Braces vs. Invisalign – Which is Right for You?

February 2nd, 2019

Can you believe 2019 is coming? That means another year full of activities, social events, and adventure in general. So, whether it’s for yourself or for your child, it may be time to invest in a plan to straighten your teeth. But should you pick braces or opt for Invisalign? At Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics in Chicago and Vernon Hills, we offer both Invisalign and traditional braces as great options to straighten teeth. By considering your individual teeth, goals, and preferences, we can help you choose which option is right for you.

Your Orthodontic Options


Traditional braces, the most popular orthodontic option for teeth straightening, are made of a system of brackets and wires. Brackets are attached to either the front or back of the teeth using cement and wires and elastic bands are connected to those brackets in order to apply constant pressure to help straighten teeth. Your orthodontist will schedule appointments to replace the bands and adjust the wires every 6 - 10 weeks.


Invisalign is the process of using a series of clear aligners to increasingly straighten your smile. Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign is both wire and bracket-free. Initially, your orthodontist sends impressions of your teeth to create aligners. Once the Invisalign aligners are made they must be worn sequentially, contingent upon your orthodontist’s approval at regular check-up appointments. Appointments with your orthodontist should be scheduled every 8 - 12 weeks to monitor progress and receive the next aligner when ready.

Comparing Pros and Cons



The most significant difference between traditional braces and Invisalign is the fact that Invisalign is the “almost invisible” orthodontic option. Since Invisalign uses clear aligners, the treatment is less noticeable than its braces counterpart. Invisalign aligners are also removable, which means there are no restrictions on what you can eat while using this orthodontic option. Additionally, this means there are no limitations to your oral hygiene routine. Overall, because Invisalign is removable, there is a minimal effect on your lifestyle but an effect on your teeth.
Although, some patients who tend to snack all day rather than eat regular meals find having to constantly take out aligners to eat inconveniently. Those patients prefer traditional braces since they can snack with them on (they just have to eat softer foods).

Traditional Braces

Unlike Invisalign, traditional braces are not removable. This means there are certain limits in place to ensure the safety and efficiency of your orthodontic equipment. While using traditional braces, avoid eating foods that are either too sticky or too crunchy. You will also need to be especially vigilant with your oral hygiene, working to brush and floss between braces.
Naturally, traditional braces are the more noticeable option for your orthodontic needs. Keep in mind though, while they aren’t clear like Invisalign, traditional braces have come a long way aesthetically. The brackets are now smaller, come in less noticeable colors, and can even be placed on the back of the teeth to minimize how visible they are.


The cost of both traditional braces and Invisalign depends on several factors, for example, the severity of the orthodontic problem, your dental insurance, and any work to restore braces or Invisalign aligners that are damaged/lost throughout the process. Typically, the cost of traditional braces ranges from $2,500 - $7,000, while Invisalign costs from $3,000 - $8,000. Book a consultation with Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics at our Chicago or Vernon Hills office to discuss the specific pricing you can expect for either traditional braces or the Invisalign system.

Call Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics Today!

Start the New Year out with a step toward straighter teeth and a confident smile. Whether you decide to get braces or Invisalign, Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics of Chicago and Vernon Hills will help you move toward your smile goals. Your eligibility to receive either Invisalign or traditional braces depends on your unique orthodontic needs, so schedule a consultation now to discuss with an orthodontist if braces or Invisalign may be right for you. We can’t wait to see your smile!

Retainers 101

January 21st, 2019

It’s the New Year, which means plenty of New Year’s resolutions. This 2019 make one of your resolutions to keep your teeth straight by properly using your retainer!
Orthodontists typically recommend wearing a retainer after completing orthodontic treatment. But what exactly is a retainer, why do you need to wear it, and how do you care for it?

What is a Retainer?

Retainers are custom-made orthodontic devices made to help prevent your teeth from moving out of their new straight positions after orthodontic treatment. Retainers are made of plastic and metal and designed to fit the top of the teeth and mouth. They are meant to be used for an extended period of time and are often assigned as part of your dental care routine for as long as you wore your braces. Some patients may only need to wear retainers during sleep, others may be asked to wear them full-time. Your Chicago and Vernon Hills orthodontist will have the best recommendations on when to wear your retainers and for how long. Not following recommendations from your orthodontist could lead to your teeth shifting back to the positions they were in before you wore braces, so it is important to follow your specific dental care instructions.

Why Else Would You Need to Wear a Retainer?

