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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 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.