• Conquer Life: Resolutions

    • April 8, 2020
    • Conquer Life

    Spring is here, our environment is once again reborn, and the skies are teasing us with glimpses of sunny times ahead. With new beginnings just around the corner, the last piece to complete our picture perfect puzzle would be to say we’ve been crushing all our goals or new years’ resolutions made a few months ago. Regardless of the current global pause, we’ve keenly adjusted our behaviors and continue carrying on according to plan.

    If that’s you, congrats! You’re on another level of human. But for the rest of us, we’re bound to have quite a few hiccups along the self-improvement path, especially with the current situation. What’s important to realize is that we don’t have to discontinue our progress just because the rest of the planet is on hold. In fact, it can bring us some sense of normalcy and routine in the midst of everything.

    In case goals or resolutions haven’t crossed your mind this year, we have just entered one of the best periods in time to begin and we have a simple, yet powerful shortcut to get you started:



    No need to break out a journal log or download new apps. Often times, the most effective changes that enable our success are the most within reach and require no spending. Which is why we strongly believe that just by giving this year meaning, you may find that

    all of your actions will stem from intention.


    With that in mind, we’ve created a list of one-word themes to inspire your intent for this year:


    • Mindfulness
    • Discipline
    • Balance
    • Positivity

    Before we’re off to the races, let’s think about what this resolution means to you. Why do you want to make this change? What spurred this on? What sort of new developments are you hoping this shift will bring about? Although it may seem excessive to think about a goal this much, you might just find an entirely different goal once we get down to the root of it all.

    Let’s say our goal was to lead a healthier lifestyle – a very popular new year resolution. We may get ahead of ourselves and start filling our shopping carts with juice cleanses, meal kit subscriptions, memberships, and workout gear in all sorts of colors. But had we consulted with a doctor, dietician, or any qualified health professional before doing so, we could have received proper guidance from the beginning and saved ourselves a great deal of time and money by just making a few tweaks to our current lifestyle. Sure, it may not feel as exciting as a manic shopping spree, but taking some time out for reflection and planning is a part of setting ourselves up for success in the long run. With that scenario in mind, it makes you wonder if a healthier lifestyle was the goal or what we were truly after were fun, health-inspired purchases? There’s nothing wrong if you find that your heart was after the latter. We just could have directed our attention to lifestyle subscription boxes or Etsy rather than dropping money on a gym membership that would’ve made us feel guilty about hardly getting any use over the next 12 months. See? This is why it’s important to get down to the root of the motive behind your resolution. Although there is no wrong answer, we can’t confidently provide a solution that will make us happy if we don’t identify the problem from the beginning.

    With that said, this carefully curated inspiration list is something everyone and anyone can use to make their everyday lives just a little better all year round.



    Have you ever found your mind wondering about your to-do list or a cringing at an old memory during everyday conversations? Maybe it’s time to get acquainted with mindfulness.

    According to UC Berkeley, mindfulness is our ability to “maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment,” including acceptance of our thoughts and feelings without judging them.

    Sounds great, but why should we put effort into shifting our thought patterns to be more mindful? Because it improves our mental well-being, promote better sleep, boost engagement, reduce stress, counteract aging decline, and support weight loss efforts. Mindfulness meditation has been a great tool for mental health professionals in recent years since it promotes accepting experiences rather than reacting to them with a “right” or “wrong” way to feel.

    Start small with 2-10 minutes of meditation a day and after a week, reevaluate whether you’d like to continue or even increase your practice. If you’ve never meditated before, there’s endless books, apps, YouTube videos, and even classes in your community that can guide you through your first meditation session. The point is to let go of everything going on in your life outside of that space in order to zone in on your current surroundings, sensations, and emotions without judgement.

    While meditation is an amazing practice, you don’t have to sit in still silence in order to do so. We can implement bits of mindfulness into our everyday lives with small, conscious acts such as taking a pause to breathe when the phone rings instead of answering right away or take a moment to feel the door handle in your hand before going inside.

    Just remembering that you are not your thoughts and emotions can help you observe them without judgement. You are a completely separate entity watching them come and go – no labels, just simple acknowledgement. By truly taking it all in, we are being more present in the moment and better able to connect with ourselves and those around us.


    Even though discipline is the antithesis of the popular #YOLO mindset, have you ever regretted not having to live through the consequences of a detrimental impulse? Our inner child may not be pleased to hear that self-discipline plays a major role in developing our long-term happiness. According to this study by the University of Chicago, “Self-control positively contributes to happiness through avoiding and dealing with motivational conflict.”

