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Will my child benefit from early orthodontic treatment?

June 20th, 2018

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, orthodontic treatment for children should start at around age seven. Dr. Ralph can evaluate your child’s orthodontic needs early on to see if orthodontic treatment is recommended for your son or daughter.

Below, we answer common questions parents may have about the benefits of early childhood orthodontics.

What does early orthodontic treatment mean?

Early orthodontic treatment usually begins when a child is eight or nine years old. Typically known as Phase One, the goal here is to correct bite problems such as an underbite, as well as guide the jaw’s growth pattern. This phase also helps make room in the mouth for teeth to grow properly, with the aim of preventing teeth crowding and extractions later on.

Does your child need early orthodontic treatment?

The characteristics and behavior below can help determine whether your little one needs early treatment.

  • Early loss of baby teeth (before age five)
  • Late loss of baby teeth (after age five or six)
  • The child’s teeth do not meet properly or at all
  • The child is a mouth breather
  • Front teeth are crowded (you won’t see this until the child is about seven or eight)
  • Protruding teeth, typically in the front
  • Biting or chewing difficulties
  • A speech impediment
  • The jaw shifts when the child opens or closes the mouth
  • The child is older than five years and still sucks a thumb

What are the benefits of seeking orthodontic treatment early?

Jaw bones do not harden until children reach their late teens. Because children’s bones are still pliable, corrective procedures such as braces are easier and often faster than they would be for adults.

Early treatment at our Liberty Lake or Spokane, WA office can enable your child to avoid lengthy procedures, extraction, and surgery in adulthood. Talk with Dr. Ralph today to see if your child should receive early orthodontic treatment.

Happy Father’s Day from Dr. Scott Ralph!

June 18th, 2018

June is a month full of exciting things. It’s the start of summer, nicer weather and of course, Father’s Day! We believe fathers are a very influential part of our lives and should be recognized and appreciated every day of the year. They are a wealth of information for their kids as they’ve already lived life, suffered losses and achieved successes.

Dr. Ralph’s favorite piece of advice that his father ever gave him is, “Always do your best, be ethical, persevere and good things will come.” He feels he inherited his father’s work ethic, problem solving skills and the understanding of why it’s important to treat others as you’d like to be treated. One of his favorite memories with his dad is when he went on backpacking adventures to mountain lakes to catch trout with him. Nothing beats a beautiful landscape and a delicious, freshly caught meal!

One of the things Dr. Ralph loves most about his dad is his love for God and his country. Also, that there’s one thing he’s always right about: Mom is always right. If Dr. Ralph were to describe his dad using a movie, it would be “A River Runs Through It” because of his  love for Montana and fly fishing.

Dr. Scott Ralph is a father himself and has two sons. One of them just visited for the weekend in Spokane to celebrate Father’s Day with him. Life’s too short, so don’t forget to tell the fathers in your life that you love them regardless of whether it's Father's Day or not! 

We hope to see you in the office soon and hope your summer is off to a great start!

Brushing: Before or after breakfast?

June 13th, 2018

In a perfect world, we would all jump out of bed ready to greet the day with a big smile and a toothbrush close at hand to clean our teeth immediately. But if you can’t even find your toothbrush before you’ve had your first cup of coffee, does it really make a difference if you brush and floss after breakfast? Perhaps! Let’s talk biology.

Normal saliva production during the day benefits our teeth and mouths in surprising ways. Saliva washes away food particles to keep our teeth cleaner. It contains cells which combat bacteria and infection. It even provides proteins and minerals to help protect our teeth from decay. But saliva production slows dramatically as we sleep, and the amount of bacteria in our mouths increases. While one of the nasty—and obvious—side effects of bacterial growth is morning breath, there is an invisible effect, which is more harmful. Bacteria in plaque convert sugar and carbohydrates into acids which attack our gums and enamel and can lead to both gingivitis and cavities.

  • If You Brush Before Breakfast

Brushing and flossing first thing in the morning removes the plaque that has built up during the night and takes care of many of the bacteria who are ready to enjoy the sugar and carbs in that breakfast with you. If you brush before eating breakfast, rinse your mouth with water after your meal, floss if needed, and you are good to go.

  • If You Choose to Brush After Breakfast

But if you decide that doughnut simply can’t wait, you should ideally postpone brushing for 20-30 minutes after your meal. Of course, these are minutes in which bacteria can make use of those new sugars and carbohydrates. So why shouldn’t you brush immediately after eating? Many foods and beverages, especially acidic ones such as grapefruit and orange juice, can weaken the surface of your teeth. If you rinse with water after eating and wait at least 20-30 minutes before brushing, your enamel will be “remineralized” (another benefit of saliva) and ready for cleaning.

No matter if you take a “seize the day” approach and brush first thing in the morning, or a “seize the doughnut” approach and brush soon after eating, the important word here is “brushing.” Dr. Ralph and our Liberty Lake or Spokane, WA team are happy to make suggestions as to the best morning routine for you. One thing is certain: if you give your teeth and gums two minutes of careful brushing and flossing in the morning, you can’t help but start your day off right!

Invisalign Teen®: What Parents Should Know

June 6th, 2018

Parents want the best for their teens and often ask us about the perks of Invisalign Teen clear aligners compared to traditional braces. Invisalign treatment is a style of braces that skips the usual metal and wires, and uses a clear, thermoplastic material to create removable aligners instead.

Aligners are custom-made for each patient and replaced every two weeks to attain gradually straighter teeth.

Is Invisalign treatment as effective?

As long as your child wears the aligners as directed, the answer is yes: they are just as effective as traditional braces. A small blue spot on the back of each aligner will fade after two weeks of proper wear. This enables Dr. Ralph to tell whether the child is wearing the aligners.

Can Invisalign aligners be removed?

The recommended amount of time to wear Invisalign aligners is at least 20 hours a day. They can be removed for up to four hours per day to eat, brush teeth, play sports, or play musical instruments. This makes brushing and flossing easier and helps maintain good oral hygiene!

How long does treatment take and what is the cost?

Each patient is different. Dr. Ralph can determine how many months your child may expect to wear the series of aligners after a consultation.

Typically, your teen will wear Invisalign clear aligners about as long as traditional braces The cost is also similar to that of other traditional braces; however, there is no set fee. The cost will depend on your child’s unique orthodontic needs.

Overall Success

Invisalign Teen treatment has had remarkable success, and patients love having straighter teeth without the embarrassment of metal braces. As your son or daughter becomes more confident, the patient will actually be more likely to keep up with the treatment and complete it sooner.

Speak with Dr. Ralph today to learn more about the benefits of Invisalign Teen treatment. Give our Liberty Lake or Spokane, WA office a call!