3 questions to ask when choosing an orthodontist

Here at Surf City Smiles Orthodontics, we want our patients to feel informed and empowered from their first appointment to the last. Choosing to improve your oral health with orthodontic treatment is a big decision because it affects your whole body’s health. As an educated patient, you’ll know that your smile is too important to trust to anything less than an experienced orthodontist. But what if you’re not sure how to find one? To help you make the most informed choice, here are 3 questions to ask when choosing an orthodontist. Let’s take a look at what you should know before committing to an orthodontic practice for treatment!

Is the doctor a trained orthodontic specialist?

While this may seem like an obvious question, that doesn’t mean it can be overlooked. This is actually the most important question you can ask. A general dentist will typically offer common dental services such as crowns, fillings, dentures, and occasional orthodontic treatment like Invisalign. An orthodontist, on the other hand, spends their days providing only orthodontic services.

This distinction actually matters a great deal. Imagine for a moment that you or your child required specialized treatment or surgery. Would you feel comfortable with your family physician handling your case, or would you prefer a dedicated specialist? 

Orthodontists are essentially dentists who also have several years of additional specialized training and experience. This means an orthodontist has:

  • studied the growth and maturation of the teeth and jaw
  • been introduced to numerous case studies
  • developed diagnostic skills
  • learned biomechanical techniques to properly move teeth
  • studied how to change the development of the dental alveolar complex and facial growth of younger patients

To give you an idea of how competitive orthodontic residency programs are, they only the top students in any dental school graduating class. These orthodontic programs tend to last around 2-3 years and include full-time training that focuses on correcting orthodontic issues with braces and aligners. While there are exceptions to every rule, most dentists will not possess this level of exhaustive orthodontic training and experience. 

A true Southern California native, Dr. Carlson was born and raised in Orange County. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA with a Doctorate of Dental Surgery before continuing on and completing his Specialty Certificate in Orthodontics and a Masters Degree in Oral and Craniofacial Biology, also at UCLA.

He was honored with the Best Case presented at the 2014 American Board of Orthodontics Examination. In 2016, Dr. Carlson published a Case Report in the prestigious American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics (AJODO), which was later chosen as the 2017 Case Report of the Year College of Diplomates of the American Board of Orthodontics. His contributions to orthodontic research include furthering automated analysis of three-dimensional surface morphology in craniofacial structures.

3 questions to ask when choosing an orthodontist

What treatment options does the orthodontist offer?

Surf City Smiles Orthodontics has a wide variety of aesthetic treatments available to patients of all ages in Huntington Beach and the surrounding areas. 

Lingual braces

Lingual braces, also called hidden braces, are unique in that they are attached to the backside of the teeth and, therefore, almost completely invisible. Lingual braces are customized to match the shape of your teeth perfectly, so each appliance will be created specifically for you. 

Clear braces

Sometimes called ceramic braces, these function in the same way metal braces do, but are made of clear materials instead of stainless steel. Because they’re not as noticeable as metal braces, they’re popular with older teens and adult patients who may be more image-conscious. They are larger and more brittle than their metal counterparts, so we tend to use them on the upper front teeth more often than the lower teeth. 

Invisalign Clear aligners

Invisalign Clear aligners are removable orthodontic appliances that use a series of customized aligners to straighten the teeth. Because the aligners are clear and can be removed, you can eat and drink as they normally would, plus brushing and flossing effectively is as easy as it was before your treatment. 

How frequent are follow-up visits with the orthodontist?

No matter how you choose to straighten your teeth, you’ll be visiting our Huntington Beach offices regularly for adjustment appointments. These appointments are typically scheduled every 4-8 weeks. During these visits, Dr. Carlson will replace any worn-out rubber bands, check the progress your teeth are making, and make adjustments to the wires to ensure that the teeth are moving in the right direction. 

If you are an Invisalign clear aligner patient, you won’t need to come in as frequently. However, your check-in appointments are still an essential part of the orthodontic process. It’s important not to miss them! 

Every case is unique and will take a different time based on how your teeth and jaw respond to treatment. But, the average patient will spend anywhere from 12-36 months years in treatment. You’ll be seeing us regularly throughout your orthodontic journey! We know families these days are busy, and we value your time, so we never overbook patients and always aim to see you at your scheduled time.

3 questions to ask when choosing an orthodontist

Leave your smile to the experts at Surf City Smiles Orthodontics

Dr. Carlson is unmatched in skill, expertise, and experience, so he can provide an excellent smile as no one else can. Since our specialty is orthodontics, you’ll receive nothing but the best in treatments, cost, and efficiency. We work to give you a stunning smile that’s unforgettable!

If you’re ready to take the first step in your orthodontic journey, we would love to meet you and talk more about the smile you want! There’s never been a better time to take the first step towards a healthier smile, so get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Carlson!


Thanks to today’s technology, today’s braces have come a long way. They feature smaller brackets, a more subtle appearance, and are more lightweight than they’ve ever been. Despite the transformation, however, many teens and adults are hesitant about using them to get a straighter smile. Fortunately, there’s an alternative to traditional braces treatment, one that offers patients the opportunity to get the smile of their dreams without any metal brackets, wires, or bands! While some people may can preconceived notions, we’re here to give you the truth about Invisalign!

Invisalign clear aligner therapy is a great way to give you the incredible smile you desire, with more freedom and flexibility than traditional braces allows. While braces have a long history of proven results, Invisalign is a relatively newer treatment option in the world of orthodontics. Because of this, there are some misconceptions about how they work, their effectiveness, and their cost compared to braces. We’re here to bust the myths and give you the truth about Invisalign! Keep reading to find out more!

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign clear aligners as we know them today were developed in the late 90’s by a company called Align Technology. However, similar trays had been used for decades without gaining widespread popularity. What set Invisalign apart was the specialized software and technology that allowed orthodontists like Dr. Carlson to use customized aligners to gently straighten crooked teeth in stages. At the end of each stage, the aligner is replaced with the next in the series. This typically happens every 1-2 weeks, depending on what is determined at your initial exam.