There are several additional reasons why you may need to wear a retainer past the fact that the appliances keep teeth straight after wearing braces. Those reasons could include:

  • Curbing speech defects  - it can be difficult to pronounce certain sounds if your teeth are not where they are supposed to be, as you may not be able to place your tongue behind your teeth in the right way. Retainers can help alleviate this issue.
  • Treating headaches/Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) - if you have frequent headaches and jaw pain, then your orthodontist may prescribe a retainer as part of your dental care, as TMD is a condition where your top and bottom teeth do not align properly. Also, having a retainer can prevent your teeth from grinding in your sleep which is often the cause of headaches that last until the next day
  • Close a space between teeth/move a single tooth - in some cases, retainers are a piece of dental care prescribed by your orthodontist instead of braces to adjust only one or a few teeth instead of the entire mouth, like fixing a gap between two teeth.
  • Other medical problems - while retainers are generally dental appliances that orthodontists utilize to help your teeth stay straight, they may be used to treat a medical problem like tongue thrust - where your tongue sneaks through your teeth when you talk.

How to Take Care of Your Retainers

Because retainers are generally worn daily per your orthodontist’s instructions, they should also be cleaned daily. Bacteria, plaque, and leftover food particles can easily stick to your retainers, so they should be soaked in mouthwash or a denture-cleaning agent to kill those germs and freshen the appliances up. Whenever you are not wearing your retainers, you may want to consider letting them soak as well because retainers are made of plastic and plastic can crack if it gets too dry; it should always stay moist. The plastic can also warp, so be sure not to use warm water or leave retainers near a heat source.
Furthermore, retainers can be expensive, so taking good care of these appliances as part of your dental care routine also means not losing them. If you lose a retainer please let us know at our Chicago or Vernon Hills office and we will create a replacement before your next visit. And if have any questions or concerns about your retainer, do not hesitate to contact us directly.

Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics Can Help Keep Your Smile Straight!

Whether you need braces or a retainer, already have them, or just have questions about your appliances in general, your orthodontists and the whole team at Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics are ready to help keep your smile straight by addressing all of your orthodontic needs! Schedule an appointment online today with our Chicago or Vernon Hills office!

5 Foods That Stain Your Teeth & Their Solutions

September 9th, 2018

A bright white smile can be the key to your confidence. If you are someone that suffers from stained or discolored teeth, there's no need to worry, the experts at Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics are here to help!
Our skilled orthodontists are committed to helping patients see the best results possible when it comes to dental and orthodontic longevity. To our doctors, good oral hygiene goes beyond routine check-ups; it means preserving your smile daily! That is why it’s important to be aware of the foods you are eating. You want to ensure that you’re not consuming too many stain-producing foods, and if you are, learn techniques to lessen the impact.
1. Coffee & Tea
I’m sure it comes as no surprise, but coffee and tea are the two biggest teeth staining culprits. Both coffee and tea contain natural compounds called tannins that are attracted to proteins in the enamel and cause your teeth to become stained. However, to most people, giving up their daily cup of coffee or tea is out of the question! So what do you do?
The Coffee & Tea Solution
Since most people need the help of caffeine to get going in the morning, we suggest drinking green or white tea (they are lower in tannins). If you’re not willing to change up your routine too much, simply try adding in some extra milk to help lighten things up and reduce teeth staining.
2. Soda
Not only is soda bad for your health, but it’s also bad for your teeth! Since soda is dark in color, it can cause your teeth to become discolored and stained if consumed in large quantities. Soda is also high in sugar and acid, which is very bad for tooth enamel and also contributes to teeth staining.
The Soda Solution
Long story short, while we suggest avoiding soda entirely, you may be able to prevent your teeth from getting stained if you drink your soda out of a straw, or switch to a lighter/ clearer colored soda instead.
3. White Wine
Believe it or not, white wine causes teeth staining! It seems odd that something so light in color can cause staining/ discoloration, but just like coffee and tea, white wines are high in tannins and acid, which are hard on your teeth and over time lead to staining.
The White Wine Solution
For our adult braces patients out there, in order to still enjoy a glass of wine without the fear of teeth staining teeth, we suggest brushing your teeth 30 minutes to 1 hour after drinking a glass of wine and drinking a glass of water as you sip on your wine.
4. Balsamic Vinegar
Just like coffee, tea, and soda, the dangerous combination of dark coloring and high acid makes balsamic vinegar a food substance to be wary of in regards to teeth staining.
The Balsamic Vinegar Solution.
Vegetables, especially lettuce and broccoli, have been shown to counteract the teeth staining effects of balsamic, as they are able to coat your teeth and protect them against the acid. So, leave the balsamic off your tomatoes and mozzarella, but you have the green light to use it in combination with salads and other veggies!
5. Soy Sauce
Before you enjoy your favorite sushi roll doused in soy sauce, just remember that it too can stain your teeth. Once again, the dark color of the food makes your teeth susceptible to discoloration. Additionally, soy sauce is very concentrated, which contributes to teeth staining even more.
The Soy Sauce Solution
Use your soy sauce sparingly and try to enjoy the flavors of your sushi and other food products au naturel.
Contact Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics
If any of the above food items are a part of your daily diet, we hope you consider some of our solutions to minimize your risk of teeth staining and discoloration. At Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics, ensuring a beautiful and confident smile is our mission. Our orthodontists and their team of experts are here to help you throughout your orthodontic journey in our Chicago and Vernon Hills offices. Please schedule an appointment with us today! We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Oral Hygiene in The Summer for Kids

