental Association (ADA). Did you know that orthodontists have 2-3 years more education beyond dental school? An orthodontist is an experienced, highly trained expert who understands the form, function, and esthetics of a beautiful smile.

Many people wrongly assume that orthodontic treatment is just for children. However, 20-25% of orthodontic patients are adults! Zapfel Orthodontics offers many types of appliances and treatment methods, which is appealing to many adults. We offer Invisalign and clear ceramic braces, which fits the lifestyles of many of our patients.

One common misconception is that braces hurt. Braces are like breaking in a pair of new shoes; there is an initial period of getting used to the braces. When braces or Invisalign aligners are first placed in the mouth, the teeth may ache or be tender, and the lips and cheeks may be sore for a few days. Once your mouth is used to the braces, however, it is uncommon to have much discomfort associated with braces.

Some people think that orthodontists only correct severe or complex orthodontic cases. Orthodontists are trained to recognize and differentiate the simple cases from the complex cases. If a case is complex, an orthodontist has been trained to know what to do.

For other common misconceptions about orthodontists and orthodontic treatment, please visit the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) website at braces.org.

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 Goes Green!

Minnesota Orthodontist Strives to be Environmentally Responsible

Zapfel Orthodontics is committed to achieving fabulous results through high quality service and clinical excellence. Did you know that we also strive to be environmentally responsible as well?

Over the years, Dr. Zapfel has planted new trees around the office to help keep the air clean and to help keep the office cool in the summer. Inside the office, we have made some changes as well. We like to conserve energy, so we are now using high efficiency light bulbs throughout the office. We have also switched to digital x-rays, which eliminates the use of hazardous materials and waste that is associated with developing traditional film. All of our imaging is digital, as is much of our communication with patients. Also, patients receive e-mail messages rather than traditional postcards or letters for recall reminders which cuts down on paper waste.

What ways do you go green? We’d love to hear what things you do to have an environmentally responsible lifestyle!

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 Teeth Whitening

Bleaching Tips for Patients with Braces

After orthodontic treatment, a number of patients choose to have their teeth whitened. Tooth whitening, or bleaching, is a safe, effective way to improve natural tooth color. As we age, teeth can darken. Teeth can also be stained from exposure to certain environmental factors such as certain foods, drinks or habits. Some common things that stain or discolor teeth include red wine, smoking, coffee, and some types of medications.

If you are interested in bleaching your teeth, here are some things to keep in mind:

– There are different types of bleaching systems. Some bleaching systems are available over the counter. Typically, the most effective bleaching systems are custom made by your dentist or orthodontist to specifically fit your teeth.
– If you are undergoing orthodontic treatment, the general recommendation is to bleach your teeth after orthodontic treatment is complete. Depending on what type of bleaching you do, the trays may not fit and the bleach not work as effectively as possible if you are still having orthodontic treatment.
– Restorations that you have (including silver, gold, or tooth colored fillings and crowns) will not change shade via bleaching. If you are planning to have restorative work done after orthodontic treatment, it is best to bleach before the restorations are done so they will be made to match your new, whiter tooth color.
– Though bleaching is a safe and effective way to lighten the shade of your teeth, some patients may experience tooth sensitivity. If you have sensitive teeth after bleaching, you may decrease the frequency of bleaching treatment or ask your dental provider for a less concentrated bleaching formula. Your dental provider may also be able to treat dental sensitivity with a separate procedure.

For more information about bleaching or other procedures that Zapfel Orthodontics offers, please visit our website or call for an appointment.

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.



Meet Your Twin Cities Orthodontists

Get to know your Spring Lake Park Orthodontists!

Drs. Zapfel and Madson at Zapfel Orthodontics love getting to know their patients. Here’s your opportunity to get to know Drs. Zapfel and Madson a little better!

What is your favorite thing about being an orthodontist?

Dr. Zapfel: The best part of being an orthodontist is meeting and getting to know so many interesting patients and eventually seeing their smiles the day their braces come off.

Dr. Madson: I love seeing how happy patients are when they get their braces off, and knowing that I played a role in helping them achieve their most beautiful smile. It’s really neat to see the rapid changes in technology, too, with new tools such as Invisalign and mini-implants.

Have you always known you wanted to be an orthodontist?

Dr. Z: No, I didn’t know until fairly late in my dental school training that I wanted to be an orthodontist. Once I saw the amazing things we could do with braces to create great smiles, I knew it was what I wanted to do.

Dr. M: I always knew I’d like to have a job that would allow me to help other people, but it wasn’t until my third year of dental school that I decided orthodontics was definitely what I wanted to do.

Why did you choose orthodontics as a profession?

Dr. Z: By my 4th year at the University of Minnesota Dental school I knew that orthodontics was for me. I had talked to a lot of older students and faculty members and had a good idea of what it would be like to be an orthodontist. I remember especially one of the orthodontists teaching at the University tell me that every orthodontist he knew loved his job and I he was right.

Dr. M: For me, dentistry is the perfect mix of art and science. I like orthodontics in particular because it’s so nice to be able to help improve a person’s self-esteem and confidence through my job. And the patients are great!

Did you ever have braces?

Dr. Z: I did have braces for over 2 years. At that time everyone had braces that were stainless steel and of course there were no colors to put on them. With todays choices of ceramic, gold, or stainless steel braces I think I would pick ceramic.

Dr. M: I had braces as a teenager. I could choose colors for my braces, but Invisalign hadn’t been invented yet, and ceramic braces weren’t as good as they are today.

If you weren’t an orthodontist, what would you be?

Dr. Z: When I was in college I majored in biology and the first Earth Day was during my senior year. I think I would have followed a career in ecology if I hadn’t decided to go to dental school. We are very conscious of having a green office and I think that stems from my ecology background.

Dr. M: I think I’d be a teacher or a music video director. That would be fun!

What is an interesting fact about yourself?

Dr. Z: I am planning a trip to Uzbekistan next spring to visit my daughter who is a foreign service officer in Tashkent.

Dr. M: I love to eat, but I only know how to make one meal from scratch. Some day I’ll take some more cooking classes!


What are some of your hobbies and interests?

Dr. Z: I’m usually active and like to do a variety of things. I can be found on the golf course on occasion. I have been runner for over 25 years and although I don’t run in marathons or other events I hate to miss out on a good jog after work. My hobby is the flower garden in back of the office. It is always a work in progress. Gardening is a bit like orthodontics in that you start out with a plan and help things along. Sometimes it takes a year or two before you see the end result.

Dr. M: I really like watching and playing sports and music. When I have time off, I enjoy traveling, and I like to stay active at the gym and outdoors.

What is your favorite food?

Dr. Z: I really like any kind of seafood and my favorite place to eat is Oceanaire.

Dr. M: I love ice cream! I like anything frozen and sweet.

Where did you grow up?

Dr. Z: I was born in Chicago and lived in the city until I was in second grade. Then we moved to the suburbs of Chicago. I came to Minnesota to attend college and have been here ever since then. I started my practice at the Unity Professional Building in Fridley and moved to Spring Lake Park in 1996.

Dr. M: I was born in South Korea, but I grew up in the Twin Cities. I’ve lived here basically my whole life aside from going to college in western Minnesota. I also studied for a semester in Germany during dental school, which was a great experience!

Do you have any pets?

Dr. Z: No, I don’t have a pet. I have had several dogs and a cockatiel at different times.

Dr. M: No, I don’t have any pets, but I’ve had fish, birds and guinea pigs in the past.

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.