At first, Invisalign was only used to correct minor spacing issues or very mild crowding. However, once orthodontists realized the true potential, the system became more popular and the design began to improve. When used as directed, Invisalign aligners can be just as effective as traditional metal braces at treating mild to moderate orthodontic issues.

Does Invisalign treatment take longer than braces?

Regardless of the orthodontic treatment option you choose to pursue, there will be some level of commitment required to achieve the desired results. Traditional braces are fixed to the teeth, so most of the work is done without too much effort put forth by the patient. However, because they aren’t a fixed appliance, compliance is especially important when undergoing Invisalign treatment. Aligners must be worn the full 20-22 hours a day to get the best results. Failure to do so can result in longer treatment times or inferior results.

As with any orthodontic treatment, there is no “one size fits all” answer to how long each patient will be in Invisalign aligners. Every case is different and each person responds to treatment at their own pace. In general, the average number of aligners a patient uses will be between 10 and 48, with treatment lasting from 6 to 18 months. This is slightly faster than traditional braces treatment!

Does Invisalign treatment cost more than braces?

When Invisalign first came onto the market, it was considered to be a bit pricey compared to other treatment options. As time has progressed, the cost has decreased, making it a more affordable and readily-available alternative to metal braces. While there are several factors that play a part in the cost of orthodontic treatment, Invisalign aligners tend to average about the same as traditional braces these days.

At Surf City Smiles, we’re dedicated to giving you high-quality orthodontic care, no matter your budget! Treatment fees vary based on several factors, and we’ll go over every aspect of those costs before taking the first steps in the active phase of your treatment. We offer a variety of payment options for your convenience, as well as accept many major insurance plans. Our team is happy to verify your orthodontic benefits, as well as assist with any related forms and paperwork.


What advantages does Invisalign offer over braces?

Invisalign aligners offer patients a whole new  freedom within their orthodontic treatment! Because they can be removed for short periods of time, food restrictions aren’t necessary like they are with braces. Chewy and crunchy foods can damage the wires and brackets of traditional metal braces, so patients may be required to give up their favorite snacks. With Invisalign, you can simply remove your aligner when you’re having a treat, and replace them when you’re done!

Removable aligners also make it easier to keep up a good oral hygiene routine. There tends to be a learning curve when adjusting to the wires and brackets of traditional metal braces. Invisalign aligners are removed when brushing and flossing, allowing you to keep up your normal oral care routine. Caring for your aligners couldn’t be easier! There are kits designed specifically to clean your aligners, or you can use a toothbrush and toothpaste to gently brush them.

Because they’re removable and don’t have any wires or brackets to get in the way, Invisalign aligners are a great choice for athletes and musicians who play certain instruments. Because they can be removed for short periods of time, they’re also perfect for special events where you only want your natural smile to shine through, such as a wedding, prom, or senior pictures.  

Does the Invisalign system work for everyone?

In most cases, Invisalign aligners are most effective for teen and adult patients who have mild to moderate orthodontic issues. Cases that are more severe or complex might require more precise tooth control than a removable aligner is able to achieve. When you schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Carlson, he’ll be able to assess your specific needs and determine if Invisalign is a good fit for you. At Surf City Smiles, we’ll only recommend the treatment that’s best suited for your unique smile!

What happens once Invisalign treatment is complete?

Even after undergoing orthodontic treatment, your teeth will always remember their previous place in your mouth. If there’s nothing in place to prevent this, they’ll eventually begin to drift back towards those positions. This is why retainers are such a crucial part of your orthodontic treatment! Once your treatment is complete, our office will provide you with a retainer. Wearing your retainer as directed by Dr. Carlson will give you the long lasting smile results you deserve!

Find your best smile with Invisalign from Surf City Smiles

Invisalign’s innovation system is the most popular alternative to traditional metal braces offered today, and it’s not hard to see why! This exciting option continues to change the way people perceive orthodontic treatment, and we’re proud to offer it to our patients in Huntington Beach and surrounding communities. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the wonderful things Invisalign can do for you and your smile, contact our office today to schedule a FREE consultation! We’re here to help you get the smile of your dreams!

Is Invisalign Worth It?

It can be both exciting and slightly overwhelming to learn that you or your child need orthodontic treatment. If you aren’t familiar with orthodontics, you may not be sure what to expect from the journey ahead. Many patients automatically assume treatment means metal braces, and can feel a little nervous about that. Even though traditional braces have gone through quite a transformation in recent years, plenty of our teen and adult patients are still hesitant about using them.

The good news is, a number of alternatives to metal braces are now available! This includes clear braces, lingual braces that fit to the back of your teeth, and clear Invisalign aligners. Here at Surf City Smiles, Dr. Carlson will work with your unique smile to create a customized treatment plan that will give you the best results possible. He’ll base that plan on several different factors, including:

  • your diagnosis
  • how much work needs to be done
  • your lifestyle
  • your goals
  • your personal preference
  • your budget

Invisalign is currently the most popular alternative to braces. Our teen and adults patients love the clear aligner system, particularly those who are image-conscious! In most cases, aligners are comparative in price to traditional metal braces. However, they can sometimes cost slightly more, leading some patients to wonder if Invisalign is worth the difference. We believe Invisalign aligners are an excellent investment in your smile, so keep reading below to find out why!

Invisalign lets you straighten your smile discreetly

The clear, comfortable plastic that Invisalign aligners are made of is a big selling point for patients. Patients who are anxious about treatment making them stand out find that Invisalign is often a welcome alternative! They’re also able to be removed for short periods of time, making them perfect for any special event when you want your natural smile to shine through, like prom, weddings, or senior pictures.  

Invisalign comes with a bit of extra freedom and flexibility

Invisalign patients tend to enjoy more freedom than traditional treatment methods are able to offer! Take food restrictions, for example. Sticky and crunchy foods can wreak havoc on brackets and wires, so patients in braces must avoid them throughout the treatment process. This can eliminate several favorite foods and snacks, which can be frustrating. Invisalign means you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want to! Simply remove the aligner before eating, then put it back in when you’re done.