    We’re not going to move mountains overnight. But we can start by setting small, realistic changes and removing obstacles. But in order to do so, we have to be honest with ourselves in identifying our weaknesses (aka obstacles) in order to address those obstacles and be realistic with our capacity to make a number of changes all at once.

    Now that we have the groundwork laid out, let’s put it into practice. Say we’re trying to cut down on sugary snacks, a good place to start is being honest about our consumption. From there, we can have a realistic change in mind (perhaps one teaspoon on sugar rather than two in the coffee), limit access to the sugary supply at home, and give yourself an alternative snack for those times you just know you’ll get a craving. If you think about it as setting yourself up for success instead of discipline, you might be more inclined to be fully transparent with yourself and even have some fun along the way.


    By 2020, we’ve all most likely heard of burnout here and there. If you’re not familiar with the term, according to the World Health Organization, it is chronic workplace stress characterized by exhaustion, detached or cynical feelings towards one’s occupation, and reduced professional efficacy. If you find yourself constantly exhausted no matter how much you rest during your day off, you may very well be burned out.

    What may complicate our acceptance of an exhaustive state is our culture’s current love affair with a “stressed is blessed” mentality. From well- established news outlets to social media influencers, entrepreneurial endeavors have become somewhat of a norm. If you’re not monetizing your hobbies or interests into side hustles, then you might give off the impression that you’re complacent with your current standing in life. While a healthy dose of ambition is fantastic, this current hustle trend can easily lead us to believe that constant stress is normal and there’s something wrong with us for not being able to manage. This is highly unsustainable and if a burned out state is left untreated, one can gradually fall into depression and anxiety, which will not only impact our work relationships, but our personal lives as well.

    Since burnout is specifically related to workplace stress and a career change isn’t realistic for most, there are some steps we can take to remedy the effects and bring ourselves back to a healthy state of being, such as:

    •  Share the load with those closest to you. Expressing those feelings with loved ones will surely lighten that mental weight, especially with a bit of sympathy in return. It won’t make you a burden, it’s actually pretty flattering to have someone trust you enough to open up.
    •  Find value in your work. Focusing on how your role benefits others or how you’re making the world a better place can give you a new sense of purpose. If not within your job, perhaps taking up some volunteer work or developing new hobbies will do the trick. The point is to find new meaning in what you do and how you piece into the bigger picture.
    •  Make time for exercise. Even though it may be the last thing you want to do, exercise is proven to be an amazing stress reliever and energy booster due to the endorphins released from physical activity. Because it promotes neural growth, exercise has the ability to improve our memory and learning capabilities – feel better and be more efficient.
    •  Recharge with some time off. If it’s within your means, go for it! Use up your vacation days and take the time to focus on yourself and how to reset and recover. Taking some time out of a stressful situation can help put things into perspective and perhaps reevaluate choices that can keep us from falling back into the same cycle.


    Like a shoe that’s slightly too small, negative remarks, attitudes, and thoughts will have a wear on your overall mood by the end of the day. Little by little, they pile up. And like that small shoe, you’ll find that you’re in need of a bandage for the wound on your heel that seemingly popped out of nowhere.

    An easy way to set a positive tone to your day is by spending a few minutes each morning listing off what you’re thankful for. This rewires your brain to think about what you do have going for you instead of focusing on what you’re missing. Start off with something as simple as being grateful for having a roof over your head or being able to pay your bills and expand on why that’s important to you.

    But if you’re not there yet, perhaps smiling a little more is your speed. When you flash a smile across your face, your brain releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin – the happy neurotransmitters that relax your body and enhance your mood. Your brain reads into your facial muscles in order to do this, so even a fake smile will have the same effect.

    Do people say you’re “sarcastic” or “sassy?” Great, use that to your advantage. Simple changes in your language can get the ball rolling for a positive tone, even if you have to use sarcasm. Instead of going “this check-out line is going to take forever” you can say “I can get my taxes done, take up a new hobby, and have another kid by the time I get through this line.” You’ll give yourself a laugh and work on your stand-up comedy routine at the same time.


    Hopefully this list has given you a sprig of inspiration to jumpstart your intention for this year. Bettering ourselves is a lifelong journey. Perfect change doesn’t happen over night, so enjoy the adventure and take it in stride one day at a time.