August 2nd, 2018

They say one swallow doesn’t make a summer, and this applies to oral hygiene as well. As warmer temperatures arrive, we know kids and families are enjoying longer days, travel plans, less routine, and plenty of ice cream! While we encourage all of these indulgences, let’s discuss ways to maintain a good oral hygiene routine so that guilty pleasures don’t lead to cavities, which can affect your orthodontic treatment.

Set a Bedtime

Possibly the best part of summer, staying up extra late and sleeping in a little longer can do the most damage on proper dental hygiene routines. During the school year, kids establish habits of brushing and flossing before bedtime and upon waking, but when those routines disappear, so will those good habits. This is why your orthodontic and oral care experts at Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics encourage parents to set a flexible bedtime during the summer so kids continue to care for their teeth. Beyond supporting healthy and strong teeth, a flexible routine in the summer will lead to a smoother transition when school schedules come back into full swing!

Camps, Classes, & Sports

Another way to create a sense of routine in the summer can come from signing your child up for camps that encourage them to explore new interests and hobbies. These activities do not need to take up an entire day or full week, but some structure will provide a sense of normalcy that kids rely upon and thrive on. Of course, setting a healthy balance between activities and free time is important to ensuring kids still enjoy their summer break.


Discussing oral hygiene habits during the summer may seem out of the blue, but years of experience teach us that summer break can lead to the breakage of healthy oral hygiene habits. Talking about the subject can help keep it from escaping your kids’ minds. So, on your next camping trip or family getaway, take advantage of the opportunity to teach your child about their lifelong commitment to dental health by packing toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss, and committing to routines while on the go. This will protect the health of your child’s teeth and therefore also help their smile results post orthodontic treatment.

Contact Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics Today!

Keeping a good oral hygiene routine is vital. This is true throughout your life, and through the process becomes more difficult during orthodontic treatment, it still remains important. So this summer, don’t let your kids forget about maintaining the health of the teeth beneath their braces. Help them keep up with great oral hygiene and contact our Chicago or Vernon Hills office for tips and tricks to making oral hygiene with orthodontic treatment easier!

Braces & Your Oral Hygiene Routine

June 4th, 2018

Braces can make maintaining thorough oral hygiene difficult. However, there are some best practices and special tools you can use to make your oral hygiene routine easy and efficient!

Brushing Basics

Let's start with the basic brushing tools. Our orthodontists recommend choosing either a soft-bristle brush or a bi-level brush (a toothbrush that has shorter bristles in the middle and longer bristles at the edges). Used carefully, an electric toothbrush can also work. But be sure that the electric brush you select is set to a moderate power level whenever you use it, and be mindful of the vibrations. You don’t want the back of your brush to hit your brackets or braces.

Best Practices

Our team of skilled orthodontists advises that you brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least two times a day (preferably after meals) for at least two minutes each time. Remember to brush all teeth surfaces: outside, inside, and the chewing surfaces as well. And be especially careful to clean the areas between wires and teeth, as well as between brackets and gums — that's where food particles can easily become trapped, causing decay.


Beginning at the outside surfaces, place the tips of toothbrush bristles flat against teeth then use small circular motions to gently polish them clean. For areas between braces and gums, tilt the brush toward the gum line (down for the bottom teeth, up for the top) while keeping up the circular motions. Next, move on to the chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth, utilizing a firm back-and-forth motion. Finally, finish by carefully brushing the inside surfaces of the teeth the same way you did the outside surfaces.

Special Oral Hygiene Tools

There are several tools that can make your oral hygiene routine simpler. A couple popular options include the interdental toothbrush (or proxabrush) and the Waterpik®. An interdental toothbrush has a small tuft of bristles that stick up like a pipe cleaner. It can be used to clean tiny spaces under wires and around bands and brackets. Meanwhile the Waterpik® shoots a small stream of pressurized water at your teeth, which can help dislodge bits of food that become trapped in nooks and crannies.

