Our Blog

Let us know who has provided you fantastic service!

October 4th, 2018

At Windy City Orthodontics we get a lot of great feedback on our customer service, and we know that it takes effort to go that extra mile. Here’s the thing – there are thousands of other workers out there who are equally deserving of recognition.  People that manage dozens of tables, deal with angry or demanding customers, and somehow smile their entire shift and find ways to make their guests happy. They don’t get enough credit for what they do, so we’d love to recognize YOUR favorite server or worker in the community!


We want to know *WHO HAS PROVIDED YOU A GREAT CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE?* That person who always seems to find a positive where others see negative. The person who never fails to greet you with a smile and kindness.  That person who truly goes above and beyond to make sure you have a great experience at their business.


Comment below before Halloween to enter your favorite for a chance to win a Spa Day at


  • WHO provided your awesome customer experience?
  • WHERE do/did they work?
  • WHY do they deserve to win?


One of these amazing people will receive a trip through the thermal baths and a 45-minute massage at Aire Ancient Baths Chicago – our treat! Good Luck!

“Can We Use An Expander?”

August 14th, 2017

“Can we use an expander?”

“The dentist said he might need expansion…”

“Some of her friends at school had expanders. Will she need one?”

The parents of many young patients that come to us ask questions like this, especially if their son or daughter’s primary care dentist is paying close attention to the growth of the jaws and permanent teeth, or if they’ve been talking to friends whose children had some sort of orthodontic treatment. Like everything in orthodontics, the answer varies depending on the individual.

Generally speaking, an expander is an appliance designed to expand the dental arch. The reasons and treatment objectives for doing so can vary, but generally one or both of the arches is narrower than desired. Expanders are most commonly used on the upper jaw (called palatal or maxillary expanders) but can be used on the lower teeth as well.

There are several different reasons for using an expander. The maxilla, or upper jaw, may be too small to fit well with the mandible, or lower jaw. Sometimes the lips smile much wider than the teeth, showing a lot of dark space at the corners of the smile. Sometimes the growing front teeth get hung up in the bone because there isn’t enough room in the front of the jaw for them to come in. In all of these situations, widening the maxilla can reduce or resolve the problem.

Before getting into how expanders work, it’s important to understand some background of how the upper and lower jawbones grow and develop. The maxilla is made of two bones – one on either side – and these bones are the skeleton of the middle of the face. In fact, they not only form the upper jaw, but also the floor and sides of the nasal cavity, and the bottom of the eye socket! If you’ve ever looked at a skull in a museum or even in a cartoon, you may have noticed that only the mandible seems to move compared to the rest of the head. That’s because even though our heads have many different bones in them, they are joined at special seams called sutures. As we grow throughout childhood and adolescence, the bones both grow apart at the sutures and also grow larger as the body adds new bone on the surfaces that are growing outward.

That seam on the roof of your mouth? That’s a remnant of how the upper jaw formed before birth, and the midpalatal suture where the bottom of the two maxillary bones join is just underneath the gums there. While someone is still growing, maxillary or palatal expanders work by gradually increasing the pressure on the midpalatal suture to the point where the two bones separate. The expander is most commonly a metal framework attached to the teeth with a specially designed screw in the middle; sometimes plastic is added to put pressure on the sides of the roof of the mouth as well. The screw is usually designed to open at the rate of ¼ millimeter for each turn, so over the course of several weeks of turning, 6-7mm of extra width can be developed. As the pressure from the expander increases, the midpalatal suture opens, and the soft immature bone between the two growing halves of the upper jaw gets stretched out before hardening and maturing into new bone. As wild as it sounds, most patients describe the process as pressure only without any significant discomfort! Since the expander is actually pushing the bones apart at the level of the mouth (and sometimes slightly at the nose) it’s common to see space between the two front teeth increase as the bones carry the teeth away from each other. Since the gums get stretched out just like the immature growing bone between the two bones of the upper jaw, the front teeth will start moving back toward each other on their own in most cases. That stretching is also why the expander is commonly left in place for several months after the turning is finished – so that the new bone formed can mature and harden, and the gums that have been stretched out given some time to relax and remodel.

The mandible, on the other hand, forms as one single bone and can’t be widened without surgically cutting it in the middle. However, it’s still possible to use an expander in the lower arch to push the teeth out to the side and increase the space available for the teeth. Fortunately, it is much more common for the upper jaw to be smaller, or the lower jaw to be larger than the upper in these situations, so the need to widen the lower jaw bone rarely presents itself.

So now that we have some idea of how expanders work, when is the best time to use one, if it’s needed? The answer to that again varies depending on each individual. For a young child without all of his or her permanent teeth, an expander can be beneficial if space is needed for the permanent front teeth to erupt, or to align them if the bite is bad enough that it might be risky to the health of the permanent teeth to wait.

Many times, though, even when the need for expansion at some point is clear, it can be better to wait until all the permanent teeth come in – when the expander can be done in conjunction with alignment of all the teeth in one single course of orthodontic treatment during adolescence. This usually means fewer office visits and less time wearing orthodontic appliances overall, which is why it’s often preferable to wait when the problems we can see aren’t likely to cause any problems to oral health while our patient grows and the teeth and jaws develop for a few more years.

Are you curious whether an expander is going to be needed for your child? We offer free consultations, so please get in touch to schedule an appointment. I would love to take a look and discuss the orthodontic options available!
-Darren C. Pakravan, DDS, MS

Am I A Candidate For Invisalign?

January 31st, 2017

We see a lot patients here at Windy City Orthodontics who come to us to improve their smile, but may not be excited about wearing braces. A common question they ask is whether Invisalign clear aligners will work for them. Some even come see us after another dentist or orthodontist has told them they can’t treat them with Invisalign.

(In case you aren’t familiar, Invisalign is a clear aligner system where a 3D digital model of the teeth is constructed and then the tooth movement is simulated. Once the doctor is satisfied with the simulation, a separate aligner is made for each step, or “stage,” in the simulation, and each aligner is usually worn by the patient for a week or two.)

My view is that Invisalign is another tool in the orthodontic toolbox, along with braces, arch wires, rubber bands and the rest. Over the last several years, Align Technology has introduced a lot of refinements to the Invisalign system that both increase its versatility – like a stretchier and more flexible aligner material that can grab onto the teeth better without exerting too much force – and the doctor’s ability to customize the aligners using the ClinCheck software. This in turn allows me to build a more customized and complex plan for each patient, including adding in additional orthodontic techniques if necessary. I sometimes tell my patients that we are building a custom appliance for each case. Sometimes we use components we have on hand like brackets and wires, and sometimes we customize it using the computer, like with Invisalign. And like with every tool, the results you see depend on the skills and training of the person using it.

So, the question isn’t whether someone is a candidate for Invisalign; the question is “How can we customize aligners to move your teeth?” While there are still some situations where braces will make tooth movement more predictable, in many cases Invisalign can work just as well or better – if customized appropriately.

If you’re curious whether we can customize Invisalign aligners for your teeth, please get in touch to schedule a free consultation. We’d love to meet you and show you what we can do!

Announcing Our 2014 Food Drive!

January 30th, 2014

In the orthodontics field, we are incredibly lucky that most of our patients come to us from healthy and secure backgrounds, but it's important to remember that not everyone has such good fortune.

Therefore, to help those who need it, we are hosting a food drive starting February 14th and ending March 21st, 2014, for donation to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Donations can be made directly in our office by dropping off any of the Food Depository's most need items, or by donating to our Virtual Food Drive.

Thanks in advance for your generosity!