Invisalign makes it easier to care for your teeth and gums

Maintaining a good oral hygiene routine with traditional braces can be difficult, especially in the early days. It can be tricky to brush and floss around the brackets and wires, which also makes it harder to remove any lingering food particles or plaque. Invisalign aligners are simply removed before brushing and flossing as normal! Caring for the aligners themselves couldn’t be easier, either. There are special kits designed to clean them, or they can be gently brushed using toothpaste and a soft toothbrush.

Invisalign can potentially shorten treatment time

Because every case is different and each patient will respond to treatment in their own way, there’s no “one size fits all” answer as to how long a patient will need orthodontic treatment.

Patient compliance is an important part of any orthodontic process, but it’s especially important with the Invisalign system. For the aligners to be successful, they must be worn for 20-22 hours per day, throughout treatment. You’ll also be responsible for switching your aligners out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks. This allows them to keep up with the movements your teeth are making.

For patients who are fully compliant, treatment time with Invisalign can last anywhere from 6-18 months. This is actually slightly faster than the average time spent in braces!

Is Invisalign Worth It?

Invisalign can correct a wide range of orthodontic issues

In its earliest days, Invisalign was mostly used to correct simple spacing issues or very mild crowding. As the system began to grow in popularity, the design improved dramatically. Invisalign aligners can now be used to successfully treat:

  • gaps between teeth
  • crowding
  • deep overbite
  • open bite
  • crossbite
  • excessive overjet
  • and more!

Invisalign offers special features for teen patients

When it comes to the treatment benefits and underlying technology, Invisalign and Invisalign Teen are the same. However, Invisalign Teen was developed with features that meet the unique needs of teenage patients, including:

Compliance indicators

As noted above, patient compliance is a critical component to success with Invisalign. The aligners must be worn as directed by Dr. Carlson in order for them to work properly. The compliance indicators incorporated into the Invisalign Teen aligners fades from blue to clear, providing parents and orthodontists with a visual approximation of wear. This lets them know if the patient is holding up their end of the treatment bargain!  

Eruption tabs

This feature accommodates the growth of the second molars in young adults, helping to keep space open for unerupted teeth and making it possible to treat a wider range of conditions with Invisalign.

Replacement aligners

It is not uncommon for our teen patients to lose or break an aligner. Although teens should always treat their aligners with care, there’s no need to worry if this occurs! Invisalign Teen will provide up to six replacement aligners at no charge, just in case.    

Invisalign is a clear winner with Surf City Smiles

As much as we love Invisalign, it’s not for everyone. In general, the aligners tend to work best for adult and teen patients with mild to moderate orthodontic issues. Cases that are particularly complex or severe may require more precise tooth control than a removable aligner is able to achieve.

When you schedule a consultation with Dr. Carlson, he’ll be able to determine if Invisalign treatment is a good fit for your smile. If he feels that a different treatment option would be a better option, he’ll talk you through what’s available. Our team will only recommend the treatment we believe is best for your unique smile!

During this first visit with us, we’ll also outline the investment needed for your new smile, and let you know about our payment options and insurance coverage. When you have all the right information, you’ll be able to weigh your treatment options more clearly. Knowing there’s a comfortable, flexible, and clear option available that’s just as effective as braces means any extra cost will be worth every penny!

If you’re ready to learn more about the Invisalign aligner system and how it can transform your smile, get in touch with us today to schedule your consultation with Dr. Carlson.

Leave A Lasting Impression With A Beautiful Smile

Here at Surf City Smiles, we want to help all of our patients live up to their fullest potential. Your smile is one of the first things people notice about you, and it’s also the feature they most easily recall, which is just one reason why it can have a big impact on your career. A healthy smile that stands out even when you’re not in the room can help you land a promotion, motivate others on the job, and even negotiate a better salary. So what happens when you’re struggling with crooked teeth, misalignment, or other orthodontic issues? 

Feeling self-conscious about the state of your smile can hold you back professionally, but our treatment options can help you put your best foot forward at work! Let’s take a look at why smiles matter so much in the professional world, and what we can do to help you get ahead!

Fake it til you make it

Even when we don’t realize we’re doing it, us humans mimic facial expressions. This can trigger a similar emotional state and briefly boost our mood. It also allows us to understand the person whom we are  communicating with and respond appropriately. That’s why smiling is contagious!

A healthy smile can also signal to potential employers that you could be a positive influence to those around you. A Yale University study attempted to show this by dividing volunteers into small groups and assigning specific tasks. One team member was secretly instructed to act upbeat upon entering the room. When that person came in with a smile on their face and a positive attitude, the mood in the room lifted almost immediately! The study also found that each individual’s performance improved and the group itself was more likely to achieve the goal it had been given.

A similar study was undertaken by scientists at the University of Kansas, where subjects were given stressful tasks to complete. Some participants were asked to smile during these tasks, while others were told to maintain a straight face. Researchers measured the heart rates of the participants, and the subjects were asked to self-report their stress levels as they performed the tasks.

Those who had been told to smile had lower heart rates, and their bodies showed more resistance to stress. They also reported feeling more positive overall than those who were told to keep a straight face, proving the power in a smile! A bright smile is attractive to employers and coworkers alike, and that can lead to you gaining some real advantages in the workplace.  

The Halo Effect

A researcher by the name of Edward Thorndike coined the term “halo effect” in 1920 to describe the way our brains attribute multiple positive qualities to a person if we see just one positive quality. We extrapolate information about a person based on our own perception of them, in other words. While it may not be the most fair-minded way to process new people we meet, it definitely highlights just how significant first impressions can be!

One trait that’s been proven to kickstart the halo effect is an attractive smile. People with a winning smile are naturally seen as smarter, wittier, more successful and hardworking, and more trustworthy than someone who doesn’t smile often or struggles with oral health. If you’ve been trying to get your foot in the door or close out a big deal, Surf City Smiles could serve you well!