Healthy Smiles to Last A Lifetime

Every day that you keep your teeth and gums healthy is an investment in your future. Great oral hygiene enables you to get the best results from your orthodontic treatment, setting you on a path to a brighter smile. For more information about brushing and flossing, inquiries regarding braces, or to schedule a consultation, please contact Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics at our Chicago or Vernon Hills location today! We’d love to hear from you!


Seven Myths about Orthodontic Treatment

April 13th, 2018

Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics is committed to bringing you the latest in orthodontic treatment, technologies, and information. We utilize our blog as a means to help our patients understand vital orthodontic treatment, oral, and dental topics. This month, we would like to highlight a great piece from the American Association of Orthodontists that debunks and explains seven myths about orthodontic treatment. Read the piece in full on our blog below, or view it here on the AAO website:

American Association of Orthodontists – Orthodontic Treatment Article

Myth #1 Anyone who provides braces or aligners is an orthodontist

False. While some general dentists or online companies offer braces or aligners, only an orthodontist who has taken the additional years of advanced training at an accredited residency can call themselves an orthodontic specialist or be a member of the AAO. It’s not worth the risk of permanent damage to your face and smile to allow anyone who isn’t an orthodontist to attempt to move your teeth. By selecting an AAO orthodontist, you are choosing a specialist who possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Look for the AAO logo at your orthodontist’s office, or locate an AAO orthodontist using ‘Find an Orthodontist’ at

Myth #2 Orthodontists are so expensive

AAO orthodontists are unique health care providers who carefully customize their patients' treatment plans and as a result, their fees directly reflect the complexity of each case. From simple cases which only take months to treat, to very difficult ones which may take a couple of years, the benefits of having an expert provide your orthodontic care will be well worth it. Most AAO orthodontists offer free consultations and flexible payment plans, and are willing to work with their patients in order to help them achieve a beautiful smile. Trust your smile to an AAO orthdontic specialist who will safely straighten your teeth and closely monitor your progress to ensure that your bite is the best that it can be.

Myth #3 Office visits are not necessary to get straight teeth

No Visits = No Monitoring = No Good The reality is that the health of your gums, teeth and jaws cannot be monitored during treatment if you are never seen by a qualified orthodontist. Even the most carefully planned treatments need to be closely monitored to ensure that your treatment stays on course. These visits must be completed by a trained orthodontist should a problem arise or a mid-course treatment correction be needed. The good news is that today’s technology has allowed patients to extend intervals between appointments to as long as 8 to 10 weeks.

Myth #4 Orthodontic treatment takes several years

Orthodontic treatment requires careful, controlled movements of the teeth to ensure they are moving into proper positions. From simple cases (which may only take a few months to treat) to the most complex cases (which could take longer), your AAO orthodontist has the training, experience, and skill to deliver an excellent result in the shortest amount of time. It’s not worth the risk to have someone who attempts to do orthodontics as a side business because of the possible irreversible damage that could occur.

Myth #5 Orthodontic treatment is purely cosmetic

There’s much more to orthodontic treatment than meets the eye. An improved appearance is the most obvious result. But when teeth and jaws are in alignment, it means function (biting, chewing, speaking) is improved, too – a dual treatment benefit!

That beautiful smile is the outward sign of good oral health, and sets the stage for the patient’s overall well-being. Orthodontists play a larger role in healthcare than is generally realized.

Myth #6 Orthodontists only offer metal braces

Orthodontists spend years studying and training in how teeth move. It makes them expertly qualified to use all the tools available to provide the best care possible for their patients. That includes metal braces, as well as a full range of other appliances (devices designed to move teeth) that can be fixed or removable, with clear options available. Rather than pressuring a patient into using a particular product or service offered by individual companies, orthodontists are craftsmen with a variety of tools at their fingertips. An AAO orthodontist has the expertise to provide the best appliance (at the right time) to achieve the best result in the most timely manner.

Myth #7 Orthodontic treatment is just for kids

False. Patients of all ages, young and old, can benefit from orthodontic treatment. Age is not a concern when it comes to getting a healthy, beautiful smile. In 2014, close to 1.5 million adults were treated by AAO orthodontists! Because adults may have more complicated cases from prior dental work or gum disease, it is imperative that their treatment be provided by an AAO orthodontist who has the training, expertise and experiences to deliver the best results.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is open exclusively to orthodontists - only orthodontists are admitted for membership. The only doctors who can call themselves “orthodontists” have graduated from dental school and then successfully completed the additional two-to-three years of education in an accredited orthodontic residency program.

When you choose an AAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a specialist orthodontist, an expert in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics who possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Locate AAO orthodontists through Find an Orthodontist at