Neal Smiles Orthodontics Blog Page

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Interceptive Orthodontics: The Basics

WHEN WE PICTURE SOMEONE with braces, we usually picture a teenager with a mouthful of colorful brackets. What we don’t typically picture is orthodontic appliances on younger children. However, interceptive orthodontics can reduce the need for tooth extraction and jaw surgery, correct certain problems as they appear, encourage better facial development, shorten the length of orthodontic treatment needed later on, and leave patients with a better overall result in the end.

Interceptive Orthodontics Heads Off Problems Early

Conventional wisdom argues that orthodontic treatment shouldn’t start until all the adult teeth have grown in, but some issues with bite, alignment, and facial development can show up long before those teeth do. That’s where interceptive or “Phase 1” orthodontics comes in. An orthodontist can help your child’s jaw bones grow properly to have more room for the adult teeth and provide the structure for a healthier bite. Correcting problems like malocclusions (bad bites) as they appear makes future orthodontic treatment much faster and easier — and, in some cases, unnecessary!

Causes Of Malocclusions In Children

Interceptive orthodontics seeks to correct problems with jaw growth and damage from harmful habits such as thumb sucking, nail biting, tongue thrusting, and mouth breathing. Each of these habits contributes to bite problems such as a narrow upper arch, an underdeveloped lower jaw, a deep bite, and an open bite, as well as dental crowding, which in turn can make it difficult to chew and swallow effectively and speak clearly. The purpose of Phase 1 treatment is to stop those habits if they persist or repair the damage so that the adult teeth can grow in where they should.
Don’t see how something like mouth breathing can cause dental problems? Watch this video:

Common Phase 1 Treatments
One of the most noticeable differences between Phase 1 and Phase 2 orthodontics is that Phase 1 is less focused on actual braces. Those typically come later, if they are still needed. Some of the treatments commonly used in Phase 1 include:
  • Upper jaw expansion to eliminate a crossbite
  • Expansion of one or both jaws to create more room for adult teeth
  • Early extraction of specific baby teeth to help adult teeth come in properly
  • Keeping space open for permanent teeth after premature loss of a baby tooth
  • Reduction of upper front teeth protrusion to protect from trauma

Is Your Child A Candidate For Interceptive Orthodontics?

Phase 1 orthodontics works better for correcting some problems than others. The best way you can find out if it can help your child get the healthy, properly aligned smile they deserve is to bring them in for an orthodontic consultation around age 7 — especially if you’ve noticed any obvious bite problems or if they have one or more of those harmful oral health habits. In the meantime, keep encouraging them to do their brushing and flossing!

Our top priority is helping patients achieve healthy smiles for life!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Helpful Tips For Flossing Around Braces


FLOSSING IS CRUCIAL for dental health even when we don’t have braces, but it’s especially important when we do.

Not flossing can prolong orthodontic treatment by leading to unhealthy gums, which can actually grow over the brackets if they get bad enough. You could also end up with permanent white spots caused by enamel decalcification around your brackets, which will make getting your braces off far less exciting than it should have been.

Reaching Those Hard-To-Reach Spaces


As important as it is to floss around your braces, we know it’s tricky. Luckily for you, there are many braces-friendly options for interdental hygiene. Let’s take a closer look at a few of them.

Interdental Brushes

Interdental brushes–also called proxy brushes–are an excellent option if you have a hard time getting the floss around your braces, but it’s still a good idea to give your teeth some good traditional flossing. These little gadgets look like pipe cleaners for your teeth. They fit between and around brackets, scraping away any remnants of food and plaque as they go, and they can even fit between teeth!


Flossing when you have braces can be time consuming and difficult, especially if you haven’t had much practice. Threaders will save you a lot of trouble. Just loop the floss through the threader and poke the end of the threader up between two brackets. From there, flossing is easy! Just keep moving around to the rest of your teeth.

Platypus Flosser

Floss picks (those little fork-like sticks with floss strung across the end) have made flossing quick and easy for many people, but they don’t help if you have braces, because the ends are too broad to fit between brackets. Luckily, you can just use platypus flossers instead! These flossers are specifically tailored to braces. One of the plastic ends is very flat, and the handle also works as a proxy brush, so you get two braces-friendly floss tools in one!