Leave A Lasting Impression With A Beautiful Smile

Set the tone with a smile

A genuine smile helps put others at ease, and it can also make you appear friendlier. This is something potential employers pay attention to! When you attend a job interview, for instance, your credentials are only part of what the interviewer will be looking at! If you come across as stiff or unfriendly, it could hurt your chances of being offered the position or promotion you desire. Successful companies don’t just want a candidate who is qualified on paper— they’re also looking for someone who will be able to contribute to a positive work environment by building a rapport with coworkers and clients. 

Say hello to increased self-esteem

When you don’t feel confident in yourself, it can be really hard to step outside your comfort zone to take risks. Yet this is often exactly what’s required for true success! Being happy with your appearance can make you feel better about yourself, and having a smile you love can really boost your self-confidence. In fact, Invisalign actually conducted a survey on this and found that almost 80% of adults who underwent orthodontic treatment said that having a healthier smile gave them the confidence to do something they never would have considered doing before. That’s a pretty impressive number!

Leave a lasting impression thanks to Surf City Smiles 

Our appearance plays an important role in how we feel about ourselves and how others perceive us, and it can influence the way employers look at us, too. Dr. Carlson and the Surf City Smiles can help you achieve a beautiful smile that looks and feels fantastic! We offer a range of treatment options for patients of all ages, from traditional metal braces to the Invisalign clear aligners. These treatments are more comfortable and discreet than ever before, something our adult patients love!

Speaking of adult patients, healthy teeth can be moved at any age. In fact, almost 25% of current orthodontic patients are over 18! Correcting any existing orthodontic issues will improve your oral health, but don’t underestimate the importance of improved self-confidence, too! Smiling has been linked to better moods, greater positivity, and being able to connect with others more easily. It’s also been shown to reduce stress levels, something we can all appreciate considering the average family’s schedule.

A healthy, beautiful smile can increase your self-esteem, help you make a positive first impression, and even give you the edge you need to achieve the career goals you’ve set for yourself. Want to know more about how we can give you a smile that will help you get ahead? Get in touch with us today to schedule your complimentary consultation!

Your First Visit at Surf City Smiles

Here at Surf City Smiles, we believe the orthodontic process should be fun, rewarding, and as stress-free as possible. That begins the moment you walk through our door!  We know that taking the first steps towards a healthier smile can be equal parts exciting and overwhelming. This is particularly true if you don’t know much about orthodontics or what to expect from the journey ahead!

Choosing treatment is a big deal, and we don’t take the trust you’ve placed in us for granted. That’s why we believe your initial visit is one of the most important appointments you’ll have with us! It gives you the chance to get to know us, and lets you explore all your treatment options in a relaxed setting with zero pressure. 

To help you prepare for your FREE consultation with us, let’s take a closer look at what you can expect and what will come next in the process! 

Your first visit with Surf City Smiles

When you arrive at our Huntington Beach office, you’ll be greeted warmly by our team and given a brief tour. We find that patients tend to feel much more relaxed if they’re familiar with their surroundings! We’ll then go over your dental and medical history before taking some digital photographs and x-rays of your teeth. This gives us a glimpse into any orthodontic issues, plus shows us what’s happening beneath the surface of the gums.

Once the necessary images have been obtained, Dr. Carlson will perform a thorough oral examination. After looking at your teeth, gums, and mouth, he may also ask you a few questions about any problems you’ve been having with chewing, swallowing, or opening and closing your mouth. The information we obtain from your history, exam, and images will allow Dr. Carlson to make an initial diagnosis and recommend the best course of treatment for you.

It’s important to us that you don’t feel rushed during your consultation, so you can expect it to last about an hour. Dr. Carlson will make time to discuss your diagnosis, the orthodontic process, and address any questions or concerns you may have at this point. You can expect him to cover topics such as:

  • any oral issues you’re experiencing
  • if treatment is needed immediately
  • what treatment options are available to correct the problem
  • if any teeth will need to be removed
  • an estimate of how long we expect your treatment to take
  • the total investment required for treatment
  • any payment or financing options we have available to you

At Surf City Smiles, our treatment plans are built around each patient’s specific needs, lifestyle, and goals. This customized approach allows us to consistently produce superior results our patients love to show off!

Your investment in a healthier smile

Once you’ve decided on a treatment plan with Dr. Carlson, we’ll go over the investment needed for your new smile. Because every patient has unique needs and will respond to treatment in their own way, the total cost will always vary from case to case. Your personalized treatment plan will include a breakdown of all applicable fees, and we’ll make sure you understand each one before moving forward with any actual treatment.

We believe everyone should have access to a healthy smile, and our practice is committed to providing high-quality orthodontic care affordable and attainable for every budget. We offer in-house, interest-free, extended payment plans, and also accept most major credit cards and insurance plans. If you have orthodontic insurance, we’ll help you maximize your coverage by assisting you with your all your claims and paperwork. 

The next steps in your orthodontic journey

If you’re excited to get started with your treatment, we may be able to begin the same day as your consultation! Otherwise, we’ll schedule an appointment for you to receive your new orthodontic appliance and start the active phase of treatment. 

Depending on your treatment plan, you’ll have follow-up visits with us every 4-8 weeks or so. At these appointments, Dr. Carlson will adjust your appliance if necessary and check that your teeth are moving in a safe and healthy way.

These visits are an essential part of your orthodontic treatment, so try not to miss them! We do our best to get you in on a day and time that’s convenient for you, but we understand that life sometimes gets in the way of even our best-laid plans. If you’re running late or can’t make your appointment for any reason, we simply ask that you let us know as soon as possible so we can reschedule your appointment for another day.

Your First Visit at Surf City Smiles

Trust Surf City Smiles to deliver superior results

You’re putting your smile into the best hands by choosing Surf City Smiles! We have many years of combined experience in straightening smiles for patients of all ages, and the innovative techniques we use allow us to deliver the best results in the shortest amount of time possible.

