Dental-Friendly Stocking Stuffers

stockings hung on wallStocking stuffers shouldn’t be difficult to find, right? Just buy small trinkets or candy and boom, all done. But finding tiny things year after year is hard, so we often resort to cheap toys and loads of candy. The toys will break (often before the day ends!) and candy is unhealthy in so many ways.

So we’ve compiled some dental-friendly stocking stuffers. These gifts will not only last, but also promote a healthier lifestyle.

For the Kids

Kids generally don’t love brushing their teeth or flossing. Adding some fun to the process can teach them to love staying healthy.

Flavored floss

Leave behind boring mint and try fun flavors like cherry, bacon, or cupcake! (Please note: children [and adults] should not eat floss, no matter how delicious the flavor.)

Flavored toothpaste

Like floss, toothpaste can come in minty flavors that children don’t like. You can find toothpaste in a multitude of flavors, including soda and candy.

Fun toothbrush holder

A themed toothbrush holder turns brushing into play time. Buy one with your child’s favorite character or animal.

For Anyone

Kids aren’t the only ones who need healthy teeth! These stocking stuffers are appropriate for kids, teens, and the adults in your life.


For the non-stop gum chewer in your life, pick a sugar-free gum or one sweetened with Xylitol. Both are healthier for teeth than regular sugary gums. (Unless they have braces! Anyone with braces shouldn’t be chewing gum.)

bowl of fruit

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Fresh or canned fruit

Especially good for someone with braces, fruit can replace chewy or hard snacks like nuts or dried fruit. Besides, a fresh piece of citrus gives the stocking some good weight!

Lip balm

Besides being super important in winter for everyone, lip balm is a lifesaver for people with braces, since the braces irritate your lips a little extra.


Although candy isn’t really great for teeth, chocolate is the best candy for anyone with braces, since chewy or hard candies can really mess up brackets and wires.

For the College Student

Let’s be real: health can kinda go out the window in college. Encourage your college student to keep a healthy mouth with these stocking stuffers.

Gift Certificate

Talk to a dentist or orthodontist near your college student about pre-paying for a cleaning or check-up. With tuition and other bills, your student isn’t likely to pay for an appointment on their own.

toothbrush in holder

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New toothbrush

Not to harp on the bit about college students being broke, but your student might be using a worn out brush either because of cost or just not having time to buy a new one.

Mints/breath freshener

Students are often too busy to brush after meals, in between classes, or before important meetings. Make sure your student is stocked with good mints or breath freshener.


Keep your friends and family healthy this Christmas. Try some of these stocking stuffers!

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How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

holiday foodWith all the extra sleep, food, and stress, holidays can really sabotage your health. We’ve got a few ideas about how to stay healthy through the festivities.

Keep your sleep schedule

If you’ve just gotten out of school, it’s tempting to stay up all night and sleep until noon. Resist the urge! As boring as it sounds to stick to a normal sleep schedule (of 7-9 hours, hopefully!), you’ll be more refreshed than if you snooze for 14 hours. Your body works on a cycle (circadian rhythm), so changing your sleep pattern actually makes you more tired, even when you’re getting more sleep than usual.

To get extra sleep within your normal schedule, try going to bed 30 minutes earlier and getting up 30 minutes later. And nap!

Stay active!boys ice skating

It’s easy to spend the holidays in a food coma on the couch, but getting active can be more fun! You don’t even have to work out (although you could). Instead, rope your family and friends into fun activities–backyard football, local iceskating, hunting, or even Wii Sports. The possibilities are practically endless. Even a little bit of movement will help your body process all the extra food you’re eating.

Eat smart

We’re not really going to say you have to eat healthy during the holidays–because who can resist holidays sweets and special dishes??–but you can do a few things to eat smarter.

  • Eat what you love. Survey the options and eat just the stuff you really, really love, skipping dishes you just like.
  • If you have to go to a lot of parties/events, focus on the fun and activities. You don’t have to eat food (or at least not a lot of it) at every event.
  • If you’re traveling, pack your snacks. Nuts, trail mix, and other healthy snacks will be more satisfying than the gas station food. (And think about all the great stuff you’ll have for the holidays! You don’t need a $0.99 sugar fix when you can have homemade sweets.)
  • Don’t fast before the big meals. Instead, try to eat regular meals. If a big family meal is at a weird time (like 2 pm), snack when you would normally have your lunch. That way you’ll enjoy the meal, but not stuff yourself.
  • Think about what you eat. Instead of mindlessly consuming calories, think about whether you really need that serving/treat/second (or third or fourth) helping. Food comas actually aren’t that pleasant.