Water Flossers

A water flosser may be the most attractive interdental cleaning option for anyone with braces, because all you have to do is point the spout between your teeth and let it blast the plaque away with massaging pulses of water.

A Good Orthodontic Outcome Is A Team Effort!

Our job is to move your teeth into place so that you can have a straight smile and a healthy bite, but it’s your job to keep your teeth clean during that process, which is just as important. Good oral hygiene will help you get your braces off on schedule and ensure that your teeth look great when the braces are gone!

Thank you for being a part of our practice family!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.



Thursday, April 13, 2017

Can I Play An Instrument With Braces?


GETTING BRACES CAN BE VERY EXCITING! The promise of a beautiful, straight and healthy smile at the end of orthodontic treatment is more than worth the minor aches and pains that go along with achieving it.
We understand, however, that you may have some more in-depth questions about undergoing treatment depending on your unique circumstances or lifestyle choices. This is especially true of people who play musical instruments such as the flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone or other brass and woodwind instruments. We hope to answer some of your questions today!

Play An Instrument? Here’s What To Expect

Overall, we can say that there is no reason getting braces should keep you from playing the musical instrument of your choice. There will, however, be an adjustment period when you get your braces on, as well as when you get them off.
The adjustment period will vary from person to person and will differ depending on the instrument you play. Woodwinds, especially those with reeds like the saxophone and clarinet, are generally easier to get used to playing with braces, while brass instruments, like the trumpet and french horn, prove to be more difficult.
There are two things that should help you as you get used to playing your instrument with your new braces: using orthodontic wax and adjusting your embouchure. Put orthodontic wax on each bracket to protect your lips while playing.
As for adjusting your embouchure, we’re no music experts! But from what we’ve been told by patients who have had braces and play instruments, loosening your embouchure–or the way you apply your mouth to the mouthpiece of your instrument–can help make sure there isn’t so much pressure. We recommend working closely with your music teachers during the initial adjustment period so you can adjust your embouchure as needed and be comfortable while playing. And who knows… this experience may even help you become a better musician!

Take Care Of Your New Braces

We know how well you take care of your musical instrument. You clean it frequently and treat it with care and respect so that you can perform your best come concert or recital time. The same care is necessary for your braces and your teeth!
Brush your teeth morning and night and after meals. Don’t forget to floss at least once a day and avoid eating hard foods or candies that could break a bracket. Follow your orthodontist’s instructions and you’ll end up with that gorgeous, straight smile you’ve been waiting for!
Watch the video below for more tips on keeping your braces clean

Let’s Discuss Your Options
We know getting braces can be difficult, and even more so if you play a woodwind or brass instrument! We also understand that every person is unique. Come into our office and we can discuss all of your options such as other types of braces, like invisible aligners, or ways that our other patients have learned to deal with traditional braces while playing an instrument. It is our goal to make your orthodontic treatment as comfortable as possible!

Your smile deserves the very best. Thank you for trusting our practice!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user ACE Foundation used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Friday, February 3, 2017

February Is Children’s Dental (and Orthodontic) Health Month

THE CDC REPORTS THAT 1 in 5 children (between ages 5 and 11) in the US have untreated tooth decay. Not only should tooth decay be treated in regular dental appointments, it should be prevented! Tooth decay is 100 percent preventable with effective personal care and regular dental cleanings. In honor of Children’s Dental (and Orthodontic) Health Month, we’re spreading the word about children’s dental and orthodontic health.

YOU Can Help Little Ones Have Healthier Smiles!

  1. Encourage them to brush for two full minutes: Pick a song about two minutes long and sing it to them during brushing time.
  2. Set reminders to brush twice a day: Brushing after breakfast and just before bed are the best times for preventing bacteria growth from food.
  3. Show them flossing is fun, not harmful: Be gentle at first when doing it for them. A bad experience can stop them from flossing on their own.
  4. Be persistent: Don’t let fussy children off the hook. Be motivating! Kids may gladly brush for a sticker or star if you make it an activity.
  5. Set their first dental appointment before age 1: Having positive dental experiences early will make dental visits easier and less frightening when older.
  6. Schedule their FIRST orthodontic evaluation at the age of 7: To evaluate each child's growth and development to determine if early interceptive treatment is needed.