    At West Loop Ortho, we’re in the business of increasing confidence through beautifully transformed smiles. But more importantly, we want to empower humans to be their best self. That’s why we created the Conquer Life blog series as part our patient’s (and non-patient’s) arsenal to #conquerlife.
    The West Loop Orthodontics office has been providing accessible, high-quality ortho services in the downtown Chicago area since 2016. We strive to give our patients the best, which is why we exclusively use world-renowned products in our office.
    Our highly trained, Board Certified Orthodontists are known to handle some of the most complex braces and Invisalign cases in the city of Chicago.
    Check out what we’ve been up to lately at @westlooporthodontics


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Meet Your Team: Maria

With so many new patients in the office, we definitely needed to get more hands on deck, so meet Maria! She’s joining us as an Orthodontic Assistant and is excited to provide excellent care to our growing family.

Maria is getting back to her roots by moving back to Chicago. She’s here to make sure everyone feels comfortable, especially the kids! She ensures a calm and mellow environment from the moment you step in to the moment you leave. Maria loves what she does, and she wants to continue to add to her palette of skills. Maria looks forward to helping all patients to the best of her ability and wants to ensure a memorable experience!

When she is outside of the workplace, this veteran loves to spend time with her son. He is known in the workplace as the light of her life! She can also be found in the city trying new foods or new restaurants.

Top Five Tips to Save You From a Broken Bracket

Broken brackets can be super stressful, but with the right guidance they can be a cinch to solve. Here’s some important information even if you don’t have a broken bracket:

Don’t panic, broken brackets happen to the best of us. Here’s what you can do in the meantime until you’re back in the clinic chair.

First off, is the bracket still attached to the wire or is it completely off?

You should only remove the bracket if it is extremely loose. Keep it safe until you can bring it with you to your next ortho appointment. 

If the bracket is still attached to your wire, leave it where it is: trying to move it yourself can cause more damage.

To keep you comfortable until your appointment, try some orthodontic wax:

  • Applying wax over the loose bracket keeps it from irritating your lips and causing sores.
  • If a loose wire is poking the inside of your mouth, put some wax over the sharp end. (add clipping instructions for wire ends here)

Now that you’ve made things more comfortable, get help from your orthodontist.

Even though damaged brackets don’t seem like an orthodontic emergency, get your doctor’s advice as soon as you can. 

In certain cases, a delay in treatment could result in more damage, so give us a call at (872) 222-9567 or shoot us an email with pictures at info@wlortho.com and we’ll schedule an emergency appointment if need be.

Do my braces still work?

The short answer: Yes. One missing bracket doesn’t mean your treatment isn’t working any more!

The long answer: When a bracket is broken, that means an individual tooth is no longer attached to the active wire. Which means that tooth can move in an unfavorable way. Ideally we want to prevent that from happening because that one tooth may linger behind while every other tooth continues to move.

Every case is different, though. If the broken bracket does create a need to adjust the course of your treatment, your orthodontist will be able to tell you. Then you can plan accordingly together.

Now that you’ve got your ortho appointment scheduled, read up on how to protect yourself from another broken bracket. Here are 5 tips to keep your orthodontics safe:

Tip One: Avoid the Dangerous Dozen 

Any foods that are hard, brittle, or sticky can damage your orthodontic treatment. To keep your brackets intact, steer clear of the 12 worst offenders:

1. Caramels

2. Taffy

3. Hard candy

4. Chewy candy

5. Jelly beans

6. Licorice

7. Bubble gum

8. Lollipops 

9. Sour candy

10. Popcorn

11. Nuts

12. Ice

Don’t fret if you see your favorite treat on this list. For safer snacks that are just as delicious, the American Association of Orthodontists has you covered. Just make sure you brush afterwards!

Tip Two: Prepare Before the Next Play

We’re all about an active, healthy lifestyle. For athletes with braces, there are a few extra steps to play it safe. Whether you’re strapping into a football helmet or putting a mouth guard in before wrestling practice, make sure you’re taking the right precautions for your sport before you jump into the next game.

Tip Three: Alternatives to That Dangerous Toothpick

Using a toothpick can damage your orthodontics and your mouth. If there’s something stuck in your teeth, you’ve got much better options (that won’t give you tongue splinters):

  • Floss
  • Water irrigation
  • Interdental brushes

You can purchase a Waterpik or orthodontic flossers in the oral care section of your local pharmacy. 

Tip Four: Kick the Nail-Biting Habit

Biting your nails is bad news all around. Besides the ick factor (here are 12 germ-tastic reasons to quit), chomping down on a nail could easily crack a bracket. 