Schedule appointments

Holiday breaks are a great time to schedule appointments! You don’t have to miss school and it’s easy to schedule follow-up appointments, if necessary. Schedule your ortho appointments, regular checkups, or other appointments during the holidays.

Holidays can be a fun time, especially if you take care of yourself. Stay healthy during the festivities this year!

Patient Rewards: Earn Gift Cards!

giftcardsWhat would you do with an iTunes, Starbucks, or Outback Steakhouse gift card? Well, how would you like one for free?

With the Appel Ortho Patient Rewards and Kids Club program, you can get free gift cards when you rack up enough points. Points are earned for things like being on time to your appointment, getting A’s in school, participating in office activities, referring friends, and wearing your appliance like you’re supposed to. Your rewards account can be managed from our office or online.

Some patients have already gotten gift cards:

When I got my first few points I was really excited to get more because I wanted to get a gift card. When I got enough points, I ordered my gift card and it came in the mail within 2 days. I love using my points to get Starbucks gift cards because they’re my favorite. I’m glad I go to Appel Ortho.- Olivia C.

Others have great plans for what they will do:

So for the rewards I’m hoping to get 350 points by the time I’m done. And get a $10 gift card to cold stone for 100 points. Also to get a $25 gift card to aēropostale for 250 points. Thank you so much! I love having the patient rewards! -Grace C

To find out more about the program, visit our Patient Rewards page.

If you’re not a member, ask for a card at your next appointment and start planning what you’ll do with your gift card!

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How to Care for a Retainer

When your braces are removed, you will be fitted for a retainer. Retainers help your teeth stay in place and not reverse all the hard work to make them healthy and pretty. However, retainers can wear down with so much use. Since they’re small, retainers are often lost as well. We’ve compiled a collection of tips on cleaning, maintaining, and not losing your retainer!

Remove your retainer when eating & drinkingbreakfast

The process of chewing wears down your retainer, and rougher foods are likely to scratch, bend, or break it. In addition, food is likely to get stuck in your retainer, leading to plaque and cavities. Instead, remove your retainer before eating, brush or rinse your mouth after the meal, and replace your retainer.

Drinks can break down your retainer as well — soda and coffee stain it and the acidity weakens the retainer, leading to expensive breaks or cracks. Water is fine, but remove your retainer before drinking anything colored or sugary.

Remove your retainer carefully

When you take out your retainer, do so gently, pulling evenly on both sides and taking care not to bend it. Although retainers are somewhat flexible, they are also easily cracked or broken. The same goes for putting it back in — place it on your teeth gently and evenly, taking care not to chomp down. Your teeth are stronger than the retainer!

Always keep your retainer in its case

Never place your retainer on a napkin!

Never place your retainer on a napkin!

Your retainer will come in a sturdy plastic case. If the retainer is not in your mouth, it should be in the case, which protects your retainer from being lost, broken, or contaminated. Meals are a particularly important time for using the case — many a retainer has been thrown away with a napkin, leading to searches through trash cans and expensive replacements. Keeping your retainer in a case also protects it from being squished, stepped on, chewed on by pets, or stolen by little siblings.

Adding your name, address, and phone number to your case makes it easier to find if you do lose it. Labels can be easily printed or filled out and should be covered with tape to make them water-proof.

Clean it every day

You should brush your retainer with toothpaste every day to prevent plaque, deterioration, and smell. When brushing, avoid bending your retainer, as it can crack or snap. Be sure to clean your case on a regular basis as well.

Avoid hot conditions

Your retainer can melt, so don’t microwave it, put it in the dishwasher, washer, or dryer, leave it in a hot car, or leave it in direct sunlight. If you are a fire-breather, your retainer should be removed before performing. If your retainer melts partially or softens, it may lose shape. If you think it may have changed, schedule an appointment to have your retainer checked or refitted.