    Help Us Spread The Word!

    Share this message with your friends and family, and especially with the children in your life. If you have any questions about children’s dental and orthodontic health, don’t hesitate to ask us!
    The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

China Orphanage Clothing Drive hosted By Dr. Michelle Neal

Please help our Neal Smiles family, the Olsen's as they travel to China in June when they will be adopting two children from a Chinese orphanage - we would like to collect clothing donations specifically for the Kunming orphanage (in the Yunnan Province area) where most of the children have special needs and are all waiting to be adopted.

Help the Olsen family bring clothes to these sweet children by donating: NEW, unused clothes (with the tags still on) from sizes 2T to 6/7 (remember to shop clearance racks). Bring all donations to Dr. Michelle Fogg Neal, DDS - Kirkland, WA's office, where we will be collecting all donations, until they travel to China this June! The goal is provide two large backpacks full of clothes for the orphanage! 

Visit our website for more information, contest and event updates and more! Join our Facebook page event for live updates and event photos!


For more information about the adoption agency the Olsen family works closely with: http://www.agapeadoptions.org/Agape_Adoptions/Home.html and we will be collecting Neal Notes all Summer long, for a donation to be made to the adoption agency later this year!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Accelerated Orthodontic Treatment - faster, pain-free adjustments for Damon System and Invisalign

Dr. Michelle Neal, a local Kirkland Orthodontist serving Bothell, Kirkland, Redmond, Woodinville, Lynnwood, Bellevue and the entire Eastside, now offers accelerated orthodontic treatment using a pain-free, lightweight and comfortable device called AcceleDent. Our patients experience less pain and discomfort after adjustments and treatment times up to twice as fast! Visit our website for more information about AcceleDent, to read patient testimonials, and to get started accelerating your orthodontic treatment exclusively at Dr. Neal’s office. Here's some of the information off our website regarding AcceleDent and our "accelerated orthodontic treatment" at Dr. Michelle Neal's office:

How does AcceleDent work?

AcceleDent is a light, comfortable, and hands-free appliance that is used 20 minutes per day as a complement to braces to accelerate tooth movement. The patented technology gently vibrates the teeth and surrounding bone, allowing teeth to move more freely. The best part of the AcceleDent System is that it's completely safe! You may experience a slight tingling sensation, much like that of the vibration of an electric toothbrush, but it should diminish after you become accustomed to using the appliance.

The benefits of AcceleDent will make you smile!

  • You'll accelerate your orthodontic experience without sacrificing aesthetics
  • AcceleDent can be used for adolescents, teens, and adults, and it is completely safe for patients of all ages.
  • The AcceleDent appliance is lightweight and comfortable. You may even forget you're using it!
  • The hands-free design allows you to achieve a beautiful, straight smile faster than you ever thought possible – even while reading, watching television, listening to music, or doing school work
Visit our website at: www.nealsmiles.com for more information about AcceleDent, Invisalign, Invisalign Teen and Damon System braces! We offer complimentary orthodontic evaluations, contact us here and start accelerating your orthodontic treatment today! Here what our patients are saying about our office and their treatment on our website and view our patient video's here!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Retainers - Keep Your Teeth Straight, For Life!

Ever wonder why Dr. Michelle Neal recommends retainer wear? After all your hard work to get your teeth straight, you want to keep them straight...for life! View this educational video we found online from the AAO (American Association of Orthodontics).

Be sure to follow the instructions given by Dr. Neal regarding your retainer wear, retainer care and the amount of time to wear your retainer in order to keep your teeth from shifting. Have questions? Be sure to ask us at your next appointment or call our office to speak with one of Dr. Neal's team members at (425) 823-1234.

Keep your teeth straight..for life!