If you need help kicking the habit, try playing with slime or silly putty to keep your hands occupied, or coat your nails with one of these bitter-tasting treatments. Your brackets (and rest of you) will be grateful you did!

Tip Five: Brush with Care

Frequent brushing and flossing are an important part of caring for your braces (of course, you knew that already!). But did you know that brushing and flossing too hard can actually do more harm than good? 

If you get too aggressive with your brushing, you could loosen your orthodontic appliances. 

Thorough and gentle brushing after every meal and careful flossing and/or water irrigation at least once a day are the safest way to care for your ortho treatment as well as the rest of your mouth.

How To Use Invisalign

While Invisalign trays are the most discreet ortho treatment available, there are some additional steps that go into caring for clear aligner trays as opposed to traditional braces. Here’s what you need to know about using this invisible orthodontic treatment:

Getting Started

• Each tray is numbered according to the order you’ll wear them through the course of your treatment. In other words, you’ll start with tray #1, then use tray #2, and so on.

• To begin, you’ll wear each set of trays for 2 weeks at a time, unless specified otherwise by your doctor.

• It’s perfectly normal to feel a little extra pressure or discomfort when you start wearing each new set of Invisalign trays.

Food + Beverages

• You will be wearing your trays throughout the day for approximately 22.5 hours, only taking them out to eat and drink beverages.

• You may only keep your trays on to drink water.

• After eating, make sure you have brushed your teeth before wearing your trays again. If you have no access to a toothbrush, rinse thoroughly. Invisalign trays always have to go back onto clean teeth.


• Do not leave your trays unattended. Make sure they are kept in the Invisalign case anytime they aren’t worn.

• Cleaning crystals are great for keeping trays odor-free and clear. But
washing them with a small amount of dish soap and a toothbrush works just as well. Make sure to rinse thoroughly to avoid a soapy taste.

• Do not use toothpaste on your aligners – it is too abrasive for the Invisalign material and can make the trays look cloudy when worn.


• If you have attachments, you’ll be coming back to the office to have the attachments placed at the end of your 4th week (i.e when you are on the last day of tray #2). We’ll go over any new instructions and potentially increase the frequency of tray change to 10 days.

• Avoid foods with potent colors such as curry, turmeric, tomato juice, coffee, etc. These foods can stain your attachments, causing them to take on a bright yellow or red appearance, depending on the color of the food.

• In case you have already consumed something colorful, rinse as soon as possible in order to reduce the chances of staining.

• Using a straw to drink coffee (while your trays are out) helps avoid direct contact with the attachments.

While clear aligner trays require more attention than other ortho treatments, you’ll hear many Invisalign patients say the diligence is worth enjoying your smile as it transforms. Keep up with your orthodontist, follow these care instructions, and you’ll be sharing a stunning smile before you know it.

If you’ve been thinking about improving your smile and feel that Invisalign may be right for you, let’s talk. During a free consultation, our orthodontists can discuss your goals and concerns after evaluating your smile.
At West Loop Orthodontics, our Board Certified Orthodontists are known to handle some of the most complex braces and Invisalign cases in the city of Chicago. With most insurance plans accepted and payment plans available, we make a confident smile accessible for everyone.

Meet Your Team: Nick

With so much growth over the last few years, we knew we would need more hands on deck to organize our patient’s ortho treatments. Which is why we’re excited to introduce Nick, our Scheduling Coordinator and newest addition to the team!

Whether it’s setting up patient appointments or staff meetings, Nick handles all things scheduling. He weighs out the length of time a procedure will take to perform and coordinates that with the open clinic chairs, assigned staff, prescribed time in between appointments, and your availability, of course.

During his free time, Nick enjoys creating elaborate meals and hosting festive dinner parties. As a long-time culinary devotee, he’s the go-to expert for the latest and greatest spots to eat around town. But after a long day in the kitchen or office, he enjoys kicking back at home with his husband and Morgan, their senior Labrador pup.

Before joining West Loop Ortho, Nick was a salon manager at some of the top hair salons in Chicago. He began styling hair in his home state of North Carolina at the age of 19 because he loved helping others look and feel their best. But after knowing the ins-and-outs of the hair industry far too well, he decided to pursue his interest in healthcare administration.

Nick brings such a fun energy with his quick witted comebacks and musings, all while maintaining a ship-shape front office. Although career changes are never easy, we’re really glad he chose that route since it’s been amazing having him on the team.