By following these tips, you should be able to keep your retainer strong for a long time! In return, the retainer will keep your teeth as straight as the day your braces came off.

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Photo credit: Brown Crumpled Napkin via photopin (license)

Flexible appointment hours for busy patients

flexible orthodontic appointmentsWhen you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment—whether it’s traditional braces or invisible straighteners such as Invisalign—it’s important to get regular visits to our office for adjustments and maintenance.

But at the same time, we know our patients are busy people!

If you’re a student, we understand weekdays can be jam-packed with sports practice, after-school clubs, homework, and—oh yeah—actually going to school.

And if you’re one of our adult orthodontic patients, then we know how work, family, and social obligations can make the work week crazy.

That’s why Appel offers some evening and weekend appointments.

Next time you’re in the office, talk with our staff about whether these expanded appointment times can fit within your schedule.

You can also use our online Request an Appointment form, and mention in the comment box that you’d like something on Saturday or an evening.
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How to Relieve Soreness from Braces

healthy smoothiesBraces start to feel like a normal part of your mouth pretty quickly. However, when they’re first put on or adjusted, you may have some pain. So we’ve compiled some ideas for relieving that pain.



Cold drinks. Ice-cold water, slushies, and smoothies will temporarily numb your mouth and take away most of the pain. Just be careful not to have too many sugary drinks, since they damage your teeth. Ice water is a great option because it’s also healthy! [Read more…]

Don’t forget–you can request appointments online!

Appel Orthodontist appointmentSo it’s late one night and suddenly you remember that you need to schedule your next orthodontic appointment. You can:

  • Mutter “orthodontic appointment” in your sleep so you’ll remember to call when Appel’s office opens the next morning
  • Write “Make appointment!!!” on your hand with a ballpoint pen so it will be visible for the next several days
  • Cover every surface in your home with Post-It reminders
  • Log onto Appel’s site, use the Request an Appointment feature, and take care of it then and there.

Since hand graffiti isn’t very stylish and sticky notes are getting expensive*, your best bet is to request your appointment online.

You can use the feature any time of the day, even when our office is closed.  That way you can take care of it as soon as you think of it, without having to come up with creative ways to remember.

If you’re completely new to Appel Orthodontics and you’d like to schedule your free consultation, you can do that online here.

Request an Appointment Now


*Okay, not really, but still.


How to Avoid Chapped and Cracked Lips

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Chapped or cracked lips can make your normally pleasant orthodontist appointment frustrating and painful. Even in between appointments, chapped lips are easily irritated by braces.

So how do you avoid chapped lips and get back to enjoying your appointments? We’ve compiled some tips for you!


Lip balm is your best friend this winter. Keep a tube in your bedroom, jackets, backpack, or car. Apply every few hours to protect your lips from drying out. If you’re going to be outside a lot, get a balm with SPF. Your lips burn just like your skin does. [Read more…]

How to Brush with Braces

brushing teeth with bracesBrushing your teeth with braces presents a few unique challenges, but it is even more important than when you didn’t have braces! Poor brushing can lead to cavities, gum disease, and other complications that will slow down your treatment. Besides, you want healthy teeth to go with the beautiful smile you’re going to have! So here’s how to brush with braces:


Use a soft-bristled, braces-friendly brush specifically designed to get around and in between braces (check to make sure the bristles dip in the middle instead of being level all the way across). Replace frequently (every 2-3 months), because braces wear out a toothbrush even more than usual.


Brush frequently, preferably after every meal, but at least twice a day for sure. [Read more…]

Why should teens get a full night’s sleep?

You can sleep when you die, right? Naps and set bedtimes are for little kids. By the time you’re a teen, you have way more important things to do than sleeping.

Wrong on so many levels. Actually, you’re less productive if you don’t sleep, and naps and set bedtimes are good for everyone (including you, your parents, and your grandparents). Sleep is an important foundation for everything else you want to do. So let’s talk about why you should get a full night’s sleep.

What is a full night’s sleep?

Recommended sleep time for teens is 8 ½ – 9 ½ hours (only slightly more than for adults—we’re talking 1 hour more). However, quality of sleep is every bit as important as quantity, so it has to be 8 or 9 hours of good sleep. We’ll get back to that later. First, let’s consider the consequences. [Read more…]