Orthodontic treatment is one of the most important investments you can make for yourself or your child. An experienced orthodontic specialist like Dr. Carlson will only recommend the best treatment for your unique smile! If you’re in Huntington Beach or the surrounding community and want to learn more about what orthodontics has to offer you, get in touch today to schedule your first FREE visit. We’ve got a beautifully straightened smile waiting here for you!

Touch-Up Treatment For Adult Orthodontic Relapses

Nothing says “celebrate” quite like the day your braces comes off or you use your last aligner. At last, all your hard work and dedication have paid off, and you’ve got a healthier, straighter smile to show for it. You leave the orthodontist’s office with your new retainer and every intention to wear it exactly as directed…and you do, at first. But over time, it becomes easier and easier to forget about it, and you find yourself falling asleep without putting it in. Before you know it, you can’t remember the last time you put it in. You may not even remember where you put it! 

No matter how many times you tell yourself to call the orthodontist about getting the retainer replaced, it just keeps getting pushed to the bottom of your to-do list. Life happens! Then one day you see a picture of yourself smiling, or look in the mirror and notice that your smile is just a little bit off. Upon closer inspection, you realize to your dismay that your teeth have shifted! If this sounds familiar, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Here at Surf City Smiles, we take care of many adult patients who need a bit of touch-up treatment to correct a relapse. 

Keep reading below to learn more about what causes a relapse, and what we can do to help correct it. 

Reasons for a relapse

While it’s not the only thing that can cause relapse, not wearing your retainer as directed is the most common reason. Many patients underestimate how important their retainer is! Treatment doesn’t stop once the braces come off or the aligners run out. The teeth and surrounding bone and gums require time to solidify in their new locations once active treatment is complete. Wearing your retainer regularly counteracts those forces that want to pull them back to their previous position and also helps stabilize them over time. 

There can be other reasons for an orthodontic relapse, however. These include:

Teeth grinding – If you are a chronic tooth grinder, you’re likely already aware of the damage it can cause. Constant grinding produces a continuous force that can place a strain on your teeth and even alter your bite. The resulting tension plays a role in how the teeth are impacted, sometimes causing them to become misaligned over time.

Genetics and natural aging – Even if stellar genetics gave you a beautiful smile to start with, you may notice your teeth naturally shifting as you grow older. This is quite common, especially in the front teeth, which may be more susceptible to shifting under pressure as the enamel begins to wear thin.

Tooth loss – Teeth that are lost due to trauma, decay, or periodontal disease leave an empty space. If not corrected, the teeth surrounding that space may begin drifting towards it. This can eventually lead to an altered bite. 

Why are retainers so important?

Now that you understand more about the different factors that can lead to relapse, it’s easy to see why retainers are such an important part of your orthodontic success!

As we briefly mentioned above, your teeth aren’t the only things we want to stay in place once the initial phase of treatment is complete. The gums and bone in your mouth will need to get used to these new positions too, so they are better able to properly your teeth. Since the tissues surrounding the teeth take a little longer to stabilize in their new position, wearing your retainer regularly greatly helps your gums and bone adapt. This will further stabilize your overall bite. 

To put it another way, the teeth aren’t just fixed in the jaw. Each one is held in its socket by elastic ligaments that attach the roots to the bone. These ligaments are living tissue that are affected by the movement of the teeth, and this attachment is what allows for the small movements of the teeth during treatment. When tension is placed in and around the teeth using an orthodontic appliance like braces or aligners, new ligaments are formed.

Once the first phase of treatment, or remodeling phase, is complete, those same tissues, ligaments, and bone will need a bit of time to stabilize. Without regular retainer use, the teeth will be less stable, and will almost always shift back to their old positions.

Touch-Up Treatment For Adult Orthodontic Relapses

How Surf City Smiles can treat an orthodontic relapse

If your smile has suffered a relapse for any reason, don’t panic! We’re here to help. If you’ve been wearing your retainer properly and are only see minor shifting, we may be able to leave things alone and just keep an eye on things. Minor movements can also be corrected by having new retainers made. However, in the event of significant relapse, we may recommend retreatment. Even minor misalignments can make cleaning your teeth more difficult, increasing the risk for decay and gum disease. The silver lining: correcting a relapse often takes much less time than your original treatment!

At Surf City Smiles, we’re proud to offer the following options to patients looking to improve their oral health and straighten their smile. 

Traditional metal braces

Metal braces are one of the most effective tools we have for correcting misaligned teeth. They are generally composed of medical-grade alloys such as stainless steel or nickel, and can be used for treating both simple and complex tooth issues. They work relatively quickly at closing gaps and aligning teeth, and are a cost-effective choice since they don’t require some of the more complex technology or expensive equipment that newer treatments do. 

Today’s braces are comfortable, subtle, and easily customized. The overall strength, durability, and affordability of traditional braces make them the most popular treatment method, year after year. 

Clear Braces 

Clear braces work the same way metal braces do. Our clear braces are designed to be less noticeable on your teeth than metal braces. They’re smaller than ever and made of nearly invisible tooth-colored polycrystalline ceramic material. These clear braces options blend in well with your natural smile. Though they’re not completely invisible, and the brackets are about the same size and shape, they’re much less noticeable than metal braces.

The Invisalign clear aligner system

Invisalign uses a series of custom-made retainers, called aligners, to gradually straighten your teeth. These trays are clear, smooth, and removable. This allows for an extra measure of freedom and flexibility, as patients experience no irritation from wires or brackets, have no food restrictions, and can remove the aligners to eat, drink, and maintain their regular dental hygiene routine.  

Invisalign works especially well for mild and moderate cases of the most common orthodontic issues, like those often experienced with relapses.

Start smiling again with Surf City Smiles

Whatever the reason for your relapse, Surf City Smiles has got what it takes to get your smile back on track! Our talented team has years of experience providing the highest-quality orthodontic care to patients of all ages in Huntington Beach and the surrounding communities.

Touching up or repeating your past orthodontic treatment will give you a smile you can be proud of, and will help ensure better oral health in the future, too. Call us today to schedule a consultation and let’s get started!

Huntington Beach Invisalign

Thanks to the incredible advances technology has made in recent years, the field of orthodontics has come along in leaps and bounds. When combined with state-of-the-art techniques, these innovative options allow us to offer our patients treatment that is comfortable, efficient, and convenient. Invisalign is a perfect example of this! 

If you’re unfamiliar with the Invisalign clear aligner system, it’s currently the most popular alternative we have to traditional braces. Instead of straightening smiles with  brackets, wires, and bands, Invisalign uses removable clear aligners to give patients the same beautiful results.

Here at  Surf City Smiles, we receive many inquiries from people who are interested in learning more about orthodontic treatment, but just aren’t sure if traditional braces are something they want to pursue. They’re often looking for a treatment option that won’t interfere with their busy lives and will provide a more discreet experience. Does this sound like you? If so, Invisalign could be exactly what you’re looking for!

Because Invisalign offers a measure of freedom and flexibility that traditional braces just can’t match, our teen and adult patients love it! But what exactly is Invisalign? Let’s take a closer look at how this exciting treatment option can give you a straighter, healthier smile without interrupting your day-to-day life. 

What is Invisalign?

To understand how Invisalign differs from braces, it helps to have some knowledge of both fixed and removable orthodontic appliances. Metal and clear braces, along with self-ligating options, are what we call a fixed orthodontic appliance. This means that  the brackets are attached directly to the teeth, and can only be removed by a trained orthodontic specialist. Invisalign, on the other hand, is a removable appliance. Although it is custom-made to fit snugly over the patient’s teeth, nothing is attached to the teeth themselves. Instead, a series of removable plastic aligners are used to shift the teeth into the desired positions over time.

People are sometimes surprised the first time they see an Invisalign aligner, but the design is deceptively simple! The clear trays are made of a special thermoplastic resin that is comfortable but still strong enough to correct a wide variety of orthodontic issues. In order to move the teeth and achieve the desired results, patients must wear their aligners for a certain number of hours each day. The aligners also need to be switched out for the next one in the series at predetermined intervals that will be determined by Dr. Carlson.

How does Invisalign work?

When you visit our Huntington Beach office for the first time, Dr. Carlson examine your mouth thoroughly. Our team will also take some digital photographs of your teeth, and may do a series of x-rays, too. If the exam and images show that you are a good fit for Invisalign, we’ll begin mapping out a precise treatment plan for you using a highly detailed 3D scan of your teeth and gums. This plan will include the exact movements we want your teeth to make. 

Once your treatment plan is complete, we can start designing your aligners. The trays will be customized to your unique smile, so that they will provide you with a snug but comfy fit! Invisalign’s special SmartTrack® material gives aligners their durability and near invisibility. The total number of aligners needed for treatment will vary from patient to patient, but most will need anywhere from 10 to 48 to produce the best results. Treatment time will also vary, but you can expect it to last approximately 6-18 months on average. Your individualized treatment plan will also give us an idea of how long your treatment is likely to take.

As the patient, you play an important role in the success of your Invisalign treatment. Because your aligners are removable, the system relies on you being compliant to get the job done! You will need to wear your aligners for 20-22 hours every day, throughout the treatment process, to achieve the desired results. To keep up the movements your teeth are making, you’ll also need to switch your aligners out for the next in the series at regular intervals. The exact amount of time may vary slightly based on your individual treatment plan, but is generally every 1-2 weeks.  

You’ll need to see us less often than a braces patient would, but regular check-ups will still be an essential part of the treatment process. These visits will be scheduled for roughly every 4-8 weeks, but they’ll be fairly fast since there are no appliances to adjust. During your appointments, Dr. Carlson will check how your teeth are moving and ensure everything is progressing the way it should be.

All About Invisalign

Who is a good candidate for Invisalign?

Invisalign can be an excellent option for many teen and adult patients who have mild to moderate orthodontic issues. If your case is particularly complex or severe, it may require more precise tooth control than a removable aligner is able to achieve. In the event that a more traditional method of treatment would be more suitable for you, Dr. Carlson will discuss this with you during your consultation. 

What are the benefits of Invisalign?

There are quite a few benefits to be had with Invisalign! A lack of food restrictions can be a big one for many patients. In order to protect their appliance, braces patients must avoid a number of crunchy and chewy foods during treatment. While all the effort is definitely worth it in the end, it can be a pretty big learning curve!

Fortunately, removable aligners mean you can simply take it out whenever you eat or drink anything other than water, then put it back in when you’re done. This also makes dental hygiene easier. Braces can sometimes make brushing and flossing difficult and time-consuming, but Invisalign aligners are simply taken out before brushing and flossing as normal.

What happens once Invisalign treatment is complete?

No matter what type of orthodontic appliance you have, your teeth will still remember their previous place in your mouth and begin drifting back there over time without something in place to stop them. This is why wearing a retainer is so important for every orthodontic patient! Once you’ve completed your Invisalign treatment, our office will provide you with a retainer. For the longest-lasting results, you should always wear it exactly as directed by Dr. Carlson!

Find your best smile with Invisalign and Surf City Smiles

Invisalign clear aligner therapy is our most popular alternative to braces for a reason! The system offers patients a discreet treatment option that is changing the way people think about orthodontic treatment all over the country. Would you like more information on how this exciting system can help you find your best smile? We’d love to meet you, so get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation and take the first step towards a better smile!

Back-to-school Survival Guide for Braces

With the first official day of fall only a few weeks away, most kids are heading back to school soon. For children and teens undergoing orthodontic treatment, there’s no better time to review proper braces care during the school day! This is especially important for patients returning to school for the first time since having their braces put on.

Embarking on a new orthodontic journey comes with ups and downs, but Surf City Smiles is here to help make the transition from late nights to early mornings go smoothly. If you’re a new or established patient feeling a little anxious about the upcoming school year, keep reading below for a few of our favorite tips on caring for your braces in and out of the classroom!

Be smart

At school, home, on the sports field, or anywhere in between –  when it comes to caring for your braces, the same rules apply no matter where you are. Paying attention to food restrictions is particularly important, since these are in place to protect both your braces and your teeth while you’re in treatment. While this is relatively easy to manage at home, it might be a bit harder to avoid crunchy and chewy stuff if you buy school lunches or regularly use a vending machine for snacks.

To help you get back into the swing of things at school, start checking the lunch menu for braces-friendly options in the upcoming weeks. This includes foods like lean meat, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, mac and cheese, and cooked vegetables. If there’s nothing that appeals to you, try packing a lunch instead. Pasta, soups, and other soft options are good choices for a Thermos, or you can cut sandwiches into smaller bites the night before. This will also make eating and chewing much easier for you, especially after adjustment appointments.

Since patients in braces need to steer clear of lots of snack foods like pretzels, chips, and some raw fruits and veggies, you might be at a loss when it comes to choosing something satisfying. However, there are lots of healthy options still on the menu, such as applesauce, yogurt, and bananas. These are gentle on your braces and keep you feeling full and satisfied throughout the day.  

What you choose to drink at school can affect your braces, too. Drinking from a water bottle throughout the day is a great way to stay hydrated, and it will also keep food particles from sticking to your teeth and in your braces. Try to stick to plain water instead of soda, fruit juices, or other sugary drinks, since these can stain your teeth and increase the risk for cavities. If you do indulge in a sweet drink or two, use a straw to keep the sugar away from your teeth, and be sure to brush as soon as you can.  

Be prepared

If you don’t already keep a braces care kit with you, this is the perfect time to make one! These are especially handy if you haven’t been wearing braces for very long. Pop a few commonly used items in a bag, then throw it in your purse, backpack, or locker. This will help keep you prepared for any braces-related issues that may pop up during the school day. Some useful things to include in the kit are:

A soft-bristled toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste, and dental floss

Brackets and wires create lots of nooks and crannies that can trap food particles and other debris. We encourage all of our school-aged patients to brush after lunch with fluoride toothpaste, followed by a quick floss if there’s time.

Orthodontic wax

You may experience some mild irritation to your lips, cheeks, or gums during the treatment process. A pea-sized amount of orthodontic wax placed over the area causing problems is an easy way to get some fast relief.

An unsharpened pencil

Your wires might stray from time to time, poking into the cheek and irritating the mouth in general. If this occurs, you can use the eraser end of a pencil to nudge them back into place.

Lip balm

Braces can cause dryness and irritation to the lips. Lip balm is a must-have accessory for braces patient!

Be safe

If you’re a student athlete or still have regular P.E. classes, we strongly recommend using an orthodontic mouthguard. Although many people tend to think sports like football and hockey are the most dangerous to teeth, almost half of all sports-related mouth injuries occur in low-impact activities like basketball and baseball!

Orthodontic mouth guards are designed to be worn with braces, and when they are properly fitted, they’ll protect your mouth if you are tackled, elbowed, or get knocked down. These mouth guards can be found at most major sporting goods stores, along with non-orthodontic models. Dr. Carlson is also happy to recommend or order one for you if you’d rather go through our office instead.

Back-to-school Survival Guide for Braces Teen girl with braces

Get your best back to school smile with Surf City Smiles

If you’re going back to school with new braces, it’s not unusual to feel a little bit nervous about what to expect in the months ahead. Even patients who have been in braces for a while can struggle with some anxiety when it’s time to start setting those early alarms! The good news is, it only takes a short amount of time for the ins and outs of braces to become just another part of your regular routine.

Here at Surf City Smiles, we’re committed to making your orthodontic journey as positive and stress-free as possible. For more information on navigating the new school year while wearing braces, get in touch with our expert team. You deserve a straight-A smile, and we’re here to help you achieve that!

girl smiling

Many people tend to associate orthodontics with teenagers in bulky braces, so it can come as a bit of a surprise to learn that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends all kids have their first orthodontic evaluation by around the age of 7! Even though children this age have mouths that are still developing and a number of baby teeth left, we view early orthodontic visits as a vital part of the preventative approach we take here at Surf City Smiles Orthodontics.

When you bring your young child in for an examination with Dr. Carlson, you give our expert team the opportunity to catch any existing or potential orthodontic issues sooner rather than later. This reduces the risk of those problems becoming a much bigger deal later on in life, which in turn can help prevent those same problems from having a negative impact on your child’s future permanent teeth and bite.

Because we have a number of younger patients, we’ve been able to observe firsthand how starting treatment at the most opportune time can make a positive difference to a child’s overall oral health. If your child is ready for their first orthodontic appointment, we’d love to schedule a consultation for you both so we can take a look at how their mouth is developing! Keep reading below to learn more about some of the things our team will be checking for during this initial evaluation.

Tooth loss and eruption

It’s tempting to think that baby teeth don’t really matter since they eventually fall out anyway. But these primary teeth are actually placeholders for our permanent teeth, so where they’re located and when they are lost really does matter. They also tend to fall out in a fairly specific order, so any significant deviation from that pattern may signify a developmental issue that could need further attention.

At this stage in their dental development, most children will have at least four permanent molars and up to four permanent incisors. Any more or less than this could indicate a problem with missing, crowding, or extra teeth. In some of these cases, we may choose to remove a primary tooth early. In others, simply maintaining a space where a tooth has been lost prematurely may be sufficient to keep the neighboring teeth from crowding it.

Crowding and spacing

We will often see spacing issues when a tooth is lost prematurely, where one has never developed, or with teeth that are too small or spaced too far apart. If crowding is the problem, it can often be corrected by expanding the arches or removing certain teeth. An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Carlson will generally be able to tell fairly early on in a child’s life if they’re experiencing problems with excessive crowding or spacing of their teeth, or if these seem like problems they are likely to develop later on.


When the teeth are crooked, it can make it difficult to clean them effectively. They’re also more susceptible to uneven damage and wear. If left untreated, this kind of misalignment can compromise the surrounding gum tissue, affecting the shape and position of it. Although we’re able to align teeth at almost any age, getting a head start on this can help prevent some of that damage in children, giving them a great shot at developing and maintaining a healthy smile!

Boy smiling Why Your Child Should See An Orthodontist By Age 7

Overbite (protrusive front teeth)

Front teeth that protrude are often cited as a cosmetic concern, but they may also cause pain in the jaw, and can even affect normal speech patterns. We sometimes need to wait until your child’s mouth has finished growing before permanently correcting an overbite, there are still a number of things we can do in the meantime to help reduce the risk of pain and traumatic injury (while also increasing a child’s self-confidence!)


Most underbites we see are caused by problems with either the teeth or the jaws. The most difficult scenario involves the lower jaw growing too far forward. In a difficult case like this, we will typically need to wait until the patient has finished growing to begin their treatment, usually somewhere in their mid- to late-teens. However, early treatment still has an important role to play by helping patients avoid any bite-shifting or damage to the front teeth. Additionally, underbite patients who receive early treatment between the ages of about 7-10 are also less likely to need jaw surgery when they get older.

Posterior Crossbite

A posterior crossbite can lead to crowding, and may also cause the jaw to shift from one side to the other. Expanding the upper jaw in earlier childhood may allow us to reduce crowding and create space for the front teeth to come through uninterrupted. Expansion can also eliminate any shifting that may be present due to a constricted upper jaw.

Anterior Open Bites and Deep Bites

In children with deep bites, the top teeth can completely cover the bottom ones when biting, possibly indicating a small lower jaw. In an open bite, the overall bite doesn’t overlap enough. This can often be caused by poor oral habits, including extended finger or thumb sucking. If this is a problem with your child, we’re happy to work with you to eliminate any destructive habits early on, allowing development to continue normally. 

young girl smiling with braces Why Your Child Should See An Orthodontist By Age 7

Improve your child’s oral health with an early evaluation from Surf City Smiles

When you understand more about the potential issues younger patients can face, it’s easy to see why early orthodontic evaluations are an important part of your child’s overall oral health! Timing really is the key factor, since a child’s jaw bones continue to harden as they get older, and will eventually stop growing. Orthodontic procedures needed after that point will often take more time and be more invasive, like tooth extractions or oral surgery.

Having your young child examined by an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Carlson often helps to prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, and can even make comprehensive orthodontic treatment faster and more efficient. If you’re ready to schedule your child’s first orthodontic appointment, get in touch with us today to take the first step towards their very best smile!

Orthodontics for Children

Today’s dental technology is far different from what it used to be just a couple of decades ago. As orthodontists or other dental professionals, many of us have seen the evolution of dental equipment and techniques firsthand. Today, these advancements allow us to provide state-of-the-art treatment and better patient experience for everyone who walks into our offices.

Technology used in orthodontic treatment continues to progress at an incredible pace. If we want to continue providing fast, efficient, and effective treatment to our patients, we need to make sure that we stay up-to-date with changes in the field.

Here are five trends that orthodontists and dentists should keep an eye on:

1. 3-D Imaging With CBCT Scanning

Because they provide hazy two-dimensional images, conventional dental X-rays are limited in their ability to view a patient’s dental structure. With cone beam CT scanners (CBCT), however, an orthodontist can view three-dimensional images of a patient’s entire skull, jaw, and oral bone structure.

CBCT scanning provides clear and detailed images that can be manipulated and viewed from any angle. This makes it easier to pinpoint symptoms of dental problems, reach an accurate diagnosis, and customize orthodontic treatment for each patient.

2. Temporary Anchorage Devices (TADs)

Temporary anchorage devices (TADs) are surgical-grade titanium miniscrews generally used for oral surgery. Now, orthodontists are also using them to control movement of teeth in the mouth. These devices provide a secure anchor in the jaw bone for molars and other teeth, reducing unwanted movement.

The procedure of placing TADs in a patient’s mouth is easy and painless, because it only requires a small amount of topical anesthetic applied to the gingiva. They can be removed after orthodontic treatment is complete.

3. Self-Ligating, Clear, and Invisible Braces

The conventional twin brackets and elastic ligatures used in traditional braces rely on heavy force to move a patient’s teeth into place, causing pain and discomfort in addition to being an aesthetic nightmare. Modern orthodontic solutions are far more effective, efficient, and discreet.

With self-ligating systems, teeth can be straightened without elastic bands, while clear ceramic braces and aligners such as Invisalign are barely noticeable. Even traditional metal braces have become more sleek and comfortable than they used to be.

4. Customized Smile Design Systems

Today, an orthodontist or dentist can use 3-D planning software to create a custom smile for each patient, using their facial and dental features as a guide. This technology also makes it possible for individuals to see the final results of what their smile will look like after orthodontic treatment.

Using 3-D planning software and impressions of each individual’s teeth, we can create three-dimensional models of their dental structure. Wires and brackets can also be customized based on each patient’s specific needs.

5. Faster Orthodontic Treatment with PROPEL

While many of the changes in orthodontics have helped make procedures more comfortable and efficient, they don’t always help with shortening treatment time. No one wants to wear braces or aligners for months, and PROPEL can help us make sure they don’t need to.

This non-invasive orthodontic technology is designed to speed up treatment, without affecting patient safety or comfort. It works by stimulating the bone structure around teeth, helping them shift into their ideal position more quickly and easily.

There are numerous areas where technology has helped us move forward, but its effect on the world of medicine is the most important. In orthodontics, modern procedures and equipment are critical for patient comfort, safety, and satisfaction, so make sure you’ve invested in nothing but the best!

Schedule a consultation with Chuck today